4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because
our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy
Spirit and withfull conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to
be you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,
for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in
Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in
Macedonia and Achaia but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere,
so that we need not say anything. (ESV)
I previously wrote about how the Thessalonian adelphoi were loved by God and a little about what it meant that they were chosen by God. Paul now tells them how they knew this.
5 "because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and withfull conviction. You know what kind of men
we proved to be you for your sake."
Paul's first point is that he knew the trustworthiness of the messengers of the Gospel. True believers had delivered the Gospel message. Their message came with power and conviction. This may be a reference to miracles or it may simply be a reference to the clear preaching of the Gospel. We should never underestimate the power of preaching the Gospel clearly! Paul wrote elsewhere:
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who
believes..." Romans 1:16ESV
Paul continues in 1 Thessalonians,
"And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you recieved the word
in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an
example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. For not only has the
word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your
faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything."
His second point has to do with the response of the Thessalonians to the Gospel message. In 6a, we see that they "became imitators" of the Apostles and of the Lord. This certainly implies a change in the way they were living. In 6b, they received the word "in much affliction" and they received it "with joy of the Holy Spirit." They received the word under stressful circumstances and did not reject it! Not only did they accept it, but they joyfully accepted it! Accepting the Gospel in spite of fierce opposition is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit. Think about the circumstances in which you heard, and received the Gospel. Was your life in danger? Mine was not. Yet, I did experience some hardship. NOTHING compared to what the Thessalonians experienced, I'm sure, but some family members and friends disapproved and clearly told me so. And if you live your life according to Gospel principles, you will eventually face hardship and affliction. We must "consider it all joy" (James 1:2) whenever this happens.
In v. 7, Paul tells them that they became examples of faithful disciples to the larger region- to the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. And in v.8 they are told that their faith has become known even beyond their region! They cannont take credit for this. It was due to the Holy Spirit's transforming power in their lives.
So how does this affect US (you and me)? Think about it. How do WE know that WE are loved by God and chosen for this salvation? Was the message that we received the true Gospel contained in the Scriptures? Did you (and did I) believe the message? Did our lives change? (i.e. did we become "imitators of the Lord?")
Now, not all believers will be known for their faith throughout their entire city or state, but people will notice a change in them. If you've received the Biblical message and been changed by it, KNOW that YOU TOO were chosen by God and are loved by Him! What precious truth to behold!
Remember, God is all Sovereign and stuff...