Proper 24 · 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10 · October 22, 2017

By David Peter

This Sunday begins a series of several weeks in which the Epistle readings are taken from 1 Thessalonians. In this lectio continua much of the content of Paul’s letter is covered. This provides the opportunity for an expository sermon series based on the appointed Epistle readings from 1 Thessalonians.

The series of sermons is entitled “Fatherly Encouragement.” Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians is essentially a missive in which he provides encouragement to the young church. It continues Paul’s original ministry in their midst in which “like a father with his children we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (2:11–12).

Since Paul’s original visit to Thessalonica, during which he planted the church, was relatively brief (see Acts 17:1–10), he desires to provide encouragement and guidance to the new Christians there. The apostle started this congregation, and he views himself as the spiritual father to the new converts. Though absent in body, he writes to give instruction, assurance, and encouragement so that the believers continue to grow in faith and faithful living.

Schedule of the Sermon Series Themes

Fatherly Encouragement toward Imitation (1:1–10)
Fatherly Encouragement toward Motivation (2:1–13)
Fatherly Encouragement toward Sanctification (3:11–4:12)
Fatherly Encouragement toward Expectation (4:13–18)

Fatherly Encouragement toward Imitation

Focus Statement

The example of faith and faithfulness that Christians demonstrate invites imitation by others.

Function Statement

That the hearer may model faith and faithfulness resulting in its replication by others.

Introduction

“Like Father, like son.” This adage expresses the age-old phenomenon of young toddlers imitating their parents. A little boy pushes the toy plastic lawn mower behind his father, or smears whipped cream on his face in an effort to copy dad shaving. A little girl dresses up with her mother’s clothes or imitates mom as she talks on the phone. It is natural and healthy for children to imitate their parents.

The Christians in Thessalonica were young in the faith. Paul had planted the church there only a couple of years earlier, but he was forced to leave them due to attacks against him by unbelievers. In this epistle he brings encouragement to these Christians to continue to grow in their faith in Christ. As their spiritual father, he encourages them to imitate him so that others might in turn imitate them.

Sermon Outline

I. The process of imitation brings replication of Christian faith.

A. God chose the Thessalonian Christians by the Gospel delivered through Paul’s words and supported by his deeds.

1. Paul spoke the word of the Gospel and modeled the life of faith (1:4–5).
2. The Thessalonians imitated the examples of Paul and of the Lord (1:6).

B. The Thessalonian believers became models for others to imitate.

1. They were examples to others in nearby Greece (1:7)
2. They became examples of faith to others everywhere (1:8).

C. God continues to pass on the faith through the witness of Christians today.

1. Mature Christians witness the faith and model faithful living.
2. Learning believers imitate the life which is modeled.

II. That which is passed on and imitated is faith and faithful living.

A. The Thessalonians displayed faith, love, and hope (1:2–3).

B. Others observed the Thessalonians’ conversion, ministry, and hope in Christ (1:9–10).

C. We today pass on the faith to future generations by modelling faithfulness for others to imitate.

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