1 Thessalonians 1
- Grief at certain times in our lives can overwhelm us. The loss of a loved one can fill our life with gloom and depression, until we remember that death is not the end for those who are in Christ. Jesus Christ is the victor over death, and there is hope of the resurrection through Him. Many in Thessalonica, as well as other 1st century Christians, were coming face to face with their mortality at the hands of persecutors of the church. They had many questions about eternity, as we do today, and they developed some false assumptions about the imminence of Christ’s return. Paul, writing from Corinth in the early 50s A.D. shortly after establishing the church in Thessalonica writes to strengthen the early believers’ faith and to encourage them to excellence in Godly living by teaching them important theological truths even in times of persecution and trial. The author instills hope for this dearly loved congregation and affirms them in a very affectionate way especially in the beginning of the letter for the purpose of maturing them in Christ Jesus.
Persecution- Faith in Christ will always bring certain amounts of earthly persecution. There is no way around it, so expect various trials and tribulations as the enemy seeks to destroy your faith, but the Lord tests your perseverance. We must stand firm in our faith and allow the Holy Spirit to do His molding work in us during rough times.
Hope- One day all believers will be united together with Christ, both those who are alive at His coming and the deceased. To those Christians that die before Christ’s return, there is still the certain hope of the resurrection of the body. If we believe in Christ, we will live with Him forever. We can have confidence that we will be with loved ones who have trusted in the Savior!
Being Prepared- Since no one knows the exact time of Christ’s return to earth, we must remain vigilant and watchful by living moral and holy lives through the power of His Holy Spirit. This means we cannot grow complacent or weary, neglecting our Christian responsibilities. Rather we should always work and live to please our Lord looking expectantly for His return. Don’t be caught unprepared!!
Paul again begins with a note of affirmation and commendation for the faithful saints at Thessalonica. He thanks God for their strong belief and good reputation (1:1-10). In chapter 2 he reviews their relationship—how he and his companions brought the gospel to the Thessalonians (2:1-12). He went into how the Thessalonians accepted the message with eagerness and steadfastness as from God and not mere mean (2:13-16). Then he lamented the fact that he wanted to be with them except for the fact that Satan had hindered that reuniting up until that point (2:17-20). Because of Paul’s great concern for the church there in Thessalonica, he sent Timothy up to them in order to encourage them in their faith (3:1-13).
Paul then gets to the core of his message dealing with exhortation and comfort. He challenges them to please God in their daily living by avoiding sexual immorality (4:1-8), loving each other (4:9-10), and living as good citizens in a fallen world (4:11-12). Paul comforts the believers in Thessalonica by reminding them of the hope of the resurrection (4:13-18). He gives the biblical theme of “be alert” and “ready” for the return of Christ Jesus because we do not know the exact time of His revelation of glory. When Christ does return, Paul promises those Christians who are alive and those who have passed away from earth by death will be raised to new life (5:1-11).
Paul then gives the faithful a handful of reminders on how to prepare themselves for the second coming of Jesus: Admonish the unruly (5:14), encourage the fainthearted (5:14), help the weak (5:14), be patient with everyone (5:14), be kind to everyone (5:15), rejoice always (5:16), pray without stopping (5:17), give thanks (5:18), examine everything that is taught (5:20-21), and abstain from evil (5:22). Paul concludes his short letter with two benedictions and a request for prayer.
As you read this letter and apply its significance to your own life, put into practice his practical advice in our age for Christian living. When burdened by grief and overwhelmed by sorrow, take hope in the reality of Christ’s return, the resurrection, and eternal life!!!!
*Notes from this overview were aided by:
New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1995, pgs. 2096-2097.
-Paul begins chapter 1 with a sense of gratitude and loving devotion for this afflicted and persecuted bunch of believers in Thessalonica. He, Silvanus, and Timothy are part of the writing team who send grace and peace in usual fashion to the recipients of the epistle. They thank God for these believing brothers and pray for them constantly making mention of them in their prayers because of their fruitful Kingdom labor and faith of love with a steadfast hope in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:1-3). They were chosen by God and had the power of His Holy Spirit working in them as New Covenant Gentile believers full of conviction (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5). They knew what kind of men Paul and his team were for their spiritual development and wellbeing, and they became imitators of the apostles and of the Lord. They received the Word in much affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit (Acts 17:1-13, 1 Thessalonians 1:5b-6). These believers through trial and tribulation had become an example in faith to all the believers in these regions of Macedonia and Achaia (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). They had turned to the Living God from their idols of this world and served Him in complete truth. They were waiting for the return of His resurrected Son from Heaven as the One who delivers and saves from the wrath of God to come (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10). *Application* Reputation is important as we see here in this beginning chapter. Paul is able to commend those in Thessalonica because of their faithful report to those of faith even in tough times. Marks of them that we should demonstrate include steadfastness, joy in the Holy Spirit, endurance, hope, hard work, faith, power by the Holy Spirit, true, and expectant. God is able to do all things. Don’t let your circumstances ever rob your joy in Christ Jesus who makes all things new (Isaiah 48:6, Revelation 21:5). Cultivate these qualities that the Thessalonians had in your own life today!
Verse to Memorize- 1 Thessalonians 1:9