In term 4 our sermon series will be on the book of 1 Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest letters written by Paul, and it’s addressed to the church in the city of Thessalonica in Macedonia.In term 4 our sermon series will be on the book of 1 Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest letters written by Paul, and it’s addressed to the church in the city of Thessalonica in Macedonia.
Paul himself planted the church during his second missionary journey, and so the letter is full of personal warmth, love and encouragement, as well as many instructions on how to walk worthy of the Lord.
It seems from the letter that there were things that the Thessalonians still hadn’t been taught, or needed clarification on (for example, the return of Jesus in 4:13-5:11). This was probably because Paul’s ministry there was cut short by persecution from the Jews (2:17). Paul had to flee, but he later met up with Silvanus and Timothy in Corinth, and they brought the good news from Thessalonica that we read about in 3:6. Paul’s encouragement and joy was overflowing, and so Paul (along with Silvanus and Timothy) wrote the letter of 1 Thessalonians to encourage and teach the Thessalonians.
I always find the history of Paul’s journeys and letters interesting, and I hope you do too! Why not read more about Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica and what followed in Acts 17-18 this week, before we start the letter next Sunday?
The letter itself also has many interesting things to say! Paul starts by reminding the Thessalonians how God was at work when they received the message of the gospel from him (1:1-10), and how he and his co-workers conducted themselves with integrity among them (2:1-3:13), being faithful examples of godliness to them.
At the heart of the letter is the message of the gospel, and the challenge to walk worthy of the Lord. In fact, Paul uses this image of walking (which represents living) three times:
As you know, like a father with his own children, we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own king- dom and glory. (2:11-12)
Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must walk and please God—as you are doing— do so even more. (4:1)
But we encourage you, brothers, to do so even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may walk properly in the presence of outsiders and not be depe- ndent on anyone. (4:10-12)
Paul desires these new Christians and this young church to remember the gospel that saves, and then walk faithfully as they follow their Lord and Saviour. He urges the Thessalonians to sexual self-control (4:1-8), to brotherly love and daily work (4:9-12), to perseverance in grief (4:13-18), to righteousness as they wait for Jesus’ unexpected return (5:1-11), and to fellowship and gathering (5:12-28).
Now we too have the great joy of digging into this letter together, seeking to heed Paul’s encouragements and challenges. Please join me in praying that we would respond to God’s word faithfully – that we remember the message of God, and walk worthy of him.