First Thessalonians Lesson 1 Introduction to First Thessalonians
Introduction to Philippians The History: • Philippi • Paul first visited the city on his second journey • He converted Lydia and her household (Acts 16:14,15) • Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison • Then, converted the jailor and his household
The History • The church was established on Paul’s second missionary journey with Silas • Paul and Silas had just left Philippi • Encountered Lydia (her and her household were baptized) • Cast out a demon from a slave girl (suffered the wrath of her owners) • Imprisoned on false charges • Converted the jailor and his household • When they revealed their Roman citizenship, they were released from prison and departed the city
The History (from Acts 17:1-10) (1) Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. (2) Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, (3) explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ." (4) And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.
The History (from Acts 17:1-10) (5) But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. (6) But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. (7) Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus."
The History (from Acts 17:1-10) (8) And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. (9) So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go. (10) Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
The History • As Paul’s custom was, he reasoned with the Jews in their synagogue • “Synagogue” • A place or gathering of the Jews away from the temple in Jerusalem • The purpose was the read and meditate on the Mosaic law • Not mentioned directly in the O.T. • There was a ruler of the local synagogues • Jesus taught in them (Matt. 4:23) • Paul used the synagogues to a good advantage
The History • Paul preached the gospel: • Christ suffered, • Arose from the dead, and • Jesus is Christ • Some of Jews believed • The unbelieving Jews were moved with envy • Paul was not endorsing the law of Moses. If he had, there would not have been the conflict • Paul then turned to the Gentiles • Many believed including some of the chief women • Jason befriended Paul and Silas
The History • A mob set the city in an uproar • They cried out, “these have turned the world upside down…” • They claimed that Paul was proclaiming that “there is another king – Jesus” • The “brethren” sent Paul and Silas away by night • In spite of the mob, the envy, the hatred and all of the confusion, a good church is left
The City • Thessalonica • An important seaport city of Macedonia • Populated by as many as 200,000 Greeks, Jews, and Romans when Paul preached there • The nation had been a Roman province since about 148 B.C. • The city worshiped many pagan gods, but Jupiter was its favorite • Politically, Thessalonica enjoyed the position of a free city [42 B.C.]
The Letter • Paul wrote this letter from Corinth • Timothy was sent by Paul to determine the status of the new Thessalonian Christians • He wrote this first letter in response to the encouraging report he received • This letter reflects – • His joy over their significant accomplishments and • His concern about several issues with which they were struggling
The Problems • But first, many good things were observable among the Thessalonians: • They were characterized by “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope” (1:3) • They had sent the word of the gospel into “every place” as a demonstration of their faith toward God (1:8) • They had shown courage and prudence as they turned from idols to serve the true God and to wait for the return of Christ to bring them eternal salvation and glory (1:9,10)
The Problems • Several obstacles challenged the success of these mostly Gentile (1:9; 2:14-16) Christians in a hostile environment: • They were disturbed about the second coming (4:13-18); • They faced persecutions and were troubled by the persecutions raised against Paul and his companions, all of which could discourage their commitment to Christ (2:14; 3:2-5); • A relapse into their former sensuality and uncleanness could jeopardize their prospect of eternal salvation (4:1-8);
The Problems • Some members had either elevated or diminished their respect for church leaders according to who did or did not possess gifts of the Spirit (5:12, 13, 19,20); • Attention to the basic responsibilities of the Christian life must be kept as a priority by each saint (5:14-22); • Certain disciples may have been influenced by tactics employed by opponents of the gospel which were very unlike those utilized by Paul and his fellow teachers (1:3-12).
The Time and Place • The best scholarship identifies Corinth as the place from which this epistle was written in A.D. 51 or 52. • It was delivered to the Thessalonians only a “short time” after Paul had departed from their city (2:17,18). • This letter therefore has the distinction of being the first written by the apostle Paul to a local church
Outline • I. Reflections on the Thessalonians. 1:1-3:13 A. Commendation for growth. 1:1-10 B. Founding of the church. 2:1-2:16 C. Strengthening of the church. 2:17-3:13 • II. Instructions to the Thessalonians. 4:1-5:28 A. Direction for growth. 4:1-4:12 B. The dead in Christ. 4:13-18 C. The day of the Lord. 5:1-5:11 D. Holy living. 5:12-28
Questions on the Introduction • On which journey did Paul visit Thessalonica? • What was Paul’s custom when he entered a city? • What is a synagogue? • What purpose did the synagogue serve?
Questions on the Introduction 5. Was Paul endorsing the Sabbath day and the law of Moses by meeting with them on that day? 6. What did Paul preach among them? 7. What classes of people believed Paul? 8. What two charges were made against Paul?
Questions on the Introduction 9. What did the unbelievers do to Jason and some of the brethren? 10. Where was Paul when he wrote the letter to the Thessalonians? 11. Who was with him when he wrote the letter?
The Gospel According to PaulFirst Thessalonians Lesson 2 “Paul had left Thessalonica…” Page 4
Paul’s Greeting • This was Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians • And probably the first letter he wrote to any church • Silas and Timothy joined Paul in the opening greeting • They were well known there • “To the church” -- established when Paul visited the city a few months earlier • The members were following God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 1Th 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s Greeting • “Grace to you and peace” from God and Jesus • Paul was an authorized apostle to speak on behalf of God • Grace: God’s unmerited favors • Peace: The Christian is at peace [reconciled] with God through the Lord Jesus Christ • God provides these blessings to all of His followers through Jesus Christ, His Son 1Th 1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul’s Thanksgiving • Paul was a praying man • He prayed and remembered them “without ceasing” (1:3) • He often incorporated his gratitude in his letters for the good things about the brethren • He gave thanks to God for their spirituality and for their accomplishments 1Th 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,
Paul Remembered… • “Work of Faith” – • This is the beginning of spirituality • They had sounded forth God’s word (1:8) • They had become imitators of the Judean churches (2:14) • They were exhibiting brotherly love toward other saints (4:9) 1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
Paul Remembered… • “Labor of Love” – • Labor is more strenuous than work • Their activities were “of love” • Love comes out of faith • We love because Christ first loved us 1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
Paul Remembered… • “Patience of Hope” – • They had earnestly believed that a precious reward awaited the faithful • Tribulations and persecutions did not make them impatient for better circumstances nor deter them from “keeping on keeping on” • “In our Lord Jesus” • They were being faithful to His word and to God • They knew that every work of faith and labor of love was being noticed by God 1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
“Your Election By God” • This “election” was not that God had chosen individuals before the world began to be lost or saved • This “election” did not suppose that nothing can alter that election and man’s eternal destiny • These are faulty conclusions based on God’s words 1Th 1:4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
“Your Election By God” • This “election” was determined by class rather than by individual persons 1Th 1:4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
“Their Reception of the Gospel” • The word of the gospel had not only been heard, but it came to them • In power • In the Holy Spirit • In much assurance • These truths identified these preachers as men of God • Paul had demonstrated these truths to them and they had witnessed them 1Th 1:5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.
“They Acted On What They Heard” • They became followers of these preachers and of the Lord • They received the word • In much affliction • With joy of the Holy Spirit 1Th 1:6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
“You Became Examples” • Other disciples throughout Achaia and Macedonia heard about: • The faithful endurance of the Thessalonians and • Were inspired to follow their example when similar problems overtook them. • We never know just how far our influence for good [or bad] may go to affect the lives of others. 1Th 1:7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
They “Sounded Forth” the Gospel • They proclaimed the gospel first among their own near neighbors, than moved out to others not so close by • They took the message to many places and far away • Probably, travelers into and out of the city became followers of Jesus, and/or • The church made a deliberate effort to spread the gospel by sending some of its member to “every place” 1Th 1:8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
Their Faith Had Gone Out • Their “faith toward God” involved: • What they believed about the precepts of the gospel, • What they had done in obeying the commands of the gospel, and • How they had changed the basic practices of their lives because of the gospel • The great changes wrought in the Thessalonians were widely known 1Th 1:8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
The Thessalonians Had Changed • There were three life-changing actions: • They turned from idols to the living and true God • They turned from idols to serve the living and true God • They began to wait for the Son of the living and true God to come from heaven 1Th 1:9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 1Th 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
They Waited For His Son from Heaven • There were four significant truths about a living Jesus. They now believed: • Jesus is the Son of the living and true God; • He is in heaven and that He will come again; • The Son of God had died on the cross but had been raised from the dead by the living and true God; • They now believed that the living and true God would bring wrath upon lost men and that faith in His Son offered their only escape from wrath. 1Th 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Questions – Chapter One • _________, _______, and _______ are included in the greeting to the _________ of the ________. • What three commendable things did Paul remember about the Thessalonians? • Their _______________ of ________________; • Their _______________ of ________________; • Their _______________ of ________________.
Questions – Chapter One • What did Paul know about their relationship to God? What did that mean? • In what four ways did the gospel come to the Thessalonians? • In _________________________; • In __________________________; • In ______ ____________ _____________; • In __________ ________________.
Questions – Chapter One • They then became followers of ______________ and of _______ _____________. How was that possible? • They received the ____________ in much __________________ and with ___________ of the ____________ _____________. • They became __________________ to all in ____________________ and ______________ and to all who ______________________.
Questions – Chapter One • They had __________________ forth the _____________ of the ____________ in ______________, _______________, and in _______________ _____________. • What had the Thessalonians done after hearing the gospel? • _____________; • _____________; • _____________.
Questions – Chapter One • What had the Thessalonians accepted about the nature and work of Jesus? • _____________; • _____________; • _____________; • _____________; • _____________ .
The Gospel According to PaulFirst Thessalonians Lesson 3 “It is likely that there were…” 1 Thessalonians 2:1:12 Page 12
Today’s Lesson… Chapter Two • Paul now defends his manner of preaching and his conduct among the Thessalonians • He needed to bring these matters to their attention to repudiate any charges made by Paul’s adversaries • A public display of animosity toward Paul, and some of the other brethren, had caused him to leave their city • The Thessalonian brethren were also being attacked by the same false teachers • The adversaries were diminishing Paul’s apostleship and motives
Today’s Lesson… Chapter Two • A false teacher who is being persecuted would stop the teaching rather than suffer needlessly • He knows that his doctrines are his own • A true teacher will suffer persecution knowing the wrath of God should he alter the word to avoid the wrath of man • So – Paul spends much of this chapter to show his pure motives and the sacrificial work he did on their behalf
Our Coming Was Not In Vain • Their obedience to God’s word proved that his work among them was not in vain [wasted] • They had: • Joy in the Holy Spirit • Become examples to other, even in far away places • Sounded forth the gospel of others • They did these things while suffering afflictions 1Th 2:1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.
Our Coming Was Not In Vain • The Lord says in Isa 55:11 …”so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall certainly do what I sent it to do.” • Regardless of beatings, stonings, humiliations, jails, chains, mobs, and ridicules, Paul preached the word of God and left a trail of Christians everywhere he went 1Th 2:1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.
Paul Was Confident Among Them • They knew Paul was spitefully used at Philippi • They knew he had suffered earlier for preaching the truth • They knew he had conflicts [contentions] with some in their own city • But, he boldly proclaimed the gospel of God to them • The first proof of Paul’s apostleship of the living and true God was his reaction to being persecuted for the things he preached 1Th 2:2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.
Paul’s Motives Were Pure • Next, Paul answers some charges made against him (assumed based on the answers he gives in verses 3-6) • That he was a crafty (clever) preacher who knew tricks to persuade men to obey the gospel • That he preached in such a way as to tickle the ears of the hearers and tried to please men • That he was highly educated and spoke with flattery and was really covetous, desiring gain • That he loved the spotlight of praise and desired to be “the big man” in the church 1Th 2:3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.
Paul’s Motives Were Pure • Things that played no part in his preaching • Error [fables, wandering, deceit], • Uncleanness [impure carnal motives], • Deceit [guile, a bait, snare, trick] • He had not abandoned the Thessalonians because his doctrine was flawed and could not be defended • He had not cared for his personal safety over the importance of the gospel 1Th 2:3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.
Paul’s Motives Were Pure • God entrusted him with the gospel • God would tests his heart • He was approved by God, not men • He spoke to please God, not men • Paul says in Gal. 1:10 – “For now do I persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” 1Th 2:4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.