BORN OF GOD AND PUT INTO CHRIST
When the Thessalonians accepted the word preached by Paul, they accepted the Triune God. The word they received was the gospel preached to them. By accepting this word and thereby accepting the Triune God, they were born of God and put into Christ. On the negative side, this was a turning to God from idols. On the positive side, it was being born of God and also believing into the Son of God. In this way an organic union took place, and the Thessalonians came to be in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The new believers at Thessalonica were all in the Triune God. Because they were in the Father and the Son, they were no longer heathen or Jews. They were saints. They had become saints in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1:1 the phrase “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” not only qualifies the church, but also qualifies the Thessalonians. This means not only that the church was in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, but also that the Thessalonians, being no longer Greeks or Jews, but believers, were also in the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dean Alford makes three points concerning this part of 1:1. First he says that the phrase “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” indicates communion and participation. Alford did not use the expression organic union, but he speaks of communion, which means fellowship and a kind of co-union. He also speaks of the believers participating in God and Christ. Because of this participation, they have a common union with God. Second, Alford says that the words “in God the Father” mark out the believers as being no longer heathen, for as heathen they were not in God the Father. Third, he says that “in the Lord Jesus Christ” indicates that the believers are no longer Jewish, for the Jews were not willing to accept the Lord Jesus. Hence, the believers at Thessalonica, being in the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, were no longer heathen or Jewish.
SERVING AND WAITING
In chapter one we have the Triune God and the preaching of the Triune God in the word, His embodiment. This word is the gospel that is accepted by the believers. When the Thessalonians accepted the word, they were born of God and united to Christ. Therefore, they became the church in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Then what did they do? They served the living God. The word serve used in verse 9 is all-inclusive. It includes everything we do in our daily living. God is living because He is true, not false. Thus, in 1:9 Paul speaks of serving a living and true God. The church of the Thessalonians was made up of believers serving a living God who is true. This is also what we are doing today. The fact that we are serving a living God proves that we are in God the Father.
Furthermore, in verse 10 Paul points out that we are waiting for the Son of God from the heavens. We are serving the living God, and we are waiting for His Son, the One whom He raised from among the dead. Jesus, the Son of God, delivers us from the wrath which is to come. Although the wrath will come in the future, He is now delivering us, and He will deliver us to the uttermost, until there is no longer any wrath.
To serve a living God indicates that we are in God the Father, and to wait for the Son indicates that we are in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, our serving and our waiting mark us out as those who are in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we were not in the Father, we would not be serving a living God, and if we were not in Jesus Christ our Lord, we would not be waiting for Him.
As we consider verses 1, 9, and 10, we see that the end of this chapter corresponds to the beginning. In the beginning Paul says that the church is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of this chapter he speaks of serving the living God and waiting for the Son. This is the holy life for the church life, a life constructed of faith, love, and hope. Faith is working, love is laboring, and hope is enduring.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)