“…so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe“
The two most outstanding churches in the New Testament were the churches at Philippi and Thessalonica. These churches were not perfect, but they were exemplary. They were what churches should be. These churches were not the largest or the most gifted churches in the New Testament. The church at Corinth was the most gifted but not the godliest.
The words “so that” point to an actual consequence. Paul is not talking in possibilities or probabilities. These churches actually became examples to other churches in Greece.
The word “became” means to become something they were not previously. This is the transforming power of the gospel. Raw Gentiles in Thessalonica embraced Jesus as their Savior, and He changed their lives completely. Not only did they become Christians, but they also became shining examples of those who penetrated their world with the gospel.
The word “examples” is the Greek word tupos, from which we get our English word “type.” Originally, this word meant “to strike.” It was a visible impression of a stroke or pressure, mark, trace. Then it came to mean an impression after a blow. When the church becomes an example, it leaves a mark or impression.
“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Philippians 3: 17).”
“…not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us” (2 Thessalonians 3: 9).”
The word “examples” in Greek is in the singular, which indicates that the church as a whole was the example. Paul singles out no other local church as a standard for other churches to follow as he did this church. The standard against which other churches can measure themselves is the church at Thessalonica. What was so unique about their ministry? They shared the gospel “every place” (v.8).
The Thessalonian church was a model for others to follow. This church was not an ideal church but a model church. It was effective in sharing the faith. The Thessalonian church was the only church Paul called an example. They were the pace-setter churches for other churches–the model church, noted for its aggressive evangelism.
God’s design for Christians is that they become instruments of impact. God wants each believer to leave a stamp on his sphere of influence. This implies that the believer has something that other people want.
Some churches are pace-setters for other churches to follow.
Churches today can make a mark for Christ in evangelism. There is a tendency for churches to depend on para-church organizations or evangelistic crusades to do their evangelism for them. The Thessalonian church is the standard for your church.
Most churches do evangelism through their internal networks. Are you in a network whereby you can share your faith? Are you in a small group that is open to reaching those without Christ?
Does the gospel reach a dead-end street with your church? Does the gospel come to you as an individual and stop? Do you pass it on? The gospel is the best-kept secret in many churches.
“We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:
‘In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.’
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6: 1-2).
Most churches maintain the fish in the aquarium rather than travel to the place of uncaught fish.
When it comes to evangelism, most of us fish with a rod rather than a net.