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- 1 Thessalonians
by Editor - Joseph S. Exell
The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic
ON THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE
By the REV. GEORGE BARLOW
Author of the Commentaries on Kings, Psalms (CXXI.–CXXX.), Lamentations, Ezekiel, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
ON THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
WITH CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, INDEXES, ETC., BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
PREACHER’S HOMILETICAL COMMENTARY
HOMILIES FOR SPECIAL OCCASIONS
Church Seasons: Advent, Ephesians 5:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 3:13 b; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 3:5. Christmas, Galatians 4:4. Lent, Colossians 2:21-23; Colossians 3:5-9. Good Friday, Galatians 1:4; Galatians 6:14-15; Philippians 2:8; Colossians 2:15. St. Mark’s Day, Ephesians 4:7. Ascension Day, Ephesians 4:9-10; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 3:1-2. Whit Sunday, Galatians 5:22-26, Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 4:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13. Trinity Sunday, Ephesians 2:18; Ephesians 4:4-6.
Holy Communion: Ephesians 2:19; Ephesians 3:15; Colossians 3:17.
Missions to Heathen: Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 2:11-12; Ephesians 3:1-6. Bible Society, Ephesians 6:17.
Evangelistic Services: Ephesians 1:7-8; Ephesians 2:1-9; Colossians 1:13-14; Colossians 2:13-14.
Special: Ordination, Galatians 1:10; Galatians 1:15-19; Galatians 6:6; Ephesians 3:7-9; Ephesians 4:11-12; Ephesians 6:20; Colossians 1:25-27; Colossians 1:28-29; Colossians 4:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Workers, Galatians 1:6; Ephesians 4:11-12; Philippians 4:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 3:13. Baptism, Galatians 3:26-29; Colossians 2:12. Confirmation, Ephesians 2:20-22. Harvest, Galatians 6:7-9. Temperance, Ephesians 5:18. Friendly Society, Galatians 6:2. Death, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14. Parents, Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:20-21; Colossians 3:23-25. Young, Ephesians 6:1-4; Philippians 1:10 b. Worship, Ephesians 5:19-21; Almsgiving, Galatians 2:10; Galatians 6:2; Galatians 6:10; Philippians 4:15-16.
THE FIRST EPISTLE
TO THE THESSALONIANS
Thessalonica and its Church.—Most of the Churches of the New Testament belonged to cities which, if they have not dropped out of existence altogether, are scarcely recognisable to-day. Thessalonica exists as a place of considerable commercial importance, with a population of 70,000, under the shortened form of “Saloniki.” It is situated at the head of the Thermaic Gulf, so called from the ancient name of the town which rises like an amphitheatre above its blue waters. Therma is the name by which the town comes into history, the warm mineral springs of the neighbourhood originating the appropriate designation. Cassander, son-in-law of Philip of Macedon, gave to the city the name of his wife, “Thessalonica.” Its position brought commerce both by sea and land, for, in addition to its natural harbour, the Via Egnatia, like a great artery, drove its stream of traffic through the town. Trade brought riches, and riches luxurious living and licentiousness. But if sin abounded, so did the grace which sent the heralds of deliverance from sin in the persons of St. Paul and Silas, fresh from their terrible beating and the dungeon of Philippi, and Timothy, the ever-valued friend of St. Paul. Jews were in Thessalonica in greater force than in Philippi; and St. Paul, perhaps not with any great hope of success amongst the adherents of the religion in which he had been trained, but according to his constant rule, went first to the synagogue, hoping that, as elsewhere, devout souls not content with the materialism and atheism of their day might be amongst those who were drawn towards the faith of Israel. So at least it proved, and their acceptance of the message of the gospel was the signal for the outbreak of Jewish hatred which set on the canaille of the city with a cry of revolution and high treason. Amidst such birth-throes the second Church in Europe came into being. St. Paul’s continuance in the city might only have provoked murder, so, leaving the infant Church to one who would “naturally care for” it he made his way to Berœa.
Occasion and design of the epistle.—With eager impatience the apostle would wait for the messenger with tidings of the Macedonian Churches. The writer of the Proverbs likened “good news from a far country” to “cold waters to a thirsty soul”; so St. Paul says to these Thessalonians: “Now when Timothy came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, … we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: for now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:6-8). Timothy had brought word of their fidelity; but he had also to inform the apostle of the persecutions they had to endure, and also of the troubled minds of some of the Christian brotherhood over the condition of their dead, and their relationship to the Lord whom they daily expected.
So St. Paul sends them word by this first letter of his earnest longing to see them again, and of how he had often purposed to do so, but had been thwarted. Perhaps there are references in the epistle to aspersions on the character of Paul; and in other ways the epistle is meant to do what Paul, now that his missionary field had become so extended, could not do in person.
Contents of the Epistle
1 Thessalonians 1:1.
1 Thessalonians 1:2-10.
Thanksgiving for reception and diffusion of the gospel.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12.
Appeal to their knowledge of what Paul’s ministry had been.
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16.
Thanksgiving for fidelity under the strain of Jewish hostility.
1 Thessalonians 2:17 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13. Baffled purposes resulting in the despatch of Timothy, and the outburst of joy for the good news with which he returned.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.
Warning against lustful injustice, and exhortation to a further development of brotherly love.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
The Second Advent in its relation to those who already slept.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-18.
Ethics of Church-life and personal life.
1 Thessalonians 5:25-28.
the Fourth Week after Epiphany