“Living As God’s People While We Watch and Wait for Jesus’ Return!”
The context of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonian church is discovered in Acts 17:1-9, where Paul and Silas reached out to Thessalonica during Paul’s second missionary journey. While there, Paul “reasoned with them from the Scriptures” on three successive Sabbath days in the Jewish synagogue, explaining to them that Jesus was the Christ, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah, God’s anointed King. Some of the Jews were persuaded by the Spirit and believed, along with some of the Greeks (Gentiles). But almost immediately other Jews drove Paul and Silas out of the city and began persecuting those who had believed.
Some time later (probably a relatively short time), Paul received a report that encouraged him, as he was told the small church was standing firm in the truth and growing. But, along with the encouraging report were also some concerns. Some had died unexpectedly and they wondered if they would miss out on Jesus’ return in power and glory. Others, believing Jesus would return in their lifetime, perhaps soon, determined that they wouldn’t spend their time working with their hands, expecting those with more to provide for them until Jesus came. So Paul’s letter was for their encouragement and their instruction. While the worst persecution from the Romans still lay ahead, Paul reminded them several times in his first letter that Jesus Christ would return and take believers to be with Him. Salvation was not just for THIS life, but for eternity! But they must continue living for Christ in the meantime, building up and encouraging one another.
Apparently, between his first and second letters, someone sent a letter under Paul’s name, telling the Thessalonians that Jesus had already returned secretly, and they had missed His coming. The letter raised other questions for the Thessalonians about the timing of Jesus’ return. Paul responded with another letter, encouraging them to stand firm in what they had heard and assuring them that the judgment of God would come upon those who opposed them. He asked them to pray for him and others who were sharing the Word, and prayed that the peace that only God can give would be theirs as they lived in obedience to His commands, trusting in Christ and serving one another.
All that God spoke through Paul to the believers in Thessalonica so long ago now speaks to us today! the Gospel of Jesus Christ has gone out to all the world through those who believed the message the apostles brought. In nearly 2,000 years the message has not changed, nor does it need to change. God’s Word speaks truth, and those who reject it will perish, while those who receive it as it is, the Word of God, like the Thessalonians did, will find encouragement and hope and peace and strength to live out the life the Spirit produces in those who belong to Christ. May we be found so doing!
Sermon Titles and Dates:
- September 10th: “The Calling and Life of the ‘Church'” – I Thessalonians 1:1-10
- September 17th: “Messengers of God, sent by God to Bring the Message of God” – I Thessalonians 2:1-16
- September 24th: “The Power of Christian Relationships” – I Thessalonians 2:17-20, 3:1-13
- October 1st: “The Urgency of Pressing On by Knowing God’s Will and Living to Please Him” – I Thessalonians 4:1-12
- October 8th: “The Day Every Believer Should Be Looking Forward To!” – I Thessalonians 4:13-18
- October 15th: “The Believer’s Perspective of Light and Hope” – I Thessalonians 5:1-11
- October 22nd: “The ‘Good Life’ Is Found in the Body of Christ” – I Thessalonians 5:12-28
- October 29th: “Your/Our Reputation Matters!” – II Thessalonians 1:1-12
- November 5th: “Only By the Knowledge of the Truth Will Believers Avoid Deception and Judgment” – II Thessalonians 2:1-12
- November 12th: “Standing Firm As We Fulfill and Complete Our (God’s) Mission” – II Thessalonians 2:13-17, 3:1-5
- November 19th: “A Realistic Expectation of Life in This World Yields the Fruit of Peace” – II Thessalonians 3:6-18