You Became Imitators of Us
1 Thessalonians 1:6
Dr. Tony Chute, Lead Pastor
Overview: Paul’s brief stay in Thessalonica left a lasting impression upon the church as new believers modeled themselves after him and the Lord, such that they became examples for others to follow. Their turn from idols to serve the living and true God demonstrated their understanding of the gospel and the necessity of conversion; their labor of love and service to others underscored their commitment to consistent Christian living; and their steadfast hope in the Lord’s return pointed to a much-needed heavenly perspective. Paul’s letter further adds to their understanding of discipleship. His inclusion of Silvanus and Timothy in the greeting demonstrates the value of shared leadership; their practice of praying for the church provides a pattern of congregational intercession; his use of theological terms and doctrinal concepts affirms the importance of ongoing instruction; and his celebration of missional activity highlights kingdom work beyond the local church. Such wonderful truths from one brief stay and one short chapter show that discipleship is for every believer at every stage in the Christian life.
01. Every Christian is a disciple of Jesus. Beginning with conversion and continuing until we meet the Lord, growth in Christ is the most basic expectation of the believer.
02. Every Christian can become a discipler of others. Begin praying about how you can help others follow Jesus by imitating Christ and involving others in your life.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION & DISCOVERY
1. What does it mean to be a disciple? Why is conversion the first requirement for being a disciple of Jesus? Is discipleship reserved only for the “elite” Christian? Is it possible to be a Christian without being a disciple? See Mark 8:34 and 2 Corinthians 5:15 for further insight.
2. What do the inclusion of Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy at the head of the letter suggest about Paul’s leadership style? Does he weaken his position as an apostle by including Silvanus and Timothy, or does he demonstrate shared leadership by affirming their value? What type of leadership style promotes better discipleship—authoritarian or inclusive leadership? See 1 Peter 5:1-5 for further insight.
3. Paul commends the Thessalonians stating, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord.” While the primary reference is their reception of the gospel with joy in much affliction (verse 6), he clearly commends the practice of people imitating his life in order to grow closer to Christ. Who are you imitating in order to draw closer to Christ? Is anyone imitating you in order to grow closer to Christ? See 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, 1 Corinthians 11:1, and Hebrews 13:7 for further insight.
4. What is the significance of Paul’s assertion in verse 5? Is Paul claiming to be perfect in this verse, or is he pointing to his overall character as a demonstration of what a changed life looks like? How important are personal interactions in the process of discipleship? Do you agree with the adage that what we learn is often caught as well as taught? Pray for ways to share your faith in word and in deed.
5. What areas of discipleship do you feel the need for further improvement? Doctrinal and theological understanding? Intentional prayer for others? Interest and involvement for evangelism and world missions? Hope for heaven and self-denial? Discuss ways in which you can begin growing in these and other areas using the ministry opportunities at Northpoint.
For Further Reading: Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus (Crossway, 2016).