“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ“
We now come to the second book Paul wrote, the book of 1 Thessalonians. His first book was Galatians.
The first verse of 1 Thessalonians is the salutation or the greeting. Usually, the salutation included three landmarks: names of the writer/s, the addressee(s), and a formal greeting.
Paul is the author of First Thessalonians. He was known as Saul of Tarsus in his non-Christian days. He became the greatest missionary the world has ever known.
Thirteen books start with the name “Paul.” Paul says nothing specific about himself in this verse. In many of his epistles, he calls himself “the slave of Jesus Christ” or “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” The Thessalonians did not doubt his credibility, so he did not feel the need to establish his trustworthiness here. They knew full well that he served Jesus, the Lord.
Paul does not begin his epistles with the customary introductions common in our day. Salutations of our day are irrelevant. We begin a business letter with the term “Gentlemen,” even though there may not be a gentleman in the whole crowd! We write, “Dear Sir,” when we know that they are neither “dear” nor “sir!!” However, we cannot start a letter with “Hey, you” either!
The name “Paul” means “little.” If there was anyone who could call himself “Mr. Big,” it was the apostle Paul. He was the greatest missionary of the first century.
In Judaism, he had a promising career. He was a Pharisee. He was an outstanding persecutor of the church. When he ran out of Jerusalem victims, he went to Damascus to capture more Christians (Acts 9:1-2). He was on his way to murder disciples in Damascus.
On the road to Damascus, he met the risen Lord and received Jesus Christ as his Savior. As a Christian, he spread the gospel to the Gentile Roman world. The Lord Jesus ruined his previous career. One look at Jesus changed everything in his life. Jesus’ worst enemy became his greatest emissary.
Paul was not one of the 12 original Apostles. One qualification for apostleship was seeing Jesus. He saw the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:8-9). God gave him miraculous powers to authenticate his apostleship (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3-4).
The word “apostle” conveys the idea of a special commission from God. The apostle was under a divine commission to found the church and write Scripture. This is the highest-ranking gift in the Bible. There are no more apostles today. No one today has the right to write Scripture. This gift, as all gifts, can only be bestowed by the sovereignty of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:11,13).
Paul was the human author of Scripture but the Holy Spirit was the divine author (2 Peter 1:20). This does not mean that the human author mechanically writes Scripture with little or no input from His person. It means that the Holy Spirit guides every word he writes to convey accurately what God wants to communicate to humans.
Paul was Christ’s apostle, not an apostle of the church. He was a special emissary on a special divine assignment from Christ (John 17:18). He took his marching orders from Jesus Christ.
Paul concluded his brilliant career in a dungeon. Jesus promoted him to heaven by virtue of a guillotine–the Roman government decapitated him. This is a thumbnail sketch of the former Saul of Tarsus. He gave his entire life to Christ. His philosophy was this – “for me to live is Christ.”
When Jesus Christ fills our horizon, we can do nothing else but serve Him.
When we truly meet the Lord Jesus, we lose interest in pleasing our self. The greatest thing that can happen to young people is to meet the Lord Jesus young enough to give their entire lives to the Lord. Boyfriends, girlfriends, cars, careers do not compare with knowing and serving Him (Philippians 3:10). When we devote our lives to the Son of God, we live without regret.
Paul makes his own commitment clear in 1 Corinthians 9:16,17, “If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” He said, “I must preach the gospel whether I want to do it or not. Whether it is convenient or not, I have no choice.”
God is not a cruel taskmaster. He is a wonderful Master who gives us a sense of satisfaction when we serve Him. Paul did not quit. He served to the best of his ability, which is all God asks. This kind of commitment gives us direction, point, and purpose. We keep our drive no matter what opposition may come our way.
A hundred years from now, it will make very little difference where we stood before the great people of our day. However, a hundred years from now, it will be of utmost importance where we stand in reference to Jesus Christ. That will determine where we will be in eternity; it will demarcate how we lived our life in time.