This is a quick trip, verse by verse through Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. When at Bible College I sent thoughts on what I was reading at the time, to my girlfriend (now my wonderful wife). We would then share ideas on them. It is not profound theology or an exhaustive commentary, just me sharing these thoughts to encourage you to read the scriptures and learn more about Jesus Christ and enjoy what He has done for us.
1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,
3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. -1 Thessalonians 1:1-3
The church at Thessalonia was young and facing persecution. Paul writes to commend their faithfulness and steadfastness and their hope in Jesus. Love that Paul constantly mentions them in his prayers and it seems to imply he is telling the Lord of their faithfulness. How lovely to bring people to the Lord and say “look Lord – how faithful this person is” a bit like He did with Job, to the enemy. As ever Paul blesses them with grace and peace.
4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. – 1 Thessalonians 1:4-8
Paul speaks of being imitators. The Greek word is sometimes translated as followers but the idea of imitating people we see who live godly lives is positive for growth, for example, our pastors and leaders. I guess we all are like sheep and are easily led away. We follow fashion and like to have followers on social media. But to follow a godly example, to spend time with godly people to learn to imitate, not in a false way, but sincerely, surely is the essence of discipleship? We follow/imitate Jesus. Paul says these “imitators” became an example to all in Macedonia so others imitated them and their faith went everywhere. What a testimony.
9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain.
2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive,
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. – 1 Thessalonians 1:9—2:4
God tests our hearts. He wants us to grow in maturity. He wants us to choose the right course of action. Paul’s ministry helped people turn from idols and deliver them from the wrath to come. Despite Paul and Barnabas’s suffering, they bought the pure gospel to the people of Thessalonica. Not to please men but to please God. What a wonderful motive, to try to please God in all we do. So why do we so often fail to please our standards let alone please God? Why the constant battle? Because God is testing our hearts. We need to live in the mind of Christ and battle with temptations using the Word of God as inspired by the Holy Spirit. Victory is in Christ and nowhere else. Looking into Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.
5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is witness.
6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.
7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. – 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8
So, to be fearless, faithful vessels we need to be without hypocrisy or greed. Paul goes on here to say that they did not make demands on the Christians for financial support. Nor did they manipulate by flattery or look for the praise of men but treated the believers gently. They shared their own lives with them for the gospel’s sake. Paul was not self-seeking but wanted to give his life as a mother constantly gives to her child. His love toward them was genuine and selfless, considering their need above his own. Fearless and faithful.
9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.
11 For you know how, like a father with his children,
12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. – 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Holy, righteous behaviour towards the saints. That takes some doing. Back to what was being said earlier. It takes training, intention and practice to walk the godly life. Like a father Paul wanted his children to grow up strong and wise in the Lord. So they could walk worthily before God as they head towards His glory. The sanctifying walk with the Holy Spirit who washes us with the Word, thank God.
13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,
15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind
16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved-so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! – 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
The word of God is powerful:
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
Not only is it the creative force behind the universe but it is the personal whisper in our ear that this is the way of righteousness. What joy to face trials and share our faith – with the power of God, His Holy Spirit residing in us. I love the continued theme of being imitators. Let’s learn from the best.
17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face,
18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.
19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
20 For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-12
Wow, we often say the only thing we can take to heaven is others but Paul as ever says it so much better For what is our hope, our joy, our crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? The prospect of being in triumphant procession with Jesus at His second coming where He is showing off His redeemed, His bride, to the world who rejected Him and to the satanic forces He had defeated. We are going to be studying hell in Theology over the next two weeks. I think that will be very sobering. We need to find people who will be our glory and joy.
1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone,
2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,
3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.
4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-
7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.
8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,
10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? – 1 Thessalonians 3:1-10
I like the emotions, the self-sacrificial love, flowing from faith. Paul has so much love for the church in Thessalonica. Paul Silus and Timothy visited there on Paul’s second ministry journey. Having been called in a dream to go to Macedonia they were imprisoned in Philippi and then went to Thessalonica. After three weeks of ministry there, they were sent away by the church for their safety following a riot (Acts 15). The church was strong in persecution but the town was recorded as not being as open-minded as the next place they visited, Berra. Timothy and Silus went back and continued to minister for a while. In verse 6 Paul longs to see the Thessalonians again. He did visit again as part of his third missionary journey. Just imagine the hardships Paul and his companions suffered during these journeys. In 2 Cor 11:25 Paul says he was shipwrecked three times! And that is before the shipwreck on his journey to Rome. No wonder he said we have the sentence of death in us so we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises us from the dead. (2 Cor 1:9). Paul coped with his tribulations through a self-sacrificial love flowing from faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you,
12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,
13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. – 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Yes, we want to increase and abound in love.
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. – 2 Corinthians 9:10
and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. – Joel 2:13
1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;
4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,
5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.
7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. – 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
The Greek word for sexual immorality is pornia: illicit sexual intercourse and metaphorically the defilement of idolatry. God gives us power over our natural desires as we die to ourselves and live unto Him. To be holy is to be set apart for service. Maybe we need to be a bit more aware of being too close to the stormy waves that could drag us to our death in the sea. God forbid we lead others to transgress. In verse 5 the Greek word lust means a desire, craving, longing, or desire for what is forbidden. God has given us so much. Let’s not eat something that is forbidden because the Lord knows what’s best for us. Let’s encourage each other to be patient as the Lord blesses our growing relationship with Him. His timing is perfect.
9 Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, – 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
Brotherly love – philadelphia – where we cherish each other as brothers and sisters, a family love. God has taught us how to love one another. Such an example in Jesus. The church at Thessalonica was loving but Paul urges them to increase more and more in their love. We may think we are loving but we can always learn to love more. Easy to love those who love us but what about those who do not show us love?
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. – Luke 6:35
God is merciful to the repentant “ungrateful and the evil”. We know that because He is kind to us!
11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,
12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Paul tried to ensure that he was not beholden to anyone. When he stayed in an area he would mostly set up his work as a tent maker. Aquilla and Pricilla were also tentmakers an while Paul was in Corinth he worked his trade with them. ThandLord is honoured as we work using the gifts He has given us. May the Lord show us what he wants us to do in the future, to honour Him, to be a witness of Him and so others will be able to see our walk of faith with Him.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15
The believers who passed away were called “asleep”. Some pagans believed death was an eternal sleep. The Thessalonians were worried that those who had fallen asleep would miss out on the wonderful return of the Lord Jesus Christ. They believed the Lord would return soon in glory. We need not mourn the death of a believer because although we will miss them we know they are alive. We need to have no fear of death – where is its sting? We are alive and will be alive with Him forever. And whether we are alive at the return of Jesus or in eternity we will return with Him in His glory. Hallelujah
16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Paul tells us to encourage each other with these words.
David Guzik points out that we do not know if Paul is teaching something Jesus spoke about but is not recorded elsewhere or if he got a direct revelation from the Lord. Either way, Paul Is very authoritative about this. It will happen. At some point, the Body of Christ will be caught up, gathered at the sound of a voice, a shout and a trumpet to be with the Lord. When is a matter of debate. To some degree that is not important. What is important is: “so we will always be with the Lord”. Hallelujah. He will never desert us or forsake us, His promises are sure, He is the beginning and the end and we will be with Him forever. Come quickly, Lord Jesus
1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.
2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
It is interesting that here Paul refers to the day of the Lord. This relates to Zachariah 14 and describes the day of vengeance when the Lord comes to liberate Jerusalem. Zechariah 14:4 says “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, Making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north And half of it toward the south.” This is the triumphant return of the King of Kings the Lord of Lords to establish His reign on earth and to bring justice and peace. We are on the winning side. Jesus has won the victory. In Him we are complete:
(Colossians 2:9-10) “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” No one can take us from his hand. We are safe and secure in our Saviour’s arms.
4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.
6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. – 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6
he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. – Daniel 2:22
he has made me dwell in darkness like the dead of long ago. – Lamentations 3:6
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. – 1 John 2:11
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:4-5
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” – Luke 1:79
I have come into the world as light so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. – John 12:46
Looking around this subject, the verses spoke so much more that any thoughts that came. The Lord is our Light. We have been taken from darkness and placed in His marvellous light.
7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:7-11
In a spiritual sense, we need to be alert. Then you are asleep you are inactive, unaware, defenceless and lack sense. Alert Christians will put on their armour when they are awake. Why? Because God Almighty maker of the heaven and earth who has the right to judge justly has seen fit to bless us with His grace, mercy and compassion, to save us through the blood of Christ. So we are not appointed, to experience the wrath of God but we are appointed to holiness and glory. No wonder we should encourage and build each other up!!!! The breastplate here is faith and love the two key elements we need to walk in. Whereas in Eph. 6 the breastplate is righteousness but in order to walk in His righteousness we need to walk in faithtoe.
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing, – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-17
This passage has got the second shortest verse in the Bible “Rejoice always”. Put that together with the shortest: “Jesus wept” and there is a powerful sermon! These final exhortations: respect, esteem, be at peace, admonish, encourage, help, be patient, do good, rejoice and pray can apply to every area of our lives. Paul, ever practical, having taught on faith, standing fast, pleasing God and the hope we have in the Lord as we face death now ends with how to walk that walk to please our Father.
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies,
21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18-21
1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. – Psalm 9:1-2
Paul goes on with short yet powerful instructions. He does not say to give thanks FOR everything but IN every situation. We can not thank Him for tragedy but in that tragedy thank Him that He is going through that situation with us. We are to embrace the Spirit seeking His mind and will not look to ourselves which is a sure way to put out the flame of inspiration from the Spirit. If God speaks to us through a special word then embrace it don’t despise it, check it against the scriptures and pray about it but listen. God is good – hold fast to Him, exalt and praise His name.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
Paul ends this letter with a prayer (or desire) for the church that they would be sanctified. This keeps coming up for me at the moment. To be set apart for the Master’s use. To be set apart from the world the flesh and the devil to live a life influenced by holiness, grace and peace. O to be kept blameless! Then verse 24 such a valuable promise. He who is Faithful will do it. He calls me to do something, He will do it through me. He is the one who will sanctify us not by our works but by His Grace. O the grace of God, the love He pours on us.
If you want to know more about how to enter a relationship with God, how to be forgiven of your sins and how to become a Christian please take a look at the Gospel section above or get in touch with me through the contact me page.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.