Updated: Feb 3
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead– Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.
This is the Epistle selection from the Episcopal Lectionary for Year A, Proper 24, the twentieth Sunday after Pentecost. It will next be read aloud in church on Sunday, October 22, 2017. This is important as Paul addressed the Christians of Thessaly as all true Christians must recognize – as being beloveds of God, chosen to become imitators of Christ the Lord, sharing their love of God and Christ to all they live among and come in contact with.
As the introduction chapter to a new letter, it is worthwhile to note how Paul includes his Christian travel companions as equally supporting the contents of this letter. One should not see Paul adding those names as though it was some cordial inclusion of his helpers or underlings. The Greek text says, “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy,” where the conjunction “kai” can be translated as “also, even, indeed, again, same,” and (among many other possibilities) “together.” When this equality is seen, those three men (each filled with the Holy Spirit) become representative of a holy Trinity, or a triple Trinity, as each were Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just with different travel names.
That multiplicity being stated at the beginning of this letter (chapter) can then be seen as a governing factor for the rest of this reading.
The salutation above is missing a comma (which was written or implied), as it is “To the church of the Thessalonians.” The Greek word “ekklēsia” also states “To the assembly,” where that meant “the whole body of Christian believers” who lived in Thessaly. Following the comma, the address states: “in God [the] Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ.” The separation of the comma allows for this segment of words to say that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, along with the assembly of Christians in Thessaly are all related “in God,” the “Father.” The use of “kai” here then adds that the relationship all have, through the Father, is they all have become reborn versions of Jesus, with the Christ Mind. This is the deepest meaning that was written with intention and thus it was received by the Thessalonians with understanding.
It is not a greeting without deep and sincere meaning attached, regardless of how many times others will read that greeting and miss that intent.
When Paul then continued with his salutation (following the colon – a mark of clarification about the intent of “in God Father and Jesus Christ”), writing, “Grace to you and peace,” please understand that Paul is not attempting to give “Grace and peace” to anyone. Such use of flowery language today is a sign of how people throw about good wishes, with no idea how grace and peace ever comes to be. The Greek word “Charis” means “Grace,” but the usage states, “a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ,” as well as “the Lord’s favor” and refers “to God freely extending Himself, reaching to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.” Thus, Paul (and his co-equals) were stating a known fact about the Christians of Thessaly: They had been given Grace by the Father and that comes with peace of mind and general good health and welfare.
To further clarify (which has been omitted above [NIV], but is in the KJV), Paul followed another comma and stated that Grace and peace had come “from God our Father and Lord Jesus Christ.” He made it clearly stated that he was not making some kind of papal decree of holiness bestowed, as Paul sending his blessings out to people he once spent time with.
After the greeting, this letter demonstrates how difficult it can be to read the epistles of Paul. He appears long-winded as his sentences seem to go on and on, with few period marks. In this regard, I have found the same characteristic of writing in the two letters that Nostradamus wrote (a Preface and a letter to King Henry II of France), which have become fixtures to the publications entitled The Prophecies. The same long-windedness and scarcity of period marks are repeated there; and this means both Paul and Nostradamus wrote in the same manner, without attempts to copy this style. The commonality of the two says they were both filled with God’s Holy Spirit (by their own admission), which makes this style of writing that which can be termed the language of God – Holy Scripture.
It is important, therefore, to not attempt to read Paul as one would read the latest (fill in the name of your favorite fiction author here) novel, as if you can’t wait to see what is written several pages away, because the excitement builds so rapidly. Prophets of God write in ways that demand one pull up a chair at a table, get out the paper and pen, and make some notes. Reading must then be done slowly, rather than as a graduate of some speed reading program.
This makes all internal punctuation become the stepping stones (or speed bumps), from which pause and reflection are demanded. Because one’s brain is trained to read quickly, it becomes an automatic process where “auto-correct” occurs … with the same inabilities one sees a cell phone make. Errors of understanding are commonplace, and the more they occur the more they are accepted as correct. Therefore, reading slowly allows the full impact of what has been written to appear, so the words of prophets can amazingly become specific in choice, yielding detailed and meaningful text.
This is God at work.
In regard to reading in this manner, keep in mind that God has set apart the seventh day as holy. It is to be a day of rest – the peace of the Lord upon one. No ordinary or daily work is to be done on the Sabbath. So, what better way to spend eight hours on a Saturday can there be, other than letting the Holy Spirit enlighten one and increase one’s faith through understanding?
On the other hand, what better way is there to make the cornerstone of one’s religion erode and crumble into nothing meaningful, when one does not take dedicated time to explore the Word of the Lord? This is why God commanded attention be paid to holy matters.
With that said, consider the statement made in verse two, which begins by saying, “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers.” This is how true Apostles and Saints go about their daily business: “We give thanks to God always.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit is a gift that keeps on giving. Therefore, the thank-yous to God keep on coming. This is not something only Paul, Silvanus and Timothy did, as “concerning all of you [the Christians of Thessaly],” for they too continuously gave thanks to God.
Following the comma (not recognized in the text above), verse two goes on to state, “mention you in our prayers.” The actual text becomes more accurately stated as a separate segment (following a comma), beginning with “remembrance,” which is more a follow-up on the prior statement of “giving thanks to God.” Therefore, one gives thanks to God through their “remembrances made in the prayers of everyone” Christian.
Certainly, thanks would be made to God, through prayers, for having been found, led, and made associated with others who likewise became rebirths of Jesus Christ. This means Paul’s (et al) prayers were not pleas that God would keep the Thessalonian Christians remembered (as God knows all hearts and minds that are His), but that all Christians remembered other Christians through prayers of thanksgiving.
In verse three, the above statement is likewise missing quite a few commas (each either written or implied), as we read, “constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” The literal Greek text breaks this into a series of segments, where each part stands alone as meaningful, before joining with the other segments. The series states: “unceasingly remembering your work of faith,” followed by “and the labor of love,” followed by “and the endurance of hope of the Lord of us,” followed by “Jesus Christ,” and finally followed by “before the God and Father of us.” As one needs to be able to see, reading slowly, segment by segment, allows a much deeper and meaningful letter to unfold.
After one has been thankful to God’s presence within one, thankful through remembrance in prayer, one is then constantly praying. The prayers of thanks are not like those of a child, on one’s knees at the bedside before sleep. One is “constantly recalling one’s work of faith” in prayer. One is thankful because those works are “labors of love,” where the love is a relationship with God, and God’s direction of that work.
So often people speak highly of “hope,” when “hope” becomes an “enduring desire to maintain the presence of the Lord” within one. One’s “hope” is to forever act as “Jesus Christ,” whose Mind has been the product of one’s love of God (baby Jesus born within one, as the consummation of one’s love with God). It is through that rebirth of “Jesus Christ” within one that allows all Christians to truly stand “before God,” knowing He is the “Father of us all,” as each true Christian is a reproduction of the Son of God.
Verse four then states above, “For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you.” The translation “For we know” comes from one Greek word, which is “eidotes.” With that one word set apart by period before and comma after, it bears more importance than simply a statement of what Paul “knew.”
The word implies “perception” and “understanding,” as “a gateway to grasp spiritual truth (reality) from a physical plane.” (Word Studies reference) Therefore, this “knowing” comes in the same way it came to Paul (et al), as all were “brothers [and sisters]” due to the consummation of God’s love (“beloved by God”).” This is not a casual spreading of God’s seed, as would occur in human nature through unmarried and unprotected sex [fornication, like animals]; but , instead, all Christians are brothers [and sisters] because they have all been “chosen by God.” God chooses His brides; thus being chosen by God is metaphor for being married to God.
Marriage begets baby Jesuses.
Aaaahhh. I think he looks just like you!
Verse five then begins by stating (as shown above): “because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only.” The Greek word translated as “message” is “euangelion,” which means, “The good news of the coming of the Messiah, the gospel,” but implies “the human transmitter (an apostle).” This then explains the “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” An Apostle spreads this “hope” to others; but this “hope” did not come to the Saint simply by reading or hearing “words only.” Therefore, being an Apostles means more than telling people about Jesus as the Christ.
Hope that comes only from words means that which is hoped for is always beyond one’s reach. We hope for things to materialize in this realm, when hope is only truly answered “in our Lord” being our Lord within. A true Christian’s hope is to become Jesus Christ.
The second segment of verse five then states (as above): “but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” This means that an Apostle gives others the keys to fulfilled “hope,” by explaining the intent of the “word” so that others can see the “power” those words contain. That power illuminates the presence of the Holy Spirit, in the writer of the words, in the Apostle explaining those words, and in the abilities within one being enlightened. Only from one being exposed to the light of truth can one personally feel the power within and realize the “full assurance” and “conviction” that the Word is indeed Holy.
Only from that personal relationship can one have “full confidence” in God and His Christ. This is how “hope” is “assured.”
Verse five concludes by stating (as above): “just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.” This says that the personal experience then allows each new believer to “know” and “appreciate” that a Saint has come to him or her, in order for him or her to be enlightened personally. That personal connection to God is what leads one to choose to be “that kind of person” who likewise seeks others to enlighten. It is a light that opens one’s eyes to helping others, more than self.
Verse six begins by simply stating, “And you,” where the focus of the letter changes from the wonders that all Apostles and Saints feel, to specifically address the accomplishments of the Thessalonian Christians. Paul pointed out that, by stating that they “became imitators of us and of the Lord.” Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had been welcomed by them in their travels, but that presence had the effect of passing on the Holy Spirit to all.
As “imitators,” the Thessalonians had become “followers,” in the way that Jesus meant when he said, “follow me.” The Greek word here is “mimētai,” which was only used by Paul in his letters and means, “imitators” or “followers,” but more properly: “the positive imitation that arises by admiring the pattern set by someone worthy of emulation.” There was nothing artificial – no pretense – in their following holy men into sainthood.
This is an example of an imitator, who never is who he acts to be. This is a reflection of idol worship.
To clarify that this was a statement of the Thessalonians being “followers” in Christ, following a comma (not shown above) Paul then wrote, “and of the Lord.” This means all were “imitators” of Jesus Christ, just as were Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. By Paul stating “the Lord,” using the Greek word “Kyriou,” he meant it was understood that Jesus becomes “the Master” of one’s physical body (his kingdom), and that “Lord” is whose commands a “follower” or “subject” obeys.
When is read, “for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit,” this is split in two by a comma not brought into the translation above. By Paul separating this into a segment that stated the Thessalonians “had received the word amid much tribulation,” this says the Thessalonian Christians primarily were Jewish. They were then outcast by Jews who rejected the “word” that the Christ had come. Similarly, as had occurred in Jerusalem and Galilee, attempts had been made to harm them or force them to recant their beliefs. Still, they believed Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah because of more than simply words having been spoken.
They maintained their faith in Jesus Christ because they “received the word.” The Thessalonians had “welcomed” and “accepted” the Good News, but they had also breathed in the Spirit that news brought. Therefore, that receipt came “with the “joy” and “gladness of the Holy Spirit.”
Verse seven then continues the thought line on the Thessalonian Christians being imitators of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, through the joyful presence of the Holy Spirit and the Christ Mind, as they too have evangelized to others. Rather than just become “couch potato Christians” and stay at home, doing nothing, some “became examples” of Jesus Christ reborn, bringing forth “all the believers in Macedonia.” Some of them spread the Gospel “in Achaia,” which is stated separately via comma. Those two places represent distances traveled to the southwest and northeast, in mainland Greece, from Thessaly.
In verse eight, Paul stated his certainty (from personal experience) that the Christians of Thessaly were in no way limited to how far and to whom their “words” of Christ Jesus were announced, with joy motivating them to speak that truth wherever they traveled and wherever they lived. This means they were not limited to telling Jews only, in Macedonia and in Achaia. That meant it was unnecessary for Paul to list every place in the world where Greeks had access, as places where they might consider going. Just as Paul (et al) was driven by the Holy Spirit to evangelize, he and his travel companions knew the same motivation was present in the Christians of Thessaly.
In verse nine, Paul informed the Christians of Thessaly that he and his companions, in their travels, were meeting other Christians who had been affected by those Thessalonians. The Greek word that has been translated as “welcomed” (“eisodon”) actually translates as “reception,” implying an “entering” or “entrance into.” As such, these reports Paul (et al) were hearing were more than the Christians of Thessaly saying how happy they were to meet Paul and his traveling companions; but the same Spirit had entered them.
When Paul wrote, “and how you turned to God from idols,” this clarified how they had been filled with the Holy Spirit of the LORD. The Greek word “eidolon” means “idols,” but denotes an “image (for worship),” thus “false gods.” While the history of the Greeks is known to be polytheistic, as their mythology had them erecting many statues to the gods (including one to “the unknown god”), the “false gods” that the Jewish converts to Christianity had turned away from were the leaders who condemned Christianity (as a belief in the Messiah having come as Jesus of Nazareth). Evidence of this can be seen reflected in the story of Jesus and the young, wealthy ruler (Pharisee), who proved he served a material master. The “idols” worshipped by many leading Jews were representative of things possessed (land, coins, clothing, and the rest), where those “idols” were proof to them of their God.
From grasping this connection to Judaism, which believed in the God of Moses (ancient history, thus perhaps a dead God – after their ancestors lost their land?), they served themselves as the special ones whom God rewards with things. All of the Greeks of paganism worshipped dead gods (stone monuments) out of fear, more than belief. They offered sacrifices out of ritual, with few expectations beyond the uncertainty of Mother Nature. Still, those pagan Greeks were not persecuted for “mailing in” their “faith card,” so they did not “turn to God from idols” because someone told them about Jesus dying, resurrecting, and ascending to heaven, before witnesses. The Jews had belief in such things in their history (Elijah for one), but they had reverted (once again, in a history of many times) to idolatry.
This is why Paul then wrote about that turn away from idols as being “to serve a living and true God.” The Greek text presents a comma (written or implied) between “God living , and true.” The separation is important, as “a living God” (“Theō zōnti”) placed focus on God being alive in the servant (or “slave, devotee, subject” – from “douleuein”). It is not a statement that God is Alive, but one that says one lives as God incarnate.
This is the story of Jesus of Nazareth, who walked the earth as the living presence of God. ALL subsequent Apostles and Saints are then reproductions of Jesus of Nazareth, as the Son of God still living on the earthly plane. Those who worship idols are as dead as the stone images they stand before, or as dead as the rabbis who cannot teach one to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and make God be Alive on earth. Therefore, the separate statement, “and true,” means one is “genuine,” “real,” and literally “made of truth.”
The Greek word “alēthinō” means “true,” while “emphasizing the organic connection (authentic unity) between what is true and its source or origin.” Every time Jesus said “verily,” he said, “I only speak the truth.” The truth is certain. God becomes alive and present through those who speak His truth.
When Paul began to wind down this introductory page of his letter to the Christians of Thessaly, he continued by stating, “and to wait for his Son from heaven.” This has to be seen as adding meaning to the use of “to serve God living,” where “truth” is all important. By Paul adding the need “to wait for the Son of him of the heavens,” the reason one calls a “waiter” in a restaurant by that name, is the customer decides what the waiter will bring forth; and until that time an order is determined, it is the place of that servant “to await” that order. For Paul to say “to wait for his Son” or “await the Son,” this is confirmation that each true Christian is indeed a body of flesh that is the attendant of the Son, as the rebirth of Jesus Christ.
That presence in a human body is then not physical, but spiritual, being “from heaven” or “of the heavens,” which is the Holy Spirit.
This too is confirmed when Paul next wrote, “whom he raised from the dead.” Each and every true Christian is the one “to wait for his Son,” as the one (one of many) “whom God raised from the dead.” All human beings are born of death, as mortal creatures housing living souls. Death means reincarnation; whereas Life means the release of the soul to eternal life, without the restraints of mortal death.
Jesus of Nazareth was one “whom God raised from the dead,” but all true Christians are likewise raised from the dead by the rebirth of Jesus Christ within them. Therefore, Paul stated “Jesus” between two commas, standing alone as that statement of rebirth.
The presence of “Jesus” within a servant waiting on that Son is the only way one becomes “rescued from the wrath” that is mortal death, as repeating the life of a soul imprisoned in another body of flesh. Becoming a servant to the LORD means dying of self and being reborn with the Mind of Christ, which makes one like Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and the Christians of Thessaly – those who await the Son sent to them from heaven, and go to others so they too can be “rescued from the wrath.”
The Greek word that has been translated as “rescues” is “rhyomenon.” The word actually says, “delivering.” The servant who makes deliveries is always seeking the one who will receive. Thus, salvation is more than the words one takes out to the world. It is about finding those who will be receiving them spiritually.
From this detailed interpretation of the 256 words Paul wrote here, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, one should come away with either a headache or the “wow effect.” There is so much contained in so few words that to listen to them be read aloud in a church requires amazing abilities of grasping meaning and retention of that meaning, for Paul to be understood fully. I have written over four thousand words in explanation of 256 written by Paul.
The same depth of meaning comes from the writings of Nostradamus; but then God purposefully had Nostradamus write in more confusing text than did he tell Paul. Nostradamus clearly entitled his work The Prophecies, as a statement that the future was only knowable by God. Something only knowable by God requires God to understand. Paul also wrote of the future, with the confusion being in a letter addressed to people long gone. To not see that fixed in the past state of 1 Thessalonians 1, one likewise needs God to see Paul wrote a prophecy of the future – now – always now.
The point here is that Paul was not simply rubber stamping a “thank you” letter to the Thessalonians. He wrote words that only one filled by the Holy Spirit could fully comprehend, after happily spending hours poring over each word written. Each of Paul’s letters should be seen as written to every true Christian who will ever read or listen to his words.
They are written to me and to you, because that is the power of God and His Word. If you read Paul and are thinking “Yada, yada, yada” (which is actually Hebrew, stating, “I know, I know, I know”), then you might want to look around and see if you spend more time worshiping things (idols) and much less time having fun letting the Holy Spirit enlighten you about Scripture. Hopefully, you read my words here and said, “YADA! YADA! YADA!, because you saw the same things, but felt you had no one to tell.
If that is the case, consider this interpretation of a letter of Paul my congratulations to you. Thank you for being Christian.