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I THESSALONIANS (3)
Paul’s Prayer of Thanksgiving
I Thessalonians 1:2-4
Victor M. Eskew
A. In most of Paul’s letters to the churches, he gives a salutation, then, he thanks God for them.
1. Romans (Rom. 1:9)
2. Corinthians (I Cor. 1:4)
3. Ephesians (Eph. 1:16)
4. Philippians (Phil. 1:3)
5. Colossians (Col. 1:3)
B. The same is true of the church is Thessalonica (I Thess. 1:2-4).
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
C. In this lesson, we are going to examine three points that Paul sets forth in this text.
I. PAUL, A MAN OF PRAYER (I Thess. 1:2)
We give thanks to God for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.
A. Paul prayed.
1. All Christians are commanded to prayer (Luke 18:1).
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men out always to pray, and not to faint.
2. Two words for prayer in this verse.
a. Give thanks: eucharisto – to be grateful
b. Prayers: prosueche – general word for prayers addressed to God (sometimes involves worship)
B. Paul persisted in prayer.
1. “We give thanks always...”
2. Paul prayed more than once for the Thessalonians. He prayed over and over and over for them.
3. NOTE: They were one of his blessings from God for which he gave thanks.
4. Two verses:
a. Romans 12:12
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayers.
b. I Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing.
C. Paul was personal in prayer.
1. Paul told the Thessalonians: “…making mention of you in our prayers.”
2. In the first part of the verse, he said: “for you all.”
a. The words “for you all” contain the Greek word “peri” that means “encircling.”
b. Paul’s prayers included every member of the congregation. He probably called many of them by name.
3. Our prayers need to be personal.
a. Name names.
b. Tell God exactly what we desire for these individuals for whom we pray.
II. THESSALONIANS – CHRISTIANS MOTIVATED TO WORK
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.
A. The exercise of memory
1. The ability
a. Paul begins this verse saying: “Remembering.” He had the ability to remember.
b. This is a precious gift from God.
1) We can recollect.
2) We can call to mind.
3) We can hold things in memory.
c. Paul’s remembrance of the Thessalonians was a blessing to him, a blessing for which he gave thanks.
2. Abiding nature
a. Paul’s words: “Remembering without ceasing...”
b. Paul did not just remember them one time.
c. He recalled these precious saints over and over and over.
B. The efforts of the Thessalonians
1. Paul used three words to describe the efforts of these Christians: work, labor, and patience.
1) Strong (2041): to work, toil, act
2) Thayer: an act, deed, thing done
1) Strong (2873): toil (as reducing the strength) pain
2) Thayer: intense labor united with toil and trouble
1) Strong (5281): cheerful endurance, constancy
a) Steadfast, constancy, endurance, perseverance
b) In the New Testament the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
1. Constant action and work and toil and struggle are supposed to be the lot of all Christians.
a. Romans 12:11
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.
b. John 6:27a
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth to everlasting life…
c. I Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 4:11; Revelation 2:2-3
A. The explanation for their efforts
1. Paul tells us three things that motivated these Christians to do the work they did: faith, love, and hope.
2. Brief explanation:
a. Faith roots us in a being in whom we put our total confidence and truth, Jesus Christ. He is the Master, and we are His slaves.
b. Love roots us in an act of love performed on our behalf at that place called Calvary.
c. Hope roots me in the future blessings and promises that have been given by God. My hope desires and expects them.
3. The actions performed because of these motivators.
a. Faith moves us to do the regular, daily tasks of being a Christian.
b. Love motivates us to do the difficult things as we look at the cross and see what Jesus did (See Heb. 12:2-3).
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
c. Hope keeps me going, enduring because every day the blessings that have been promised are drawing nearer.
B. The eagle-eye of God’s sight.
1. In the sight of God and our Father.
2. All that we do in the body of Christ is observed by God.
3. Two verses:
a. Proverbs 15:3
The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
b. Hebrews 4:13
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
III. GOD: THE GOD OF ELECTION
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
A. The meaning of election
a. Strong (1589): (divine) selection
b. Thayer: the act of picking out or choosing
c. NOTE: All faithful Christians, all those who will be saved on the last day have been chosen by God.
2. Two predominate views of election:
a. God elected certain, definite individuals to be saved.
b. God selected a well-defined group of individuals to be saved based upon their compliance with His will.
3. Why we reject the first view.
a. It removes man’s freedom of choice.
b. It limits the benefits of Jesus’ death to a small group of people.
c. It makes God a respecter of persons.
4. Why we accept the second view (Eph. 1:4).
According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.
a. Paul said that God chose us “in him” before the foundation of the world.
b. All of those who are “in Christ” are elected.
1) To be “in Christ,” a person must be immersed (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; Acts 2:38, 41, 47).
2) This allows men to choose their eternal destination.
3) All men, not just a small number, have the possibility of being saved.
4) God is not a respecter of persons.
B. The manifestation of election
1. Paul said that he “knew” their election of God.
2. It was manifest, that is, there were evidences.
a. Paul was there when they initially obeyed the gospel.
b. Their election was manifested also in their manner of living.
3. Obedience to the gospel is wonderful, but we must also show our election in our way of life (II Pet. 1:10a).
Wherefore the rather brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.
A. In Paul’s prayer, we learn about Paul, the Thessalonians, and about God.
B. Three questions:
1. Isn’t it nice to know that someone is praying for you?
2. Isn’t it encouraging to see Christians working, laboring, and enduring for the cause of Christ?
3. Isn’t it exciting to know that we are the elect of God?