1 Thessalonians: An Exegetical and Devotional Commentary – The Thessalonian epistles were written to the church at Thessalonica – It was a church under persecution, but also a church that had a dynamic testimony and that had grown through the persecution – Significantly, in every chapter of 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle sought to comfort and motivate with the truth of the Lord’s sure return

The Thessalonian epistles were written to the church at Thessalonica. It was a church under persecution, but also a church that had a dynamic testimony and that had grown through the persecution. Significantly, in every chapter of 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle sought to comfort and motivate with the truth of the Lord's sure return. As we study these books, therefore, we need to grapple with how the return of the Lord for the body of Christ should impact us and how it should not affect us, for as we will see, some had made a wrong application of the Lord's imminent return. ... Thessalonica was originally named Therma because of the many hot springs in the surrounding area, but in 315 B.C. it was renamed Thessalonica after the half-sister of Alexander the Great. It later became known as Salonika and today it is called Thessaloniki. It is one of the few cities that still exists today from New Testament times and has a booming population of 300,000. The city was conquered by Rome in 168 B.C., and was made the capitol of the entire providence of Macedonia. When Paul made his journey to the city, it boasted a population of 200,000 consisting mostly of Greeks though there was a large Roman population with a strong Jewish minority. ... To preach and teach the Word to a dying and lost world is never really an issue in the will of God, but exactly when and where (time and place) is an issue in keeping with God's preparation of the soil of human hearts. As Christians, we are all called to be a part of promoting the spread of the glorious truths of the Word, but where, when, and how are important matters that need to be discerned in the will of God for each individual believer. Thus, the birth of the church at Thessalonica was the result of both God's leading and the attentive ears of Paul and his missionary team. -- Having arrived at Somothrace in Macedonia, the missionary team moved on through Neopolis to Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia and a Roman colony. There Lydia, whose heart God had opened for the gospel, and her household were led to the Christ with a church being established in her home. After some days of ministry there, Paul and Silas were arrested on false charges, beaten, and thrown into jail. Following a miraculous deliverance by the Lord, the Philippian jailer and his household were also led to the Savior (Acts 16:19-40). These circumstances forced the missionaries to leave Philippi. So after encouraging the new believers, the missionary team left the city (though Luke may have stayed behind temporarily) and journeyed on through Amphipolis and Appollonia to the important city of Thessalonica. [link]

Background of 1st Thessalonians – Thessalonica was a major city in northern Greece. Situated on the main east-west highway of the Roman Empire, it was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia and very loyal to Rome. It survives to this day, now known as Salonika – Paul planted this church on his second missionary journey about 50 AD – Upon hearing Timothy’s report, he [Paul] writes this letter from Corinth to encourage, instruct and equip them in their relationships with Christ – This means that 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest documents of the New Testament-preceded only by Galatians and James [and probably the Gospel of Matthew and the extra-biblical book ‘The Didache’] – It is also one of the most personal

Paul planted this church on his second missionary journey about 50 AD. After Paul and Silas had, during the Apostle's second missionary journey, left Philippi, they proceeded to Thessalonica. Luke, one of Paul's mission band, concisely records what happened in Acts 17:1-15. The signal success of Paul's apostolate among Jews, proselytes, and Hellenes together with the conversion of "not a few noble ladies," aroused the Jews to a fury of envy; they gathered together a mob of idlers from the agora and set the whole city in tumult; they beset the home of Jason, found the Apostle away, dragged his host to the tribunal of the politarchs and charged him with harboring traitors, men who set Jesus up as king in place of Caesar. That night the brethren made good the escape of their teacher to Berea. There the Gospel of Paul met with a much more enthusiastic reception than that accorded to it by the synagogue of Thessalonica. The Jews of that city drove Paul to Berea and there, too, stirred up the mob against him. Concerned for their spiritual welfare, he sent Timothy back to check on them. Upon hearing Timothy's report, he writes this letter from Corinth to encourage, instruct and equip them in their relationships with Christ. This means that 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest documents of the New Testament-preceded only by Galatians and James. It is also one of the most personal. [link]

1 Thessalonians 1 – The Apostle Paul begins his first of two letters of encouragement to a highly persecuted Christian Church a Church that was nearly wiped out do to the severe nature of the deadly persecutions it endured — ‘1 Thessalonians 1:2-4 We give thanks to God *always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.’

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they [Thessalonian converts] themselves shew [by their endurance in the faith] of [unto] us what manner of entering in [influence] we had unto you, and ***how ye turned to God from idols ***to serve the ***living and true God; And to wait for [2nd Coming of] His Son [Jesus] from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus [Christ], which delivered us from the wrath to come. - The Christians, many of them new converts, in Thessalonica are commended for their faith and endurance in very difficult circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 2 – The Christians in Thessalonica were able to grasp and discern that the Words of comfort are from God and that the violent persecutions were from Satan — ‘1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His [eternal] Kingdom and Glory. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God *which ye heard [from] of us,*** ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, **the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe [lit. faith – belief is the verb form of the noun faith].’

1 Thessalonians 2:14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the Churches of God which in Judaea [Israel - Jerusalem] are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own [violent persecutors] countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and **they [violent persecutors] please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be Saved, to fill up their sins always: **for the wrath is come upon them [violent persecutors] to the uttermost. But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; **but Satan hindered us {Satan is actively at work in all regions of the world opposing all aspects of true Christianity}. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing [personal fellowship among believers until the return of Jesus]? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his [2nd] coming [lit. presence - parousia G3952]? For ye are our glory and joy. - The violent opposition waged against the Christians is of the realm and influences of Satan and not at all of God.

1 Thessalonians 3 – The misery and even death of persecution does not make void the fact that we are even now alive in Jesus Christ — ‘1 Thessalonians 3:8-10 For **now we live [even in persecution], if ye stand fast in the Lord. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect [complete] that which is lacking in your faith [knowledge of the Ministry, the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ]?’

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 Now God Himself [Holy Spirit] and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way [path back] unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. - We Christians regardless of circumstances or the amount of persecution are to remain "unblameable in holiness before God" because we are accountable to God more than we are accountable to our fellow man.

1 Thessalonians 4 – Living in times of crisis and persecution is not a time to relinquish immorality and holiness towards God — ‘1 Thessalonians 4:1-4 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received (Acts 15:20) of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound [in holiness] more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification [holiness], that ye should abstain from fornication: **That every one of you [individually] should know how to possess his [own body] vessel in sanctification and honor [to God]’

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [deceased Christians], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For **if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the [2nd] coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep {from already being in the presence of God}. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the Trump [call] of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first {already in the presence of God}: **Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air (Acts 3:21): and so shall we [living and deceased] ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. - Note: This verse is particularly in reference to Christians who have died in martyrdom and by other causes and indicates that those who die before the 2nd Coming of Jesus will instantly be in the presence of Jesus and will not need to wait for us to enter into Heaven but already being there will reunite with those who are alive at the actual 2nd Coming of Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5 – A continued separation and distinction is made between the holiness and conduct of Christians and the rebellion and disobedience of non-Christians — ‘1 Thessalonians 5:5-8 Ye [You] are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch [for the 2nd Coming of Jesus] and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. **But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of [our individual] salvation.’

The Apostle Paul closes the Bible's first of two letters to the Church in Thessalonica: 1 Thessalonians 5:14-28 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. **Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And ***the very God of Peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole *spirit and *soul and *body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He [God] that calleth you, who also will do it. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with an holy [embrace] kiss. **I charge you by the Lord **that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.