Over the next few weeks I want to blog through 1 Thessalonians, a short letter penned by Paul to a young group of believers whom he had gathered together after an effective outreach to their community. Persecution had forced him to leave abruptly (Read Acts 17:1-9) and his concern for their spiritual health led him to send Timothy, a trusted co-worker, to encourage and equip these suffering saints.
He launches into this short letter with typical greetings, identifying himself, his co-workers and the intended recipients.
1 Thess. 1:1 “Paul, Silas and Timothy,….”
Though Paul was the main ‘sparkplug’ in the leadership team, he honoured his co-workers and acknowledged them as partners in this church planting team.
Silas had done prison time with Paul in Philippi. He and Paul had been the recrafted missionary team after Paul and Barnabas broke their leadership unity over the role of John Mark. The Bible doesn’t hide this interpersonal conflict and we are reminded that not all of God’s servants see things exactly the same way!
Timothy was in the long-term mentoring process. Two letters (1 & 2 Timothy) unpack the details of Paul’s assignment for him in Ephesus. Timothy had joined the first missionary team and had been a firsthand witness of the doctrines, duties and difficulties of church planting across the Roman Empire.
I’ve been learning a great deal about mentoring and have a series of younger men in whom I am investing time and purposeful engagement. With my wife Ruth I recently watched the construction of a castle and learned that a stone mason’s apprenticeship (internship) was 7 years in length. Ministry requires modeling and elsewhere Paul urges Timothy to “lay hands on noone suddenly.” (I Tim. 5:22) All of us need mentors, leaders with whom we can compare notes, learn principles and open our lives up for serious examination.
“…To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:”
In every letter Paul lists two addresses for the group of Christians to whom he is writing. They have a geographical base, namely Thessalonica in this case, and a spiritual address. They are in God. They are in Christ. Their faith is fixed in Christ and they derive from God through Him all they need. After all, Jesus Christ is the ONE mediator between God and men.
“Grace and peace to you.” Every believer needs God’s help. Grace is an essential for spiritual life and God’s peace is to be the barometer (cf. Philippians 4:7) that God has settled our hearts as we have learned to bring all of our requests to Him.
I’m out on the road today, connecting with old and new contacts in the ministry to which God has called me. I covet your prayers that God’s grace and peace would be abundantly evident in my life and that the churches I contact will be beacons of grace and truth across this needy province. Sola Deo Gloria
To wrap up here’s the link to the The Bible Project Video – 1 Thessalonians
I find these overviews to be helpful in grasping the themes of each book.