remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians was probably written about 20 years after Jesus ascended to heaven. You can read about the founding of the Thessalonian church in Acts 17:1-9. A good theme for this letter is, “Walk Worthy in light of Christ’s return.” The letter is fundamentally about what we call sanctification. Sanctification is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. It is how a Christian grows in Godliness or grows in grace.
After a short greeting, Paul begins his letter with thankfulness for the young church. Verses 2-10 are a description of the things which brings Paul to lift up his soul in thanksgiving to God and bless God for the work of grace in the Thessalonian church. Paul did not just thank God for things which can be seen as resulting from the common grace of God; Paul’s thanksgiving was for things which can only be owed to the special grace of God in His saving power. These are the fruits of sovereign grace, not just “decisions”, which also help to form as a standard and goal for Christians to emulate and evaluate themselves by.
In verse 3 we see three specific virtues for which Paul gives thanks: FAITH, LOVE & HOPE. Albert Martin calls them, “The three Crown jewels of Christian virtue.” In several other places in the NT, Paul mentions these three great jewels of Christian virtue. (Colossians 1:3-5 and the classic 1 Corinthians 13:13, to name a few)
Based on verse 1:3, what was the object of the Thessalonian’s faith, hope and love? It was not blind faith, or faith in faith, wishful thinking, positive thinking or groundless optimism. It was specifically faith, love and hope “in the Lord Jesus Christ.” How are you doing in these areas? Does your faith produce works? Does your love produce labor? Does your hope make you steadfast and persevere?