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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE ELECT OF GOD

1 Thess 1:1-5 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians, which is in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ: grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

An introduction is in order as we begin this study of Paul's first letter to the church located in Thessalonica. The city got its name from the sister of Alexander the Great whose name was Thessalonica. It was a major commercial city of Macedonia, being located on a well-traveled highway linking other major industrial cities of Greece, as well as a port city that was situated along the coast of the Aegean Sea. Its population consisted mainly of Roman and Greek Gentiles, as well as many Jews.

It was on Paul's second missionary journey that he entered the Roman province of Macedonia. There he visited Neapolis, Philippi, Amphipolis, and Apollonia, and then came to the city of Thessalonica. He was accompanied by his fellow workers for the Lord, Silvanus (Silas) and Timotheus (Timothy). Paul recognizes both of these young preachers, in the opening of his letter to the Christians at Thessalonica, because they were both there when it was founded. Luke's account, in Acts 17:1-4, records the planting of the church of Christ in this city. He wrote that ...they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

Every true church of Christ throughout all ages has been established in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind. The same was true for the church at Thessalonica. Regarding Jesus and His church, Paul said that God put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:22). As he did in many of his epistles, Paul continually gave thanks in his prayers to God for these Christians, and for their continued faithfulness. He tells us the reason for his thankfulness, as he commended them for their work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. When one chooses to become a Christian by obeying God's will, God, in turn, chooses them. A person elects to obey and serve God, and God elects them as His adopted children. Paul knew the Christians of Thessalonica to be the very elect of God. This is exactly what he called the Christians of Colosse: the elect of God (See Col. 3:12-14). Not only were the Thessalonian Christians the elect of God, but also in this election they became beloved brethren. Within the church of Christ there exists a strong spiritual relationship that can be found nowhere else in the societies of mankind. A deeply rooted bond of love existed within this brotherhood, that has its foundation, in the love God, demonstrated through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. This can be proven no better than these verses from the Holy Spirit-inspired pen of the apostle John, when he wrote, For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17). No better love exists. It is this love that faithful, obedient Christians demonstrate toward God, each other, and toward all others in the world that surrounds them.

The Holy Spirit dictated the Bible - the powerful word of God, through which salvation was brought into the world, to the writers of the New Testament. In God's word we find His plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. And in God's word we find the assurance that faithful Christians, the very elect of God, have access to His greatest gift of all to mankind - the hope of eternal salvation.