1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.…
The early account of the Christian religion, so universally received, and so well approved by the apostles, consists of two chief parts:
I. THE SERVICE OWING TO THE LIVING GOD.
1. Religion, considered in this light, can be no other than natural religion. This was the original religion of man, but had been so corrupted and abused that there was hardly any sign of it when our Saviour appeared in the world. The preaching of the gospel revived the true ancient religion of nature, and prepared men for the reception of it; and has, by the additional supports of revelation, maintained it for many ages, and probably will maintain it to the end and consummation of all things.
2. These additional supports make the next great branch of Christian doctrine. These are revived upon the authority of revelation, and stand upon the evidence of external proofs: that we ought to turn from idols, and serve the living God; that we ought to serve Him in holiness and purity, in conforming ourselves to the example of His justice, equity, and goodness, are truths which every man may feel to be such who has any reason or natural feeling about him; but that we have been delivered from the wrath to come by Jesus the Son of God; that God raised Him from the dead, and hath appointed Him to be judge both of the dead and of the living, are articles which no man's reason can suggest; which, when suggested, reason cannot receive upon any internal evidence, but must take them upon an authority sufficiently confirmed upon external evidence.
II. OUR FAITH IN CHRIST, AND OUR HOPE AND EXPECTATION GROUNDED ON THAT FAITH.1. The patience of faith. St. Paul teaches us to wait for God's Son from heaven. But this waiting implies not only the patience of faith, but well-doing, in expectation of the coming of our Saviour and Judge; which sense is completely expressed in the Epistle to the Philippians — "Be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example; for our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."
2. The expectation of Christ coming to judge the world is peculiar to Christians; and it is supported by the belief of the resurrection of Christ — that great and main point of faith, which the Apostles were commissioned to teach and establish in the Church of God. This designation of Christ to be judge of the world is no impeachment of the authority of God. The Son acts by the Father's commission, who hath given all judgment to Him; but this makes no change in the nature of the judgment itself. Did the article of the resurrection make any alterations in our notions of God or religion; did it bring any new burden upon us of any sort, it would be no wonder to see men very careful how they admitted it; but now that it requires nothing at our hands but what reason and nature require, what pretence for being scrupulous concerning it. Admit the article, and our hopes are much improved, while our duty is the same; reject the article, and our duty is the same, while our hopes are much less.
(T. Sherlock, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.