Summary: Introduction to 1 Thessalonians


INTRODUCTION: 1 Thessalonians was the 2nd Epistle written by Paul. Thessalonica was the site of one of Paul’s most successful ministries. Having stayed there less than one month (Acts 17:2), he remarkably established a Church that was doctrinally strong and faithful in evangelism (1 Thess. 1:6-8). But, they were still lacking in some areas of Biblical truth: namely the resurrection of the dead and the 2nd Coming of Christ. Paul wrote this letter and the next to address some concerns they had about the 2nd Coming.

I. The Author of the Book -

A. The Apostle Paul (1:1) - Though his name only appears twice, 1st person pronouns are used 7 times.

B. Biographical information in this Letter reveals:

1. Paul’s anguish in Philippi (2:2);

2. His avoidance of human wisdom (2:3-6);

3. His affectionate concern for the Thessalonians (2:7-9);

4. His anticipation of Christ’s return (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:2);

C. Silas & Timothy are included as co-authors, probably because they were with Paul when He began this ministry.

II. The Recipients of the Book

A. The City of Thessalonica:

1. Founded in 315 BC;

2. Named after the stepsister of Alexander the Great;

3. The capital of Macedonia, a “free” city, and second only to Philippi in size.

4. A strategic commercial seaport.

B. The Church at Thessalonica:

1. Was established about 50 AD by Paul, Silas & Timothy (Acts 17:1);

2. Her members included Jews, devout Greeks, chief women & pagan idolaters (1:9; Acts 17:4);

3. Was known for their “work of faith, labor of love and hope in Christ” (1:3);

4. Was an example to all who believe (1:7);

5. Demonstrated genuine love and concern for Paul, even after he had left them to continue his missionary work (3:6);

6. Was concerned about those who had died before the Rapture (4:13-15);

7. Was the home of some of the most important leaders in the 1st Century Christian movement: Demas (2 Tim 4:10); Secundas (Acts 20:4); Gaius (Acts 19:29); & Aristarchus (Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2).

III. The Date & Place of Writing

A. Place - Written from Corinth (3:6; Acts 18:5).

B. Date - In the year 51 AD, during Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey.

IV. The Purpose of the Book

A. To commend the faithfulness of the Thessalonians in the midst of persecution (1:1-10);

B. To defend his personal conduct among them in the face of criticism (2:1-16);

C. To explain his absence from them (2:17-20);

D. To explain why he sent Timothy to them (3:1-13);

E. To instruct them in sexual purity (4:1-8);

F. To admonish them to show brotherly love (4:9-12);

G. To correct doctrinal errors about the resurrection and the return of Christ (4:13-18);

H. To explain the day of the Lord (5:1-13);

I. To instruct them in Christian responsibility (5:14-28).

V. The Keys to the Book

A. The key thought = The 2nd Coming of Christ

B. The key phrase = "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven…" (4:16).

C. The key verses = 4:13-18

D. Key Words:

1. Comfort - 6 times 2. Coming - 4 times

3. Love - 6 times 4. Lord - 25 times

VI. The Outline to the Book

A. Paul remembers the Church - Ch. 1

Because of the Salvation of this Church, their …

1. …foundation was solid (vv. 1-4);

2. …founding was spiritual (v. 5);

3. …following was steadfast (v. 6);

4. …faith was shared (vv. 7-9);

5. …future was secure (v. 10);

B. Paul reminds the Church - Ch. 2 -

1. His entrance (vv. 1-2);

2. His exhortation (vv. 3-6);

3. His emotion (vv. 7-8);

4. His endurance (v. 9);

5. His example (v. 10);

6. His expectation (vv. 11-12);

7. His excitement (vv. 13-16);

8. His endeavor (vv. 17-18);

9. His incentive (v. 19-20);

C. Paul responds to the Church - Ch. 3

1. by sending them a helper (vv. 1-5);

2. by writing them a Letter (vv. 6-8);

3. by saying for them a prayer (vv. 9-13).

D. Paul rejoices with the Church - Ch. 4

In light of the eminent return of Christ we should …

1. … walk in Holiness (vv. 1-8)

2. … walk in Harmony (vv. 9-10)

3. … walk in Honesty (vv. 11-12)

4. … walk in Hope (vv. 13-18)

a. Revelation (v. 13, 15)

b. Return (v. 14-15)

c. Resurrection (v. 15-16)

d. Rapture (v. 17)

e. Reunion (v. 17-18)

E. Paul readies the Church - Ch. 5

1. Be ready (vv. 1-11)

2. How to be ready (vv. 12-28)

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