Day 341: 1 Thessalonians

(The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was the eighth book of the section of the New Testament known as the Pauline Epistles. Paul's visit to Thessalonica was documented in Acts 17:1-9. Paul wrote this letter around 54 AD from Corinth, making this letter, chronologically, the earliest of Paul's epistles. The previous epistles covered the full spectrum of teaching:

-Romans presented the most foundational Christian Doctrine: Salvation.
-1 Corinthians focused on the application of the foundational Doctrine towards a very new church.
-2 Corinthians was a more mature application of foundational Doctrine.
-Galatians was a review of these first three Pauline Epistles.
-Ephesians presented an overarching framework for the rest of Christian Doctrine unto its end, which is The Meaning of Life: All believers interact with each other as "cells in the body" of the Bride which is married to Jesus.
-Philippians focused on the day-to-day effects that ought to result from a believer understanding the previous five epistles: joy regardless of the circumstances.
-Colossians focused on growth during our day-to-day walk, both what is able to hinder our growth (deceivers trying to focus believers on the Law) and what we can do to intentionally grow: know God's Will and understand the Word of God.)

(The church in Thessalonica consisted of Gentiles that Paul had spent a month teaching. Consequently, Paul focused on teaching and encouraging these new Gentile believers. This letter will give us a glimpse into how Paul approached new believers ten years before the last of the previously covered epistles were written.)

1 Thessalonians 1
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

(Paul, with Silvanus and Timothy, wrote to the church of the Thessalonians.)

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;

(The Thessalonians lived by faith. Paul recognized the actions they had as a result of their faith.)

4 knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election,
5 how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.

(Their election referred to their decision to believe in God. When the Gospel was preached there, it was by word (SAY) and power (DO) and it led the Thessalonians to be followers of God.)

6 And ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit;
7 so that ye became an ensample to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.
8 For from you hath sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place your faith to God-ward is gone forth; so that we need not to speak anything.

(These people received the word in much affliction and with joy...which were themes of Paul's letter to the Philippians. The church there had been a good example to the whole region.)

9 For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God,
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come.

(Theme of Chapter 1: Paul encouraged these new believers for their decision to believe in God despite much affliction and with joy.)




1 Thessalonians 2
1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain:

(Paul recognized that going to Thessalonica was profitable.)

2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as ye know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict.

(This circumstance was covered in Acts 16:16-40.)

3 For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4 but even as we have been approved of God to be intrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God who proveth our hearts.

(God will "prove" our hearts for our long term growth. Contrastive thinking: "all we know for sure is what is not true" involves proving something true by proving that every other way is wrong. Notice how Paul proved his point in the above sentence. First he proved his exhortation was approved of God by showing it was not in error, not in uncleanness, and not in guile. He stated that he was speaking as God because it was not as men. This was the earliest of Paul's epistles and he was contrastive within a sentence. In his later epistles (e.g., Romans), Paul was contrastive throughout the entire letter, dedicating entire chapters to the contrastive argument.)

5 For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness;
6 nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ.
7 But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children:

(Again, Paul used contrastive thinking: he proved he was gentle by showing he was not flattering, not covetous, and not seeking glory of men.)

8 even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us.

(Paul and his company were willing to give their own souls for the Thessalonians.)

9 For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblameably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe:

(They also preached the Gospel in a holy, right, and unblameable way.)

11 as ye know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying,
12 to the end that ye should walk worthily of God, who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory.

(Paul blatantly stated he encouraged and comforted them so that they would walk worthy of God.)

13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.

(The Thessalonians let the word of God (through Paul) be planted in their hearts.)

14 For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus: for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews;

(The Thessalonians had been persecuted by the Jews. Paul saw that as a measure of them being believers.)

15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men;
16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

(The Jews forbade Paul to speak to the Gentiles. Clearly this did not hinder Paul speaking. Paul stated Justice would cause wrath to come on them.)

17 But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence not in heart, endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire:
18 because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us.

(Paul desired to see them again but Satan hindered them. Paul encouraged them by saying the believers in Thessalonica were his glory and joy...)

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?
20 For ye are our glory and our joy.

(Theme of Chapter 2: Paul continued to encourage the church while recognizing their persecution.)




1 Thessalonians 3
1 Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone;
2 and sent Timothy, our brother and God's minister in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith;

(Paul sent Timothy there to establish and comfort them concerning their faith.)

3 that no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed.

(Paul did not want them to backslide because of persecution. If the Thessalonians had not planted God's Word in their hearts in "good" ground, persecution could have caused them to stumble. See Matthew 13:1-23: the Parable of the Sower.)

4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

(Paul had warned the Thessalonians, when he was with them, that they would suffer persecution…and it came to pass.)

5 For this cause I also, when I could no longer forbear, sent that I might know your faith, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.

(Paul wanted to know if the work he did there was made unprofitable by the "tempter.")

6 But when Timothy came even now unto us from you, and brought us glad tidings of your faith and love, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, longing to see us, even as we also to see you;

(Timothy delivered good news concerning the faith and love of the Thessalonians.)

7 for this cause, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith:
8 for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanksgiving can we render again unto God for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

(Paul was praying that he might perfect (maximum profitability) what was lacking in their faith.)

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you:
12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you;

(Love comes by the Lord working through us.)

13 to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

(Theme of Chapter 3: Paul reminded them he had warned them of persecution. Not only had the persecution come, but Timothy reported that they were still strong in the faith.)




1 Thessalonians 4
1 Finally then, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that, as ye received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, even as ye do walk, --that ye abound more and more.

(Encouragement to walk by faith to please God…and that they grow in this.)

2 For ye know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication;

(It is God's Will for us to abstain from fornication. God wants us to worship Him, not an idol.)

4 that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor,

(Paul wanted each of the Thessalonians to be able to be sanctified and honorable...that each of them would have the ability to depend on no man, just God.)

5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God;
6 that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified.
7 For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification.
8 Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you.

(Those people who did not listen to Paul’s words were actually rejecting God because Paul was speaking God’s Word. We saw this in the Gospel according to John: when people rejected what God was stating through the prophets and Jesus, these people proved they did not know God.)

9 But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another;

(Paul believed that the Thessalonians had enough faith that they could be taught of God to love each other.)

10 for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye abound more and more;

(Paul knew they were loving each other but he encouraged them to grow in this love.)

11 and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you;
12 that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without, and may have need of nothing.

(Paul encouraged them to continue working so they could better give out of the fruits of their labor and to be a witness to those who were not believers.)

13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

(Doctrine: Those believers who are dead will be raised the same as Christ already has been. Paul suddenly moved into deep Doctrine as it was hard to see the transition, if any, between verse 12 and 13. Verse 12 spoke of being a good witness and being in need of nothing. Verse 13 suddenly turned to Paul concerned these new believers were ignorant about what happened after a person died.)

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep.

(Doctrine: Believers living on earth during the Rapture will not precede the dead believers. Paul moved to even deeper Doctrine: what happens when Jesus spiritually returns to earth to Rapture believers ending our dispensation just before the Tribulation.)

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;
17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

(Verses 16-17 covered the pre-Tribulation Rapture. Jesus will descend from heaven with the trump of God, which we have covered in this commentary in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. The last trump referenced the last of God's seven feasts (Leviticus 23 that used a trump: Rosh Hashanah. The dead in Christ rise first, then those that are alive rise to meet the Lord in the air...and all the believers are taken to heaven to be with the Lord forever. At this point, they cannot forfeit their Salvation. After the Rapture of the Church, there will be believers in heaven. Notice, this passage did not mention believers in heaven. Believers who have already died are not yet with the Lord...they rise to meet the Lord ahead of those who are still living at the time of the Rapture. Remember, Jesus will also physically return to earth to battle the Antichrist (Matthew 24:31). Jesus' physical return will come at the end of the Tribulation. Notice, Matthew 24:29-31 stated that all the tribes of earth would mourn when they saw Jesus coming on the clouds and all the believers in heaven and on earth would be gathered together. During Jesus' physical return, there will be believers in heaven...which meant His spiritual return must precede His physical return. Again, Paul covered deep Doctrine with these new believers...but he also covered this same Doctrine with the immature church in Corinth: 1 Corinthians 15:51-54. He believed this deep Doctrine ought to be used to comfort each other...)

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

(Theme of Chapter 4: Paul began this chapter encouraging them to grow and be a good witness to unbelievers. Then Paul suddenly presented deep Doctrine concerning the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.)




1 Thessalonians 5
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that aught be written unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

(Doctrine: That day of the Lord will come upon us as a surprise. The spiritual Day of the Lord is the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. The physical Day of the Lord is the coming of Jesus to earth at the end of the Tribulation at the battle of Armageddon. Both of these events will come as a thief in the night.)

3 When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape.

(Doctrine: The first half of the Tribulation will be a time of peace and safety...which will cause many to believe the Christians that were Raptured were hindering peace on earth. Halfway through the Tribulation, the Antichrist will claim to be God and he will set up the abomination that brings desolation in God's temple to be worshipped by everyone. In Matthew 24:15-18, Jesus told the Jews to immediately flee into hiding when they see this event (which was spoken of by Daniel 9:27; 11:31; and 12:11). Paul was stating that for the Jews that remained in Israel during the second half of the Tribulation, there would be no escape.)

4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief:
5 for ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness;

(Doctrine: Children of the light (believers) will not be overtaken as a thief (unbeliever) in that day. There are two ways of looking at this verse. First, the spiritual Day of the Lord will not take believers who are watching as a thief in the night because they will be living in a manner that will cause them to be Raptured. Being of the light also implied events being manifest/apparent...able to be seen. This did not mean believers would know the hour and day of the Rapture...just that it would not surprise them. The second way of looking at this verse is that believers who are Raptured during Jesus' spiritual return would not be present on the earth to experience Jesus' physical return during the Day of the Lord.)

6 so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober.

(Doctrine: Believers ought to watch and be sober...we need to be ready always for the return of Christ. Again, this did not mean we could know the hour and day, but we ought to be able to see that day getting nearer, otherwise Paul would not have told us to watch and be sober.)

7 For they that sleep sleep in the night: and they that are drunken are drunken in the night.
8 But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.

(Paul referenced pieces of the armor of God ten years before he wrote Ephesians 6:11-18.)

9 For God appointed us not into wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

(Doctrine: Believers are not appointed to experience wrath. Believers are not supposed to be present during the Tribulation. All believers, whether dead or alive, will live with Christ.)

11 Wherefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as also ye do.

(Paul's reason for explaining this deep Doctrine was so that the believers in Thessalonica could use this information to exhort/encourage each other.)

12 But we beseech you, brethren, to know them that labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
13 and to esteem them exceeding highly in love for their work's sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

(Paul told the believers in Thessalonica to know and esteem those who were their leaders in the Lord in love for their work's sake: elders/pastors.)

14 And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, encourage the fainthearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all.

(Paul gave them some things to focus on…things a leader would do: admonish, encourage, support, and be longsuffering.)

15 See that none render unto any one evil for evil; but always follow after that which is good, one toward another, and toward all.

(Paul stated in Romans 12:21 that we ought to overcome evil with good.)

16 Rejoice always;
17 pray without ceasing;
18 in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.

(In EVERYTHING give thanks! Rejoicing was the overarching theme of the Book of Philippians. Knowing the Will of God was a theme of the Book of Colossians.)

19 Quench not the Spirit;

(Quenching the Spirit was the same as hindering grace.)

20 despise not prophesyings;

(One of Paul's themes in 1 Corinthians 14 was desiring spiritual gifts, especially prophesying.)

21 prove all things; hold fast that which is good;

(To “prove all things”, you must be contrastive…you must consider you could be wrong.)

22 abstain from every form of evil.

(Refrain from fornication was a theme throughout all of Paul's writings.)

23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.
25 Brethren, pray for us.
26 Salute all the brethren with a holy kiss.
27 I adjure you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the brethren.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

(Theme of Chapter 5: Paul continued with the deep Doctrine of the spiritual and physical Days of the Lord. Paul briefly referenced concepts that he would eventually write in detail about in later epistles.)

(The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was the eighth book of the section of the New Testament known as the Pauline Epistles. Paul's visit to Thessalonica was documented in Acts 17:1-9. Paul wrote this letter around 54 AD from Corinth, making this letter, chronologically, the earliest of Paul's epistles. The previous epistles covered the full spectrum of teaching:

-Romans presented the most foundational Christian Doctrine: Salvation.
-1 Corinthians focused on the application of the foundational Doctrine towards a very new church.
-2 Corinthians was a more mature application of foundational Doctrine.
-Galatians was a review of these first three Pauline Epistles.
-Ephesians presented an overarching framework for the rest of Christian Doctrine unto its end, which is The Meaning of Life: All believers interact with each other as "cells in the body" of the Bride which is married to Jesus.
-Philippians focused on the day-to-day effects that ought to result from a believer understanding the previous five epistles: joy regardless of the circumstances.
-Colossians focused on growth during our day-to-day walk, both what is able to hinder our growth (deceivers trying to focus believers on the Law) and what we can do to intentionally grow: know God's Will and understand the Word of God.)

(The church in Thessalonica consisted of Gentiles that Paul had spent a month teaching. Consequently, Paul focused on teaching and encouraging these new Gentile believers. This letter gave us a glimpse into how Paul approached new believers ten years before the last of the previously covered epistles were written. Paul encouraged them to continue growing and being a good witness to unbelievers. Paul also shared deep Doctrine with these new believers in hopes they could use the information to encourage each other.)

Day 342

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