Monday 04 December 2023

Bible Book:
1 Thessalonians

] constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.' (v. 3)

1 Thessalonians 1:1-7 Monday 4 December 2023

Psalm 72


In early AD 50, Paul, Silvanus (or Silas) and Timothy were a tight-knit team of Christian evangelists working in Corinth. From there,  Paul wrote to a congregation in Thessalonica – the letter ‘1 Thessalonians’ – the earliest known Christian document.

Thessalonica was a major seaport in the north-east corner of modern Greece and a crucial city on the road from Byzantium (Istanbul) towards the Adriatic sea and then on to Rome.

The three evangelists had formed the congregation in Thessalonica just a year or so ago. They had spent only a short time there; and had left in a hurry (Acts 17:1-10). Timothy had subsequently revisited Thessalonica and brought back to Corinth encouraging news of the fruit of their truncated mission in the capital of Macedonia. Paul expressed his delight in this opening thanksgiving – which is full of theological vocabulary.

The congregation (or church) was formed as a gift of God (‘grace and peace’, ‘chosen’, ‘beloved’). God’s Holy Spirit had been active through the proclamation of the gospel message (by the three evangelists), powerfully converting the hearts and minds of their gentile (non-Jewish) hearers. The message accorded authority to Jesus (‘the Lord’) in revealing the truth of God the Father. It was confirmed by the integrity and conviction of the evangelists, and imitated in turn by the converts.The theme of ‘modelling and imitation’ runs through these verses.The message spreads from God to Jesus, to the evangelists, and then to the converts. It now spreads out from the Thessalonian congregation to other believers in Macedonia (in Philippi and Beroea) and Corinth (in Achaia province).

The substance of the believers’ inner convictions comprises three ‘theological virtues’: faith, love and hope (of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus), as also in 1 Corinthians 13:13. They are given practical expression in a new pattern of coherent behaviour, expressed as work (or activity), labour and steadfastness (or endurance).


To Ponder:

  • Our contemporary culture persuades us to talk about the Church as a social organisation in the voluntary and charitable sector, needing good governance, efficient management, clear policies, risk assessments, statements of values and purpose, and development plans whose progress can be measured against targets identified in advance – all within medium-term strategic goals. Against this backdrop, how can we recover a theological vision of the Church?
  •  If you or your church were held up as an example to others, what weaknesses and what strengths would be apparent?

As well as 'Word in Time', the Methodist Church is running daily email Advent reflections as part of its 'Out of the Ordinary' campaign. If you would like  to sign up for them, click here.

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