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Getting to Know the Bible: 1 Thessalonians Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on 1 Thessalonians. But before we get to 1 Thessalonians 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of 1 Thessalonians. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of 1 Thessalonians, as we prepare to behold and discern 1 Thessalonians, beginning with 1 Thessalonians 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: Eighth Pauline Epistle; the thirteenth book of the New Testament

Authors: Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy.

Date of Writing: ~A.D. 50-51

Audience: The church Paul founded in the city of Thessalonica during his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1–9).

Theme: Eschatology

Original Language: Greek

Genre: Letter

Title: Be Encouraged, Fellow Believers

Purpose of Writing: Paul wrote this letter to encourage new believers in their faith, to give them assurance about the eternal state of believers who had died, to remind them of the coming of the Lord (4:15), and to exhort them to godly living. He urged them to be at peace, and to give thanks in all circumstances (5:18). Thessalonica (present-day Thessaloniki, Greece) was the capital of Roman Macedonia. It was on important trade routes. Paul, twice identified as the author (1:1; 2:18), visited Thessalonica on his second missionary journey but was forced to flee because of Jewish opposition. He sent Timothy to work with the largely Gentile church there, and Timothy brought him good news of their faith (3:6).

Summary: The first three chapters are about Paul longing to visit the church in Thessalonica but not being able to because Satan stopped them (1 Thessalonians 2:18), and how Paul cared for them and was encouraged to hear how they had been. Paul then prays for them (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13). In chapter 4, Paul is instructing the believers in Thessalonica on how to live, in Christ Jesus, a holy life (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12). Paul goes on to instruct them of a misconception they had. He tells them that the people who have died in Christ Jesus will also go to heaven when He comes back (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-11). The book ends with final instructions of living the Christian life.

Overview: First Thessalonians consists of five chapters that comprise two major sections. The first section address Paul's personal thoughts concerning the church. He expresses much thanks for the way the Thessalonians live (1 Thessalonians 1:2–10), describing them as positive examples for the churches. Chapter 2 retells some of Paul's ministry to this young church (1 Thessalonians 2:1–16). He concludes the chapter with a longing to see them again to bring him glory and joy (1 Thessalonians 2:17–20). Though Paul is concerned regarding the status of the church (1 Thessalonians 3:1–5), Timothy had recently returned with good news of their faith and love (1 Thessalonians 3:6). Paul thanks God (1 Thessalonians 3:9) and ends the section with a prayer for the believers receiving his letter (1 Thessalonians 3:11–13).

The second major section covers the remainder of the book and addresses various practical concerns (1 Thessalonians 4—5). First, Paul urges them to live a life that pleases the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:1). He addresses their concerns about the coming of the Lord, noting the dead in Christ will rise first at the rapture, followed by believers still living. All believers will then meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever, which Paul calls a source of encouragement (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).

Chapter 5 then addresses the day of the Lord, a day that will come suddenly upon those unprepared (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11). Paul concludes with instructions to respect their leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13), correct the idle (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and various other instructions for Christian living (1 Thessalonians 5:15–22), concluding with a final blessing and instructions regarding greeting one another and reading the letter to all (1 Thessalonians 5:23–28).

Application: In the church of Thessalonica there were some misunderstandings about the return of Christ. Paul desired to clear them up in his letter. He also writes it as an instruction in holy living.

Key Verses (ESV):

1 Thessalonians 3:5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

1 Thessalonians 3:7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith.

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:8–9 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. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

*Note: Paul had left Thessalonica abruptly (see Acts 17:5-10) after a rather brief stay. Recent converts from paganism (1:9) were thus left with little external support in the midst of persecution. Paul's purpose in writing this letter was to encourage the new converts in their trials (3:3-5), to give instruction concerning godly living (4:1-12) and to give assurance concerning the future of believers who die before Christ returns (4:13-18; see Theme below; see also notes on 4:13,15).

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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