When Jesus Christ comes
An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians
This commentary has been through Advanced Theological Checking.
Words that are in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list is at the end. It explains words with a *star by them.
This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy. From these three, the *apostle Paul was the main author. We do not know how much of the letter Silas and Timothy wrote. But all three of them were in agreement with what the letter contains.
This letter may be the earliest of the letters of Paul that we have. Paul and his friends wrote it between AD 50 and AD 53. That is about 20 years after Jesus died and rose again to life.
Paul was on his second main journey in which he spread the good news about Jesus. He and his friends were in the city of *Corinth when they wrote the letter. We can be sure about this, and about the date, from the letter and the book of the Acts.
1 Paul had to leave Thessalonica and he went to the city of *Beroea. From there, he went to the city of *Athens (Acts 17). From *Athens, he went to *Corinth (Acts 18:1). Silas and Timothy arrived from *Macedonia and were with Paul in *Corinth (Acts 18:1-5). Then Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see what was happening with that church (1 Thessalonians 3:5). They wrote this first letter soon after Timothy had come back to join Paul and Silas in *Corinth (1 Thessalonians 3:6).
2 Silas and Timothy were with Paul when they wrote the letter (1 Thessalonians 1:1). Silas was only with Paul on his second main journey. So, we know that they wrote the letter during that journey.
3 The ruler in *Corinth was a man called Gallio. The *Jews there, who were against Paul, brought him in front of Gallio (Acts 18:12-17). They accused him of breaking the law. Gallio was the ruler for one or two years, and that was between AD 51 and AD 53. As Paul was in *Corinth for about 18 months, the date of the letter must have been in the period AD 50 to AD 54.
Timothy came back to *Corinth with news about the church at Thessalonica. He told Paul and Silas that the church was strong but that there was much *persecution. Some people were saying bad things about Paul and his friends. These people claimed that Paul’s intentions were false. Then the Christians had many questions and were in need of more teaching. So the purposes of the letter included:
1 To express the joy that the writers felt and to give thanks to God for the good news that Timothy brought.
2 To tell the Thessalonians how much they loved them. And to tell them that they cared about them. The writers wanted to encourage them as they tried to live for the *Lord Jesus.
3 To answer the false things that the *Jews and other people had said about Paul and his friends. These people said that Paul had come to make a profit from those who believed his message. They said that the message was not from God, but that Paul had made it up. They said that the fact that Paul had not come back showed that he did not really care about the Christians.
4 There were questions about Christians who had died. They wanted to know what would happen to those Christians when Jesus came to earth again. The authors wrote about this (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and taught some more about the return of the *Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
5 To teach that those who trust in God must not be guilty in matters to do with sex (1 Thessalonians 4:4-8). Such *sins were common in the city in which they lived.
Greetings from Paul, Silas and Timothy 1:1
Thanks and prayer to God 1:2-4
How the Thessalonians accepted the good news about Jesus 1:5-10
How Paul and his friends came to Thessalonica 2:1-4
Their attitude to the people at Thessalonica 2:5-8
How they lived among them 2:9-12
Thanks to God for the *response of the people at Thessalonica 2:13-16
Desire to visit them again 2:17-20
Why Paul and Silas sent Timothy 3:1-5
Joy at the news that Timothy brought 3:6-10
Prayer for the Christians at Thessalonica 3:11-13
How you ought to live 4:1-8
How you should love each other 4:9-12
About those who have died 4:13-18
When the *Lord will come 5:1-11
Respect those who lead you and work for your benefit 5:12-13
Various Christian duties 5:14-22
Prayer for the Christians at Thessalonica 5:23-24
Greeting and blessing 5:25-28
Verse 1 This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy. We can see that Paul is the main author because the style is so much like that of his other letters. In some of these, he joins the names of those with him, in the greeting. Those letters are from Paul alone. But in this one, the use of ‘we’ shows that it is also from Silas and Timothy. They may have helped Paul to write the letter. Or they may have read and approved what he wrote or dictated.
They wrote to the church in Thessalonica, that is, to the Christians who met together in that city.
The *Greek calls it ‘the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ’. This means that the church, which is the company of those who believe in Christ, belongs to God and to the *Lord Jesus. God started that church by the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul and his friends brought the message about Jesus Christ but the power was from God.
The greeting is a request that God will give to them grace and peace. Grace is the blessing of God, for his people. He gives it because he is kind. They do not deserve it. But God gives them his blessing because he loves them.
The word ‘peace’ often means that there is no war. That is not the meaning here. This peace is in the heart and the mind. It is a sense of inner health and of being at one with God.
Verse 2 Paul, Silas and Timothy thank God for the Thessalonians. They thank God for what he has done. God has saved them from their *sins and given them a new life with himself. Since the time when they first trusted in God, he has helped them to grow as Christians. So, every time that Paul and his friends pray, they always ask God to bless and help the Christians at Thessalonica.
Verse 3 When Paul and his friends pray, they remember three things about these Christians. These are their *faith, their love and their hope. What they believed had an effect on how they lived. They did good things because they loved other people. They were strong because they had a hope in the *Lord Jesus.
When Paul and his friends spoke about the good news of Jesus, these Thessalonians accepted it as true. They gave themselves to God and trusted him for their lives. The result of this was that they changed the way that they lived. All the people could see that they had changed. They were different from what they had been before. This change was sure evidence of the *faith that they had in God.
They loved God for what he, in his love, had done for them by the *Lord Jesus. Their love for God showed itself in love for other people. Because of this, they wanted to share the love of God with them. So they worked hard. They spread the good news about Jesus. And they did all that they could to help those in need. All that they did was evidence of their love both for God and for other people.
We often use the word ‘hope’ where there is a doubt. We do not know whether what we hope for will happen. The Christian hope is not like that. Christian hope is to be certain about something. God has said that something will happen. And we are certain that it will happen. He has promised that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth. The Christian hope looks forward to that time. This hope gives them strength, courage and patience to live while they wait for Christ to come.
Those who did not believe in the *Lord Jesus attacked these Christians. But they overcame in all the troubles because their hope in the *Lord was firm.
Verse 4 Paul and his friends know that God chose these Christians at Thessalonica to be his own people. They are sure about this because these Thessalonians believed the message and trusted in the *Lord Jesus. The writers could see the change in them. The new life that comes from God caused this change.
*Salvation is something that only God can give. Nobody can earn it by what he or she does. This is why Paul and his friends are thanking God for these brothers and sisters (other Christians). God loved them and chose them. God gave to them the new life that can never die. God had chosen them to be his own people.
Verse 5 Paul and his friends *preached the *gospel of Jesus Christ to the people at Thessalonica. But they insisted that the effect that the message had was not the result of their words. No matter how clever the words were, they could not have caused such a great change in the lives of those who believed. There was a power in the message that was much greater than the words. The Holy Spirit worked, both in those who declared the good news and in those who heard it.
When Paul, Silas and Timothy spoke the good news, the power of God was working. The Holy Spirit took what they said. And he applied it to the hearts and minds of the listeners. The Holy Spirit showed them that they should *repent of their *sins and trust in the *Lord Jesus Christ. As they did this, God forgave their *sins. And he gave them the new life that will never end.
Their *faith came by the power of God and not by human work. The Holy Spirit gave them the confidence to believe the *gospel. And he helped them to believe that God had given them new life.
Those who were against the good news accused Paul and his friends of false intentions. They said that Paul himself might have believed a false message. They claimed that he came and *preached a lie for personal gain. What Paul and his friends said was false; they had made it up themselves. There was also talk that Paul and his friends behaved badly as well. So, Paul, Silas and Timothy had to reply and deny all these false stories. They had to show that their intentions were good. And they had to show that they had done nothing wrong.
If Paul and his friends had not lived good lives, the people would not have accepted what they said. They *preached the good news not only in words but also in their lives. How they lived agreed with the message that they spoke. The Thessalonians were sure about the truth because they knew the kind of men that Paul, Silas and Timothy were.
Paul, Silas and Timothy did not live for themselves while at Thessalonica. They lived for the people and for their benefit. They were there to show them the truth, which is the good news about Jesus Christ. It was their desire that the men and women should have the chance to trust the *Lord Jesus. They wanted them to have new life. God gives this new life to those who love the *Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 6 The Christians at Thessalonica had seen how Paul and his friends lived while they were with them. They had heard how the *Lord Jesus had lived while he was on the earth. They had changed. And now they lived as Paul’s team had done and as the *Lord had done.
They had accepted trouble just as the *Lord Jesus, Paul and his friends had done. To suffer was to them a normal part of the Christian life. They were happy to suffer because of the good news about Jesus Christ. They told the good news about the *Lord Jesus Christ even when it caused trouble for them. Those who did not believe the good news opposed them. They made them suffer much because they believed in the *Lord Jesus Christ.
These Christians at Thessalonica received the good news with much joy, even when they had to suffer. They had a deep joy. This is the joy that the Holy Spirit gives.
Verse 7 The Christians at Thessalonica lived like Paul, his friends and the *Lord, so they too had become a model for other people. They were a pattern for all in *Macedonia and *Achaia who believed. They showed real courage and even joy as they suffered for being Christians. They were not afraid but continued to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.
News about what had happened to these Christians at Thessalonica and the message that they *preached had reached all of *Macedonia and *Achaia. The country called Greece was in two parts, *Macedonia and *Achaia. Thessalonica was in *Macedonia. Paul and his friends wrote from *Corinth, which was the principal city of *Achaia.
Verse 8 They spread the good news of the *Lord so that all could hear it. It was like the clear noise of a loud musical instrument or of the sound of bells. The good news spread out from them in all directions. They had received the good news but they did not keep it to themselves. By what they said and by how they lived they made sure that other people knew about the *Lord Jesus Christ.
News of their *faith in God had reached not only *Macedonia and *Achaia but many other places as well. It may be that this news spread as people travelled through Thessalonica. Paul and his friends must have heard about it from people that they met in *Corinth.
Paul, Silas and Timothy did not need to tell anyone about their time in Thessalonica. Those whom they met in *Corinth had already heard all about it. The story of the Christians at Thessalonica was the subject of much talk.
Verse 9 When Paul came to Thessalonica, he taught for three weeks in the *synagogue. He explained and proved that the Christ had to suffer and die. He told them that Jesus is the Christ. And he told them that that Jesus came back from the dead. Some of the *Jews believed it and many *Greeks as well (Acts 17:1-4). Those that believed welcomed Paul, Silas and Timothy. They believed the *gospel with joy and were eager to follow Christ. This had such an effect that those who had been there talked about it. The news spread everywhere and it reached as far as *Corinth.
The first people to believe in the *Lord Jesus had been *Jews or *Greeks who believed in God. Then many more who had trusted in *idols joined them. These turned away from their *idols and believed in Jesus Christ.
They had come to serve the living and true God. The word ‘serve’ means to do everything that God says. But, unlike the people who have to be slaves, they chose to serve God. God does not force anyone to be his servant. Because they trusted in God and knew his love for them, they wanted to obey him. They gave themselves to him.
God is alive, in contrast to the *idols, which had no life in them. God is true (which means genuine) because he is the only real god. There are many false gods but none can compare with the one true God.
Verse 10 The *Lord Jesus Christ is now with God in heaven. One day he will come from heaven to the earth again. The Thessalonians loved him and wanted to see him come in all his *glory. Those who wait for him want to be ready for him to come. They will try to live as he wants them to live so that they will be ready.
About 20 years before Paul came to Thessalonica, Jesus died and rose again from the dead. It was God, the Father, who raised him from the dead. This action of God proved that Jesus had completed the work that he came to do. Jesus had come to show us what God the Father is like. He came to die for our *sins so that God could give to us a new life with him.
God is so holy that he is angry at *sin and is against all that is evil. The time will come when he will judge all people. He will punish them for all the *sins that they have done. But Jesus rescues all those who love him from the anger of God. God put all our *sins on Jesus, and God punished him for them. This means that God can forgive our *sins and we can go to be with him for always.
Verse 1 The Christians at Thessalonica knew that the visit of these three was no failure and it was not in vain. The visit had been good. And it had achieved the purpose that God had for it. This was that many men and women should believe the good news about Jesus Christ. As a result, many came to know Jesus as the one who saved them from *sin. The experience so changed them that they went and told other people what the *Lord had done. Many more people believed in the *Lord through them and the good news spread through all that region.
The message about Jesus Christ did not come just in the words of Paul. Paul did not make it up. If that was all it was, it could not have achieved such a result. No, it was not just in words but it was in the power of the Holy Spirit. It really was what they claimed it to be. It was the truth and it came from God himself and with his power.
Verse 2 They reminded the Thessalonians how they first came to the city. They had come from the city of *Philippi. There Paul and Silas had suffered badly. The leaders of that city had stripped their clothes from them and whipped them in public. Then they threw them into a prison. The leaders did not even ask whether the charges made against Paul and Silas were true or false (Acts 16:19-24).
Just a few days later, they were in Thessalonica. Although they had suffered so much, they had the courage to go on telling the good news about Jesus Christ. God gave them the courage to be bold and to speak with confidence. Because they trusted in God, they were not afraid of what their enemies might do. They knew that God had sent them to tell what Jesus Christ had done. And he gave them the courage to do it.
With this confidence and courage, they told the Thessalonians the good news that comes from God. They spoke in plain language about the life and the death of the *Lord Jesus. This was God’s plan by which he would save people from their *sins and give them new life. This *gospel was not of human origin. It came from God himself. God was the author of it.
It was not an easy task to speak about the *Lord Jesus in Thessalonica. Many people tried to stop them. The *Jews especially were against them but there were a lot of other people as well. In the end, their enemies forced them to leave Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-10).
Verse 3 Paul and his friends *pleaded with the Thessalonians to *respond to the message that they brought from God. It was an appeal to turn from their wicked ways and turn to Christ.
Those who were against them accused Paul and his friends of many things. Among these were three false claims, which Paul, Silas and Timothy answered:
1 Paul and his friends were false and what they said was a lie. They tried to get the people to believe a story that was not true.
But Paul and his friends knew that the message was true and no lie. Their appeal was not from error. God had sent them to tell this message. What they urged the Thessalonians to believe was good news for all who would trust in Christ.
2 Then Paul’s enemies said that the intentions of Paul and his friends were not pure. They behaved badly and not in a proper way. They came to get some gain for themselves from the people.
Paul and his friends replied that this was not true. They were sincere and had no false intentions. They had come and passed on the message for the benefit of the Thessalonians. They had lived good and pure lives while among them.
3 The enemies said that these three had cheated the people to get them to believe. It was like catching fish by offering them something on a line. Their purpose was to make some gain out of those whom they cheated. What they could get was of more interest than the help that they could give.
Paul and his friends replied that they had no false intentions. They had come for the benefit of those who would believe. They had no other purpose in coming to Thessalonica. What they said was true and no lie. They were sincere when they spoke. They cheated no one and they did not look for anything for themselves.
Verse 4 What they taught was truth and not error. This was because what they said came from God. God had told them to go and tell people the *gospel of Jesus Christ. God had tested them and approved them. The Greek people used the words ‘tested’ and ‘approved’ for the process of proving the quality of metal. God himself had trusted them with the task of spreading this good news. They saw themselves as servants of God, who had sent them for this purpose. So, by what they said and how they lived, they always tried to obey the *Lord.
Paul, Silas and Timothy did what they could to help people. But they did not live to please them. They did not set out to be popular or to get power. But they worked hard to bring the benefits of the good news to people.
They loved and served God first. They saw themselves as the servants or slaves of Christ. Their aim was to please God and not *human beings. They served people because they loved and served God.
Only God can see into the hearts and minds of people. He knows all their secret thoughts. Paul and his friends knew that God tested their hearts and minds. He tested them to see what was good or bad in them. That is why they tried to please him rather than people. They called on God to support them because he knows that they told the truth.
Verse 5 Paul, Silas and Timothy never tried to achieve their purpose by saying things that were not true. People like to hear things that make them seem better than they are. But Paul and his friends never said those kinds of things to the people at Thessalonica. They did not try to get them to do what they wanted, by saying extra nice things to persuade them. Paul and his friends were always sincere in what they said. The Thessalonians themselves knew that this was true.
In all that Paul, Silas and Timothy said and did, they had no hidden intentions. They had no secret plans for their own benefit. Their one desire was to do what the *Lord had sent them to do. Both the Thessalonians and God know that this is so. It would be possible to hide their true intentions from the Thessalonians. But they could hide nothing from God. So, they say that God knows that this is true.
Verse 6 It did not matter to Paul, Silas and Timothy whether the people at Thessalonica approved of them or not. It was not important what men or women thought of them. They were servants of God and of the *Lord Jesus Christ. Their aim was to please God and they wanted him alone to approve of them.
We often use the word ‘*apostles’ to mean the 12 whom Jesus called to be his first team. Some time later the *Lord called Paul to be an *apostle. But here the word *apostles means those whom Christ sent to take the good news. So Silas and Timothy are also, with Paul, *apostles of Christ.
When Jesus sent his teams to take the good news and to heal the sick, he told them to take no food with them. They should stay in the homes of the people and eat what they gave them (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:1-6). He said that those who work deserve their wages (Luke 10:7). So the *apostles had the right to expect the people at Thessalonica to care for them. They could have expected to lodge with them and eat their food without cost. There may have been many reasons why Paul and his friends did not ask for this support. But the main one was that they did not want to be a financial cost to the people at Thessalonica. They wanted to be a good model for those who believed the good news (2 Thessalonians 3:9).
Verse 7 Paul and his friends had certainly not tried to make any gain from the people at Thessalonica. Instead, they had done all that they could for them. In all that they did, they were gentle, mild and kind. They were gentle as when a nurse cares for her own little children. To her they are very special. So, to Paul, Silas and Timothy, the Christians at Thessalonica were special, as if they were their own children.
Verse 8 Paul and his friends came to Thessalonica to tell the people the good news about Jesus Christ. They really wanted them to come to know and love the *Lord Jesus. They were happy to do anything to help the people at Thessalonica to believe that good news.
They wanted to share not only the good news but themselves as well. The *apostles were ready to give their lives for the Christians at Thessalonica. Paul and his friends felt this way about them because these Christians had become so dear to them.
Verse 9 The proof of their love was the hard work that they did on behalf of the Thessalonians. They had to work hard to be able to keep themselves as they taught about the *Lord Jesus. The Thessalonians must have remembered that this was how they lived.
The letter does not say what type of work they did. It was a rule that all *Jewish boys had to learn a trade. Paul was a tent-maker (Acts 18:3). He would have worked at that to earn his wages in Thessalonica. Silas and Timothy did some type of physical work as well, perhaps tent-making with Paul.
They worked both in the day and at night. And, in between, they taught the people about Jesus. This must have been very tiring. But they were happy to do it because they loved the people at Thessalonica. They were eager to tell them the good news about God’s love for them. The reason for this constant work was to make the offer of the good news free to all and without cost.
Verse 10 Paul is certain that their consciences were clear in all that they did. They had carried out their work there as servants of God. At all times they tried to do what was right and what would please God. God would know if there was anything wrong in them. He knows that their attitudes and actions were right and good. The Thessalonians also knew the way that they behaved while they were there.
There were those who accused Paul, Silas and Timothy of bad behaviour. But those who believed in Jesus knew that they were not guilty of this.
Verses 11-12 They had been like fathers to them. They showed an interest in each one of them. They cared for and helped each of them. They were like fathers as they taught and trained them. They loved them as a father loves his children. They encouraged them to live good lives.
Most of the Christians at Thessalonica had *worshipped *idols before. They lived in a city where the normal way of life was not how Christians should live. They had to learn how they should now live. Instead of pleasing the *idols or themselves, they now had to live for God. Paul and his friends taught them what God expects from them. They gave them a model to follow in the way that they themselves lived. They helped and encouraged each one of them. They urged them to live clean and honest lives.
God had called them to share in his *kingdom and *glory. The *Lord Jesus spoke a lot about the *kingdom of God. He taught that the *kingdom of God had come near. And that was why people should *repent of their *sins (Matthew 3:2). Those who *repented of *sins became part of God’s *kingdom. They received the new life that God gives. This life is one over which God rules.
He taught that the *kingdom of God had come because he threw out *demons (Matthew 12:28). In the *Lord Jesus, the *kingdom of God came in power. He showed this by all that he did as he defeated the devil.
He also taught that the *kingdom of God was still to come (Mark 9:1). We do not see God ruling in power over all the world. But when Jesus comes again, he will bring in the full rule of God on earth. The *kingdom of God will come and God will rule the world.
He taught that the *kingdom of God is inside you (Luke 17:21). Where God is the *Lord, there is his *kingdom. All who believe in the *Lord Jesus have this *kingdom in them.
Paul here is thinking about the *kingdom that is still to come. He looks beyond the time when Jesus will come. The *kingdom of God will be the home of those who know God. That *kingdom will never end. It will be full of the *glory of God. And those who believe will live in that wonderful place.
Verse 13 The *apostles thank God for the manner in which the Thessalonians received the word of God. They heard what Paul, Silas and Timothy told them. And they believed it. They turned from their *idols. They accepted the truth and trusted in God.
As they were listening to the *apostles, they did not take what they heard as the words of men. They knew that what Paul and his friends told them was really the word of God.
Some did not believe. Some of them claimed that what Paul and his friends said was of human origin. But the *apostles spoke with certainty and power because they knew that they had the message from the *Lord. That is why they insisted that it was the word of God. It encouraged them. And they thanked God when the Thessalonians accepted the good news as the word of God.
The word of God does things. It works in those who believe it. By his word, God affects the lives of those who believe. He changes their thoughts and actions. As a result of this work, the Christians at Thessalonica had turned from *idols to the God who lives. With joy, they told other people about the good news about Jesus Christ. They were even happy when they had to suffer for the *Lord Jesus Christ.
The change in the Thessalonians was sure evidence that what the *apostles taught was the word of God. The words of *human beings, with powerful speech or clever words, could not have done this.
God’s word was changing their lives. This fact proved that their trust in God was genuine.
Verse 14 Those in Thessalonica, who did not believe the good news *persecuted those who did. But the Christians were ready and willing to suffer for Christ. This was further proof that their trust in God was genuine. It was a normal part of the Christians’ life to suffer for believing in the word of God. Their experience was the same as that of all Christians at that time.
Since the time of *Stephen, there had been *persecution of the church in *Judea. Paul (his name was Saul before he became a Christian) was there when the rulers of the *Jews killed *Stephen. He was looking after the clothes of those who were throwing the stones (Acts 7:56-58; 8:1). He was active in trying to destroy the church (Acts 8:3). There was then a time of much *persecution of the churches in *Judea.
In the way that they suffered, the Christians at Thessalonica had become like those in *Judea. They did not choose to suffer like that. But they now had the same bad experience that the *Judean church had. The *Jews hated the *Lord Jesus Christ. So they tried to destroy the Christians in *Judea. In Thessalonica, both the *Jews and the *Gentiles in that city tried to destroy the Christians. Their own people caused them to suffer.
Verse 15 The *Jews brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate, who was the *Roman ruler in *Jerusalem. They used Pilate to bring about the death of Jesus. Pilate’s soldiers killed him but the *Jews were responsible for it. The *Gospels tell us about this in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 18 and 19.
The *Jews here are the chief priest and the leaders. It is not the *Jewish people as a whole. The writers are not against the *Jews. Paul and Silas were *Jews and so were most of the first Christians. Jesus was a *Jew and all his work on earth was among the *Jews. So the leaders of the *Jews killed Jesus, who was one of their own nation.
It was not only Jesus, whom the leaders of the *Jews killed. In their past history they had killed the *prophets (Acts 7:52).
Paul, Silas and Timothy went first to the *Jews in Thessalonica. Those among the *Jews who would not believe that Jesus was the Christ caused the troubles there. But it was as much the *Gentiles as the *Jews who were the enemies of the church.
The *Jews turned the local leaders against Paul and his friends. They drove them out of their cities. The *apostles had to leave Thessalonica and went to *Beroea (Acts 17:5-10). The *Jews came there and caused trouble. So Paul had to go from there (Acts 17:13-14). In each place that Paul went the leaders of the *Jews were against him.
In what they did and the way that they lived the *Jews did not please God. They thought that they were doing God’s will. They thought that Jesus was not the Christ and therefore was false. So they were against the good news about Jesus Christ. They tried to stop this message from spreading. They became enemies of the God whom they thought that they served.
By what they did, they opposed the purposes of God. They opposed God in his desire to save the *Gentiles. They did not believe in the *Lord Jesus Christ. They tried to stop both *Gentiles and *Jews from believing in him.
Verse 16 The *Jews believed that the *salvation from God was for them and those who became *Jews. They did not accept that this *salvation was through Jesus Christ. They looked for the Christ (the *Messiah), who would come one day to deliver them. They could not see that Jesus is that Christ.
They were angry that Paul, Silas and Timothy taught that *salvation is through Jesus who is the Christ. They were angry that Paul and his friends offered this good news to the *Gentiles. They did all they could to stop Paul and his friends. But they could not prevent the spread of the good news, because it was God who sent it.
The *Jews had, over the years, piled up *sin upon *sin. They *persecuted the church in *Judea and here in Thessalonica. Before this, they had killed the Christ and the *prophets. They were adding to their wrong doing against God who, as their judge, has declared them guilty. The time for their punishment had come.
They had refused to accept God’s Son. They had killed him. And now they *persecuted those who believed in him. God’s anger had at last reached its limit. He was so angry with them that he would soon punish them. There was now no escape for them from the anger of God.
Verse 17 They ‘had to leave’ means that they felt like parents who had lost their children. It was as if their enemies had torn them away from the ones that they loved. They hoped that this forced absence would not be for long.
Their thoughts were always with their brothers and sisters. They could not now be with them but they loved them very much.
They were eager to be with them again. They had a real desire to get back to Thessalonica. They wanted so much to see them that they tried many times to come. But, although they tried so hard, they failed to achieve their desire.
Verse 18 All three of them wanted to return to Thessalonica. But only Timothy had been able to. He had been back to see how they were (1 Thessalonians 3:2).
Now Paul, who was the main writer, speaks for himself. Paul emphasises that he had tried more than once to get to them. He had tried several times but each time he had failed.
Each time they tried, *Satan had prevented Paul and Silas from getting there. They do not say how *Satan stopped them. The main task of *Satan is to stop people trusting in God. He also works to limit the effect of those who do trust God.
Verse 19 The writers look forward to the time when the *Lord Jesus will come. Then the *Lord will judge what they have done. And then he will give them his rewards.
Then they will see completed what they now hope to see. That hope was that the Thessalonians would continue to trust in God. Then, when Jesus comes, these Christians will be there. They are confident that God will complete the work that he has started in these Christians at Thessalonica.
Paul and his companions love them and are proud of them. They will see those who came to Jesus through them stand before the *Lord. Then they will experience much joy. The Thessalonian Christians will be the cause of their joy. They will be so proud of them. And they will be happy that God used them to bring these to know the *Lord Jesus.
The Thessalonians standing there will be like a crown to Paul, Silas and Timothy. They will be like the crown that was the reward for the winner in a race. That will be the perfect result of all their labour. The Thessalonians will be the sign and proof of the success of their work.
Verse 20 The Thessalonians are the reason why Paul and his companions can be proud. They are happy because they know and love them. They are confident that these Thessalonians will be there in heaven with them.
Verse 1 When Paul had to leave *Beroea, he went to *Athens. But Silas and Timothy remained in *Beroea (Acts 17:14). When he arrived in *Athens, Paul sent a message asking Silas and Timothy to come to him. He waited for them there. Some time after they had come to him, they decided to send Timothy back to Thessalonica. It seems that Silas also left Paul in *Athens and went into *Macedonia. After this, Paul went from *Athens to *Corinth (Acts 18:1). Silas and Timothy came back to Paul in *Corinth (Acts 18:5). They wrote this letter soon after they had met up again in *Corinth.
They had not heard any news from Thessalonica. They were eager to know how the Christians were. They had tried many times to go back but they could not. They had become so anxious that they could wait no longer. They then decided to send Timothy. He could go for them. And he could find out what was happening.
Either at the same time or some time later, Silas left for *Macedonia. This meant that Paul was alone in *Athens. He was very lonely and in a strange city. He was sad not to have the company of his friends.
Verse 2 They had decided to send Timothy to Thessalonica to find out about the church there. In verse 5, Paul speaks about it as his decision. Timothy was special to Paul because he had asked Timothy to go with him to help him (Acts 16:3).
Both Paul and Silas thought highly of Timothy. He worked with and for God to spread the good news about Christ. The three of them worked together to bring people to know Christ.
They sent Timothy so that he could bring them news about the Christians at Thessalonica. But that was not the only purpose for his visit to them. Paul wanted him to encourage them in their trust in God. As he spoke with them and taught them, he would help them to be strong in their belief in Christ. They needed this help because there were many who opposed them.
Verse 3 Paul and his friends were anxious about the Christians at Thessalonica. They knew that the enemies of Christ would *persecute them. They hoped that even as they suffered they would remain strong in their *faith. Maybe, as they suffered, their *faith would grow stronger. But there was a danger. The troubles that they had could cause them to lose their *faith. It would have been so easy to deny Christ and so avoid the problems.
The Christians at Thessalonica knew that those who believe in Christ would have to suffer for him. Paul and his friends had told them this while they were with them. Jesus said, ‘If they *persecuted me, they will do so to you as well’ (John 15:20). Those who belong to Christ must expect to suffer. And they should be ready for it. Such troubles should not upset their trust in God. Rather the troubles are like tests. They prove that their trust in God is genuine.
Verse 4 Paul, Silas and Timothy had warned them that there would be *persecution. They told them many times that it was coming. The enemies of Christ caused them trouble while Paul was there. It was because of this that Paul and his friends had to leave Thessalonica. They went to *Beroea. And again the enemies caused such trouble that Paul had to go from there. Paul had said that we who trust in Christ would have *persecution. This included the Christians at Thessalonica as well as Paul and his friends.
The Thessalonians knew what would happen. They knew before it happened. And it did happen just as Paul, Silas and Timothy said that it would.
Verse 5 Paul had tried several times to go back to Thessalonica but could not get there. He loved those Christians and desired to see them again. He wondered how they were when there were many who opposed them. He knew that they must have been suffering. He was so worried about them that he was impatient for news about them.
He wanted to know whether they were still trusting God. So, he sent Timothy to go and see. He wanted Timothy to bring him the news he badly wanted.
It seems that Paul wrote this verse showing his own feelings. There is no doubt that Silas and Timothy felt the same way as Paul did.
They knew that, in all the troubles, the devil was at work. He would try to get them to stop trusting in God. Paul and his friends thought that the devil could have succeeded. It was possible, in their minds, that the Thessalonians could have given in. They could have denied the *Lord. If that had happened, then all their efforts would have been of no use. They had suffered much but it would have achieved nothing. That is why they were so anxious to hear whether the Thessalonians were still trusting in God or not.
Verse 6 Silas and Timothy came back from their journeys and met Paul again in *Corinth (Acts 18:5). As soon as Timothy had told them about the *faith of the Thessalonians, they wrote this letter. His report pleased them so much that they called it ‘good news’. Apart from here, the *Greek word for ‘good news’ in the *New Testament means the good news about Jesus Christ. The good news about Jesus Christ is the *gospel. This use of this word here shows how the report from Timothy excited them. They had been so anxious and worried for the Thessalonians. But now, the news brought them comfort and much joy.
The *faith and love of the Thessalonians, that they had when they first trusted in Christ, were still there. The *persecution of men and the work of the devil could not spoil their trust in God. The effect of all these troubles seems to have been to make them stronger in their *faith in God. In the same way, Timothy saw that they continued to love other people.
The Thessalonians had good memories of the time when Paul, Silas and Timothy were there. They had come to love and respect the three of them. The people who opposed them said many things against Paul and his friends. Paul felt the need to show that these things were false (see chapter 2). But the Christians knew that these things were not true. These things had no effect on their feelings for them. They knew what kind of men Paul, Silas and Timothy were. They still trusted them and respected them. And they still loved them.
The Christians at Thessalonica told Timothy that they really would like to see Paul and Silas again. Their desire to meet again was just as strong as the desire of Paul and Silas. They loved them as members of the same family, because all those who believe in the *Lord Jesus are children of God. So, they with Paul, Silas and Timothy were all in God’s family. Paul thought of himself as a father to them (1 Thessalonians 2:11). Such was the care and love he, with Silas and Timothy, had for them.
Verse 7 Paul and Silas were having a difficult time. In every town that they went to there were those who opposed them. They suffered many attacks on them both in words and in actions. They had to work very hard both to keep themselves and to teach the people. More than all of this, they had the care of the churches on their minds and hearts. Paul felt weak and afraid there in *Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:3). They were tired and struggling.
It was at that time, when they felt so weak that Timothy came with good news. In all their troubles, his report was a comfort to them. It encouraged them so much that they felt a lot better. They were strong again and ready for the tasks before them.
It was the news that the Thessalonians were strong in their *faith, which so encouraged Paul and Silas. They had depended on God for help in the time of trouble. So, Paul and Silas found a new strength to trust God in all of their problems.
Verse 8 The news that Timothy brought seemed to bring new life to Paul and Silas. The fact that the Christians at Thessalonica were still trusting in God made all the hard work worthwhile. They were encouraged and it brought them a new joy. After all the worry, they now felt a great relief. In all their troubles, life was now worth living. Because the Thessalonians were so strong, it gave to Paul and Silas new energy to continue their work.
Verse 9 What Paul, Silas and Timothy had done had been a success. What had happened showed that. They had achieved what they went to Thessalonica to do. They had established the church there so well that it did not fail when troubles came. But that is not how Paul and his friends saw it. They knew that it was not what they did. Rather, it was the work of the Holy Spirit. God had given strength to those Christians so that they did not fail.
For this reason, Paul, Silas and Timothy thank God for them. Words cannot express the thanks that they feel inside themselves. God has done so much for the Christians at Thessalonica that they cannot thank him enough.
When Paul and his friends pray to God, they thank him for the joy that they feel. They have this joy because they love the Thessalonians. They are happy that the Thessalonians are still trusting in God. They are happy that the Thessalonians feel the same way about them.
Verse 10 ‘Night and day’ does not mean that they prayed once in the evening and once in the morning. It means that they continued to pray both during the night and in the day. Again, and again they asked God that they might soon see the Thessalonians.
The reason for their prayers was not only that they wanted to be with the Thessalonians again. It was also so that they could teach them more to help them to live as Christians should. They knew that the Thessalonians needed further instruction. They could see that there was some confusion in what the Thessalonians believed. And some there did not live as they should. And they needed correction.
It was not likely that they would meet soon. So, the next two chapters teach about these problems.
Verse 11 Prayer is speaking with God. Here they pray to God the Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ. This shows that God the Father and Jesus the Son act together as one. The *Lord Jesus said, ‘I and my Father are one’ (John 10:30). The writers believe and teach that Jesus is God.
As they tried to get back to Thessalonica, they found that they could not do it (2:18). Each time they tried to return, *Satan prevented them. Therefore, they asked God to remove all that had stopped them and to lead them back to the Thessalonians. Paul did return to *Macedonia about five years later (Acts 20:1). It is likely that, while in *Macedonia, he visited them.
Verse 12 By the *Lord, we understand them to mean the *Lord Jesus. They ask the *Lord to cause the Thessalonians to love each other more than they already do. It is not just that their love may increase. They ask that the love of the Christians may flow like a river in flood. They want it to go beyond their friends and reach to all people. And they want it to grow always wider and deeper.
The Christians at Thessalonica knew how much Paul, Silas and Timothy loved them. These three gave themselves so that they might share the love of God with them. They were ready to suffer and they did suffer because they loved them so much. This love is then an example to them of the kind of love that they should have.
Verse 13 The aim of these prayers is that the *Lord will give them inner strength. As love for God and for other people grows, this will make them stronger Christians. Such love is like a firm foundation for their lives. It gives purpose to life and a confidence in the *Lord.
Those who love like this will want to know and please God their Father. They will desire to know him more than all else. The *Lord Jesus forgives all their *sin. So they will be pure and holy when they stand in front of God. This will be when the *Lord Jesus comes again. Paul was looking forward to that day. That is when God will say that they are without blame.
The *Lord Jesus will come again with all his *saints. *Saints in the *New Testament are not special persons whom the church has called *saints. They are all those who trust in and belong to Christ.
The time when the *Lord Jesus comes includes more than one event. He will meet with the *saints in the air. This will include both those who have died and those who are still living (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). There will be a time when the *Lord Jesus will reward those who have served him (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Then God will declare that the *saints are holy. And then all the *saints will come with the *Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 3:13).
Those who love the *Lord Jesus can look forward to his coming. It will be a time of much joy and blessing to them. There will be no more pain and suffering. They will see their *Lord and they will live with him always after that. Such a future hope should encourage them now to live for the *Lord.
Verse 1 This verse starts the final section of the letter. The writers had taught the Thessalonians how they ought to live as Christians. They should always live to please God. It is natural for us to want to please those whom we love. Therefore, Christians, who love God, should want to serve and obey him.
Paul always gives praise where it is due. He recognises that they have been doing what was right. They were trying to live as Paul, Silas and Timothy had taught them.
The writers now ask and urge them to continue and to do more to please God. To ask is a gentle and friendly request. But to urge is more than a request. It is not quite a command. But it does demand that they do what it asks. In making this request, they do it in the name of the *Lord Jesus. They claim the authority of the *Lord as they ask and urge. They are doing this as the agents of the *Lord.
Verse 2 The writers remind them about what they had taught while they were there with them. What they are writing now is not new. The Christians at Thessalonica had received instructions on how to live to please God.
Paul, Silas and Timothy gave them the instructions that they had from the *Lord Jesus. They spoke with the authority that the *Lord Jesus gave them. They taught them the *Lord’s commands.
Verse 3 God wants Christians to be holy. It is God’s purpose for Christians that they should be holy, as he is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). As soon as a person believes in the *Lord Jesus, he or she belongs to God. Then they should do what he wants. That is what being holy means. That person should now live for God. A process has begun in which the new life that God gives replaces the old manner of life. Christians should be changing in this process to become what God wants them to be.
God wants Christians to be holy, which includes the proper use of sex. Sex is a gift of God for the blessing of a man and a woman in marriage. They must not have sex with anyone other than their own wife or husband. All acts of sex, outside of marriage, are *sin.
The writers had said about the Thessalonians that they did live good lives. But, in the society in which they lived, they would be tempted to have wrong sex. It could well be that some in that church had been guilty of these *sins.
Verse 4 In this verse, ‘to rule your own body’ means to control the desire for sex. The use of the body in sex is right only between husband and wife. Even then, it must be an act of love and with the agreement of the other person. This is because a husband and wife must show respect for each other. This is the holy and right use of sex. All other acts of sex are wrong.
Christians should know that they and their bodies belong to the *Lord. The Holy Spirit lives in the bodies of those who believe in God (1 Corinthians 6:19). Wrong sex does not give respect to the body and it is *sin against God.
Verse 5 The *Lord is the owner of the body and Christians must not use it for their own desires. Many of those who do not know God have sex to satisfy what they want. In those days, as now, wrong sex was common among those who did not trust in God.
Verse 6 All wrong sex is *sin. Having sex with the wife of another Christian is worse than bad. Such *sins are a crime against all that is holy and against all that is Christian.
To have sex other than with your own wife or husband is not only a *sin against God. It causes real damage to those who do it and to other people. To those who love God such affairs are disgusting.
The *Lord will punish all who do these things. This may well result in problems and pain in this life. But it is more likely that this is for the future time. The *Lord Jesus will one day test all who are his. And, in that day, he will punish all who do these *sins (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Paul and his friends had warned them about these things. Now again they are writing about the same subject. It seems that there may have been some in that church who had wrong relationships. They had to *repent and stop doing these bad things.
Verse 7 God chooses men and women to be his own. As they believe the good news about Jesus, they become his people. God chooses them to be holy and to live for him. He does not want them to do these dirty things. Doing wrong things such as having bad sex is like being dirty. Doing right is like being clean. God wants them to be clean in how they live.
Verse 8 God called them to be holy. And he gave the standards by which they should live. Paul, Silas and Timothy had taught them what God required. It was not Paul’s own thoughts or ideas. If any of them did have wrong sex, they were denying those who taught them. But, of more importance, they had denied God. They had not obeyed his rules.
God gives his Holy Spirit to be in each Christian. The body of each *believer is a house in which the Holy Spirit lives (1 Corinthians 6:19). They must keep that house pure and holy for him. Wrong sex makes that house dirty and offends God.
God gives us his Holy Spirit to help us to become holy and to please him.
Verse 9 They were aware of the duty that they have to love each other. They are brothers and sisters in the family of God. So there really was no need to write to them about it.
It is the teaching of God that they should love each other. This does not refer just one part of the *Scripture. But it is a common subject in both the *Old Testament and the *New Testament. The *Lord Jesus said, ‘I give you a new command. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another’ (John 13:34).
The love that Jesus had for his friends shows the kind of love that they should have for each other.
The Holy Spirit sends the love of God into Christians (Romans 5:5). So, he teaches them to love God and to love each other.
Verse 10 These Christians at Thessalonica did love God and they loved each other. They were already doing what the *Lord had taught them. They loved all the Christians in *Macedonia that they met. They knew that all Christians are in the family of God. If you love the parent, you must also love the child (1 John 5:1). As they loved God, so they loved the children of God. The fame of their love had spread through the whole region.
As good as their love was, it could improve. The example of Christ’s love was so much greater than their love. Paul and his friends urged them to love more. It was possible for them to show still greater love for the *Lord and for other people.
Verse 11 They lived in difficult times. They had to suffer much from the people who did not believe in Christ. It would have been natural to be angry and to fight back. But that was not how a Christian should act. They should remain calm. It should be their ambition to have a quiet life. They should try to live at peace with all people. They should not be involved in the affairs of other people. But they should mind their own affairs.
There were some among them that were lazy. They did not work to keep themselves. They lived by the kindness of other Christians. Each one is responsible to provide for his or her needs. They are to earn their own living instead of asking the church to support them. If a person cannot work, then the church should try to help them.
Verse 12 Those who do not yet believe in Christ will see how Christians live. They will see the love that Christians have for each other. They will see how the Christians work and mind their own affairs. As Christians live like this, they will earn the respect of these people. Perhaps this will make people more ready to accept the good news about Jesus Christ. But if Christians do not love each other or are lazy, this will cause people to turn from the good news.
Those who live as they should will not need to depend on anyone else. Instead, they will be able to support those who really are in need. The church should try to help those who are not able to work for themselves. But those who can work should do so. They should do so for the support of themselves and those who depend on them.
Verse 13 The Christians at Thessalonica knew that Jesus would come again one day. When he comes, all his people on the earth will go to be with him in heaven. But the Christians at Thessalonica were worried about those who had died before Jesus came back. They thought that they would not enjoy the same benefit on that day as those who are alive. The writers wanted to make sure that they knew the truth on this subject. Those who have died will have the same benefit from the return of Jesus as those who are still alive then.
The word that the writers used for ‘died’ is in the *Greek language ‘sleeping’. The death of those who believe in Jesus is like sleep. This sleep is not like normal sleep. They are alive with the *Lord Jesus in a different world. They have gone from their bodies and they have gone to be with him. Death for them is a sleep from which they will awake to new life. They will awake when Jesus comes. Then they will live in a different kind of body (see 1Cor 15:35-49).
It is natural to be sad when someone that we love has died. They have gone from us. But Christians should not be sad as other people are. For other people, there is no hope of seeing the dead person again. Christians believe that death is not the end. Those who have died believing in Jesus have gone to be with him. They are in a better place than those that they have left behind. Those who are still alive will one day meet again with them. That will be when Jesus comes. This is the hope that Christians have. The word hope does not mean that there is a doubt. For Christians it is something that they are sure about. But it is in the future.
Verse 14 The writers do not call the death of Jesus sleep. When Christians die, they go to be with Jesus. When he died, he was alone. God punished him for all the *sins that we had done. So, Jesus died the death that all people deserved. Because of his real death for us, the death of Christians is the way to new life with him.
After he had paid the price for our *sins, Jesus came back to life again. Christians believe a basic fact. They believe that Jesus died and rose again from death to life. God raised Jesus from the dead. In the same way, he will also raise from the dead all those who have gone to be with Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:14, ‘God raised the *Lord and will also raise us by his power.’
That is why the Christians who sleep in death are now alive with Jesus. When Jesus comes, God will bring them back to join with those who are alive here on earth. They will be alive again in their physical bodies. Then all the Christians, whether dead or alive, will rise to be with Jesus.
Verse 15 Here is what the *Lord had said. We do not have a record of Jesus saying this in the *Gospels. He may have taught it to those who followed him. It may have been in some other reports of what the *Lord had said. However, we do have it here as a statement by the *Lord.
He spoke about those who are alive. This means those who are living at that time when Jesus will come again. The writers wrote as if they and the readers would be among those who would be alive then. But it is clear from Paul’s letters that he did not know when Jesus would return. Perhaps he hoped that it would be before he died. No one knows when it will be. But Jesus could come at any time. They taught the *believers to live as if Jesus would come soon and to be ready for him.
Those who are alive when Jesus comes will not go to heaven before those who have died. It is not just a question of time. Jesus told them that those who are alive would not have an advantage over those who sleep. They had been worried that those who had died would miss some of the benefits of the *Lord’s return. The answer to their question was that both the living and the dead would have the same blessing and at the same time. They will be there when the *Lord comes. They will take part in the *glory of that day.
Verse 16 The *Lord will come himself. He will not send an agent or an *angel to represent him. He will come down from heaven. He has been there since he went to be with God the Father. All the peoples of the world will see him as he returns to the earth (Revelation 1:7).
He will come with a shout of command. As he leaves heaven, he will call for the dead to rise. Those who have died believing in Jesus will come from heaven with him. God will raise them from the dead.
There will be the sound of an *archangel’s voice. This also is a signal for the dead to rise.
The word *archangel only comes here and in Jude verse 9. An *archangel is an *angel of a higher rank than the other *angels are. In the tradition of the *Jews there were seven of them. In Jude 9 the *archangel Michael fought with the devil.
With the *Lord’s command and the voice of the *archangel there will be the sound of a *trumpet. People used trumpets in *Old Testament times to announce that God was going to do something special. At this sound, all those who believe in Jesus will change. God will give them new bodies so that they can live with him and never die. This will all happen in less time than it takes an eye to shut and open (1 Corinthians 15:52).
Those who have died believing in Jesus will rise first. And God will change their bodies. Here is the answer to the worries of the Christians at Thessalonica. Those who have died will have an advantage over those who are alive. While absent from the earth they have been with Jesus. They will come back with him and be the first to rise again.
Verse 17 ‘We’ does not mean that Paul expected to be alive. It is those who are still alive then. He knew that the second coming of Jesus would not take place at once (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He probably hoped that he might see it. He wanted every one of them to live so as to be ready for Jesus to come.
When the *trumpet sounds, God will raise the dead. They will then be in a form that will never die. God will change those who are alive in the same way. This is to prepare them for their new life in heaven. Then God will seize all those who believe in Jesus. And he will take them up from the earth. The whole company of the Christians will meet in the clouds.
When Jesus left the earth, he went up in the clouds. The *angel then said that he would come in like manner, as they had seen him go (Acts 1:11). So, as Jesus comes with the clouds, the *believers will rise to meet him in those clouds. They will then go with Jesus and will be with him always.
The *Lord Jesus will come in the clouds. The text does not say whether he then comes to the earth or goes back to heaven for a time. If he comes to the earth, he will bring the *believers here with him. If he returns to heaven, they will go there to be with him.
The air is between earth where we are, and heaven where God is. Jesus will come down, and Christians will rise up.
Verse 18 This truth about the coming of Christ should comfort the Christians at Thessalonica about those who have died. They have a sure hope that they will meet again with them. God will raise the dead and the living together to be with the *Lord. It should encourage them to know that their future is safe with the *Lord. And so is the future of those who have gone before them. As they talk about the coming of the *Lord Jesus, it will comfort and encourage them.
Verse 1 The writers had answered the worries about those who had died. Now they turn to a new subject. This is the question of when Jesus will come again. It seems that some of the Christians had expected Jesus to come soon. But he had not come yet.
‘Times and dates’ is a phrase that they knew meant the end times. The two words together stand for the period of the end as well as the date when Jesus will come. While they were with them, the *apostles had taught about the end times. They had told them that no one knows when Jesus will come. They had also told them about events that must happen before he comes.
There was no need to write to them to tell them that the *Lord will come. They knew that. There was no need to tell them that the time of his coming is secret. But they did need instruction about what will happen when he does come back.
Verse 2 They knew about the day of the *Lord and of his return, because Paul and his friends had taught them about it. But when that day would be, no one could know.
This day is not a single day, as we understand it. Rather it is the day of the *Lord, which covers many events. It will be a time when God will defeat all his enemies (Isaiah 2:12). In his anger, he will destroy them (Isaiah 13:9). This will bring trouble on the earth (Isaiah 13:11; Amos 5:18). It is a way of talking about the time when the *Lord will deliver the nation of *Israel (Jeremiah 30:7-9). It also is a way to speak about the time when God will set up his *kingdom on the earth.
God’s judgement is for those who do not believe in Jesus. Christians will not have to suffer the anger of God. They will meet Jesus in the air and so they will be with him in that day.
The day of the *Lord and of his return will come without warning. It will be like the thief who comes at night to rob a house. The thief does not tell the owners when he is coming. They do not expect him to come. This is what the *Lord Jesus taught in Matthew 24:42-44. The point of this is that the Thessalonians should be ready for the *Lord to come at any time.
Verse 3 The beginning of the day of the *Lord will come as a surprise. Those who do not believe in Jesus will not be ready for that day. They will think that they are safe. It will be a time when at last there seems to be peace on the earth. But, at that moment, when they feel safe and at peace, ruin will come to them from the *Lord.
The dawn of that day will be sudden, just like the pains of a woman who is having a baby (Isaiah 13:8-9). There will be no warning and they will not be expecting it. They will not be able to avoid the anger of God. There will be no escape for them.
Verse 4 Those who do not believe in Jesus are like people living in the dark. They cannot see when the danger comes towards them. So, the coming of the *Lord will surprise and shock them. Like a thief, it will come when they do not expect it. But, those who believe in Jesus are not living in the dark. The day of the *Lord should not come as a surprise to them. They should be expecting it and they should be ready for the *Lord to come.
Verse 5 In contrast to those who do not believe in the *Lord Jesus, Paul describes all the Christians at Thessalonica as children of the light. Light represents life and also goodness. So children of the light are those who have God’s life. And they try to do good. Some of them may be weak or doubting in their *faith. The writers encourage them by saying that they are all children of the light and of the day.
Once they were in darkness but they have been born again into the light. This means that now they are not like people who are living in the darkness. They know that the *Lord Jesus will come. And, when he does come, they should be expecting him. His coming will not be a surprise to them.
When it is night, we cannot see where we are going. We cannot see what is coming to us. Those who do not believe in the *Lord Jesus are like people who walk in the night. All who believe in the *Lord Jesus are ‘children of the day’. They are people who do not belong to night and darkness. They can see where they walk. And they can be ready for what is coming.
Verse 6 Because they are children of the day, they should not be asleep. They should be awake to all that the *apostles taught them. They know the truth and how they ought to live. Those who do not believe in the *Lord Jesus do not know these things. So they are not aware of them. They are like those who are asleep.
Christians know what is right. And they are responsible for what they do. Those who have drunk too much wine lose control of their actions. Those who believe in the *Lord Jesus must never be like that. They must always be in control of themselves. They must be ready for the day when the *Lord shall come.
Verse 7 To explain what he means in verse 6, Paul states the normal pattern of life. People usually go to bed and sleep at night. Those who drink strong drink to excess often do so at night. Because Christians are not ‘children of the night’, they should keep awake. And they should not lose control as those who drink too much do. They are not talking about the sleep that the body needs. But they use that to show that Christians must be awake to the things of God. Those who drink to excess are not in full control of themselves. Those who believe in the *Lord Jesus should always be ready for him to come.
Verse 8 Those who belong to the day are those who believe in the *Lord Jesus. The word ‘day’ here represents the new kind of life that comes by means of *faith in the *Lord. They have this new life with the *Lord Jesus. And that should cause them to be careful how they live. It is the reason why they must be in control of themselves.
The soldiers wore special clothes and had *helmets on their heads. These were to keep them safe as they fought. The Christian life is like a battle. There are the armies of the devil who attack the people of God. Just as the soldiers had to wear special clothes, so do the Christians (Ephesians 6:13-17). They have to be awake and ready for the fight. The special clothes for the Christians are *faith in God and love. The *helmets are like their hope of *salvation. These clothes and *helmets will guard their hearts and minds and keep them safe.
*Faith, love and hope give to the Christians the strength to overcome all the troubles that they have.
Verse 9 God chose all those who have come to believe in the *Lord Jesus. He chose them so that they would escape his anger when he judges the people of the world. He chose them to benefit from what the *Lord Jesus has done. The *Lord Jesus has suffered the anger of God for all that they have done wrong. So, as they accept this by believing in the *Lord Jesus, they are free from God’s anger. The *Lord Jesus has saved them from that anger and from the judgement of God. But more than that, God will raise them up to live again after they have died. So, they will live again with the *Lord Jesus and with God.
Verse 10 Here is how Jesus Christ obtained our *salvation for us. He died for us. He died the death that should have been ours because of our *sin. God judged all our *sins and Jesus took the punishment for us. So, he will save all those who accept that Jesus died for them and trust him. He will save them from the anger of God.
So great was that death that we can be sure about the future life. All who believe in him shall live with him. This is true whether we are alive then or have died. Christians need not fear missing the *Lord’s return. When the *Lord Jesus comes, he will raise them up. And then they will enjoy being with him.
Verse 11 All who believe in the *Lord Jesus have his promise. The promise is that, when he comes, they will live with him. So, they can encourage each other as they speak about these things. They can help those who have doubts and fears. They can help them by showing them that the *Lord accepts them. The writers want them to help each other to be strong and certain in what they believe. They need to help each other to know God better and to love him more. They were doing this already but they should go on doing it.
Verse 12 The writers now ask the Christians at Thessalonica to know and to respect their leaders. This would be the proper attitude toward them, because they worked so hard for the church there. They should appreciate all that these workers do for the church.
It was the leaders’ task to direct and to care for the church. When any of the members did what was wrong, the leaders would have to correct them. This can be hard to do. So, those who do it well deserve respect. When any members were in need, the leaders would try to help them. The leaders had to guide the church in the right way. They made sure that the teaching in the church was true to the word of God.
Verse 13 The *Lord had called their leaders to this task and they served him in it. They were working so hard for the good of the church. The Christians at Thessalonica should be grateful for them and for all that they do. Their leaders deserve all the support that they can give. They should love their leaders, as the leaders care for the church.
One of the aims of the leaders’ work is to keep the members in unity with each other. Christians should always try to live in peace with each other.
Verse 14 There were some of the Christians in Thessalonica who would not work. It was not that they could not work. If that had been true, then it would be right for the church to support them. No, they were just lazy. The members of that church, not just the leaders, should tell them that they must work. They must warn them that it is not right to expect other Christians to provide for them.
There are in any church those who are not sure what they believe. Or there are those who are afraid. The other Christians should talk to them about their doubts and fears. They need help to overcome their doubts and support to calm their fears. Perhaps they need to know that other people love and value them.
Some people there were weak in some way. Weak people need strength and courage. They should not be afraid to tell other people that they are Christians. Christians must hold on to such people and help them to become stronger and more bold. Such people need to know that they are not alone.
In all their relations with these people, the Christians should be patient and kind. They should show respect to all people. And they should have patience with all people.
Verse 15 No matter how wrong the actions of a person are, we should not do wrong things to them. It would be natural for us to want to do it. There was an old rule of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ (Exodus 21:24). This meant to do to the other person as he or she has done to you. But this is not how Christians should behave. They should forgive. And they should want to do good things to those who have done wrong to them.
Christians should always try to be kind to each other and to all people. This includes being kind to those who have done bad things against them. It is trying to do good at all times, even for those whom they do not like. They should try to be friendly and helpful to all people. As the *Lord commanded, they should love their neighbours. And they should do good to those who hate them.
Verse 16 Some people do not believe in the *Lord Jesus. For those people, joy depends on the good things that happen to them. But the writers are talking about a different kind of joy here. This joy does not depend on what happens. If it did, the Christians at Thessalonica would have little cause for joy.
Real joy comes from knowing the *Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives joy to all who believe (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Christians should allow this joy to be in them and to affect the whole of their life. The new life that they have from God is full of joy. They know that God is with them. So, they can have joy although they are suffering.
Verse 17 To pray all the time does not mean to pray without stopping. Rather it means that they should have an attitude of prayer. They should pray often as a regular way of life. They can pray wherever they are and at all times. It does not have to be in words but it is in the heart and mind looking to God.
They should pray to God often because they depend on him for all that they need in life. They should want to pray to God often because they love him as their father.
Verse 18 God works in all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). So, they should give thanks to God in every good or bad circumstance. He is in control and he allows both good and bad times to come to them. But in the end, the result is always to bless them. They believe in God. So, they can and should thank him for all that happens to them.
God wants them to be full of joy. He wants them to pray at all times and to give him thanks. This is how those who are in Christ Jesus ought to live.
Those who are in Christ Jesus are those who believe in him. They have received the new life that he gives.
Verse 19 This verse in the *Greek means, ‘Do not put out the fire of the Spirit.’ It shows the work of the Holy Spirit as if it were a fire. They must not prevent the Holy Spirit from doing his work. They must not put out the fire.
When people believe in the *Lord Jesus, he sends the Holy Spirit to live in them. He brings into their lives the seeds of good character. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul calls this the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit has to grow in the character of the Christian. The parts of the fruit are love, joy, peace, patience, being gentle, being good, *faith, being humble, and control of oneself. They must continue to work with the Holy Spirit so that this fruit will grow in them.
The Holy Spirit gives gifts to some for building up the church. That means to help the Christians to grow and mature in relation to God. The main *Scriptures that discuss these gifts are Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30; Ephesians 4:11. The Holy Spirit gives these gifts so that the person who has them can use them for the benefit of the church. There is a danger that they might not use the gifts as the *Lord intends.
Verse 20 One of the gifts of the Spirit is *prophecy. He gives this gift so that a person can speak words from God. The person receives a message from God and shares it with the church. The benefit of *prophecy is this: The church can hear what God wants them to hear. It may be that he is warning them about something. It could be that he wants to teach them something. It could be a message about what will happen in the future.
A person with the gift might refuse to speak the message that the Spirit gave. Or the leaders might not let that person give the *prophecy. Or, when a *prophecy comes to the church, they could refuse to hear and accept it. They could stop a work of the Spirit in these ways. They may have done this because there were false *prophecies. But they should make sure that it is from God rather than refuse all *prophecies. They must not deny the worth of the gift of *prophecy. They should desire to have this gift (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Verse 21 The Christians at Thessalonica need to be sure that the *prophecies or other gifts are from God. Some may claim to have a message from God but the church must test that claim. It is important to know if the Holy Spirit is the source of the message or gift. There are copies of the gifts, which come from the enemy or from human sources. There are false *prophets who try to damage the church. There are those who mistake the source of a message or a gift. Christians are to test all of these things to prove that they are from God.
There are standards by which we can test *prophecies and gifts. What they say must not deny what the *Lord has already said. So, their message must not be against what the Bible says. Their purpose must be for the good of the church. All the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the help not the damage of the church.
Where the tests prove that the message is genuine, then accept it. Hear what it says. If it is a message from God, believe what it says. Obey the message and do what the *Lord requires.
Verse 22 Where a message or an action has failed the test, then they are to refuse it. They must not accept anything that is false. These false messages and gifts are evil because they could spoil the church. So, the Christians at Thessalonica are to avoid any kind of evil.
Verse 23 Through the death of Jesus, God has made peace between himself and us *human beings. All who believe and trust in the *Lord Jesus have this peace with God. This means that we can live calm and quiet lives with him.
The prayer of the writers is that God would make the Christians holy. They ask God to separate them from *sin and to keep them for himself. With his help, they would be able to love and to serve him. This is a process in which he changes them to be more like the *Lord Jesus. This process started when they first believed in the *Lord Jesus. God will complete it when the *Lord Jesus comes again (Philippians 1:6).
In this prayer, they ask God to be in every part of the lives of the Christians. They speak about the Christian person as being spirit, *soul and body. These three words together mean the whole person. The ‘body’ is what we can see and feel. The word ‘soul’ means our thinking and feeling. It can also mean our life. ‘Spirit’ means our relationship with God, and also can mean our life. The prayer is that God will keep the whole of them without blame for that time when Jesus will come again.
Verse 24 God calls them to himself to be his people. He will answer the prayer to make them holy. They can depend on him because he has promised to do it. He can be trusted to do all that he has said and planned. It is God’s purpose that they should be holy.
Verse 25 Paul and his friends often prayed for the church at Thessalonica. Now they are saying that, as we have prayed for you, you also should pray for us. They are asking the Thessalonians to support them by their prayers. Paul, Silas and Timothy were so strong in what they believed. But they still felt the need for the prayers of other Christians.
Verse 26 The writers wanted to greet each of the members of the church at Thessalonica. To do this they asked them to greet each other on their behalf. It was to be with a holy kiss. This means that there is nothing of natural love or sex in it. The greeting is an expression of the love that there is between them. This is the love of brothers and sisters in the family of God.
In that society, it was the custom to greet friends with a kiss on the cheek.
Verse 27 The leaders of the church would have received this letter. So, Paul urges them to make sure that the whole church there should hear its contents. He uses the name of the *Lord as his authority as he asks them to read it to the church.
Verse 28 Grace is blessing for the people of God that they do not deserve. Here it is the grace of our *Lord Jesus Christ. It is the benefit that comes to us because of what he has done. May the *Lord Jesus give you his blessing because he loves you.
Achaia ~ the southern part of present day Greece, see *Macedonia.
angel ~ a spirit person. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages.
apostle ~ one whom God sends; especially one of the 12 that Jesus chose to be his helpers.
archangel ~ an *angel of higher rank than other *angels.
Athens ~ a city in *Achaia.
believers ~ Christians.
Beroea ~ a city in *Macedonia.
church ~ (1) all Christians; (2) members of a local group.
Corinth ~ a city in *Achaia.
demons ~ bad or evil spirits that work for the devil.
faith ~ trust in someone or something; belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son.
faithful ~ true and loyal to someone.
Gentiles ~ people who are not *Jews.
glory ~ great honour and beauty.
gospel ~ the good news that God saves people from *sin through Jesus Christ.
Gospels ~ the first four books of the *New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Greek ~ the language that Paul and his friends used to write this letter.
Greeks ~ the people in the country called Greece.
Hebrew ~ the language of the *Jews.
helmet ~ the special hat that a soldier wears to protect the head.
human being ~ a human person.
humans ~ people.
idols ~ objects of *worship instead of God.
Israel ~ the country of the *Jews.
Jerusalem ~ the capital city of *Israel.
Jewish ~ people or things that are from the *Jews.
Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
Judea ~ the land of the *Jews.
kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules.
Lord ~ a title for God, or Jesus, to show that he is over all people and things.
Macedonia ~ the northern part of present day Greece; see *Achaia.
Messiah ~ God promised the *Jews that a special person would come to save them. That person is the Messiah. Jesus is that Messiah but the *Jews did not believe it. Messiah is a *Hebrew word. In the *Greek language, the word is Christ. The word in both languages means anointed; that is God chose him and sent him.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus. It is about Jesus’ works and the things that he taught and about the *church.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Christ’s birth.
persecute ~ to attack and hurt people because they believe in Christ.
persecution ~ the actions of enemies of God who hurt people because they believe in Christ.
Philippi ~ a city in *Macedonia.
plead ~ to ask with a strong appeal.
preach ~ to speak out the message from God and to teach his word.
prophecy ~ the speaking of a message from God; a gift of the Holy Spirit.
prophet ~ person who speaks for God. He can sometimes say what will happen in the future.
repent ~ to change one’s mind and heart, to turn away from *sin and turn to God. To turn one’s mind and heart away from *sin is to repent.
respond ~ to reply to an appeal.
response ~ the action in reply to an appeal.
Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the rulers at that time. That which belonged to Rome was Roman.
saints ~ all those who trust in and belong to Christ.
salvation ~ the result of God saving us from *sin and punishment; the new life that God gives to those who believe in the *Lord Jesus.
Satan ~ the name of the devil.
Scripture ~ the books of the Bible.
sin ~ sin is the wrong things that we do; to *sin is to do wrong, bad or evil; not to obey God.
sinful ~ evil and wrong.
soul ~ means what we feel and what we think.
Stephen ~ the first person to be killed because he believed in Jesus Christ.
synagogue ~ the place where the *Jews met to *worship God.
tempter ~ someone who tempts people to do wrong; another name for *Satan.
trumpet ~ a musical instrument; it makes a sound when a person blows into it.
worship ~ the act of showing honour to God (or an *idol) with praise, thanks and respect.
William Barclay ~ The Letters to the Thessalonians ~ Daily Study Bible
F. F. Bruce ~ in Word Biblical Commentary
F. F. Bruce ~ The New Bible Commentary (IVF)
William Hendriksen ~ New Testament Commentary
C. S. Keener ~ Background Commentary ~ IVP
W. Lock ~ in Dictionary of the Bible, edited by J Hastings
Leon Morris ~ Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians ~ Tyndale New Testament
R. L. Thomas ~ in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary
W. E. Vine ~ Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
Exegetical Summaries ~ Summer Institute of Linguistics
Bibles: NIV, RSV, TEV, AV
A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek New Testament
Friberg & Friberg ~ Analytical Greek New Testament
© 1997-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words)
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