Intro to 1 Thessalonians
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
1 Thessalonians 4:1
When you consider the content of Paul’s letters to the churches he wrote, you get the sense that not everything is going so well. To the church at Corinth, he wrote long letters to encourage unity and to call them away from worldliness, immorality, and pride. To the church at Colossae, he encouraged them to not fall to mysticism or legalism, but to be faithful to the Lord. The church at Ephesus was too proud and lacked in forgiveness, the Galatian church were tempted to fall into false gospels and the church at Philippi seemed worrisome and had two cantankerous women in the body. But the letter to the Thessalonicans has a much different tone, one of exceeding joy.
Paul and his mates (Silas [Silvanus] and Timothy) had planted this church during his second missionary journey, but, due to being driven out by the Jews (2:15-17; cf Acts 17:1-8)., were not able to stay and teach them as much as they would have liked. So, he writes this letter with a two-fold purpose: 1) to let them know how encouraged he is by them and their faithfulness to the Lord and 2) so that they would not be uninformed about certain things which he may not have had an opportunity to teach them on since he was driven away. And yet, despite only having been there for a short period, this community was one that was an “example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1:7), was one that became the “joy or crown of boasting” for Paul (2:19), and one that did not need instruction on brotherly love because they themselves had “been taught by God to love one another” and were practicing their love “to all the brothers throughout Macedonia” (4:9-10).
And their lives and practice ought to challenge us as today. We too have been given a very large storehouse of truth. We, like the Thessalonicans, have received the gospel and the question is whether we have become “imitators of…the Lord”, in the midst suffering we face, with joy (1:6)? Leonard Ravenhill asked the same question a different way when he asked, “are the things you are living for worth Christ dying for”? As Paul encouraged them to “walk and to please God” (4:1), we too are to walk in a manner that is pleasing to out Lord. Though there may be troubles in this life, we know that in the end Christ will come back and we will spend eternity with him (4:13-18) and that God has not destined us to wrath, but for salvation (5:9). So, Christian walk with hope and with joy and in a manner, which pleases God, “more and more” (4:1).
Grace and Peace,
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