May 15 Evening Verse of The Day

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1:7 example. The Gr. word was used to describe a seal that marked wax or a stamp that minted coins. Paul commended the Thessalonians for being model believers leaving their mark on others. in Macedonia and Achaia. The two Roman provinces which comprised Greece, Macedonia being to the N and Achaia to the S.[1]

1:7 — … so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.

The believers in Thessalonica were very young in the faith, and yet Paul claims that they had already greatly inspired other believers who heard of their experience. The Holy Spirit, not age, is what makes someone a good example.[2]

1:7 The effect of the gospel was so powerful that the Thessalonians became examples to the whole province of Macedonia, of which their town was the capital. The word examples (Gk. tupos) is singular in the original and refers not to a number of individual examples of Christian living, but rather to the single pattern of response to the Word. It was this willingness to obey the Good News and believe in Christ as the Messiah promised in the OT that Paul praised.[3]

1:7. The followers then in turn became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. When believers do what is right, others notice and are moved to follow their example.[4]

1:7 The Thessalonians became model Christians. First of all, their example of joy in the midst of persecution was an example to believers in Macedonia and Achaia, that is, to all the Christians in Greece.[5]

1:7. The testimony of these Christians did not burn brightly merely at home; it also shone abroad to other people in other parts of Macedonia, reaching even to Achaia, the neighboring province to the south. Having become imitators of the missionaries and their Lord (v. 6) they in turn became the object of imitation by other believers. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians he pointed to these Macedonians as a model (typon; cf. 2 Thes. 3:9) of sacrificial giving (2 Cor. 8:1–8). He wrote that they had given money to help other believers even though they themselves were poor. One of the most revealing evidences of a Christian’s true spirituality is the way he manages his money. In this revealing test the Thessalonians emerged as gold tried in the fire.[6]

1:7. In the first century, the word model referred to the mark left by a hammer or die as in the making of a coin, leaving an impression like the original. Thus, the Thessalonian church became a “model” of believers banded together, a prototype of what a church should be.

After commending the local gathering and the way it was living and responding in a hostile culture, Paul, Silas, and Timothy opened the eyes of the Thessalonians to the influence they were having beyond their city. They were connected to a great network of God’s kingdom. Their adherence to the faith had become an encouragement and example to other churches. The authors knew that understanding their place in the broader context of God’s church would encourage the Thessalonians to continue in faithfulness.

Many believers care about the ways of Christ, and even seek to grow and serve—but primarily as individuals. As good and necessary as our personal efforts are, in the process we can easily forget that there is a distinct model for the local church’s actions and reputation. To model Christ is not only a call to each church member, but to the church as a whole. Many involved in church skirmishes need to read and apply this truth.[7]

1:7 “you became an example to all the believers” The Thessalonian believers’ joy and perseverance under testing and trial was a source of great encouragement to other believers. This is also how the suffering of Job, the prophets (cf. Matt. 5:10, 12), the Messiah, and the Apostles affect future believers. Often believers most powerful testimony is during times of trial, pain, and persecution.

© “in Macedonia and in Achaia” These were Roman provinces. Achaia is located within modern Greece; Macedonia is a political state independent of Greece, though culturally and economically related.[8]

7. So that ye were. Here we have another amplification—that they had stirred up even believers by their example; for it is a great thing to get so decidedly the start of those who had entered upon the course before us, as to furnish assistance to them for prosecuting their course. Typus (the word made use of by Paul) is employed by the Greeks in the same sense as Exemplar is among the Latins, and Patron among the French. He says, then, that the courage of the Thessalonians had been so illustrious, that other believers had borrowed from them a rule of constancy. I preferred, however, to render it patterns, that I might not needlessly make any change upon the Greek phrase made use of by Paul; and farther, because the plural number expresses, in my opinion, something more than if he had said that that Church as a body had been set forward for imitation, for the meaning is, that there were as many patterns as there were individuals.[9]

Ver. 7.—So that ye were ensamples. The word here rendered “ensamples” literally signifies “types.” It is used to denote a form or figure (Acts 7:43), a model or likeness (Acts 7:44), a mark or impression (John 20:25). Hence, in a metaphorical sense, it came to signify an example, a pattern for imitation. “Now these things are our examples” (1 Cor. 10:6). To all that believe—to all believers—in Macedonia and Achaia. These are the two provinces into which ancient Greece was divided by the Romans, each of which was governed by a proconsul. Macedonia was the northern portion, including Macedonia proper, Epirus and Illyricum; at first it was divided into four districts, but afterwards united into one province, of which Thessaloniaa was constituted the capital. Achaia was the southern portion of ancient Greece, including the Peloponnesus, Attica, Bæotia, etc., and, until recently, was nearly of the same dimensions with the modern kingdom of Greece; its capital was Corinth.[10]

7  If our surmise that the “and” with which verse 6 begins functions grammatically to connect the second part of a (now very long) compound sentence, then the present result clause (v. 7) finally brings the whole to a conclusion. In any case, it brings the clause that began in verse 6 to its conclusion. As a further word of reassurance Paul informs the Thessalonian believers’ that their “imitation” of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and thus of the now-reigning Lord (see n. 48 above), has in turn served as a “model”54 for “all the believers in Macedonia and [in] Achaia.”

That much is clear enough. The difficulties arise with the relationship of this sentence to that which follows immediately (as our v. 8), which elaborates by explaining “how” they had become such a model. “All the believers” refers to those who had come to faith—almost certainly through the ministry of the three itinerants—in the two provinces that make up the whole of ancient Greece, which would include all of modern Greece and at least the southern part of modern Macedonia. Although his and Silas’s path was most likely more narrowly circumscribed, Paul is well aware that word about the gospel and its affects in Thessalonica had spread like wildfire among the Jewish synagogues in Greece, and therefore especially among the Gentiles who attended the synagogues. And as the word spread, the Thessalonians served as a “model” of “faith in the midst of suffering” as the gospel continued west and southward. Thus Paul sees them, like a stone thrown into the water, as fitting into an ever-widening circle of “models” to be “imitated”: Christ → Paul → Thessalonica → Macedonia and Achaia.

This passage has considerable significance, both theologically and in terms of Christian conversion, well beyond its first purpose of encouraging the Thessalonians by reminding them of both the fact and nature of their conversion. Indeed, it is of more than passing interest that Paul’s first recorded thanksgiving is so full of information regarding his understanding of “conversion” as such. In fact, had the majority of people who made up the believing community in Thessalonica had Jewish origins, this “thanksgiving” would have been expressed quite differently. But as it is, it stands as the first—and vivid—reminder that early Christian conversion among Gentiles was an experienced reality, and that both “faith,” here expressed as “deep conviction,” and the gift of the Holy Spirit were its essential ingredients. Even so, it was not their “conversion” itself that was to serve as a model for others, but the way they welcomed the gospel in the context of “severe suffering” that served as the model, and continues still to do so where “conversion” takes place outside of cultures deeply influenced by “Christendom.”[11]

7 But the imitators in their turn were imitated, and that widely. Paul speaks of this with satisfaction. His word for “model”40 is that from which we get our word “type.” Originally it denoted the mark left by a blow (as in John 20:25, where it is translated “marks”). Then it came to be used of a figure stamped by a blow, like the design stamped on a coin. From that it came to denote any image, whether stamped or not (as in Acts 7:43), and then a pattern (Acts 7:44; Heb. 8:5). It comes to have ethical significance when it is used of a pattern of conduct, occasionally of a pattern to be avoided (1 Cor. 10:6), but more usually, as here, of an example to be followed (Titus 2:7; 1 Pet. 5:3, etc.). In the present passage the word is used in the singular. Paul is speaking of the church as a pattern community rather than of the individuals comprising it as so many individual patterns.

They are an example “to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia,” which was an area comprising all of the land we know as Greece, together with the province to the north of it, a considerable area. This is the one place where Paul speaks of one church as “a model” for others; he sometimes speaks of churches imitating other churches (as this church imitated the churches of Judea, 2:14), but here only does he use the precise term “model” of any church. He specifically makes the point that these believers are a pattern to other believers; he is not simply contrasting them with pagans who do not know the power of God. It is easy to pass over the significance of “all the believers,” for nowadays great stress is placed on good works of various kinds, especially social service, and often people regard this as the essence of Christianity. Apostolic Christianity was in no danger of confusing the root with the fruit in this way. Throughout the New Testament the characteristic mark of Christians is their faith—their dependence on Christ alone for all things. Naturally and unobtrusively Christians are called simply “believers.” That is the heart of the matter, and Paul’s usage makes it clear. Nothing more is needed to characterize Christians, and nothing less will do.[12]

7 The greatest attainment for these new Christians was becoming for others what Paul and his companions had been for them. They had become an example to Christians throughout Greece. Typos (“model,” GK 5596) suggests an exact reproduction. Christians in Philippi, Berea, Athens, Corinth, and elsewhere in the Grecian provinces of Macedonia and Achaia did well to look to Thessalonica in modeling their own lives.[13]

a behavior that is exemplary

so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (1:7)

A seventh indicator of the Thessalonians’ election, and an extension of the others, was their exemplary conduct. They went from commendable imitators of Paul and Christ to those whose own Christian lives became worthy of imitation. The church had become an example to all the believers, a model for even older, more mature Christians to follow. Example is the Greek word tupos (“exact reproduction”), from which the English type derives. The Thessalonians became like blueprints for others throughout the region to build their lives on (cf. 1 John 2:6). Macedonia was the province in northern Greece that contained Thessalonica, as well as Philippi and Berea. Achaia was the southern province of Greece that included such prominent cities as Athens and Corinth.

To illustrate this specifically, the Thessalonians were among those believers Paul cited to the Corinthians as models for giving and financial stewardship. The Thessalonians were in deep poverty, likely because of the persecution they underwent. Yet they gave liberally and sacrificially to help the needy believers in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:1–5), thus demonstrating a pattern of godliness, and again in a sacrificial way proving the reality of their election.[14]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Th 1:7). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (1 Th 1:7). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1573). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Wilkin, R. N. (2010). The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 931). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2024). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 692). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, pp. 9–10). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[8] Utley, R. J. (1997). Paul’s First Letters: Galatians and I & II Thessalonians (Vol. Volume 11, p. 81). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[9] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (pp. 243–244). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[10] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). 1 Thessalonians (p. 3). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[11] Fee, G. D. (2009). The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 40–41). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[12] Morris, L. (1991). The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (pp. 49–50). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[13] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 381). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[14] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (pp. 25–26). Chicago: Moody Press.

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