1 Thessalonians 1:6-8
And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.
I. THE TRUE RECEPTION OF THE GOSPEL
1. They received the Word in sorrow — "in much affliction" (Acts 17:5-9). Principally, sorrow on account of sin — their prolonged rejection of Christ, and obstinate disobedience.
2. In joy. "With joy of the Holy Ghost." They realized —
(1) The joy of conscious forgiveness and acceptance with God. The sinless angels, placed beyond the necessity of pardon, are incapable of realizing this joy. It belongs exclusively to the believing penitent.
(2) The joy of suffering for the truth. , who suffered for Jesus, used to say, "It is not the pain but the cause that makes the martyr." That cause is the cause of truth. Suffering is limited to life, but truth is eternal. To suffer for the truth is a privilege and a joy.
(3) The joy of triumph — over error, sin, Satan, persecution. This joy is the fruit of the Spirit. These twin feelings — sorrow and joy — are typical of the alternating experience of the believer throughout his earthly career.
II. THE PRACTICAL RESULT.
1. They became imitators of the highest patterns of excellence — "us and the Lord." The example of Christ is the all-perfect standard. But this does not supersede the use of inferior models. The planets have their mission, as well as the sun, and we can better bear the moderated light of their borrowed splendour. The bravery of a common soldier, as well as the capacity and heroism of the most gifted officer, may stimulate a regiment to deeds of valour. So the apostles, in their patience, zeal, and integrity, became examples, while they pointed to the great Pattern.
2. They became examples to others. "So that ye were ensamples to all that believe."(1) In the reality and power of their faith.
(2) In their zealous propagation of the truth. "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord."(3) The influence of their example was extensive in its range. Macedonia and Achaia were two Roman provinces that comprised the territory known as ancient Greece. Thessalonica, the metropolis of Macedonia, was the chief station on the great Roman road — the Via Egnatia — which connected Rome with the whole region north of the AEgean sea, and was an important centre, both for commerce and the spread of intelligence. Wherever the trade of the merchant city extended, there the fame of the newly founded Church penetrated. Great was the renown of their own Alexander, the Macedonian monarch, and brilliant his victories: but the reputation of the Thessalonian Christians was of a higher order, and their achievements more enduring. Learn —
1. The gospel that brings sorrow to the heart also brings the joy.
2. A genuine reception of the truth changes the man, and creates unquenchable aspirations after the highest good.
3. A living example is more potent than the most elaborate code of precepts, however eloquently explained or cogently enforced.
Parallel VersesKJV: And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: