THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS
“The apostle Paul, being diverted from his design of going into the provinces of Asia, properly so called, and directed after an extraordinary manner to preach the gospel in Macedonia, Acts 16:9-10.” --- Matthew Henry.
“Thessalonica was a city and sea-port of Macedonia. It was at the head of tile bay Thermaicus, or the Gulf of Thessalonica, and was, therefore, favorably situated for commerce. It was on the great Ægean Way; was possessed of an excellent harbour, and had great advantages for commerce through the Hellespont, and with Asia Minor and the adjacent countries. It was south-west of Philippi and Amphipolis, and a short distance north-east of Berea.” --- Barnes New Testament Notes.
“Thessalonica was a very large, populous, and flourishing city, it was a free city, and the metropolis of Macedonia; here the Apostle Paul came after he had been at Philippi, and stayed about three weeks, and preached every Sabbath day, and his ministry was blessed to the conversion of some Jews, a multitude of devout Greeks, and many of the chief women of the place, which laid the foundation of a Gospel church; to which the apostle wrote this epistle, and is the first of all the epistles he wrote.” --- John Gill’s Expositor.
The church was founded by Paul on his second missionary journey. Later Paul had sent Timothy to encourage and strengthen the church. On his return, the report that he gave apparently inspired the apostle to write the epistle, 1 Thessalonians 3:6.
Writer: The Apostle Paul.
Date: It was probably written from Corinth between 49 and 54 A.D.
Main Themes: This is one of the most personal of all of Paul’s epistles. It is not so doctrinal or polemical as some of the others. The body of the epistle consists chiefly of commendations, personal reminiscences, counsels, and exhortations. The central truth which is especially emphasized, is the future hope of the advent of Christ.
I. Commendations to the Thessalonian Church
A. The salutation, 1 Thessalonians 1:1.
B. The commendation of the church:
1. For its faith and loving service, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4.
2. For spiritual receptivity, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6.
3. For exemplary influence, 1 Thessalonians 1:7-8.
4. For abandonment of idolatry and for spiritual hope, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.
II. Paul reminds them of the characteristics of his ministry.
A. As courageous, sincere, God-fearing, truthful and unselfish, 1 Thessalonians 2:2-5.
B. As humble, gentle, affectionate, industrious, irreproachable, and paternal, 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12.
C. He refers to the Teachableness and Sufferings of the church, 1 Thessalonians 2:13-14.
D. The Apostle’s desire to visit the church, and his glorying in them as his crown of rejoicing, 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20.
III. The Messenger
A. The sending of Timothy to strengthen the church, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5.
B. Timothy’s favorable report and its comforting and joyful result, 1 Thessalonians 3:6-9.
C. Paul’s earnest prayer that he might visit the church and aid them in their spiritual development, 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13.
IV. Paul Encourages the Church.
A. Exhortations concerning personal and social purity, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.
B. Exhortations in respect to brotherly love and industry, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12.
V. The Future Hope, the Lord’s Coming.
A. The comforting hope for the bereaved, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14.
B. The Rapture will not precede the resurrection, 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
C. The manner and accompanying events of Christ’s appearance, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.
D. The time of the Lord’s Coming is unknown, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.
E. The Lord’s Coming is unexpected by unbelievers, 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
F. Children of the light should be ready for the Lord’s Coming, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8.
G. Safety of believers at the Lord’s Coming, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11.
VI. The Duty of Believers to Exhort and Comfort One Another.
A. Exhortations concerning the practical duties of the Christian life,
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.
1. Paul exhorts them to edify one another, Roman 14:19.
2. He shows them their duty towards their ministers, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.
3. Exhortations touching the duty Christians owe to one another, 1 Thessalonians 5:13-15.
a. To be at peace among themselves, 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
b. To warn the unruly, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
c. To be patient towards all men, 1 Thessalonians 5:14.
d. Not to render evil for evil to any man, 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
e. To follow that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:15.
2. Exhortations that will be of great use to direct the motions of our hearts and lives, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22.
a. Rejoice evermore, 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
b. Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
c. In every thing give thanks, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
d. Quench not the Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 5:19.
e. Despise not prophesyings, 1 Thessalonians 5:20.
f. Prove all things, but hold fast that which is good, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
g. Abstain from all appearance of evil, 1 Thessalonians 5:22.
B. The closing charge and benediction, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28.