EXAMPLES TO ALL THAT BELIEVE
1 Thess 1:6-8 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
Paul continues his praise, of the Christians of Thessalonica, by commending them for following the teaching of himself, and his fellow servants of Christ. This gives us the assurance that all Christians can justifiably follow preachers, that are following and teaching the dictates of God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Those of Thessalonica joyfully received, and obeyed, the gospel message of Christ, in spite of much affliction from other anti-Christian Jewish and Gentile inhabitants of the city.
A rather lengthy quotation, but notice, in the text, the political and social persecution these Christians received. But the Jews, which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things (Acts 17:5-8).
Not only were these faithful Thessalonians persecuted for accepting Jesus as their Savior, but Paul makes a very important point about them becoming, and remaining, children of God. He tells all Christians that we must joyfully expect, and accept, criticism from the world. Not only did these Thessalonians receive much affliction, harassment, and distress, but they did so with joy of the Holy Ghost. That is, they joyfully accepted cruel oppression from unbelievers after receiving, believing, and obeying the word of God, which was delivered to them by Paul, just as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to do so.
Even with threatening persecution and affliction, members of the church at Thessalonica continued, by their conduct of life, to proclaim to the world around them, the gospel message of Jesus Christ. They gladly admitted that Jesus was the Son of God, and that through Him, and only through Him, could they find the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of eternal salvation. It was this zeal - this unwavering, Christian characteristic, for which Paul commended the brethren of Thessalonica. He told them that ye were ensamples (examples) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia, the province lying to the south of Macedonia, having Corinth as its capital.
The lives of these Christians was worthy of imitation by all other Christians in Macedonia and Achaia, and they are also examples to all members of the church of Christ of all ages, as well as today. Becoming a worthy Christian example is the greatest compliment that can be paid to a follower of Jesus Christ. Elders of Christian congregations are to be examples to the flock (See 1 Peter 5:1-3). Paul told young Timothy, Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity (1 Tim. 4:12).
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. The effect the gospel message of salvation, through Jesus Christ had on these Christians of Thessalonica, was so strikingly, and so overwhelmingly, received that it spread abroad, throughout all Roman provinces in the area that surrounded them. Their zealous example as Christians was so widely known that, wherever Paul went, the news of their faithful devotion to Jesus, and His gospel message, had arrived before he did. Paul had no occasion to tell of their devoted obedience to the cause of Christ, because their Christian example was already known. Many, if not most, of the Christians of Thessalonica, had been heathen idol worshippers, but were now serving the living and true God (Vs. 9). Such a contrasting life style was sure to be noticed by all that had previously known them.
What a great testimony it is, when those known to be sinners, turn from worldliness to godliness - from looking forward to a life of sin, to looking forward to the second coming of the Son of God (Vs. 10). What great witnesses are Christians throughout the world, that hold to, and proclaim this truth, as did the apostle Peter:Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16).