Monday, April 16, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Thessalonians

Readings for this week

Monday: Ruth 4
Tuesday: 1st Thessalonians 1
Wednesday: 1st Thessalonians 2
Thursday: 1st Thessalonians 3
Friday: 1st Thessalonians 4
Saturday: 1st Thessalonians 5
Sunday: 2nd Thessalonians 1

Introduction to 1st Thessalonians

Context of 1st Thessalonians


Paul, missionary Apostle to the Gentiles.


About A.D. 50.

Place of composition

Probably Corinth or nearby Athens.


Mostly Gentile members of a newly founded congregation in Thessalonica, Greece.

Themes of 1st Thessalonians

The Parousia and the Resurrection

Apparently, some Thessalonians believed that Jesus’ reappearance would occur so swiftly that all persons converted to Christianity would live to see the Second Coming. That belief was shaken when some believers died before Jesus had reappeared. What would become of them? Had the dead missed their opportunity to join Christ in ruling over the world? Paul explains that the recently dead are not lost but will share in the glory of Christ’s return.

To denote Jesus’ arrival from heaven, Paul uses the term Parousia, a Greek word meaning “presence” or “coming,” a word the Thessalonians associated with the public appearance of a Roman Emperor.

On Not Calculating “Dates and Times”

Although he eagerly expects Jesus’ reappearance “soon,” Paul has no patience with those who try to predict the exact date of the ParousiaHe discourages speculation and notes that calculating “dates and times” is futile because “the Day of the Lord will come like a thief at midnight.”

Is Sex Sin?

In 1st Thessalonians 4:3-8, Paul’s exhortation to get a wife in holiness and honor and not in the passion of desire ‘is not a denial of the role of sexual desire in marriage. Instead, it gives advice on how to select a mate, suggesting that one should look beyond a prospective mate’s physical appeal to broader issues of character.’”

The Role of the Spirit

Paul reminds the Thessalonians that the Holy Spirit’s visible activity among them is also evidence of the world’s impending transformation. Paul believes that Christian prophets should play a significant role in the churches, but he is aware that enthusiastic visionaries can cause trouble. Believers are to distinguish between “good” and “bad” inspirations, avoiding the latter, but they are not to inhibit charismatic behavior.

Chapter 1

The letter claims to be written by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. At the beginning is a brief blessing of grace and peace upon the Thessalonians. Paul then speaks of his relation to the Thessalonians. First, he gives thanks for the Thessalonians and commends them before God. Paul then provides evidence of the Thessalonians’ Salvation saying that they have received the Gospel message as a proclamation in Power, and that they received the joy of the Holy Spirit in the midst of severe suffering, becoming a model to all believers.

He then says that it’s hard to brag about them because everyone already knows how awesome they are because they turned from idols to serve God and wait for his Son from heaven who was raised from the dead to save us from wrath

Chapter 2

Paul then gives a defense of his apostleship and discusses the Thessalonians’ conversion. He mentions how badly they had been treated in Philippi and so they were afraid to share the Gospel with the Thessalonians, but they realized their goal was not to please people but to please God.

He says that they never used flattery or put on a mask to cover up greed or were looking for praise from people, but instead they were like young children among them, caring for them like a nursing mother cares for her child. Paul says that they urged them to live a life worthy of God, who called them into his kingdom and glory.

Paul then thanks God because they received the working Word and became imitators of God’s churches in Judea. He then ironically states that on the other hand the Jews he tried to work with…

Persecuted the church
Killed the Lord Jesus
Killed the prophets
Drove out the apostles
Displease God
Are hostile to everyone
Try to prevent the Gospel from reaching the Gentiles
Always heap up their sins to the limit

And he adds that the wrath of God has come upon them at last.

Paul then expresses his desire to visit them again but that Satan has hindered this. He adds that when Jesus comes the Thessalonians will be the apostles’…


Chapter 3

He then explains why they decided to send Timothy to them… so that he could encourage them and report back about their faith. And he adds that Timothy has returned to them with a good report which has encouraged them in their persecution

The letter then contains a transitional Benediction:

“Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.”

Chapter 4

Paul then discusses the Lord’s return as a motive for sanctification. He tells them to keep learning how to please God more and more every day, and specifically tells them not to lust like the pagans who don’t know God, and to not take advantage of a brother or sister.


God will punish all those who commit such sins
God did not call us to be impure
God called us to live a holy life
Anyone who rejects this instruction, rejects God’s Holy Spirit

But he then says that they don’t need to talk to them about love because God has taught them to love one another, and they love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia.

He urges them…

To keep loving more and more
To make it their ambition to lead a quiet life
To mind their own business
To work with their hands


Because we told you to
So that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders
So that you will not be dependent on anybody

Paul then discusses the imminent return of the Lord. First, he discusses Resurrection, saying that he doesn’t want them to be uninformed about those who sleep in death or to grieve like the rest of mankind who have no hope.

He presents the first piece of evidence of the resurrection… the Resurrection of Christ. He says, ”For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

He then presents the second piece of evidence of the resurrection… the New Revelation given to Paul. He says, “According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”

He then provides specific details and a succession of eschatological events:

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God"
"And the dead in Christ will rise first."
"After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

He says that the result of all this will be living life forever with Christ, and he says to encourage each other with these words.

Chapter 5

He states that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, and that while people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But he adds that the Day of the Lord will be no surprise to believers because they are children of light and that is their responsibility to stay alert. He says not to be like those who get drunk and pass out but to be sober and to live in the day, putting on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet

Paul then speaks of the promises of God. The first promise is that God has appointed us to escape from wrath through salvation in Jesus. The second promise is resurrection for all believers. He then offers a final eschatological encouragement, instructing them to continue building each other up.

Paul then calls for proper hierarchical relations within the Body, saying to acknowledge those leaders who…

Work hard among you
Care for you in the Lord
Admonish you

He says to hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work, and to live in peace with each other.

Paul then discusses responsible action toward “imperfect” saints, saying:

Warn those who are idle and disruptive
Encourage the disheartened
Help the weak
Be patient with everyone
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong
Always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else

He also calls for reverence toward God, saying that God’s will for you in Christ Jesus is to…

Rejoice always
Pray continually
Give thanks in all circumstances

He then speaks about critical receptiveness of prophecy, saying:

Do not quench the Spirit
Do not treat prophecies with contempt

But also to test all prophesy in order to…

Hold on to what is good
Reject every kind of evil

Paul then asks for prayer and instructs that this letter be read to all the brothers and sisters, and he makes some concluding remarks, including a benediction:

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

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