Dec 16 2018: 1 Thessalonians Overview*

AUTHOR, DATE, AND RECIPIENTS

Paul wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica. He probably wrote in A.D. 49–51 from Corinth, during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1–18).

THEME

The most prominent theme in 1 Thessalonians is the second coming of Jesus. It is mentioned in every chapter of the book (1:10; 2:19-20; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11, 23-24). At Jesus’s future coming, the dead in Christ will rise and will be caught up along with the living to meet the Lord in the air (4:15-17). Unbelievers will be subject to his wrath, but Christians will be delivered from this, inheriting salvation instead (1:10; 5:2-4, 9-10). Those who are destined to participates as saints (literally “holy ones”) in the second coming must be holy and blameless (3:11-4:8; 5:23), and God, who is faithful, will produce will produce holiness in the lives of those whom he calls (5:24).

THE GOSPEL IN 1 THESSALONIANS

Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians bear witness to the glorious reality that the gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). In 1 Thessalonians, Paul cannot stop rejoicing that the gospel came to the Thessalonians in word, in power, and with full conviction by the Holy Spirit (1 Thess. 1:5). Paul and his companions labored diligently among the Thessalonians (cf. Acts 17), and by God’s grace they could glorify God as they witnessed the steadfast faithfulness of the body of Christ in Thessalonica. The Thessalonians were a congregation who genuinely loved one another as they followed the example of Christ and his apostles, and they lived each day in light of the promised return of Jesus Christ.

As the Thessalonian believers waited, Paul urged them to be steadfast in their faith in Christ, to continue to grow in love for one another, and to remain sexually pure according to God’s holy calling. Such living, Paul explained, must be grounded in the daily heart-application of the gospel itself. In this way the Thessalonians would continue to manifest their genuine faith in the resurrected and returning Jesus Christ—living gratefully, prayerfully, and expectantly. The gospel promise is that we who are saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone in the sinless life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ can eagerly look forward to his return that will come “like a thief in the night” to rescue us and unite us with his loved ones from all the world and from all ages (1 Thess. 4:13–5:11).

OUTLINE

  1. Opening (1:1)
  2. Thanksgiving and Encouragement (1:2-3:13)
  3. Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ faith, love and hope (1:2-3)
  4. Paul’s confidence in the election of the Thessalonians (1:4-2:16)
  5. Paul’s defense of the missionaries during their absence (2:17-3:10)
  6. A Pastoral prayer for the Thessalonians (3:11-13)
  7. Instruction and Exhortation (4:1-5:28)
  8. On pleasing God (4:1-12)
  9. On the second coming of Jesus (4:13-5:11)
  10. On community conduct (5:12-22)
  11. Prayer, assurance, and conclusion (5:23-28)

* Taken from ESV Study Bible and ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.

Bible Reading Column by Pastor Charles Lee
Mississauga Campus Lead Pastor

This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:

Monday: 1 Thessalonians 2 Thursday: 1 Thessalonians 5
Tuesday: 1 Thessalonians 3 Friday: 2 Thessalonians 1
Wednesday: 1 Thessalonians 4 Saturday: 2 Thessalonians 2