Paul was sent to the Gentiles, and there were those that received Christ and those that opposed, not only Paul, but the Church, these new believers. The Gentile Church in Thessalonica faced the same persecution that the Church in Jerusalem had faced. And we shouldn’t expect life to be any different for us. Paul commends them for “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” and encourages them “progress even more”.
Ministry to the Gentiles Expands
Acts 15:1-41 The Council at Jerusalem Letter To The Gentiles
Acts 16:1-40 Timothy joins Paul and Silas as they go to Philippi
Acts 17:1-34 Paul at Thessalonica
Acts 18:1-15 Paul at Corinth
The Church leaders meet in Jerusalem to discuss the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles, Cornelius and his house and they issue a letter. Paul starts his next missionary journey and brings the gospel to Macedonia, eventually to Thessalonica and Corinth.
Paul Writes to the Galatians
Paul and Barnabas had completed the work they were commissioned for and returned to Antioch in Acts 14:26-28. Paul writes to the Church in Galatia. See notes:
- 16 February 2018 – Entrusted With the Gospel
- 17 February 2018 – For Freedom Christ Has Made Us Free
- 20 February 2018 – Live by the Spirit
1 & 2 Thessalonians Introduction
Remember how Paul had come here, in Acts 16:9 “there came to him a vision in the night of a man who cried: ‘Come over into Macedonia and help us.’ Paul set sail, and for the ﬁrst time the gospel came to Europe” 1
“Macedonia was the kingdom of Alexander the Great … Alexander declared that he had been sent by God ‘to unite, to pacify and to reconcile the whole world’. Deliberately, he had said that it was his aim ‘to marry the east to the west’. He had dreamed of an empire in which there was neither Greek nor Jew, barbarian or Scythian, bond or free (Colossians 3:11) … Paul must surely have thought not of a country nor of a continent, but of a world for Christ.2 And this Church was in a prominent city on the road linking East and West “Thessalonica was at this time capital of the Roman second district of Macedonia [LIVY, Histories, 45.29] … a place of considerable commerce”.3
An Example to All Those Who Believe
1 Thessalonians 1:1–10
These people gladly received God’s word from Paul even though he had been rejected by the Philippians as Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 “after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi”.
Paul had gone to Philippi as he had to other cities of the gentiles in Acts 16:12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia, a Roman colony. And we were staying in this city for some days. They were received well and Lydia and her house were saved. Then this woman began following them in Acts 16: 16 And it happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a certain female slave who had a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing a large profit to her owners by fortune-telling. So, Paul cast the spirit out. This set the woman free but made her of no value to those that had been using her. Her owners dragged Paul, Silas, and Timothy to the magistrate with accusations and they were beaten and thrown in jail without trial. It was this mistreatment that had been noised about that Paul was referring to.
Paul is thankful in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father”. They not only received the gospel, but have been living it in a way that in
1 Thessalonians 1:8 from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith toward God has gone out.
Approved by God to be Entrusted with the Gospel
1 Thessalonians 2:1–12
Paul doesn’t offer the gospel through his position, in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 “we could have insisted on our own importance as apostles of Christ”. Instead, he offered his life, he worked among them. His approach was not to demand of them but in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 “how devoutly and righteously and blamelessly we became to you who believe … how we treated each one of you, like a father his own children, exhorting and consoling you and insisting that you live in a manner worthy of God”.
You Received the Word From as the Word of God
1 Thessalonians 2:13–16
The believers here, could have listened to the gossip from Philippi, but they heard what Paul was saying and recognized it as the word of God. And not only that, but in
1 Thessalonians 2:14 (LEB) For you became imitators, brothers, of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus, because you also suffered the same things at the hands of your own people, just as they themselves did also at the hands of the Jews,
Many of the Christians in Jerusalem had fled because of the persecution. Now, these in Thessalonica were also facing persecution but held their ground.
We Were Eager With Great Desire to See Your Face
1 Thessalonians 2:17–20
Paul very much wanted to know about their progress, but he couldn’t get back to them. We aren’t always able to do what we want to do, as it says in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 “Satan hindered us”. And this is often happens as people are stirred up to oppose us.
I Sent in Order to Know Your Faith
1 Thessalonians 3:1–5
Paul sends Timothy to see how they are doing. He is concerned that, in 1 Thessalonians 3:5 “somehow the tempter tempted you” and turned them from the gospel. Jesus did teach his disciples “The parable of the sower (Matt. 13:3–8; Mark 4:3–9; Luke 8:5–8); with interpretation (Matt. 13:18–23; Mark 4:14–20; Luke 8:11–15)”.4 And it is important that the word take root and produce fruit in our lives.
Stand Firm in the Lord
1 Thessalonians 3:6–13
Timothy returned to Paul with good news. He says in 1 Thessalonians 3:8 “we live, if you stand firm in the Lord”. Paul’s prayer for them is in
1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 (LEB) and may the Lord cause you to increase and to abound in love for one another and for all, just as also we do for you, 13 so that your hearts may be established blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
This is the Will of God, Your Sanctification
1 Thessalonians 4:1–8
Paul encourages them to continue, but also brings correction in
1 Thessalonians 4:3–6 (LEB) For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, just as also the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 not to transgress and to exploit his brother
Sanctification is God’s will, not lustful passion because it not only affects you, but causes you to exploit another. Some will say, “but we are consenting adults”, and if that is your response, you have not understood the righteousness of God that comes through marriage and honor of the husband or wife of your youth.
We Urge You, Brothers, to Progress Even More
1 Thessalonians 4:9–12
There is no bound on “brotherly love” and in 1 Thessalonians 4:10 they “are practicing it toward all the brothers … “But we urge you, brothers, to progress even more”. This is good advice for all of us as is
1 Thessalonians 4:11–12 (LEB) and to aspire to live a quiet life, and to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you may live decently toward those outside, and may have need of nothing.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1–10 An Example to All Those Who Believe
- 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 You Received the Word From as the Word of God
- 1 Thessalonians 4:9–12 We Urge You, Brothers, to Progress Even More
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
- 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20
- 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
- 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12
- 1. Barclay, W. (2003). The Letters to Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated, p. 207). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.
- 2. Barclay, W. (2003). The Letters to Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (3rd ed. fully rev. and updated, p. 208). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.
- 3. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 383). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- 4. Day, A. C. (2009). Collins Thesaurus of the Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.