1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

The Thessalonian church was born with the arrival of the apostle Paul and his co-evangelists Silas, Timothy, and Luke in Thessalonica (modern-day Thessaloniki), the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. As was his usual practice, Paul began by preaching in the city's Jewish synagogue (Acts 17:1-4). This was followed by reaching out to the Gentiles, who ″turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God″ (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

The infant church in Thessalonica struggled with several challenges, including persecution, doubt, sin, and false teaching. Hence, Paul wrote them two letters after his departure from the city. In 1 Thessalonians, he commended the church for her faithful perseverance amid persecution, encouraged his hearers to live holy lives, and reassured them of the hope of Christ's second coming.

A few months after writing his first letter, Paul discovered from a report that several issues still plagued the church, affecting her life and unity. These included increasing persecution, false teaching about Jesus' return, and disruptive conduct within the church. The apostle thus wrote 2 Thessalonians, in which he sought to correct sinful behaviour and erroneous beliefs, reminding the church to hold fast to the right teaching as she awaited Christ's return.

The Structure of 1&2 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 1
Commendation of Thessalonians' faith

1 Thessalonians 2-3
Paul addresses criticism of his actions and absence

1 Thessalonians 4-5
Reminder to avoid immoral conduct and to lead godly lives

2 Thessalonians 1
Encouragement to be worthy of God's calling

2 Thessalonians 2
Warning against false teaching about Jesus' return

2 Thessalonians 3
Warning against unruly disruptive conduct

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.-1 Thessalonians 5:23

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