Paul begins his letter to the Thessalonians by putting down two stakes. One, he tells the Thessalonians that they can remember the life changing power Paul’s words had when he shared the truth with them. And, two, he tells the Thessalonians that they can remember how Paul lived while he was with them. These are two undeniable apologetic proofs that Paul’s message had power and was legitimate:
- Paul’s words had power to change the Thessalonians
- Paul’s words were backed up by Paul’s lifestyle
Even though Paul was using words to teach the truth, these were not mere words used to present a concept, or words of instruction that might be applied to improve some aspect of their life. Instead, Paul’s words came with “power.” The word “power” here is dynamei and does not specifically refer to “miracles” which would be the translation of the plural form of dynamis (dynameis). This dynamei, or “power,” is the inner transforming power that the Thessalonians experienced when they heard and understood the truth.
Paul’s message was presented in power which, then, resulted in power in the lives of the Thessalonian. In the same way, Paul’s message was presented with “deep conviction,” and, when the words were heard by the Thessalonian’s, they experienced the same “deep conviction.”
This “power” and “deep conviction” could not be the result of a mere philosophical presentation from Paul. These were the result of the presentation of the Words of God empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved through the words, the teaching, the presentation, and then, into the lives of the Thessalonians.
Paul could say confidently that his message was from the Holy Spirit and was filled with power, because “you know how we lived among you.” Paul tells the Thessalonians that his life reflected the truth and the transforming power of the message. And, what is more, Paul says, because the message was heard and received by the Thessalonians, they became imitators of Paul just like Paul had become an imitator of the Lord:
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord.” – First Thessalonians 1:6
Indeed, Paul and the Thessalonians where dealing with more than mere human “words” or ideas. And, they were listening to something more than a philosophy or academic information. The “words” that Paul was teaching and the “words” that the Thessalonians were hearing had “power” to transform, “deep conviction” to convince and were empowered by the Holy Spirit. This was not philosophy, but the very Word of God coming to the Thessalonians and changing their lives and their eternal destiny.