The Church of Thessalonica. Upon being delivered from prison at Philippi. Paul continued his second missionary journey to Thessalonica, having also Silas and Timothy with him (Acts 17:1-5). He spent three Sabbaths there, but on account of the persecution of the Jews, went from there to Berea, then to Athens, and then to Corinth where he spent 18 months. The first letter bears testimony to the splendid Christian character of these new converts from heathenism.
This is probably the first epistle written by Paul and perhaps the first written document of the Christian religion. It is not doctrinal, has no element of controversy and is one of the most gentle and affectionate of Paul’s letters. It is notable for its special salutations and refers to their expectations of the immediate return of Jesus. Its main idea is consolation (4:17-18), its keynote hope and its leading words affliction and advent. Its purpose was: (1) to send affectionate greetings, (2) to console them in their afflictions, (3) to correct their wrong, their mistaken views of Christ’s second coming, (4) to exhort then to proper living as against certain immoral tendencies.
Date. From Corinth A. D. 53.
I. The Spiritual Condition of the Church, Ch. 1.
1. Introduction. 1.
2. Their faith, love and hope, 2-3.
3. The cause of these, 4-5.
4. The result of these, 6-10.
II. Paul’s Character and Conduct While With Them, 2:1-16.
1. How he brought them the gospel, 1-12.
2. How they received it, 13-16.
III. Paul’s Interest in the Church Since Leaving Them. 2:17-3 end.
1. Desired to visit them, 2:17 end.
2. He sent Timothy to them and rejoices in his report of them, 3:1- 10.
3. Benediction upon them, 3:11 end.
IV. Exhortation for the Future, 4:1-5:11.
1. To purity, 4:1-8.
2. To brotherly love, 4:9-10.
3. To honest industry, 4:11-12.
4. To be comforted in the loss of their dead in Christ, 4:13-5:11.
For Study and Discussion. (1) Things in the church for which Paul is thankful, 1:2-6. (2) What is said about how the gospel was preached to them, 2:1-16. (3) Paul’s longing to know about them, 3:1-9. (4) The duties enjoined, 4:1-12. (5) The second coming of Christ and the resurrection, 4:13-18. (6) How we are prepared for the great day of his coming, 5:3-10. (7) The several exhortations in 5:12-22. (8) The human elements or explanation of Paul’s power as a preacher Ch. 2. (9) The deity of Jesus seen in the book.
This letter was also written from Corinth and during the same year. It is the shortest letter Paul wrote to any church and is characterized by its lack of special salutations and for its general idea of patient waiting for our Lord. The occasion seems to be to correct their wrong views of the second coming of Christ and the errors of life growing out of it. It may be that they had misunderstood his own teaching to be that the day of the Lord was already at hand (2:2).
I. Thanksgiving and Prayer for in View of The Second Coming of Christ, 1:2 end.
II. Warnings about Christ’s Second Coming. 2:1-12.
III. Their Escape at His Coming, 2:13 end.
IV. Practical Matters, 3:1-15.
1. Their prayers for each other, 1-5.
2. Discipline for the disorderly, 6-15.
Conclusion, 3:16 end.
For Study and Discussion. (1) Things commendable in the church, 13-14. (2) Moral disorders of the church, 3:7-11. (3) How to deal with the disorderly, 3:6, 14, 15. (4) How to deal with the idle, 3:12. (5)Facts concerning Christ’s second coming, from the whole book. (6) Facts concerning the judgment of the wicked.