Saturday, July 25, 2009

Giving Thanks to God for You: Sermon Prep on 1 Thess 1

Is it wrong to motivate a congregation toward holy living by holding up the Thessalonians as an example to imitate? No, I don’t think so, because Paul indicates that the Thessalonians were an example for the Macedonians and Achaians (1 Thess 1:7). Good enough. If they were examples for the people in the surrounding regions, then they can be examples for us. However, we must be careful to make clear who or what the ground of their ability to be an example is. Can this be found in the text? I think so; the ground of their becoming imitators was in the receiving of the word in tribulation and in the Holy Spirit. This is God wrought imitation, isn’t it? (Do 1 Thess 1:6-7 form a bilateral? Only if the hōste acts as a therefore. Otherwise, it might indicate the result of the action previously described.) Also, the content of Paul’s thanksgiving (1 Thess 1:2-3) is all about their work, labor, and perseverance, which are in turn respectively produced by faith, hope, and love. So then, as I am seeing it right now, faith, hope, and love, are central to the Thessalonians ability to live as examples. And their faith, hope, and love are all rooted in Jesus Christ himself (tou kyriou hēmōn Iēsou Christou).

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