1 Thessalonians 1:4-7

knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,

so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.

knowing (v.4) = knowledge received by observation

brethren (v.4) = used here for all believers, without distinction of sex

election (v.4) — I’m not going to pretend to have an understanding of election. I doubt you could find any two people who have come to the same conclusion. If forced to state an opinion, I would say that it might have something to do with the opportunity to be saved. Remember, Paul wanted to take his gospel into Asia but the Holy Spirit sent him instead to Macedonia. That was God choosing the Thessalonians among all the people in the world to hear the truth. Could that be the election mentioned here?

A couple other points, briefly:

There are many verses that point to God’s election of Israel as His chosen people (e.g. Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalm 135:4; Amos 3:2; Romans 11:1-2, which also mentions foreknowledge). And yet ” they are not all Israel who are of Israel …” (Romans 9:6). All Israel was chosen by God and all were given His blessings and the opportunity (alone among the nations of the world) to be saved. All were elect, but not all were saved.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). The word translated “willing” in that verse can also be translated “intending,” “planning,” or “determining.” So, if God is not determining or planning that any should perish, He cannot be choosing some for salvation and “not choosing” others.

our gospel (v.5) — the gospel given to Paul to preach to the Gentiles

word (v.5 and 6) = statement, Paul’s teaching

power (v.5) — There is no word here about any miracles wrought among the Thessalonians. Rather, the power manifested was that associated with the preaching of the Word, or more specifically, the gospel of the grace of God, which Paul proclaimed. In v.5 he emphasizes, as he does in so many other places, that it was his gospel that had been proclaimed to them “in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance.” — Stam, page 19.

and in the Holy Spirit (v.5) — with the sense of “even” or “so then” in the Holy Spirit

and in much assurance (v.5) — the sense is of “fullness,” or “full assurance,” with the “and” again having the sense of “even.” So … the word came to them in power, and that power was in the Holy Spirit and in the fullness of Holy Spirit power.

you know (v.5) = knowledge received by observation — they watched Paul and the others and knew what sort of men they were

what kind of men we were (v.5) — I think Paul is saying that their example was proof of the power the message had to change lives and their conduct under persecution was an example for the Thessalonians to follow when they were persecuted. — 1 Thessalonians 2:3-12.

followers (v.6) = imitators — 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1

Paul alone, besides Christ, says repeatedly, “Follow me” (see 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17). This is because, unlike the twelve, he represented the glorified Lord in proclaiming a new program and a new message, namely “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). These were committed to him “by revelation” to proclaim to others (Ephesians 3:1-3).

The Thessalonians believers had become followers of Paul, and thus of the glorified Lord, in three respects, as shown in vs. 6-8:

  1. They “received the Word” which Paul proclaimed (see “our gospel” in v.5).
  2. They endured “much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit.”
  3. They in turn became examples of Christian faith and conduct to all the believers in Macedonia, Achaia and beyond. — Stam, page 21.

affliction (v.6) — The believers were persecuted for their faith, as Paul had been when he was ministering in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:14; 3:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:4

joy of the Holy Spirit (v.6) — joy as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22; Romans 14:17)

Macedonia (v.7) — the northern province of Greece

Achaia (v.7) — the southern province of Greece

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