Tuesday 05 December 2023

Bible Book:
1 Thessalonians

And how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven. (vs 9-10)

1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 Tuesday 5 December 2023

Background

Today we continue to read Paul's letter to the Thessalonians. He moves up a gear in celebrating the marvellous impact of the initial Christian mission in Thessalonica. News of the fruit of the gospel message (‘the word of the Lord’) has spread way beyond Macedonia and Achaia. Believers everywhere know about it, and tell Paul about it before he can open his mouth! 

What had sprung to life among the gentile (non-Jewish) converts? 

  1. They gave a fantastic welcome to the Jewish mission team (v. 1), which was contrary to the normal social distance and conflict between Jews and gentiles.
  2. The Thessalonian gentiles gave up their idols and came to have faith in ‘the living and true God’ (the one God of Israel and the followers of Jesus). Their conversion was total: they gave themselves, heart and soul, to the service of God (God’s ‘slaves’).
  3. In their ongoing life of faith, love and hope (v. 3), dedicated to God’s service, they were ‘waiting’ for an imminently expected conclusion to earthly history. To ‘wait’ was not to stand idly by: it was to be fully prepared and focused on something that was bound to happen soon.

Paul’s brief summary of the future (v.10) is full of apocalyptic themes that to him – a Jewish convert – could be taken for granted. He spells out the story of Jesus beyond his death. Jesus had been raised from the dead. He was taken up into heaven as God’s son. He will come again soon to fulfil what his name implied (‘Jesus’ means ‘saviour’) – he will deliver believers from ‘the coming wrath’.

‘The coming wrath’ was to be God’s ferocious battle against an unprecedented explosion of evil and all that defies God’s truth. This would be a last desperate satanic attempt to thwart the introduction of God’s kingdom of peace and love. Without Jesus’ protection, no believer could be sure they would withstand this hellish outburst.

 

To Ponder:

  • What one story has come to your attention in 2023, from anywhere in the world, that tells of the astonishing transforming power of the gospel of Jesus?
  • Paul’s themes in verse 10 are routinely rehearsed in the Church in Advent. But that in itself does not make them any easier to understand for secular modern believers. Have you, or a house group to which you belong, ever attempted to ‘translate’ into language that makes sense to someone outside the Christian community the meaning of themes such as ‘resurrection’, ‘Jesus coming from heaven’, or ‘deliverance from the coming wrath’? Where can you turn for help with such a task?

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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