Letters often began with the author (3 in this case), followed by a greeting and thanksgiving. This letter is specifically written to a group of people that assemble together ‘ekklesia’-meaning church. In case the letter went to the wrong church, they address it to the Thessalonians. Well, now that makes sense because you would not want this letter and the letters to the Galatians mixing up!
Paul, Silas, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you.
The Thessalonians were standing firm and exhibiting faith, love, and hope. The purpose of this letter was:
- Thanks. Paul was probably in Corinth when he wrote this and the report back to him encouraged him greatly.
- An explanation about why he had to leave so quickly and could not return.
- To encourage them as they faced hostility and suffering.
- To explain “fraternal love”
- To discuss the topic of sexual purity (they were sliding on that topic)
- Clarify the End days
You can feel the Joy in Paul when Timothy’s report back was:
4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 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 had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain. 6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.
He slips in a reminder about sexual immorality. Paul knows the flesh is weak and this is the one area they were failing in. But quickly commends their continued love for each other, and reminds them to live a quiet life, working hard so others will know they love the Lord through their way of life-not but beating them up with scriptures.
Chapter 4: What will happen to those who have died (fallen asleep) and are still alive when the Lord Comes back?
There were many different theories floating around so this letter was written to clarify the issue and put their minds at ease.
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For 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.
We believe in a Resurrection of the Lord, so we know that He will bring those who have died to Him BEFORE He returns. After that, a trumpet will sound. If you read the OT with us, you will remember the Trumpet signified a war was to begin and the Lord was with us.
15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
‘Caught up’: the Latin translation of this verse used the word rapturo. The Greek word it translates is harpazo, which means to snatch or take away.
(If you believe the rapture occurs after the first 3 1/2 or after the first 7: I am ok with that. I am a Pre-trib girl because it says we will be caught “in the air”. The second coming He firmly puts HIs feet on the Mountain).
Chapter 5: written to believers (you)
- acknowledge those who work hard among you, live in peace with each other
- warn those who are idle and disruptive
- encourage the disheartened
- help the weak
- be patient with everyone.
- Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong
- Rejoice always
- pray continually
- give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- Do not quench the Spirit (let your fire for the Lord show)
- hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.