What does 1 Thessalonians 1:6 mean?
ESV: And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
NIV: You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
NASB: You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word during great affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
CSB: and you yourselves became imitators of us and of the Lord when, in spite of severe persecution, you welcomed the message with joy from the Holy Spirit.
NLT: So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord.
KJV: And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
NKJV: And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
Verse Commentary:
After receiving the gospel, the Thessalonian believers patterned their lives after the lives of Paul and his fellow missionaries. They also patterned their lives after the life of the Lord. Just as Paul, his companions, and the Lord knew firsthand what suffering was, so the believers at Thessalonica experienced firsthand what it meant to suffer at the hands of unbelievers.

When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He did not hide from them the fact that they would suffer trials and persecution. He told them: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18). Later, He told them: "… In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit imparted His supernatural joy to them.

After being stoned at Lystra and left for dead there, Paul revived and later returned to the city, where he strengthened the believers and told them that "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). The Thessalonians believers were suffering persecution, but maintained a resolute hope for a better time when Jesus would return.
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 1:4–10 expresses Paul's confidence in the fact that God had saved his readers. He presents convincing evidence that they belong to God. He recalls how they had responded when they first heard the gospel, what kind of individuals they had become as a result of believing the gospel, and how effectively they had spread the gospel. He sums up their experience as having left paganism behind to serve God and to look forward to Jesus' return.
Chapter Summary:
First Thessalonians 1 records the apostle Paul's greetings to the Christians at Thessalonica. Thessalonica was the second city Paul preached in, after receiving a call to present the gospel in Macedonia. Philippi was the first city in Europe to receive the gospel from Paul. Both churches received a letter from Paul, but 1 Thessalonians, written around AD 51, was among the earliest of Paul's New Testament letters. In the first chapter, he expresses his gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and gives a brief background of what had happened during his visit to their city. He commends them for their spread of the gospel, their exemplary faith, and their turning from idols to serve the true God and to wait for Jesus' return.
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of 1 Thessalonians is mostly praise for these believers, from the apostle Paul. Paul is clearly delighted to hear that they have grown in their faith and begun to spread the gospel. Chapter two will continue reminding the Thessalonians about their prior experiences with Paul, and it includes more of his praise for their excellent efforts. Later chapters will address the questions lingering in the minds of these passionate Christians. Of particular interest, among these, are concerns related to the return of Christ. Paul will also address some areas where the church needs to improve, spiritually.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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