Paul wrote an encouraging letter to the church in Thessalonica praising them for their zeal and work in the Lord that encouraged him when he heard of it. In 1 Thessalonians, we observe the interrelationship between the Thessalonians and their teacher Paul.
Cycle of Example
Paul told the Corinthians to “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Paul lived a holy and righteous life in the presence of the Thessalonians and exhorted them to live righteously (2:9-12). He commended the Thessalonians for following his example and the example of Christ (1:6). As a result, the Thessalonians became an example to the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (1:7). In fact, their example became so widespread that Paul learned of it from others and it encouraged him (v. 8).
Cycle of Words
The gospel came in words and the power of the Holy Spirit (1:5) and they received it as the word of God (2:13). The word of God changed their focus and manner of life (1:9) and gave them hope (1:10). Not content with their spiritual gain, they sounded the word in the regions of Macedonia and Achaia (1:8). Paul received word of their living by the word and spreading the word to others.
Cycle of Suffering
Paul and his companions were treated shamefully at Philippi and suffered much when they taught the Thessalonians as well (2:1-2; Acts 16 and 17). Despite the conflict, Paul shared the gospel with them with great tenderness and affection, giving themselves completely to the effort (2:7-8). The Thessalonians obeyed the gospel and they also suffered as Paul did (2:14-15) for the sake of the gospel.
The close and loving relationship between Paul and the Thessalonians is one that every teacher should desire with their students. To have them not only hear the message but to allow it to change their lives, and create a zeal to carry the message to others despite the opposition is something every teacher would like to see. In this letter, Paul describes his approach to teaching the Thessalonians.
Effective Teaching Principles
Paul described the principles he and his companions embraced when they taught these believers whose response to the gospel had a continuing positive effect in the kingdom. They are principles we should emulate as well.
- Boldness in the middle of conflict – 2:1-3
- Taught only a pure doctrine – 2:13
- Pure motives – 2:3-5
- Sense of duty – 2:4
- Concerned with God’s approval – 2:4
- Selfless (not teaching for pride, greed, or power) – 2:5
- Gentleness – 2:7
- Intense effort – 2:9
- Exhortation to holiness – 2:11-12
- Continue to teach/not abandon them – 3:1-3, 11-13; 4:1