“Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction” ~ 1 Thessalonians 1:5
What does Paul mean when he says “the gospel came not only in word but also in power.” Some have said that the word “power” here refers to miracles since the preaching of the apostles in the First Century and at the beginning of Christianity was accompanied by miracles and wonders as a means of authenticating their true apostleship. This is very possible.
However, I also believe that Paul is talking of a special power that a Christian or a person who hears God’s word experiences as the Holy Spirit is applying the word. I believe it is the special power, which among others things brings conviction of sin and also assurance of salvation.
It is the power that Cleopas and his friend experienced when Christ spoke the word of God to them. Do you remember their words regarding their experience as they heard the word of God from Jesus in Luke 24:32? “And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” I believe it is this power that the apostle is speaking of in this verse.
It is also the power that we read of when Paul preached to Felix in Acts 24. In Acts 24:25 we read that when Felix heard the gospel being preached to him, he trembled.
All of us who have sat under the preaching of the gospel have experienced this power. But sadly, some like Felix when they hear God’s word, they tremble but still harden their hearts and don’t believe. But others like Cleopas and his friend believe and surrender to the power of God’s word.
Which of these two examples describes you well, my friend? Is it the one of Felix who after he heard the gospel said to Paul, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” Or that of Cleopas and his friend who believed the word of God and returned to the other disciples of Jesus to share what Christ had done and said to them?