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Bible Commentaries

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT

1 Thessalonians

- 1 Thessalonians

by Manly Luscombe

The City

Thessalonica was an important city of commerce and became a center of missionary activity. The city was declared a free city in the Roman Empire. This means that it would remain Greek in culture and citizenship. The people were free to conduct their own government, pass laws and control judicial duties.

There was a synagogue in Thessalonica, which indicates a large Jewish population. It was from this synagogue that Paul won the first converts to Christ ( Act_17:4 ). It appears that Paul ws here for only three weeks ( Act_17:2 ).

The Letter

Because he was there for such a short time, Paul felt it was important that he provide for this young church some instruction. This letter is the first of all the writings of Paul. It pre-dates most of the other letters by 8 - 10 years.

Authorship - There can be little doubt that Paul wrote the letter. It has all the marks of Paul in vocabulary, style and thought.

Date - The date is quite easy to establish. It was written after the return of Timothy from Thessalonica to Paul (3:6) and when Paul was in Corinth. It is clear that this letter was written in 50 or 51 AD.

The Doctrine

Because the letter was written early and to a brand new church, the teachings were not for the purpose of correcting error. The purpose was to give them the solid foundation needed to survive in time of persecution.

1. Sin. Paul speaks about sin among the Jews and Gentiles (2:14-16), Satan (2:18), temptation (3:5), idolatry (1:9), wrath (5:9), and fraud (4:6).

2. Gospel. Jesus was killed by Jews (2:15). God raised him from the dead (1:10). Jesus died and rose again (4:14). Jesus died for us (5:10). The message is called - Gospel (1:5); Word (1:6); Word of the Lord 1:8); Word of God (2:13); Gospel of God (2:2); and Gospel of Christ (3:3). They had received the word (1:6); they had turned from idols (1:9); they were saved (2:16). They were called believers (1:7) and their faith was known by others (1:8).

3. God. God is described as true and living (1:9). He will direct us (3:11). He is the God of peace (5:23).

4. Christ. Jesus was killed and raised from the dead (2:15; 1:10; 4:14). Jesus can direct us in the right way (3:11). Jesus Christ is the Son from heaven (1:10).

5. Second Coming. Every chapter mentions the second coming (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:14; 5:23). This was the theme of the letter. Because of their excitement for the second coming, the second letter was required to balance their views.

The Outline

The following outline is taken from Warren W. Wiersbe. Be Ready, is his commentary on 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Theme: The coming of Christ

Key verses: 5:9-10

1. Paul Remembers (chapters 1-3)

a. How the church was born - 1

b. How the church was nurtured - 2

c. How the church was established - 3

2. Paul Exhorts (chapters 4-5)

a. In holiness - 4:1-8

b. In harmony - 4:9-10

c. In honesty - 4:11-12

d. In hope - 4:13-5:11

e. In helpfulness - 5:12-28