Epistle to 1 Thessalonians

Do you ever feel as though your Christian faith is stagnating, that your life is slowly withering at a time when you want to flourish and stand out to be of service to Jesus Christ as the world grows increasing chaotic around you? I know I do… especially nowadays when I see how crazy this world has become.  Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians — the thirteenth book of the New Testament — is the perfect remedy when experiencing these thoughts and feelings.

Written in Corinth around 52 AD during his second missionary journey, 1 Thessalonians is Paul’s response to Timothy’s report on the state of the church in Thessalonica a short time after he had preached there. Clearly impressed by their faithfulness, Paul began his letter by praising the Church for their steadfastness and for serving as a role model for other churches to follow in times of uncertainly. Increasingly concerned that his beloved community was being exposed to errant teachings by their neighbors who opposed the Way of Jesus Christ and the Grace of God, Paul’s letter served as a source of inspiration to this young community of believers. Challenging them to grow deeper in their faith at a time when they were being bombarded with questions and accusations, he encouraged them to stand strong in their commitment to Jesus Church and to respond to opposition with love, grace, and generosity rather than fear. Offering hope and comfort in the midst of persecution, he asked them to focus their attention on the second coming of Jesus Christ rather than on the hostility that surrounded them and to respond with a kind of love that is powered by God’s Spirit.

At a time when civil unrest and uncertainty are growing, the Way offers a narrow path that few follow. It is a way of life motivated by hope rather than by fear; a way of life focused on the spiritual and on eternity rather than on the secular world’s temporary present day. Most of all, it is a way of life inspired by Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and upcoming return. Through Paul’s letter to the church of Thessalonica, we are given an extraordinary gift… a timeless window through which we can see, learn from, and emulate a community of believers who embody holiness, love, and hope. Emulating the community of believers at Thessalonica who remained strong, grounded by faith and a commitment to Jesus Christ, we too can flourish in times of uncertainty.

Outline

  1. Commendation for faith, hope, and love (1Thes 1–3)
    • The Thessalonians’ example (1 Thes 1)
    • Paul’s history with them (1 Thes 2)
    • Timothy’s visit and report (1 Thes 3)
  2. A challenge to grow even more (1Thes 4–5)
    • Love for others (1 Thes 4:1–12)
    • Hope for the Lord’s return (1 Thes 4:13–18)
    • Preparation for the Lord’s return (1 Thes 5)

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