For an introduction to this series, click here.
This epistle was probably written by Paul a couple of years after Galatians, his first epistle, or at least the first one that is part of the Bible. Certainly it was written early in Paul's writing ministry. Among those who study these things there is no doubt on that point. This is a really short chapter, and so this will probably be short, too.
"We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." (1:2-3)
These people were obviously very special to Paul. The authorities and the Jews in Thessalonica were not very nice to Paul, but the believers there must have been wonderful people. Paul goes on to compliment them further:
"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 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, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in 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. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come." (1:4-10, ESV)
This is of course a typical greeting from Paul, but unfortunately (for my purpose) that's all there is to this chapter. I guess the people who divided these chapters didn't have me in mind.
It is an amazing thing that God can do in the lives of His people. These Thessalonians were idol-worshipping heathens until they heard the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Paul says that they were such a testimony of God's grace that the work of spreading the gospel in the rest of Achaia (what is now Greece) was helped by their example.
The end of this chapter mentions "the wrath to come" which is one of the main themes of this entire epistle. We will get to that in the next few days.