Belonging to God
This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May God give you grace and peace. We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
When Paul writes to a group of believers in a specific place, it is good to be reminded that these are not primarily theological dissertations, but rather are real letters written to real people under particular circumstances. The church to which Paul is writing is still young and has not settled on a particular way to refer to itself. The word for church was a fairly common one and, in the early years, at least, some greater description of the church was needed. At any rate, Paul makes it clear that this church “belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” As followers of Christ, “we live and move and have our being” in him (Acts 17:28). That is the sphere of life for Christians and the church. The church also exists in “the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:1). “In Christ Jesus,” “in the Lord,” and “in Christ” are all common descriptions Paul uses when describing how Christians are brought into a new existence. Paul expresses his gratefulness for the Thessalonian Christians for “faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Their relationship with Christ leads to faithful work. Having faith looks to the past work of God in Jesus Christ and accepts that work in Him. Their loving deeds are also product of them allowing Christ rule their lives. Love looks to the present and expresses what it means to be in Christ. Their enduring hope looks to the future with confidence that His promises will be true for those who are in Him. Christians must have clear understanding of their identity being in Christ. For out of this identity flows out the ability to serve in faithful service prompted by loving deeds and continues to endure because of their sure hope in Christ.