1Th 1:1-4 “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 labour 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.”
As Paul opens this letter, he is once again in the company of faithful servants of God. Many scholars consider Silvanus to be the Roman name for Silas. Thus the church at Thessalonica was being greeted by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. As was often the case with Paul’s letters, it was not just his sentiment that he was expressing, but rather his desire to see God’s benefit toward the church.
He immediately identifies the church as being “in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word rendered “in” denotes “a fixed position in place, time, or state” according to Strong’s. The church is secure in the power of Him who spoke the worlds into existence (Heb 11:3) and made all things (Joh 1:3). Strong’s ascribes the word rendered as “grace” with this phrase; “especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.”
Some may experience the divine influence upon the heart and it never be reflected in their life here (i.e. the thief on the cross). However, for the church it is vital that this divine influence be reflected (or demonstrated) in the lives of her members. When His divine influence upon our hearts is reflected in our lives, then peace in Him is also our portion. It is not something that we make or that men give us: it comes from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace in our lives is the direct result of God working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Php 2:13).
These brothers were diligent to remember the church in their prayers. Notice this was not just a blanket “praying for the church.” Paul said “We give thanks for you all,” which indicates to me that he did not just pray for the church at Thessalonica as a corporate whole. Each individual in the church was mentioned in prayer according to their need. It is still important today that we not just pray for “the church” collectively, but that in doing so we remember the individual members of the body with thanksgiving.
We are human beings, and as such, it is not difficult to find fault in each other if that is what we are looking for. Notice what Paul remembered without fail concerning these brethren. He remembered their consistent actions (work of faith) for the glory of God. He called to mind their labor (giving of themselves) of love (feast of charity). He remembered their cheerful endurance (patience) which was a product of their confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we pray for God’s people, these are the things we need to remember to give thanks for. In this, we acknowledge that God is all in all and the works of the flesh are nothing. We need to make recognition of His work in us that we might be edified and His name glorified. Finally, in this we profess our recognition of the fact that we are chosen of (through, under) God.
Our being in the church is as much the power of God’s choosing as our eternal salvation. Until He is pleased to reveal to us His church and add us to that blessed body (Act 2:47), we cannot perceive it. Once He has manifested the Bride of the Lamb to us and called us out, then we begin to understand Peter’s instruction to “make our calling and election sure (2Pe 1:8-11),” knowing that our election is of God.
May we be faithful to remember His saints and give thanks to Him for His gifts in and through them according to His electing grace!