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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
1 Thessalonians

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Book Overview - 1 Thessalonians

by Gary H. Everett

STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett

THE EPISTLE OF 1THESSALONIANS

January 2013Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme - The Doctrines of the New Testament Church

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,

that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Ephesians 3:8

Structural Theme - The Office of the Holy Spirit in Sanctifying the Church

For our gospel came not unto you in word only,

but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance;

as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

1 Thessalonians 1:5

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;

and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless

unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:23

Imperative Theme - Sanctifying Our Lives in Anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith,

and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,

in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians 1:3

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,

when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

1 John 3:2-3

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF 1THESSALONIANS

Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

The Message of the Epistle of 1Thessalonians- Since the time of the early Church fathers, the epistle of 1Thessalonians has been considered to be one of Paul's earliest epistles, and thus, one of the earliest writings of the New Testament apart from the epistle of James. 1] It was the fruit of his second missionary journey, and is packed full of doctrine on the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this important document we would be deprived of much detail about our blessed hope of His Appearing. Written approximately twenty years after Jesus' Resurrection, this epistle serves as a witness of some of the earliest preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the early church. Thus, it serves as an early specimen that marks the era of the formation of New Testament Scriptures.

1] For example, Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D 393-466) provides his dates of the writings of the Pauline epistles. Here is a portion of the translation by Nathaniel Lardner, where Theodoret says the epistles to the Thessalonians were written first, "I will show, says Hebrews , the order of the apostle's epistles: The blessed Paul wrote fourteen epistles; but I do not think that he assigned them that order which we now have in our Bibles 37B]…The epistle written by the divine Paul to the Romans , stands first in order; nevertheless, it is the last of those which were sent from Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia: the two epistles first written are, the two epistles to the Thessalonians 37C]…" (PG 82cols 37-44) See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 5 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 17.

Introductory Material- The introduction to the epistle of 1Thessalonians will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 2] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

2] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).

HISTORICAL SETTING

"We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture

if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible."

(J. Hampton Keathley) 3]

3] J. Hampton Keathley, III, "Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah," (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the epistle of 1Thessalonians will provide a discussion on its historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the early Church tradition that the apostle wrote his first epistle to the Thessalonians from Corinth around A.D 50-52in response to the encouraging remarks from Timothy's report regarding this young church.

I. Historical Background

Its Location- The city of Thessalonica was a relatively large and populous city and seaport during the time of Paul, 4] having both commercial and political importance in this region. It served as one of the chief cities of Macedonia for much of its history, with an estimated population during the time of Paul the apostle of two hundred thousand (200 ,000). The city held a favorable location for commerce in the region for a number of reasons. It was located at the head of the Thermean Bay and served as a seaport. In addition, it was located along the great Aegean Way, which served as the major highway from the Adriatic to the Hellespont during Roman times, and connecting the east to the west. The city is still in existence, being called Salneck by German poets during the Middle Ages, and is now known as Saloniki, which is a corruption of its ancient name. 5]

4] Strabo writes, "…to the north as far as the Thermasan Gulf, and Thessalonica, a Macedonian city, which has, at present, the largest population in these parts." (Geography 774) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 1, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854), 496.

5] Gottlieb Lnemann, Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Epistles to the Thessalonians, trans. Paton H. Gloag, ed. Timothy Dwight, in Critical and Exegetical Handbook on the New Testament, ed. Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1889), 431.

Its History - The classical writers tell us of the importance of Thessalonica in ancient times. Cicero (106-43 B.C.) called this city the "bosom of the empire," 6] where he spent much of his time in exile in 58 B.C. 7] Antipater of Thessalonica (15 B.C. fl) called it "the mother of all Macedonia." 8] Strabo (63 B.C-A.D 24) refers to it as the "metropolis of Macedonia." 9] Lucian of Samosata (A.D 125-180) called it "the greatest city of Macedonia." 10] Julian the Apostate (331-363 A.D.) called it "the most important place in Macedonia." 11]

6] J. Vernon McGee, The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, in Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction."

7] Cicero writes, "O all the remainder of those days and nights during which he never left me, until he had conducted me to Thessalonica, and to his official house as quaestor!" (For C. Plancius 41) See The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, vol 3, trans. C. D. Yonge (London: George Bell and Sons, 1875), 148; See also Letter to Atticus 38-12in Letters to Atticus I, trans. E. O. Winstedt, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1912), 205-219.

8] See epigram no 14in Anthologia Graeca sive Poetarum Graecorum Lusus, vol 2, ed. Friedericus Jacobs (Lipsiae: in Bibliopolio Dyckio, 1794), 98.

9] Strabo writes, "Then Thessalonica…It is the metropolis of the present Macedonia." (Fragment 21) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 1, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854), 509.

10] Lucius or The Inchanted Ass 46. See Lucian of Samosata, vol 2, trans. William Tooke (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1820), 164.

11] Julian writes, "And the most important place in Macedonia is that city which they restored, after, I think, the fall of the Thessalians, and which is called after their victory over them." (Orations 3107) See The Works of the Emperor Julian, vol 1, trans. Wilmar Cave Wright, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1913), 289.

Its Name- The city of Thessalonica was originally called by the name Therma(e) because of the hot springs located there, 12] and by this name it was known during the times of Herodotus (484-425 B.C.), 13] Thucydides (460-396 B.C.), 14] and Aeschines (389-314 B.C.). 15] Strabo (63 B.C-A.D 24) says the city changed its name to Thessalonica when it was taken by the Macedonian general Cassander, son of Antipater, in 315 B.C. and named after the daughter of Philip II and the step-sister of Alexander the Great. 16] Dionysius of Halicarnassus (60-7 B.C.), 17] John Tzetzes (A.D 1110-1180), 18] and John Zonaras (12th c.) 19] give us similar accounts. [Citing less reliable sources, 20] Julian the Apostate (331-363 A.D.) 21] and Stephanus of Byzantium (fl 6th c.), 22] give us a different story, saying Philip II, king of Macedonia (359-336 B.C.), defeated the inhabitants of Macedonia and rebuilt the city, naming it Thessalonica, or Victory of Thessalia, in memory of the Thessalians whom he defeated at this location. 23]]

12] William P. Dickson, "Thessalonia," in A Dictionary of the Bible, vol 4, ed. James Hastings (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911), 749.

13] Herodotus writes, "Quitting Acanthus, Xerxes sent his ships on their course away from him, giving orders to his generals that the fleet should await him at Therma, the town on the Thermaic gulf which gives the gulf its name…" (7121) He writes again, "But Xerxes" fleet set forth from the city of Therma, and the ten swiftest of the ships laid their course straight for Sciathus…" (7179) See Herodotus III, trans. A. D. Godley, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 423, 497.

14] Thucydides writes, "These first came to Macedonia and found that the former thousand had just taken Therme and were besieging Pydna." (History of the Peloponnesian War 161) He writes, "Moreover, he brought about a reconciliation between Perdiccas and the Athenians, whom he persuaded to restore Therme to him." (History of the Peloponnesian War 229) See Thucydides 1, trans. Charles Forster Smith, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1956), 99-101, 313.

15] Aeschines writes, "For shortly after the death of Amyntas, and of Alexander, the eldest of the brothers,

16] Strabo writes, "Then Thessalonica, founded by Cassander, 40 stadia farther on, and the Egnatian Way. He named the city after his wife Thessalonice, the daughter of Philip Amyntas, and pulled down nearly 26 cities in the district of Crucis, and on the Thermcean Gulf, collecting the inhabitants into one city. It is the metropolis of the present Macedonia." (Fragment 21) He writes, "Next follows the Axius, which separates the territory of Bottiasa and Amphaxitis, and after receiving the river Erigon, issues out between Chalestra and Therme." (Fragments 23) See The Geography of Strabo, vol 1, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1854), 509.

17] The Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, vol 1, trans. Earnest Cary, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1960), 163.

18] See Chiliades 13395-412. See Ioannis Tzetzae Historiarum Variarum Chiliades, ed. Theophilus Kiesslingius (Lipsiae: 1826), 498.

19] Annalium 1226. See Ioannis Zonarae, tom 2, in Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae, ed. B. G. Niebuhrii (Bonnae: Imprnsis Ed. Weberi), 604-605.

20] Gottlieb Lnemann, Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Epistles to the Thessalonians, trans. Paton H. Gloag, ed. Timothy Dwight, in Critical and Exegetical Handbook on the New Testament, ed. Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1889), 431.

21] Julian writes, "And the most important place in Macedonia is that city which they restored, after, I think, the fall of the Thessalians, and which is called after their victory over them." (Orations 3107) See The Works of the Emperor Julian, vol 1, trans. Wilmar Cave Wright, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1913), 289.

22] Stephani Byzantii Ethnicorum Quae Supersunt, tom 1, ed. Augusti Meinekii (Berolini: Impensis G. Reimeri, 1849), 311-312.

23] Adam Clarke, The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

while Perdiccas and Philip were still children, when their mother Eurydice had been betrayed by those

who professed to be their friends, and when Pausanias was coming back to contend for the throne, an exile then, but favoured by opportunity and the support of many of the people, and bringing a Greek force with him, and when he had already seized Anthemon, Therma, Strepsa, and certain other places, at a time when the Macedonians were not united…" (On the Embassy 26-27) See Aeschines, The Speeches of Aeschines, trans. Charles Darwin Adams, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1958), 181.

The Greek Kingdom of Macedonia 24] - Having founded the city of Thessalonica in 315 B.C, Cassander made it the capital of his kingdom. He enlarged and strengthened the city by concentrating there the population from a number of neighboring towns and villages, thus raising it to an important city in the region. 25] During the Greek period, Macedonia, the province where Thessalonica was located, became an independent country, known as the Kingdom of Macedonia, being one of the four divisions of the former kingdom of Alexander the Great.

24] George Rawlinson, A Manual of Ancient History (New York: Harper & Brother, Publishers, 1871), 284-314.

25] Gottlieb Lnemann, Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Epistles to the Thessalonians, trans. Paton H. Gloag, ed. Timothy Dwight, in Critical and Exegetical Handbook on the New Testament, ed. Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1889), 431.

The Roman Era 26] - The loss of Macedonia's independence came during the reign of Philip II, who formed an alliance with Carthage during the second Punic war (218-201 B.C.). With the strength of this alliance, he attacked the Athenians, who called upon the Romans for assistance. As a result Philip II was brought under submission by the Roman forces and negotiated a peace deal with them. When Perseus, the successor of Philip II, came to power, he rebelled against the Romans , resulting in the Third Macedonian War, which began in 171 B.C. The Macedonians were defeated by the Romans at the battle of Pydna (168 BC), ushering Thessalonica into the Roman era. 27] The Romans then divided the conquered territory of Macedonia into four districts, Thessalonica becoming the capital of the second of these. 28] Thessalonica appears to have been the headquarters of the Macedonian navy at this time in history. 29] Macedonia was later organized into a single Roman province in 146 B.C, with Thessalonica serving as the seat of the governor, which made this city practically the capital of the whole province. According to Pliny the elder (A.D 23-79), the city became a free city, 30] being rewarded this status for siding with Antony and Octavian during the struggles of establishing the Roman republic in 42-43 B.C. As a free city, it was ruled by a council of its own citizens, being confirmed by an ancient inscription that uses Luke's term "politarchs" ( Acts 17:6). Philip Schaff tells us that this inscription is still legible on an archway in Thessalonica, giving the names of seven "politarchs" who governed over Thessalonica before Paul's visit. 31]

26] George Rawlinson, A Manual of Ancient History (New York: Harper & Brother, Publishers, 1871), 284-314.

27] Albert Barnes, The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

28] Livy writes, "The capitals of the regions, where their assemblies were to meet, were established: for the first region, Amphipolis, for the second, Thessalonica, for the third, Pella, and for the fourth, Pelagonia." (45299) See Livy XIII, trans. Alfred C. Schlesinger, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1951), 349.

29] Livy writes, "…when he ordered the treasure at Pella to be cast into the sea and the dockyards at Thessalonica to be burned." (44101-2) See Livy XIII, trans. Alfred C. Schlesinger, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1951), 121.

30] Pliny, The Natural History of Pliny, vol 1, trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855), 300.

31] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D 1-100 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 735.

Thessalonica During the Time of Paul- During the time of the New Testament Thessalonica was a city inhabited mostly by Greeks, with a smaller population of Romans and Jews. The Greeks worshipped the many gods of Greek mythology, but primarily Jupiter, the father of Hercules and founder of this great family of gods. It had an amphitheatre that hosted gladiatorial shows to amuse the local population, as well as a circus for public games. The Romans became its inhabitants only after its conquest. Paul visited its Jewish synagogue, so there were probably a considerable number of Jews taking advantage of its commerce.

Paul in Thessalonica- Having been forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the Word in Asia during his second missionary journey (A.D 50 to 52), Paul and his companions traveled across the sea from Asia Minor and into Macedonia where he brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the continent of Europe for the first time. After preaching in Philippi for about two months and being imprisoned there, Paul left Luke behind (for this is where the "we" passages end) and passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, which were cities along the famous Egnatian Way, he made his way to the city of Thessalonica, located about fifty miles west of Philippi and one hundred miles north of Athens. This was a relatively large city with an estimated population during the first century of perhaps 200 ,000 people, the largest in Macedonia. With a natural harbor and easy access to the rich interior plains of Macedonia, Thessalonica became a prosperous city. It attracted Jewish merchants, who had established a synagogue in the city. This set of favorable conditions appears to have gained Paul's attention for evangelistic work; for we recognize from the book of Acts that Paul's strategy was to establish churches in the major cities of influence. In doing Song of Solomon , the Gospel would naturally spread to the neighboring cities.

Luke gives us an account of Paul's first visit to this city in Acts 17:1-9. These nine verses tell us that Paul entered the Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica and reasoned with them out of the Old Testament Scriptures for three Sabbath days. Daniel Wallace points out that the custom of first century Judaism was to have meetings in the synagogue on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. "Three Sabbaths" then would mean that Paul was probably able to preach at least eight or nine times. 32] Paul had entered this town with the scars of the lictor's rod on his back, and his wounds had not yet healed. Yet, this persecution had not weakened his testimony, but served to inspiration his hearers to partake of the same afflictions willingly. We are told that he testified that Christ Jesus was the Messiah who fulfilled Old Testament prophecies by His suffering and resurrection ( Acts 17:3). Although a few of the Jews embraced Paul's message at this time, it was primarily the large number of Gentile converts, and especially the women, who founded this early church ( Acts 17:4, 1 Thessalonians 1:9). We can find the names of a number of converts within the Scriptures: Jason ( Acts 17:4-5), Aristarchus and Secundus ( Acts 19:29; Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2), perhaps Gaius ( Acts 19:29) and Demas ( 2 Timothy 4:10). Paul settled in and began to work among them with his hands in order to support his needs. This would later prove to be a priceless example for these new converts as Paul found it necessary to write specifically about this principle of working with one's own hands.

32] Daniel B. Wallace, "1Thessalonians: Introduction, Outline, and Argument," in Biblical Studies Foundation (Richardson, Texas: Biblical Studies Press, 1999) [on-line]; accessed 1September 2000; available from http://www.bible.org; Internet, 4.

It was not long until these new converts experienced the same conflicts to which Paul and his companions had become accustomed. After three weeks it seems likely that Paul left the synagogue and set up his ministry in a home church, perhaps that of Jason. At some point in time the Jews became stirred up with jealousy and caused a riot. We estimate that Paul stayed longer than three weeks, perhaps even a few months, before the city was instigated against them for a number of reasons. First, we see how he laboured with his hands for his personal support ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:8). Secondly, he received offerings from the believers at Philippi at least two times ( Philippians 4:16), a city located about 160 km away. Thirdly, he made many converts who became well indoctrinated by the time of his departure ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). All of this implies a stay of more than three weeks ( Acts 17:2).

At the time of the uprising these zealous Jews took Jason before the rulers of the city and made false statements with the intent of having punishment placed upon Paul and those who followed him. These "politarchs," as Luke titles them, reasoned that the best remedy for this unstable situation was to take a security bond from Jason, although they probably cared little about such religious bickering. Their goal was to keep peace in the city. This bond may have been issues under the conditions that Jason guarantee the departure of Paul, or perhaps a more simple guarantee that there would be no more trouble from them. But, once the rulers of the city stood against Paul and his companions, it was time to leave. Paul respected this order of authority by leaving. Thus, the riot made the preaching of the Gospel much more difficult in the city so that a decision was made by Paul and his companions to move on to another city.

Thessalonica was a free city at this time, which meant that there were no Roman soldiers stationed there. Therefore, it was autonomous in all of its internal affairs. Song of Solomon , when we read about the trouble that Paul encountered in this city, we must understand that there was no official tribunal that he was taken to before, as was done when he appeared before Gallio, the Roman deputy of Achaia who was seated in Corinth, or when he appeared before Felix and Festus, the Roman governors over Judea who were seated in Caesarea Philippi. This trouble in Thessalonica was rather disorganized and haphazard. Nevertheless, Paul was advised to leave the city.

Paul in Berea- In the darkness of night Paul and Silas were ushered out of the city and sent on a two and a half day journey of about fifty miles westward to Berea. The people of this city were receptive to the Gospel and searched the Scriptures to verify Paul's message, but within a few weeks Jews from Thessalonica came and stirred up the Jews in Berea so that Paul again had to be ushered out. This time, he was able to leave behind Silas and Timothy, while being conducted by certain unnamed Berean brothers all of the way to Athens, that famous city renowned for its philosophy and search for wisdom. The Scriptures tell us that they took Paul "as it were to the sea" ( Acts 17:14). Some interpret this phrase to mean that they took him by sea rather than by the difficult three-hundred mile trip overland. Others understand this to mean that they appeared to have sent Paul away by sea, but then escorted him to Athens by land. If by sea, they were probably in a ship for one week before arriving in Athens.

Paul in Athens- Upon arrival, Paul gave the Berean brothers commandment to send Silas and Timothy to him quickly. While awaiting the arrival of his companions, Paul preached to the Jews in the local synagogue and in the marketplaces. Having encountered certain philosophers of the Epicureans and of the Stoicks he soon took the opportunity to address the Athenians on Mar's Hill, but with little success. While in Athens, we have a record of Paul's testimony of his earnest concern for those young converts whom he left behind in Thessalonica; for he writes "when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:" ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Thus, we see that after joining Paul in Athens, Timothy was sent back to strengthen them in the faith.

Paul in Corinth- Paul soon traveled on to the city of Corinth before Timothy returned ( Acts 18:1). He wanted to visit the church at Thessalonica himself, but the Scriptures record that he was hindered on two occasions by Satan ( 1 Thessalonians 2:18). However, when Silas and Timothy did finally meet back up with Paul ( Acts 18:5), he apparently brought back such a good report to Paul that he immediately writes to encourage them in the faith ( 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7). He sent this first epistle to the Thessalonians by the hand of Timothy. Thus, it appears that Paul sent Timothy back to visit them with this first letter rather soon after bringing Paul a good report to him, which most scholars believe was after Paul had reached Corinth.

With this series of events we have the historical background for the writing of Paul's first epistle to the church at Thessalonica.

II. Authorship and Canonicity

In establishing the authorship of the New Testament writings, one must also deal with the issue of canonicity, since apostolic authority was the primary condition for a book to be accepted into the biblical canon of the early Church. This section will evaluate three phases in the development of the canonicity of the epistle of 1Thessalonians: apostolic authority, church orthodoxy, and catholicity. The first phase of canonization is called apostolic authority and is characterized by the use of the writings of the apostles by the earliest Church father in the defense of the Christian faith (1st and 2nd centuries). The second phase of canonization is called church orthodoxy and is characterized by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). The third phase of canonization is characterized by the general acceptance and use of the books of the New Testament by the catholic church, seen most distinctly in the early Church councils (4th century).

A. Apostolic Authority- Scholars generally agree that the New Testament canon went through several phrases of development in Church history prior to its solidification in the fourth century. F. B. Westcott says the earliest phase is considered the apostolic age in which "the writings of the Apostles were regarded from the first as invested with singular authority, as the true expression, if not the original source, of Christian doctrine and Christian practice." He says the "elements of the Catholic faith" were established during this period in Church history. 33] At this time, the early Christian Greek apologists defended the catholic faith during the rise of the heresies of the second century using the writings that carried the weight of apostolic authority. The Church clung to the books that were either written by the apostles themselves, such as Matthew ,, John , Peter, and Paul, or directly sanctioned by them, such as Mark and Luke , the assistances of Peter and Paul respectively, and the epistles of James and Jude , the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, scholars believe apostolic authority was the primary element in selecting the canonical books. This phase is best represented by evaluating the internal evidence of the authorship of these New Testament books and by the external witnesses of the early Church fathers who declare the book's apostolic authorship and doctrinal authority over the Church.

33] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 21. The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D 200) alludes to the criteria of apostolic authority for the New Testament writings, saying, "The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time." (Fragments of Caius 33) (ANF 5); Corey Keating says, "In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority' was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing." See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000); accessed 15 April 2012; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ChurchHistory/Criteria%20for%20Development%20of%20the%20NT%20Canon%20in%20First%20Four%20Centuries.pdf; Internet.

The fact that Paul declares himself the author of the epistle of I Thessalonians, along with its internal characteristics that are distinctly Pauline, with its historical illusions that coincide with the book of Acts and other Pauline epistles, and with the fact that all of the church fathers universally accepted this epistle as genuine together make a case for Pauline authorship that no one has been able to tear down in the last two thousand years. Thus, internal and external evidence gives strong support to Pauline authorship for 1Thessalonians.

1. Internal Evidence- Internal evidence overwhelmingly supports Pauline authorship of the first epistle to the Thessalonians. There are three traditional arguments for its authenticity to be found within its internal evidence: its declaration, its style, and its theology.

a) The Author Reveals His Identity- The author's identity is clearly identified within the first epistle to the Thessalonians.

i) His Name is Paul- The opening salutation and a verse within the body of the epistle declare Pauline authorship.

1 Thessalonians 1:1, "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Thessalonians 2:18, "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."

This is typical of Paul who introduces his name in every one of his New Testament epistles. The fact that he reveals the names of two of his co-workers in this opening verse further confirms the letter as Pauline.

ii) His Indirect Identity - The first epistle to the Thessalonians is full of first person statements that indirectly identify the author as Paul. The events mentioned in this epistle match the parallel accounts in the book of Acts. The author mentions two of his co-workers as Silas and Timothy ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1). He was a man that prayed for the saints ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2), which is stated in practically every Pauline epistle. He kept in touch with their spiritual wellbeing and development ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3). He had personally evangelized them at an earlier time ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). He was mistreated in Philippi before visiting them ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2). He had been entrusted with the Gospel, which is a reference to being sent out by a home church ( 1 Thessalonians 2:4). He walked in the office of an apostle ( 1 Thessalonians 2:6). He laboured in his own trade so that he was not chargeable to them ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9). He was on the mission field making plans to visit them again ( 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18). He had charge over Timothy as his fellow brother and labourer ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 3:6). He suffered much tribulation in his ministry and was mistreated in Thessalonica ( 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:7).

All of these indirect references fit the profile of Paul's life and ministry as we know it from the book of Acts and the other New Testament writings. There is nothing in 1Thessalonians that contradicts what we know about Paul from the book of Acts or other New Testament writings.

b) Its Style and Structure is Pauline- The style of 1Thessalonians appeals to Pauline authorship.

i) The salutation, thanksgiving, doctrinal exposition, application of that doctrine, closing remarks and benediction are all typical of the other Pauline epistles.

ii) As mentioned above, he often uses the first person singular throughout his letters with many personal references to events that he shares in common with the recipients of his epistles.

iii) The two-fold emphasis of doctrine and instruction of this epistle is typical of all Pauline Epistles; generally, the first part emphasizes doctrine while the second part emphasizes practical application.

iv) The Pauline epistles have the characteristic parenthetical digressions. This is where Paul is discussing a thought and elaborates on a particular word or idea before returning back to the main thought.

v) There are many words and phrases that are clearly Pauline in the book of 1Thessalonians. He makes references to God's peace and grace ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1). The three-fold aspect of faith, love, and hope is Pauline ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:8). There are a number of references to the "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:23). A references to Christ as "God's Song of Solomon , raised from the dead" ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10) is Pauline. There are enough vocabulary words and phrases within this epistle to mark it as distinctly Pauline.

We can therefore conclude that the epistle of 1Thessalonians has a distinct Pauline style and structure when comparing it to non-Pauline epistles of this period in history.

c) Its Doctrinal Themes are Pauline- The doctrinal positions taught within the epistle of 1Thessalonians are clearly Pauline with its characteristic emphasis upon the theology of the Cross. By far the largest contribution of this epistle is its doctrine of Eschatology. Robert L. Thomas lists the themes in 1Thessalonians:

"the doctrine of inspiration and authority of Scripture ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:17); the doctrine of one true God ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9) existing in three Persons ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13); the doctrine of Jesus Christ"s deity ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17); the doctrine of salvation based on Christ"s death ( 1 Thessalonians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) and the believer"s union and identification with Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 2 Thessalonians 1:1); and the doctrine of sanctification as relates to personal purity ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8), love ( 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)." 34]

34] Robert L. Thomas, 1 Thessalonians , in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 11, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), "Introduction: 8 Theological Values."

2. External Evidence - The Church fathers were in universal agreement as to the Pauline authorship of the thirteen epistles New Testament epistles authored under his name. Thus, external evidence supports Pauline authorship of the book of Romans without exception.

It is easy to see how canonicity is a testimony to Pauline authorship when we understand that the debates of the early Church fathers to accept the general epistles of 2Peter, 2,3John, and Jude was simply a debate about their authorship. Apostolic authorship meant that the works were authentic, and thus, authoritative. It was the writing's apostolic authority that granted its inclusion into the New Testament canon. Therefore, canonicity was based upon apostolic authority, and this apostolic authority was based upon the authenticity of the writing, and its authenticity was based upon the fact that it was a genuine work of one of the apostles or one who was serving directly under that apostolic authority.

B. Church Orthodoxy- The second phase in the development of the New Testament canon placed emphasis upon Church orthodoxy, or the rule of faith for the catholic Church. F. B. Westcott says, "To make use of a book as authoritative, to assume that it is apostolic, to quote it as inspired, without preface or comment, is not to hazard a new or independent opinion, but to follow an unquestioned judgment." 35] The early Church fathers cited these apostolic writings as divinely inspired by God, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood that these particular books embodied the doctrines that helped them express the Church's Creed, or generally accepted rule of faith. As F. B. Westcott notes, with a single voice the Church fathers of this period rose up from the western to the eastern borders of Christendom and became heralds of the same, unified Truth. 36] This phase is best represented in the writings of the early Church fathers by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). These collected works of the apostles were cited by the church fathers as they expounded upon the Christian faith and established Church orthodoxy. We will look at two aspects of the development of Church Orthodoxy: (1) the Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy and (2) Early Versions.

35] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 12.

36] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 331.

1. Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy- External evidence strongly supports Pauline authorship for the epistle of 1Thessalonians. Ancient testimony from the early Church fathers favors Pauline authorship of 1Thessalonians. The early Church fathers make direct statements declaring Pauline authorship, as well as direct quotes, strong allusions and weak allusions. Direct quotes are word for word citations from this book, strong allusions are apparent paraphrases, and weak allusions are words or phrases that appear to come from this book. Irenaeus quotes it by name, while Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian acknowledge it as Pauline. Polycarp quotes from it, while Ignatius makes an allusion to it. By the end of the second century it was well attested to by the early Church fathers, as were all of the Pauline epistles. It was not until the eighteenth century that its authorship was brought into question by a liberal school of scholars. Thus, the epistle of 1Thessalonians was used by the Church fathers to establish Church orthodoxy.

Here are a few of the earliest quotes from the epistle of 1Thessalonians. 37]

37] There are many other citations available from the early Church fathers that I have not used to support the traditional views of authorship of the books of the New Testament. Two of the largest collections of these citations have been compiled by Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768) in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838), and by Jacques Paul Migne (1800-1875) in the footnotes of Patrologia Latina, 221vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55) and Patrologia Graecae, 161vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66).

a) Ignatius of Antioch (A.D 35 to 107) - Ignatius makes a possible allusion to 1 Thessalonians 2:4 in his epistle to the Romans.

"For it is not my desire to act towards you as a Prayer of Manasseh -pleaser, but as pleasing God, even as also ye please Him. For neither shall I ever have such [another] opportunity of attaining to God; nor will ye, if ye shall now be silent, ever be entitled to the honour of a better work." (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans 2)

1 Thessalonians 2:4, "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."

b) Polycarp (A.D 69 to 155) - Polycarp clearly quotes from 1 Thessalonians 5:22 in his epistle to the Philippians.

"I am greatly grieved for Valens, who was once a presbyter among you, because he so little understands the place that was given him [in the Church]. I exhort you, therefore, that ye abstain from covetousness, and that ye be chaste and truthful. ‘Abstain from every form of evil.'" (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 11)

1 Thessalonians 5:22, "Abstain from all appearance of evil."

Polycarp makes an allusion to 1Thessalonians.

"Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all…" (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians 4)

1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing."

c) Irenaeus (A.D 130 to 200) - Irenaeus quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:23 as an epistle of Paul the apostle.

"And for this cause does the apostle, explaining himself, make it clear that the saved man is a complete man as well as a spiritual man; saying thus in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, "Now the God of peace sanctify you perfect (perfectos); and may your spirit, and soul, and body be preserved whole without complaint to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ." (Against Heresies 561)

d) Clement of Alexandria (A.D 150 to 215) - Clement of Alexandria quotes from 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7 and acknowledges Pauline authorship.

"This the blessed Paul most clearly pointed out when he said, ‘When we might have been burdensome as the apostles of Christ, we were gentle among you, as a nurse cherisheth her children.' The child is therefore gentle, and therefore more tender, delicate, and simple, guileless, and destitute of hypocrisy, straightforward and upright in mind, which is the basis of simplicity and truth." (The Instructor 15)

e) Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225) - When Tertullian writes his treatise On The Resurrection of the Flesh, he begins to quote from the Pauline epistles extensively and he uses Paul's name often. The first epistle of Thessalonians is quoted a number of times. For example, in chapter 24, he quotes from 1Thessalonians as one of Paul's writings.

"The character of these times learn, along with the Thessalonians. For we read: ‘How ye turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus.' And again: ‘For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord God, Jesus Christ, at His coming?' Likewise: ‘Before God, even our Father, at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, with the whole company of His saints.' He (Paul) teaches them that they must ‘not sorrow concerning them that are asleep,' and at the same time explains to them the times of the resurrection, saying, ‘For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of our Lord, shall not prevent them that are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we be ever with the Lord.'…Hence it is that the Holy Ghost, in His greatness, foreseeing clearly all such interpretations as these, suggests (to the apostle), in this very epistle of his to the Thessalonians, as follows: ‘But of the times and the seasons, brethren, there is no necessity for my writing unto you. For ye yourselves know perfectly, that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, "Peace," and "All things are safe," then sudden destruction shall come upon them.'" (On The Resurrection of the Flesh 24)

f) Origen (A.D 185 to 254) - Origen mentions Paul's letters to the Thessalonians as one of Paul's epistles.

"And we say to those who hold similar opinions to those of Celsus: ‘Paul then, we are to suppose, had before his mind the idea of no pre-eminent wisdom when he professed to speak wisdom among them that are perfect?' Now, as he spoke with his customary boldness when in making such a profession he said that he was possessed of no Wisdom of Solomon , we shall say in reply: first of all examine the Epistles of him who utters these words, and look carefully at the meaning of each expression in them--say, in those to the Ephesians , and Colossians , and Thessalonians, and Philippians , and Romans ,--and show two things, both that you understand Paul"s words, and that you can demonstrate any of them to be silly or foolish." (Against Celsus 3221)

2. Manuscript Evidence - Paul's epistles are found in numerous early Greek manuscripts. One of the earliest manuscripts, the Chester Beatty codex (p 46), which was probably written in Egypt near the end of the second century, contains eight Pauline epistles ( Romans , 1 & 2 Corinthians ,, Galatians ,, Ephesians ,, Philippians ,, Colossians , 1Thess) and the epistle of Hebrews. 38] It probably contained the entire Pauline corpus in its original collection. There are a number of third century manuscripts that contain portions of the Pauline corpus, and a number of fourth century manuscripts that originally contained the entire New Testament (Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus). These ancient manuscripts containing the collective body of Pauline epistles testify to the fact that the Church at large circulated these writings as a part of its orthodox faith.

38] Philip W. Comfort, and David P. Barrett, eds, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, c 1999, 2001), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "P 46 (P. Chester Beatty II + P. Mich. Inv 6238)."

3. Early Versions- The earliest translations of the New Testament, written when the canon was being formed, included the Pauline epistles; 39] the Old Latin (2nd to 4th c), the Coptic (3rd to 4th c), the Peshitta (4th c), the Armenian (5th c), the Georgian (5th c), and the Ethiopic (6th c). 40] The Pauline epistles would not have been translated with the other New Testament writings unless it was considered a part of the orthodox beliefs of the Church at large.

39] Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (Oxford: University Press, 1968), 69-86.

40] The Old Latin Bible manuscripts of the fifth century, Codex Bezae (Gospels, Acts , Catholic epistles), Codex Claromontanus (Pauline epistles), and Codex Floriacensis ( Acts , Catholic epistles, Revelation) were used prior to Jerome's Vulgate (beginning A. D 382), and these Old Latin manuscripts testify to the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament at an early date. See Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds, The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (United Bible Societies, c 1966, 1968, 1975), xxxi-xxxiv.

C. Catholicity- The third and final phase of New Testament canonicity placed emphasis upon the aspect of catholicity, or the general acceptance of the canonical books. F. B. Westcott says, "The extent of the Canon, like the order of the Sacraments, was settled by common usage, and thus the testimony of Christians becomes the testimony of the Church." 41] This phase is best represented in the period of Church councils of the fourth century as bishops met and agreed upon a list of canonical books generally accepted by the catholic Church. However, approved canons were listed by individual Church fathers as early as the second century. These books exhibited a dynamic impact upon the individual believers through their characteristic of divine inspiration, transforming them into Christian maturity, being used frequently by the church at large. We will look at two testimonies of catholicity: (1) the Early Church Canons, and (2) Early Church Councils.

41] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 12.

1. Early Church Canons and Versions - The thirteen Pauline epistles are found within the earliest Church canons and versions. Thus, they support the epistle of 1Thessalonians as a part of the body of Pauline epistles. It is listed in the two earliest canons. Tertullian (A.D 160-225) tells us that Marcion the heretic accepted it in his Instrumentum (A.D 140), 42] and it is found in The Muratorian Canon as one of Paul's thirteen New Testament epistles (A.D 180) (Fragments of Caius 3: Canon Muratorianus 2) (ANF 5). It is found in every canonical list thereafter. Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) includes them in his list of "acknowledged books." 43] Athanasius gives us a canonical list includes them (c 367). 44] Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D 315-386) includes them in his list. 45]

42] See Against Marcion 517.

43] See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 331-7; 324-25.

44] Athansius, Festal Letters 395 (Easter, 367) (NPF 2 4)

45] See Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 436 (NPF 2 7)

2. Early Church Councils- The earliest major Church councils named the Pauline epistles as authentic writings; Nicea (c 325-40), Hippo (393), Carthage (397), and Carthage (419). This would not have been done unless the church at large believed them to be canonical.

During the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Scriptures. 46] The production and distribution of these Bibles, along with the Church synods that followed, served to confirm the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical and authoritative. The early Church traditions of authorship and authenticity became firmly embedded within their canonicity. Therefore, citations of the New Testament Scriptures and later manuscript evidence after this period of Church history only serve to repeat traditions that had already become well-known and established among the churches of the fourth century.

46] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 422-426.

III. Date and Place of Writing

Conservative scholars generally agree that the date and place of writing of 1Thessalonians is around A.D 50 to 52in the city of Corinth. Many believe that he wrote it soon after his arrival there, closer to A.D 50.

A. Date- The epistle of 1Thessalonians is generally believed to be the first epistle written by Paul the apostle. It can be dated between A.D 50 to 52, within two years after his first visit to Thessalonica. If we accept the theory that Paul wrote this epistle from Corinth from circumstantial evidence within the Scriptures, then we should refer to Acts 18:1-18, which records Paul's first visit to Corinth and the proposed time of the writing of 1Thessalonians. This passage in Acts speaks of a man named Gallio, who was proconsul in that city. In dating Gallio's term of office, we can refer to an ancient inscription discovered at Delphi in central Greece which dates a proclamation of Roman Emperor Claudius sometime early in A.D 52. This same inscription makes mention of a Gallio, who was proconsul of Asia at the time. Scholars suggest from this inscription that Gallio took office in the summer of A.D 51. Some scholars date Paul's arrival in Corinth in late A.D 49 or early A.D 50, and note that he spent about eighteen months there. Therefore, some scholars date Paul's tribunal before Gallio in A.D 50 or 51. We also know that Silas and Timothy were with Paul at the time of writing this epistle. Therefore, we would not want to date it after Paul's visit to Corinth, because Silas is not mentioned thereafter. If Timothy returned to Paul while he was in Corinth with the good report of the believers in Thessalonica, then we should date this first epistle in A.D 50 or 51. However, some scholars date it as late as A.D 53. In addition, scholars date Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians about a year later during his first stay in Corinth.

B. Place of Writing- Regarding the place of writing, internal evidence suggests that Paul wrote from Corinth when comparing verses like Acts 18:5 and 1 Thessalonians 3:6, which both refer to Timothy's arrival from visiting the Thessalonians; for these verses tell us that Timothy met Paul in Corinth with a good report from the church in Thessalonica.

Acts 18:5, "And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ."

1 Thessalonians 3:6, "But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:"

We know from 1 Thessalonians 2:17 that Paul had been separated from them only a short while. This could put the place of writing possibly in Athens as well.

1 Thessalonians 2:17, "But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire."

The early Church fathers gave Athens as the place of writing of 1Thessalonians.

a) Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D 393-466) - Theodoret places Paul in Athens when writing 1Thessalonians.

"For first indeed, I think he wrote the ones to the Thessalonians earlier; for this one [first epistle] the divine apostle sent from Athens when writing to them he taught; for in the midst of the epistle he said thus, ‘Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; and sent Timothy, our brother, and faithful servant of God, and fellow worker in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith;' and again in a little while passing to them the second epistle. And we are teaching from the knowledge of the [book of] Acts , how leaving Athens the wonderful Paul reached Corinth; and he spend much more time there." (PG 82cols 37C-D) (author's translation)

b) Euthalius (deacon) (5th c.) - In his argument to the first epistle of Thessalonians, Euthalius writes, "This one he sent from Athens, having seen them earlier, and remained with them." (PG 85 Colossians 769A) (author's translation)

c) Pseudo-Athanasius (Synopsis of Sacred Scripture) (4th-6th c.) - In the Synopsis of Sacred Scripture, Pseudo-Athanasius (4th-6th c.) begins his summary of 1Thessalonians by saying, "This one he writes from Athens, having seen them earlier, and having stayed with them." (PG 28 Colossians 421B) (author's translation)

d) Ebedjesu (d 1318) - Ebedjesu, the Syrian bishop, reflects medieval tradition by saying Paul wrote his first epistle to the Thessalonians from the city of Athens. 47]

47] Ebedjesu writes, "Besides these there are fourteen epistles of the great Apostle Paul…the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, written at Athens, and sent by hands of Timothy." See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 321; George Percy Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol 2 (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), 362.

e) The Authorized Version (1611) - Euthalius, an unknown deacon of the fifth century, is believed to have provided the testimonies for the subscriptions to the Pauline epistles found in the Authorized Version (1611). 48] However, not all of these subscriptions match the comments of Euthalius (compare the differences in 1,2Corinthians and 2Thessalonians). Thus, the committee of the Authorized Version probably relied on various sources for their subscriptions. A subscription attached to this epistle of 1Thessalonians in the Authorized Version (1611) reads, "The first unto the Thessalonians, was written from Athens." 49]

48] Matthew George Easton, "Subscriptions," in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, c 1897), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

49] The Holy Bible: A Facsimile in a reduced size of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611, ed. Alfred William Pollard (Oxford: The University Press, 1911).

IV. Recipients

Primary Recipients- We can conclude from the opening verse of Paul's epistle that the church of Thessalonica was its intended destination. This traditional destination has never been seriously challenged.

1 Thessalonians 1:1, "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ."

As to the ethnic make-up of believers in Thessalonica, we know from Acts 17:4 that there were initially Jewish converts, followed by a multitude of "devout Greeks." Among the Greeks there were a significant number of "noble women". We know from 1 Thessalonians 1:9 that many of these converts had been involved in the idolatrous temple worship of this city. Thus, this group of believers appears to have encompassed most of the social classes of the city. We can conclude that the church was mostly Gentiles, and this is reflected in the fact that 1Thessalonians makes few allusions to the Jews and their customs in the third person ( 1 Thessalonians 2:14), and it has no quotes from the Old Testament.

These believers held warm feelings of affection for Paul and his companions as they became their followers ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6). Paul returned these feelings as a parent cares for a child ( 1 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 2:17). Their testimony of faith amidst persecutions had spread to neighbouring churches ( 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10). They may have even lost some church members to martyrdom as Paul answers their questions about those who are asleep in the Lord being resurrected with them at Christ's Second Coming ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Secondary Recipients- In addition, Paul commanded that this epistle be read to "all the holy brethren" ( 1 Thessalonians 5:27), which makes this a circular letter for neighbouring churches, as were a number of Paul's epistles designated to be circulated.

1 Thessalonians 5:27, "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren."

V. Occasion

When we follow the events in the book of Acts and the brief references in 1Thessalonians to Timothy's visit with them, we can identify with confidence the situation that occasioned Paul to write his first epistle to the Thessalonians. Paul had left Thessalonica in haste and was ushered off to Athens, where he awaited his co-workers. After Timothy's arrival, we know that was quickly sent back to Thessalonica from Athens by Paul to strengthen the brethren in this new congregation who were suffering persecution ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). After encouraging them in the faith, he finally leaves this young church and returns to join Paul, finding him in Corinth ( Acts 18:5). The encouraging remarks from Timothy's report to Paul ( 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7) so inspired him that he soon set down and wrote this first letter to them. Paul was deeply touched by their spiritual strength ( 1 Thessalonians 3:6) amidst fierce opposition to the faith ( 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4). He was determined to defend his genuine apostleship with the efforts to undermine his message and ministry ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:18). Paul also saw the need to clarify matters of Christ's Second Coming ( 1 Thessalonians 4:12 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11) as well as give instructions on community living and love towards another ( 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22).

LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)

"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."

(Thomas Schreiner) 50]

50] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the early church, the authors of the New Testament epistles chose to write to various groups of believers using the literary style of the formal Greco-Roman epistle, which contains a traditional salutation, the body, and a conclusion. Thus, the New Testament epistles are assigned to the literary genre called "epistle genre," In the introductory section of literary style, a comparison will be made of the Pauline epistles.

VI. Comparison of the Pauline Epistles

There are a few unique characteristics in 1Thessalonians that distinguish it from the rest of Paul's epistles.

A. Comparison of Usage of the Old Testament: No References from the Old Testament- In addition, Paul's two epistles to the Thessalonians are the only two in which there are no quotes from the Old Testament. This is because the church at Thessalonica was made up largely of Greeks.

B. Comparison of Style: Its Message Reflects Paul's Earliest Preaching- The epistle of 1Thessalonians is believed to be the first epistle that Paul the apostle wrote, and perhaps one of the earliest writings of the New Testament apart from James. His second epistle to them followed shortly after. These two letters were the fruit of his second missionary journey. Thus, it reflects the messages of the Gospel that Paul was emphasizing during his early ministry to the Gentiles, and thus, it serves as an early specimen that marks the era of the formation of New Testament Scriptures.

C. Comparison of Style: Its Doctrine is Simplistic and Practical, Emphasizes the Second Coming of Christ - 1,2Thessalonians are full of Church doctrine, primarily emphasizing eschatological teachings on the Second Coming of Christ. Such prophecies are allied with those found in Daniel and the book of Revelation. These two epistles stand out in that in his first epistle we have a unique description of the Rapture of the Church, and in the second epistle a unique discussion about the "son of perdition." In it we find no highly developed doctrine, as in Romans. We find no great defense on the doctrine of justification as the controversy over circumcision and other Jewish customs had not yet reached this region of evangelism. There are no apologetics against Gnosticism, as in Colossians. We find no discussion on the mystical union with Christ, or the Church as the body of Christ. Rather, it is full of practical advice on living the Christian life. However, we must remember that Paul wrote his epistle to the Galatians shortly before or after this epistle, and that his theology was very well developed and capable of being written down in such epistles.

Its Christology - Perhaps the most advanced doctrine in this small epistle is its Christology. Bishop Alexander, in the Biblical Illustrator, gives a brief summary of the Christology that has been developed in the epistle of 1Thessalonians. His Divinity is seen in His titles of Lord Jesus ( 1 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23), in His co-joining with the Father ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1), in prayers directed to Him and the Father ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11), and in His position in Heaven ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). His office as our Redeemer is developed in that He delivered us from wrath (1:11), how He is our medium for salvation ( 1 Thessalonians 5:9), and how He gave us life through His death ( 1 Thessalonians 5:10). His Second Coming is discussed in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

D. Comparison of Tone: Its Tone is Calm and Friendly- The style of the epistle of 1Thessalonians is rather calm and friendly. There was no urgent issue needing correcting in this church. It is simplistic and less exuberant in language than his later epistles. Yet, we see these believers as one of the more spiritual group of believers among Paul's epistles to the churches, perhaps because they were not being challenged by Jewish Christians on a number of controversial issues that the other churches experienced. In contrast, Paul's second epistle to them will emit a harsher tone against those believers who are idle and busy with the matters of others. Yet, in both letters Paul emits his warmth and tender feelings towards them.

THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."

(Andreas Ksenberger) 51]

51] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the epistle of 1Thessalonians, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the epistle of 1Thessalonians for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VII. Purpose

The fundamental purpose for the nine Church Epistles is doctrinal, for God used Paul to lay down the doctrines for the New Testament Church, as he built upon the foundational teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to a doctrinal purpose, Paul's epistles give practical instructions on how to apply the teachings of the New Testament Church to the believer's daily conduct.

A. Doctrinal: To Establish the Church in the Faith Concerning the Second Coming of Christ - Paul's primary purpose in writing his first letter to the Thessalonians was to establish them in the faith and to clarify the church's understanding concerning the Second Coming of Christ.

1. To Establish the Church in the Faith- Paul's epistle to the Thessalonians was a message of hope and encouragement to a young group of believers who were left to grow in the Lord amidst opposition from Judaizers from neighbouring cities. Paul initially encourages them because of their faith and acts of love since receiving the Gospel ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22). He wrote in order to encourage them and strengthen them in their faith.

2. To Correct Doctrinal Errors on the Second Coming of Christ- Paul wrote his epistle of 1Thessalonians in order to confront the doctrinal errors of Christ's Second Coming. He addressed the topics of what will happen to those who have died before this event takes place ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) as well as the approximate time of His Return ( 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). They wanted to know what would happen to those who had already died when Christ returns; for perhaps they thought that there was some advantage to being alive at His return. They seemed to think that His Second Coming was so close that they needed not go about their daily lifestyle. Thus, Paul had to give them instructions on daily living. It is interesting to note that this dynamic message of the Second Coming of Christ and of the Rapture of the Church stood in opposition to the bleak message of the heathens, who had no hope after death. For example, J. Vernon McGee quotes an ancient inscription found in Thessalonica reflecting the Greco-Roman mindset, which says, "After death no reviving, after the grave no meeting again." 52]

52] J. Vernon McGee, The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, in Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction."

3. Apologetic: To Defend His Apostolic Ministry - Woven within his doctrinal emphasis, Paul found it necessary to also defend the credibility and sincerity of his apostolic ministry ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:18). His delay in visiting them soon could have been used by the jealous Jews to accuse him of not being sincere. Paul tells them how Satan hindered his intent to return, and how Timothy was sent in his stead. He expresses his affections for them ( 1 Thessalonians 2:8) and reminds them of how he encouraged them as a father does his children ( 1 Thessalonians 2:11). His apostolic authority gave him the divine right to establish Church doctrine in his epistles to the Thessalonians.

Conclusion- The doctrinal purpose of the epistles to the Thessalonians reflects the foundational theme of establishing the doctrines of the New Testament Church.

B. Practical: To Encourage Believers to Sanctify their Lives in Preparation for the Second Coming of Christ- In preparation for the Second Coming of Christ, believers need to sanctify themselves in spirit, soul, and body. Thus, Paul gives the Thessalonians some practical instructions in this area of their lives.

Conclusion- The practical purpose of the epistles to theThessalonians reflects the secondary and third themes of the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believer in spirit, soul, and body in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.

VIII. Thematic Scheme

Introduction- Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. 53] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader's response.

53] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Epistle of 1Thessalonians: The Establishment of Church Doctrines- Introduction- The central theme of the Holy Bible is God's plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God's divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." ( Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.

This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.

1. The Central Themes of the New Testament Epistles: Sanctification of the Believer- There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority so that they were collected into one body, circulated among the churches, an eventually canonized. While the Gospels emphasize the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process justification of the believer, New Testament epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. Thus, the work of sanctification serves as the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. In addition, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification and they are organized together so that the New Testament is structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to express this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven and knitted together into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church into a place of rest in the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles were collected together by topic by the early Church.

Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories: (1) there are epistles that emphasize Church doctrine, which are the nine Pauline epistles of Romans to 2Thessalonians; (2) there are those that deal with Church order and divine service, which are 1,2Timothy, Titus and Philemon; 54] and (3) there are those that stress perseverance in the Christian faith, which are Hebrews and the seven General Epistles. 55] Within Hebrews and the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church ( Hebrews ,, James , 1Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within ( 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John , Jude).

54] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Philemon will be grouped with the Pastoral Epistles as did the Church fathers.

55] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Hebrews will be grouped with the General Epistles, although many of the early Church fathers followed the tradition of grouping it with the Pauline epistles.

2. The Central Theme of the Church Epistles: The Establishment of Church Doctrines - Of the thirteen Pauline epistles, nine are addressed to seven particular churches. By the third century, the early Church fathers testified as to the emphasis that Paul placed upon church doctrine in his epistles. For example, Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D 329 to 389) says that Paul wrote the Church epistles in order that the doctrines of the Church are "beyond question."

"At this point of my discourse I am truly filled with wonder at the wise dispensation of the Holy Spirit; how He confined the Epistles of the rest to a small number, but to Paul the former persecutor gave the privilege of writing fourteen. For it was not because Peter or John was less that He restrained the gift; God forbid! But in order that the doctrine might be beyond question, He granted to the former enemy and persecutor the privilege of writing more, in order that we all might thus be made believers." (Lectures 1018) (NPF 2 7)

Isidore of Pelusium (A.D. d 450) calls Paul "the expounder of the heavenly doctrines." (Epistolarum 17) (PG 78 Colossians 184C). In his preface to his commentaries on the Pauline Epistles, Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D 393-466) writes, "I know to be sure how I cannot escape the tongue of the fault-finders when attempting to interpret the doctrine of the divine Paul." (author's translation) 56] These nine "Church" epistles establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church. Thus, we may call the first nine Pauline epistles "Church Epistles." In these epistles Paul builds his Church doctrine upon the foundational teachings laid down by Christ Jesus in the Gospels. We acknowledge that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." ( 2 Timothy 3:16) Thus, every book of the Bible will contain doctrine, but these other books do not "add" to Church doctrine; rather, they support the doctrine laid down in the Gospels by Jesus Christ and in these nine Pauline epistles. For example, in the Pastoral Epistles, Paul tells Timothy and Titus to teach sound doctrine ( 1 Timothy 1:10, 2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1), a doctrine that is not contained within the Pastoral Epistles themselves. Therefore, Paul must be referring to doctrine that he taught to the churches, and most certainly doctrine that is contained within the Church epistles. Another example can be found in Hebrews 6:1-2, which refers to the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, doctrines that are not contained within the epistle of Hebrews. This epistle, rather, exhorts us to persevere in the divine doctrine that has previously been laid down, and a doctrine that is most certainly contained within the Church epistles.

56] Theodoret, Preface to Interpretation XIV Epistolarum Sancti Pauli Apostoli (PG 82col 36A).

In order to identify this New Testament doctrine, we must first go to the six foundational doctrines mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-2 in order to identify this doctrine. This passage tells us that everything Jesus Christ said and taught in the Gospels can be summed up in the six foundational doctrines of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2.

Hebrews 6:1-2, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

Here we find the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, which were first laid down by Christ in the Gospels.

1. repentance from dead works

2. faith toward God

3. baptisms

4. laying on of hands

5. resurrection of the dead

6. eternal judgment

If one were to go through the four Gospels, he would find that all of Christ's teachings could be placed under one of these six doctrines. Later, the Heavenly Father used Paul to build upon these foundational doctrines through the Pauline epistles in order to establish the Church doctrinally. Before His departure, Jesus Christ told His disciples that He had many things to teach them, but they were not yet ready ( John 16:12).

John 16:12, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."

John 16:12 tells us that the message of the Gospel that Jesus Christ taught His disciples was still incomplete at the time of His departure. This implies that we should look to the Epistles to find its fullness. Therefore, it is upon these six foundational doctrines of Christ that Paul lays down the doctrines of the Church. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of repentance from dead works and faith toward God by teaching on the justification of the believer through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of baptisms and of the laying on of hands by teaching on the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Paul builds his eschatology that Jesus began in the Gospels in the two doctrines of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment by teaching on the future glorification of the Church, which falls under the divine foreknowledge and election of God the Father. Thus, the Church epistles can be grouped by the three-fold office and ministry of the Trinity.

B. Secondary Theme (Structural) of the Epistle of 1Thessalonians - The Office of the Holy Spirit (Sanctification) - Sanctification of the Believer - Introduction- The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind's depravity and God's plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.

The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews ,, James , and 1Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God's Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.

The Apocalypse of John , though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.

1. The Secondary Theme of the Church Epistles- Within the nine Pauline "Church" epistles there are three epistles that serve as witnesses of the doctrine of justification through Jesus Christ ( Romans ,, Galatians , Colossians); three serve as witnesses of the doctrine of sanctification by the Holy Spirit ( Romans , 1,2Thessalonians, 1,2Corinthians); and three testify of the doctrine of glorification by God the Father ( Romans ,, Ephesians , Philippians). Note that the secondary epistles of Thessalonians and Corinthians can be considered as one witness because they share the same theme with their primary epistles. Noting that the epistle of Romans reflects all three aspects of Church doctrine in his exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the early Church fathers recognized the doctrinal preeminence of the epistle of Romans. For example, Theodoret of Cyrrus writes, "The epistle to the Romans has been placed first, as containing the most full and exact representation of the Christian doctrine, in all its branches; but some say, that it has been so placed out of respect to the city to which it was sent, as presiding over the whole world." (PG 82col 44B) 57] In the same way that the Gospel of John serves as the foundational book of the Gospels as well as the entire New Testament, the epistle of Romans serves as the foundational epistle of the Church epistles because it carries all three themes that the other eight epistles will build upon.

57] See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 5 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 17.

As mentioned above, Paul's church doctrine builds upon the six-fold doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2. This means that all of the Pauline church doctrine can be grouped within one of these six foundational doctrines of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 and Ephesians 2:20 when he said that he was laying the foundation of Church doctrine in which Jesus Christ Himself was the foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Also,

Ephesians 2:20, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"

Thus, Paul's doctrine can be placed into three groups of doctrine: (1) the foreknowledge, calling and glorification of God the Father, (2) the justification by Jesus Christ His Song of Solomon , and (3) the sanctification of the Holy Spirit ( Romans 8:29). In fact, the six foundational doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-2 can also be placed under the same three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit by placing two doctrines under each one. Therefore, we will find that the themes of each of the Pauline "Church" epistles finds itself grouped under Paul's three-fold grouping of justification, sanctification and glorification, and this three-fold grouping is laid upon the six-fold foundation of:

1. Repentance from dead works Justification Jesus Christ

2. Faith toward God Justification Jesus Christ

3. The doctrine of baptisms Sanctification Holy Spirit

4. Laying on of hands Sanctification Holy Spirit

5. Resurrection of the dead Glorification God the Father

6. Eternal judgment Glorification God the Father

The doctrine of faith towards God builds upon the doctrine of repentance from dead works, which is the doctrine of Justification; for we must first repent of our sins in order to receive Christ's sacrificial death for us. The doctrine of the laying on of hands builds upon the doctrine of baptisms, which is the doctrine of Sanctification. After partaking of the three baptisms (baptism into the body of Christ, water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit), we move into our calling and anointing through the laying on of hands. The doctrine of eternal judgment builds upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which is the doctrine of Glorification. These are the three parts of our redemption that are addressed by the six foundational doctrines that Jesus Christ laid down in the Gospels and Acts. Thus, Paul builds upon these three foundational doctrines of Christ within his nine "Church" epistles.

The epistle of Romans plays a key role in the Church Epistles in that it lays a foundation of doctrines upon which the other eight Epistles build their themes. A mediaeval proverb once said, "All roads lead to Rome." 58] This means that anywhere in the ancient Roman Empire, when someone embarked on the Roman road system, if one traveled it long enough, it would lead him to the city of Rome. In a similar way, as all roads lead to Rome, so do all of Paul's Church Epistles proceed from the book of Romans. In other words, the themes of the other eight Church Epistles build upon the theme of Romans. Thus, the epistle of Romans serves as a roadmap that guides us through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and into the process of sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit and finally into the Father's eternal plan in the lives of mankind through His foreknowledge and divine election, which themes are further developed in the other eight Church Epistles. However, the epistle of Romans is presented largely from the perspective of God the Father divinely orchestrating His plan of redemption for all mankind while the other eight epistles place emphasis upon the particular roles of one of the God-head: the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. The systematic teachings laid forth in the book of Romans serves as a foundation upon which the other eight epistles to New Testament churches are built. For example, the letter to the Ephesians places emphasis upon the Father's divine election and equipping of the Church in order to fulfill the purpose and plan of God the Father upon this earth. Philippians emphasizes partnership as we give ourselves to God the Father in order to accomplish His will on this earth. The epistle to Colossians emphasizes the preeminence of Christ Jesus over the Church. Galatians emphasizes the theme of our deliverance and justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The theme of 1,2Thessalonians emphasizes the sanctification of the whole Prayer of Manasseh , spirit, soul, and body in preparing us for Christ's Second Coming 1,2Corinthians take us to the Cross and shows us the life of sanctification as we live in unity with one another so that the gifts of the Spirit can manifest through the body of Christ, which serves to edify the believers. Paul deals with each of these themes systematically in the epistle to the Romans. Thus, these other eight Church epistles emphasize and expand upon individual themes found in the book of Romans , all of which are built upon the three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For this reason, Romans serves as a foundation of the doctrine of Christ Jesus upon which all other New Testament epistles are built.

58] The Milliarium Aureum was a monument erected in the central forum the ancient city of Rome by Emperor Caesar Augustus. All of the roads built by the Romans were believed to begin at this point and transgress throughout the Empire. The road system of the Roman Empire was extraordinary, extending east to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and west to the British Isles, and north into central Europe and south into northern Africa. See Christian Hlsen, The Roman Forum: Its History and Its Monuments, trans. Jesse Benedict Carter (New York: G. E. Stechert & Co, 1906), 79; Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D 325, vol 1 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913), 1.

a) The Doctrine of the Office and Ministry of God the Father- The epistle of Ephesians is built upon the theme of God the Father's office and ministry of orchestrating a divine plan of redemption for mankind. While Romans takes a broad view of the Father's redemptive plan for all of mankind, Ephesians focuses entirely upon the role of the Church in this great plan. And in order for the believer to partake of this divine plan, the Father provides His spiritual blessings in heavenly places ( Ephesians 1:3) so that we, the Church, might accomplish His divine purpose and plan on earth. Man's role is to walk worthy of this calling ( Ephesians 4:1) and to fight the spiritual warfare through the Word of God ( Ephesians 6:10-13). The epistle of Philippians, which also emphasizes the work of God the Father, reveals how the believer is to serve God the Father so that He can fulfill His divine purpose and plan on earth. In this epistle the believer is to partner and give to support God's servants who are accomplishing God's purposes ( Philippians 1:5) and in turn, God will provide all of his needs ( Philippians 4:19). While Ephesians places emphasize upon the Father's role in the Church's glorification, Philippians emphasized the believer's role in fulfilling the Father's divine plan of redemption. Ephesians reveals how it looks in Heaven as the Father works redemption for the Church, and Philippians reveals how the Church looks when it is fulfilling the Father's redemptive plan. Reading Ephesians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Father's role in redemption, while reading Philippians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Father's role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Philippians is a mirror image of Ephesians.

b) Jesus Christ the Song of Solomon - The epistle of Colossians reveals the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the Church and His preeminence over all Creation. Man's role is to fulfill God's will through the indwelling of Christ in him ( Colossians 1:9; Colossians 4:12). The epistle of Galatians, which also emphasizes the work of Jesus the Son in our redemption, teaches us how Jesus Christ has delivered us from the bondages of this world ( Galatians 1:4). Man's role is to walk as a new creature in Christ in order to partake of his liberties in Christ ( Galatians 6:15). While the epistle of Colossians emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ our Lord in our justification, Galatians emphasizes our role in having faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Colossians reveals how it looks in Heaven as Jesus the Son works redemption, while Galatians reveals how the Church looks when it is walking in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and giving Him preeminence in our daily lives. Reading Colossians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Son's role in redemption, while reading Galatians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Son's role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Galatians is a mirror image of Colossians.

c) God the Holy Spirit - The epistles of 1,2Thessalonians teach us the office of the Holy Spirit, which is to sanctify the believer in spirit, soul and body ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23) in order to prepare him for the Second Coming of Christ Jesus ( 2 Thessalonians 1:10). The epistles of 1,2Corinthians, which also emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in our redemption, reveals how the believer is to live a crucified life of walking in love and unity with fellow believers ( 1 Corinthians 16:13-16) in order to allow the gifts of the Spirit to work in and thru him as he awaits the Second Coming of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:7). While the epistles to the Thessalonians emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification, the epistles to the Corinthians emphasize our role in this process 1,2Thessalonians reveal how it looks in Heaven as the Holy Spirit works redemption, while 1,2Corinthians show us how the Church looks when it is going through the difficult process of sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit. Reading 1,2Thessalonians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Holy Spirit's role in redemption, while reading 1,2Corinthians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Holy Spirit's role in redemption. Thus, the epistles of Corinthians are a mirror image of the epistles of Thessalonians.

Finally, the epistle of Romans deals briefly with all three doctrines in systematic order as Paul the apostle expounds upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ ( Romans 1:16-17) in order to establish the saints in the Christian faith ( Romans 16:25-27).

d) Illustration of Emphasis of Two Roles in the Pauline Epistles - We find a discussion of the important of the two-fold aspect of the writer and the reader in Booth-Colomb-Williams' book The Craft of Research. 59] These three professors explain that when a person writes a research paper he must establish a relationship with the intended reader. He does this by creating a role for himself as the writer and a role for the reader to play. This is because conversation is not one-sided. Rather, conversation, and a written report, involved two parties, the reader as well as the writer. Thus, we see how God has designed the Pauline epistles to emphasize the role the writer, by which we mean divine inspiration, and the reader, who plays the role of a believer endeavoring to become indoctrinated with God's Word.

59] Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 17-25.

Perhaps a good illustration of this two-fold aspect of the Trinity's role and perspective of redemption being emphasized in Ephesians , Colossian and 1,2Thessalonians and man's role and perspective being emphasized in Philippians ,, Galatians 1,2Corinthians is found in a dream that the Lord gave to me in the mid-1990's. I was serving in my church Calvary Cathedral International in the ministry of helps as an altar worker. This meant that during each altar call we were to follow those who responded to the altar call back into a prayer room and pray with them. One Sunday morning the Lord gave me a dream in which I found myself in my local church during an altar call. As people responded and began to step out into the aisle and walk forward I saw them immediately transformed into children of light. In other words, I saw this transformation taking place in the spiritual realm, though in the natural we see nothing but a person making his way down the aisle. However, I saw these people transformed from sinners into saints in their spirits. I later made my way to church that morning, keenly aware of my impressionable dream a few hours ago. During church the altar call was made, people responded and I followed them into the prayer room along with the associate pastor and other altar workers. Suddenly, the associate pastor, Tom Leuther, who was over the altar work, received an emergency call and had to leave the prayer room. He looked at me and quickly asked me to lead this brief meeting by speaking to those who had responded and turn them over to prayer ministers. As I stood up and began to speak to these people I remembered my dream and was very aware of the incredible transformation that each one of them had made. Thus, Ephesians , Colossian and 1,2Thessalonians discussion redemptive doctrine from a spiritual perspective while Philippians ,, Galatians , 1,2Corinthians discuss doctrine from a natural, practical perspective, which we see being worked out in the daily lives of believers. In the natural we see a dirty sinner weeping before the altar, but with our spiritual eyes we see a pure and holy saint clothed in white robes.

2. The Secondary Theme of the Epistle of 1Thessalonians- The major theme of the epistle of 1Thessalonians is the sanctification of the believer. As with all of Paul's epistles, we can find the theme of Paul's first epistle to the church at Thessalonica within the first few verses, as well as in the closing passage ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

1 Thessalonians 1:3, "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;"

1 Thessalonians 5:23, "And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

In this opening passage of 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Paul refers to their work of faith, labour of love and patience of hope. This threefold aspect of the Christian life refers to the process of sanctification as it relates to our hearts (work of faith), our bodies (labour of love) and our minds (patience of hope). We find this three-fold emphasis of sanctification repeated in the closing verses of this epistle ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23). In addition, the noun "sanctification" is used three times in this epistle ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:4, and 1 Thessalonians 4:7) and the verb "sanctify" used once ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

1 Thessalonians 4:3, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:"

1 Thessalonians 4:4, "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;"

1 Thessalonians 4:7, "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness."

As we read through this epistle, we see that Paul systematically places emphasis upon each of these three phases of our sanctification. Thus, this epistle can be structured around this three-fold emphasis:

(1) Paul begins by commending their work of faith ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5 to 1 Thessalonians 3:10).

(2) He then encourages them to continue their labour of love ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11 to 1 Thessalonians 4:12).

(3) Paul then turns his emphases upon their patience of hope as they await the return of the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Faith establishes our heart and undergirds our actions so that they are motivated by love. This refers to the condition of our heart in serving the Lord. Hope causes us to endure, being the anchor of the soul ( Hebrews 6:19). This refers to our soulish realm, wherein dwells our will, our emotions, our mind and thoughts, thus, our ability to make a decision that is within the will of God. Labour of love refers to the physical realm of Prayer of Manasseh , how he brings his body into submission to the will of God out of love to toil and serve in the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 6:19, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;"

In addition, we find the words faith, love and hope used together again in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 as Paul brings to a close his discussion of these three topics, which have made up the body of this epistle.

1 Thessalonians 5:8, "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation."

Thus, the major portion of this epistle discusses the three-fold make-up of man; the spirit, the soul and the body, which is simply an exposition of the process of sanctification that every believer must experience in order to be ready for Christ's Second Coming.

C. Third Theme (Supportive) of the Epistle of 1Thessalonians- The Crucified Life of the Believer (Sanctifying Our Lives in Anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ) - Introduction- The third theme of each book of the New Testament is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one's Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God's children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Song of Solomon , and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.

1. The Third Imperative Theme of the Church Epistles- Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. Each of these epistles also reveals a central truth about our Christian life, or a secret truth, or a divine guiding principle, by which we can walk victorious in this life.

a) God the Father. According to Ephesians, the way that God the Father fulfills His divine plan through the Church is by our submission to one another ( Ephesians 4:1-2; Ephesians 5:21) and praying in the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:18); thus, the enemy of our divine destiny is putting on the old man and walking like the Gentiles in their futile minds ( Ephesians 4:17). Philippians expands upon this central truth by explaining the secret to God supplying all of our needs when we take care of God's servants first ( Philippians 2:20); thus, the enemy to having our needs met is selfishness ( Philippians 2:21).

b) Jesus the Son. According to Colossians the secret of walking in the fullness and riches and completeness of Christ is by setting our minds on things above ( Colossians 3:1-2); thus, the enemy of a full life in Christ is minding these earthly doctrines ( Colossians 2:20-23). Galatians expands upon this central truth by telling us the secret to walking in liberty from the bondages of this world is by being led by the Spirit ( Galatians 5:16); thus, the enemy of our freedom is walking in the flesh, which brings us back into bondage ( Galatians 5:17).

c) God the Holy Spirit. 1Thessalonians reveals to us that the way we are motivated and encouraged to go through the process of sanctification is by looking for and waiting expectantly for the Second Coming of Christ; thus, the enemy of our sanctification is being ignorant of His Second Coming and pending judgment. 1Corinthians expands upon this central truth of sanctification by telling us that the secret to walking in the gifts of the Spirit is by walking in unity within the body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:10); thus, the enemy of walking in the gifts is strife and division ( 1 Corinthians 1:11).

d) Summary- All three of these doctrines (justification, sanctification and glorification) reveal the process that God is taking every believer through in order to bring him from spiritual death and separation from God into His eternal presence, which process we call divine election. God's will for every human being is justification through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on Calvary as He serves as our Great High Priest at the right hand of the Father, into sanctification by the Holy Spirit and into divine service through the laying on of hands, until we obtain glorification and immortality by the resurrection from the dead and are judged before the throne of God. If God be for us, who can be against us? Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.

2. The Third Imperative Theme of the Epistle of 1,2Thessalonians- The third theme of each of Paul's church epistles is an emphasis on how to apply the doctrinal truths laid down in the epistle to the Christian life. It is a life of crucifying the flesh and taking up our Cross daily to follow Him. In 1,2Thessalonians, our crucified lifestyle is manifested as a life of progressive sanctification in anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ, which serves as the anchor of our soul that brings us through the process of sanctification. The Second Coming of Christ Jesus is referred to throughout the first epistle of Thessalonians. We find references to it in 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, all of which are verses that close a passage. We then have a lengthy discourse on His Second Coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11, with a final reference to this topic in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The teachings of Jesus Christ on the Parable of the Ten Virgins ( Matthew 25:1-13) and the Parable of the Talents ( Matthew 25:14-30), which He delivered during His teachings on His Second Coming, explain to us the importance of our being ready for His Second Coming by going through the process of sanctification. J. Vernon McGee clearly identifies the relationship of the second and third themes by saying, "The fact that the coming of Christ is a purifying hope should lead to sanctification in our lives." He then refers to 1 John 3:2-3, which says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 60] Thus, the message of the Second Coming of Christ moves us towards our sanctification. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The epistles of 1,2Thessalonians emphasize one aspect of this conformity through the crucified life of faith and obedience in Him.

60] J. Vernon McGee, The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, in Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction."

3. A Comparison of the Themes of 1,2Thessalonians - Paul's second epistle to the Thessalonians will further expound upon this third, supportive theme of the Second Coming as it focuses upon the Coming of Christ to establish His Kingdom upon the earth. Thus, we can see how 1,2Thessalonians carry the same emphasis. One way to contrast these emphases of 1,2Thessalonians is to compare it to a lesson that you taught to a class. As you return home and begin to mediate upon this lesson, you realize that there were several things that you wish you had said or pointed out in greater detail. This greater detail and important aspect of sanctification is emphasized in Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians.

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Figure 1 - The Themes of the Pauline Church Epistles

IX. Literary Structure

The literary structure of the epistle of 1Thessalonians must follow the thematic scheme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.

The book may be summarizes as follows.

I. Salutation ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1) - This passage of Scripture is called the salutation and is found in all thirteen of Paul's New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).

2 Thessalonians 3:17, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."

In 1 Thessalonians 1:1 Paul greets the believers in Thessalonica by presenting himself along with his two co-workers, Silas and Timothy, who played a key role in founding this church.

II. Introduction: A Summary of Divine Election from the Perspective of the Office of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10) - Paul begins his epistle with his typical words of thanksgiving to the believers. He thanks God for His work of divine election in their lives ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4). Then in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 Paul describes this election by reminding the believers at Thessalonica of how it has been manifested in their lives. He first describes their conversion ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5), which we may call a "work of faith." He also reminds them of their steadfastness in the Gospel ( 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9), which we may call "labours of love." He recalls their unshakable hope of Christ's Second Return ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10), which we can call "patience of hope." Thus, Paul is describing their divine election, which is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 1:4, but he describes this election from the perspective of the work of the Holy Spirit, who works miracles and manifesting the gifts of the Spirit in order to bring them to conversion in the truth of the Gospel ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5). The Holy Spirit produces joy in the midst of persecutions ( 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9). The Holy Spirit establishes them in the hope of Christ's Return ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10). In other words, this passage describes the physical manifestations of divine election that a person can see with their eyes and feel in their hearts and understand with their minds. This divine election is three-fold in nature, which Paul lists in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 as "work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope." Now we can see in this passage how Paul assures them of their conversion ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5), which they saw in the form of signs and wonders, and of their sanctification ( 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9), which they saw in the form of much joy in the midst of afflictions, and of the goal of their conversion, which is to be prepared and sanctified for the Second Coming of Christ, which is the fulfillment of their election ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10), which they see manifested among one another as a steadfast hope.

III. The Sanctification of the Believer ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 5:24) - After opening his first epistle to the Thessalonians with a brief salutation ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1), and after introducing the work of divine election in the lives of the Thessalonians from the perspective of the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10), Paul spends the entire body of the letter fully developing the three-fold aspect of divine election. He discusses the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believer by explaining the process that a person goes through in order to be fully sanctified, spirit, soul and body ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

A. The Sanctification of Man's Spirit: Work of Faith in Christ Jesus ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13) - The first aspect of sanctification that Paul discusses is the sanctification of the spirit of man ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13). In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul will place emphasis upon God's role in bringing the Thessalonians into their salvation through their faith in Jesus Christ by explaining how He divinely elected them. The office of the Holy Spirit in their justification is seen in Paul proclaiming to them the Gospel with pureness of heart amidst physical hardships; for he could only have completed this difficult task by the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit. Scholars see this passage as a defense by Paul of the genuineness of his ministry to the Thessalonians against the Jews who opposed his work in this city. Paul then emphasizes man's role in his being justified by faith in Christ by explaining how they receiving the Gospel message ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16). In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 Paul returns to God's role in establishing them in the faith by explaining his initial plans to visit them again in order to establish and comfort them in the faith, as is stated in 1 Thessalonians 3:1, but he was hindered. Instead, he chose to send Timothy in his place ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5). He then mentions their role as they responded to Timothy in faith and love ( 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10). Paul closes this passage with a three-fold prayer that reflects the three-fold process of election in which Paul opens this epistle ( 1 Thessalonians 3:2-10). He prayers a prayer of supplication to return to them in order to establish them in the faith ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11), and for God to continue the process of sanctification in their lives ( 1 Thessalonians 3:12), so that they would be established at the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

1. Paul's Work of Faith in Thessalonica ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16) - In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 Paul describes his work of faith when he first visited the city of Thessalonica and preached the Gospel of Christ to them. In this passage of Scripture Paul refers to his work towards them ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12), then to their response to him ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).

a) Paul's Work in Bringing Them to Christ: Paul Defends His Conduct ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12) - In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul reminds the believers at Thessalonica of his first visit with them. In this passage there is a tone of apologetics as Paul defends his pure motives amidst what was probably criticism after his departure. They had received gifts from the church at Philippi while in Thessalonica. Song of Solomon , it was important that they appeared not as a group of wandering deceivers out for financial gain, but rather pious and sincere men who worked for their needs. Greece was probably infested with traveling philosophers who made a living by peddling their ideas to the simple-minded. Paul felt the need to defend his apostleship, not from the view of his divine calling, as he did with the churches of Galatia, but from a more practical standpoint.

Paul reminds them of the sacrifice he made in bringing the Gospel to them ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2). He bases the defense of his apostolic authority on the fact he came to them with integrity ( 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6), as a loving parent ( 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). He cared for them as a mother bestows love ( 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8); he became an example before them in his labours ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9-10); and he required of them discipline as a father does his children ( 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). A key factor in leadership is to walk integrity, to be genuine and not false, to love those whom one leads, and to be an example before them, and to require of them discipline. Otherwise, people lack respect for a leader.

b) The Believers' Response to Paul's Work of Faith in Thessalonica ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16) - In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 Paul describes his work of faith when he first visited the city of Thessalonica and preached the Gospel of Christ to them. In this passage of Scripture Paul refers to his work towards them ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12), then to their response to him ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).

2. Paul's Efforts to Return to Thessalonica ( 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20) - In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 Paul explains to the Thessalonians how he had not forsaken them, but rather, he had made a number of efforts to return to the city safely and without controversy in order to see them and strengthen their faith, yet Satan had hindered these efforts. Thus, Paul chose to send Timothy ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).

3. Paul Sends Timothy to Thessalonica ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5) - Because Paul's plans to return himself to Thessalonica and strengthen the brethren there had failed, he chose to send Timothy in his place.

4. The Thessalonians Encourage Paul by Receiving Timothy ( 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10) - In 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 Paul explains how encouraged he was by the way that the believers at Thessalonica received Timothy.

5. Paul's Prayer for the Thessalonians ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13) - In 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 Paul prayers a prayer of supplication to return to them in order to establish them in the faith ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11), and for God to continue the process of sanctification in their lives ( 1 Thessalonians 3:12), so that they would be established at the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

B. The Sanctification of Man's Body: Labour of Love in the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12) - The second aspect of our sanctification will be man's physical body. Paul places emphasis upon this aspect in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12. This passage of Scripture could be described as a discussion of sanctifying their vessels (or bodies). He first focuses on the sanctity of marriage; for in this pagan society sexuality morality was widespread, and even incorporated into temple worship. The next major issue that Paul addresses is ethical behaviour between one another. We can imagine how much fraud and deceit ruled these pagan societies. Thus, in this passage he focuses on moral purity ( 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8) and "brotherly love" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12).

C. The Sanctification of Man's Mind: Patience of Hope in the Father's Plan ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11) - The third aspect of our sanctification will be man's mind in which dwells our hope, which is the anchor of the soul. Paul places emphasis upon this aspect in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 he encourages the Thessalonians by instilling a hope of seeing their loved ones again as he discusses one of the clearest passages in the Scriptures on the Rapture of the Church ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 he then teaches them that in order to be ready for the Rapture they must prepare themselves for Christ's Second Coming ( 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). He explains how this event will be sudden for the world ( 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3), but can be anticipated if they are alert by walking in the three-fold aspect of their sanctification in faith, love and hope that is emphasized in this epistle ( 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8). God's wrath is not designed for His children ( 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10). Paul closes this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11 by exhorting the believers to comfort one another with these words of hope ( 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

It is important to note that Paul will refer back to this two-fold teaching of the Second Coming in his second epistle to them by saying "by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him." ( 2 Thessalonians 2:1)

While 1Thessalonians places more emphasis upon the Rapture of the Church preceding the Tribulation Period, the second epistle places more on Christ's Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation Period. But these events are placed before us in these two epistles as the goal of our sanctification.

1. The Rapture of the Church ( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) - In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul encourages the Thessalonians by instilling a hope of seeing their loved ones again as he discusses one of the clearest passages in the Scriptures on the Rapture of the Church.

We find that Paul's description of the rapture of the Church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 are strong words of comfort and hope for those who have to face the issue of death. In this passage of Scripture he refers to those saints who have already died. Paul describes them as being "asleep in the Lord." We know that they are not actually asleep, but rather, living with the Saviour and the saints of old in Heaven. The word "asleep" simple describes what it looks like on this side of glory. This is how we see them in the natural.

2. The Second Coming of Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10) - In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 Paul teaches the Thessalonians that in order to be ready for the Rapture they must prepare themselves for Christ's Second Coming. He explains how this event will be sudden for the world ( 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3), but can be anticipated if they are alert by walking in the three-fold aspect of their sanctification in faith, love and hope that is emphasized in this epistle ( 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8). God's wrath is not designed for His children ( 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

Note how Paul calls the event of Christ's Return the "Day of the Lord."

3. Closing Exhortation ( 1 Thessalonians 5:11) - Paul closes this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11 by exhorting the believers to comfort one another with these words of hope ( 1 Thessalonians 5:11).

D. Paul Commends Them to Their Leaders ( 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) - In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 Paul commends the church of Thessalonica into the hands of those spiritual leaders who have been raised up to perfect their sanctification; for God has ordained the local church to be the institution He uses to bring every believer through the process of sanctification. One of the outward manifestations of a person who is going through the process of sanctification is his/her submission to church authority. In fact, the process of sanctification was designed to take place within the body of Christ, and more particularly, within the local congregation. Each congregation is divinely governed by leaders who are filled with the Spirit of God, and anointed with spiritual gifts for the edifying and perfecting of the saints. Thus, we see in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 how Paul commends these believers unto their spiritual leaders in order to keep them established in the process of sanctification.

E. Practical Examples of Sanctification ( 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24) - The closing passage of 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 gives the Thessalonians some practical examples of what this process of sanctification should look like among themselves. It contains short exhortations that emphasize the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our physical lives. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 Paul assures them of the work of sanctification that will take place in their lives as they serve the Lord. This is because the underlying theme of the epistle of 1Thessalonians is the office and ministry of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives bringing us through the process of sanctification, with 1 Thessalonians 5:23 serving as a summary of the theme of this epistle.

IV. Closing Remarks ( 1 Thessalonians 5:25-28) - In 1 Thessalonians 5:25-28 Paul makes his closing remarks with a benediction ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) and final greetings ( 1 Thessalonians 5:25-28)

X. Outline of Book

The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the epistle of 1Thessalonians: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the epistle of 1Thessalonians. This journey through 1Thessalonians will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians for a life of progressive sanctification in anticipation of the Second Coming of Christ.

I. Salutation— 1 Thessalonians 1:1

II. Intro: Summary of Divine Election— 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10

III. The Sanctification of the Believer— 1 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 5:24

A. Sanctification of Man's Spirit— 1 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13

1. Paul's Work of Faith in Thessalonica — 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16

a) Paul's Work in Bringing Them to Christ: — 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

b) The Believers' Response — 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

2. Paul's Efforts to Return to Thessalonica — 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

3. Paul Sends Timothy to Thessalonica — 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

4. The Thessalonians Encourage Paul — 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

5. Paul's Prayer for the Thessalonians — 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

B. Sanctification of Man's Body— 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

C. Sanctification of Man's Mind— 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11

1. The Rapture of the Church— 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

2. The Day of the Lord— 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10

3. Closing Exhortation — 1 Thessalonians 5:11

D. Commending Them Unto Their Leaders— 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

E. Practical Examples of Sanctification— 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24

IV. Closing Remarks— 1 Thessalonians 5:25-28

BIBLIOGRAPHY

COMMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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