1Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
Paul, Silvanus (see also 1 Peter 5:12), and Timothy are the authors of this book to the church at Thessalonica. They acknowledge the authority of God and their dependence upon God and Christ as they wish their brothers and sisters grace and peace in God’s name.
2We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;
3constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,
4knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;
5for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
They are thankful to God for these converts to Christ, and they express their gratitude to God regularly as they pray for these believers. They are mindful of their love and perseverance in hope in Jesus and in God. God loved these believers and chose them to be His vessels of glory. The gospel came to them not just as mere words spoken but in power and conviction of the Holy Spirit. A true life-changing transformation and encounter with God happened as they heard His gospel. True saving faith is preceded by a conviction of sin as these believers experienced. The godly testimony of these men of God gave authentication and legitimacy to the message which they preached.
6You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
7so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
These believers followed the example of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, and ultimately the example of Christ. At the time the gospel came to them, they experienced much affliction, whether external, internal, or both, it is not clear. There is an internal anguish that comes when we are confronted with our sin (2 Corinthians 7:10). Their sorrow led to great joy, however, as they were set free by the truth in the Holy Spirit. There is also evidence that their reception of the gospel led to persecution from the Jews (2:14, 2 Thessalonians 1:4). Their faith and faithfulness, however, became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (Greece). Their example of repentance following the full conviction of the Spirit was a powerful testimony.
8For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.
9For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
10and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
These believers had quickly become witnesses for Christ themselves. They preached to many others in their area and in places elsewhere such that the gospel had gone forth as had their testimony. As Paul and his fellow missionaries traveled about, they found that they ran into other believers who would tell of the faith of the Thessalonians. They would recount the story of how the Thessalonians turned from serving idols to worshipping the one true God. They also spoke of waiting for Christ, Who had been resurrected, to return from heaven to rescue them from the wrath to come (see also 5:9). Certainly this implies that believers can rest assured that they won’t have to face God’s eternal wrath in hell, though it may also be implying that believers will be rescued from the tribulation wrath to come to all that live on the earth.