Studies in I Thessalonians (part 5)

Tom Bentley

Verse 4. "Knowing. . your election" See the AV margin, the RV and JND for this reading: "Knowing brethren, beloved of (by) God, your election," the ultimate reason for the gratitude which filled the heart of Paul and his brethren for these believers, is the fact that they knew that the Thessalonians were God’s chosen ones open to all the privileges assembly fellowship extends. By now, most will have noticed, the four participles that open this great Epistle, namely: ‘giving thanks,’ ‘making mention,’ ‘remembering,’ and now ‘knowing.’ Notice the word eidotes, literally "knowing," is a participle that is a regular formula with Paul. Its frequent use must not be overlooked because it is significant (Rom.5:3; 6:9; 13:11; 1 Cor. 15:58; 2 Cor. 4:14; 5:6, 11, Eph.6:8) as is the often used ‘therefore’ signalling that these inferential words dispose of any lurking suspicion a believer may have of reason, which is often despised and of knowledge, which is often disdained. What gave the Apostle this knowledge was the compliance of the Thessalonians to the claims the truth of God makes upon every soul that professes to obey it. This confirmed that they were elect of God.

"Brethren beloved of (by) God"- The heart affectionate expression in the vocative brethren, (occurs 18 times in this Epistle) is enriched by the additional reference to the love of God. The word "beloved," a perfect participle, is used of the saints by each writer of the New Testament Epistles. Its form defines the abiding result of a past act. Notice how often the New Testament uses a past tense for the love of God: John 3:16; Romans 8:37; Ephesians 2:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 John 4:10-11, 19 and cf. Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2, 25. From this we gather that the impact of the Cross has eternal results - in God and in us.

Verse 5. How may the elect be recognized? a. Subjective reasons relating to the experience of the preachers. "Our gospel" -What they proclaimed had been first made their own. Not, of course the written Gospel, but the Gospel or ‘good tidings’ preached by Paul. We know this to be the good news concerning Christ and His atoning work (1 Cor. 15:3). Here it is "our" gospel. In 2:2 it is the Gospel "of God." In 3:2 it is the Gospel "of Christ" And again in 2:4 it is simply the Gospel. It should constantly be kept in mind that there is only one Gospel (NB Galatians 1:6-7 where it is distinctly affirmed as not another gospel of a different kind). However various aspects of it appear in the terms and titles employed throughout the NT: 1. Rom. 1:1 "the Gospel of God" as to its Origin; 2. Rom. 1:16 "the Gospel of Christ" as to its Subject: 3. Gal. 2:7 "the Gospel of the circumcision and the uncircumcision" as to its Scope: 4. Matt. 24:14 "the Gospel of the Kingdom" as to its Rule and Authority: 5. Acts 20:24 "the Gospel of the grace of God" as to its Means; 6. 2 Car. 4:5 "the Gospel of the Glory of Christ" (RV), as to its Radiance and Revelation. 7. 1 Tim. 1:11 "the Gospel of the Glory of the Blessed God" as to its Object and Purpose. "Came not unto you in word only" while indeed, it had to come in word, for it was preached and proclaimed by Paul to the Thessalonians, they, nevertheless, were not captivated by mere eloquence or learned discourse, proving that the effectiveness of the Gospel is not dependent upon human learning. "But also in power" - ‘but’ is from ‘alla’ a strong Greek adversative, showing the contrast we have stated above, that the Gospel was preached not by mere eloquence, but in power and that of the Holy Spirit. "In power" is en dunamei giving us the location or sphere in which this message was preached. The word "dynamic" is derived from this word, indicating that, if the Gospel is to be effective, the message must be preached through the enablement of the Spirit of God, thus imparting to the message spiritual persuasion and conviction. "And in the Holy Ghost" gives again the location or sphere in which the Gospel must be proclaimed, for only He can give that result and spiritual triumph that reveals the effectuality of the Gospel in soul saving blessing. "And much assurance" - note that the preposition ‘in’ is not repeated before the word assurance, thus indicating very clearly the close link between the Holy Ghost and the assurance. This word has a limited occurrence in the New Testament (here, and in Col.2:2; Heb.6:11; 10:22) and should be considered carefully for its intent. Here it denotes the assurance experienced by the preachers that as they preached the Gospel, God was without doubt working in blessing. Do we possess this assurance each time we proclaim the Gospel? Where would you suggest it is to be obtained? If once obtained, would it abide with us forever? Or is it temporal in its presence in the soul? Did Paul always have it? He was writing, what we are considering right now, yet in Corinth, he had need of some necessary confirmation (See Acts 18:9-10) which would seem to indicate that the ‘assurance’ of which he speaks here was absent then.

b. Objective reasons relating to the effects of the preaching
(1) They became imitators 1:6
(2) They became ensamples 1:7 - 9a