I am beginning a new series of sermons at my church called A Church on the Brink. This series is a study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. The major theme in 1 and 2 Thess. is the second coming of Christ (parousia). Many of the people in this church were converted from pagan religions and were now being tempted to return to their old ways by Jews who were skeptical of Paul, Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy. Many of the people had apparently misunderstood the teaching of these missionaries on their initial visit, (that was interrupted and cut short) recorded in Acts 17:1-9. Many were quitting their jobs and depending on the labor of others as a result of the immanent return of Christ. Paul writes, among other reasons, to correct this misunderstanding and to remind the people of some of the practical implications of the Gospel that should be played out in their lives. In way of application, I presented the material as characteristics of a healthy church. I get this from 1 Thess. 3:6 when Timothy’s report of the church is being made known–“your faith and love have been reported. “My main points for verses 1-3 are listed below:
Verse 1: Salutation: the authors of the letter are revealed: order is probably important.
–Silvanus: this is simply the Latin name for Silas…went with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to deliver the decision of the Jerusalem counsel; chosen by Paul to be his associate on the second missionary journey.
–Timothy: The son of a Greek father and devout Jewish mother, he was a relative newcomer to the Christian mission. Paul and Silas had drafted him into the ministry roughly a year earlier ins Lystra (Acts 16:1).
–Both had been instrumental in helping Paul in evangelism in Corinth.
Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
James 2:18 But someone may well say, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
Their labor of love–this gives forth an image of the people working in the process of knowing Christ and loving each other. (This is a labor intensive, long term endeavor that takes place in the local church!) Could be a reference to their welcome of the missionaries (v.9)
Their steadfastness of hope–This is definitely an eschatological hope–a hope for the 2nd coming of Christ; a restoration of all things! HOPE for the escape of coming wrath!
Colossians 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
I’ll post the next two points soon.
May God write and apply His Word to our hearts!