Monday, March 18
Introduction to 1 Thessalonians
After a long study through the Book of Acts, we now turn our attention to two smaller New Testament books. The church in Thessalonica was born in Acts 16 and 17! If you didn’t read through the Book of Acts over the last few weeks, it may be helpful to be reminded of that story. Remember that the New Testament is 4 stories of Jesus’s life (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), followed by the message about Jesus spreading throughout the region (Acts), then a bunch of letters written to the churches formed during that time (Romans-Jude). So, once Acts concludes, the action is basically over, and we read letters instructing those churches in how to carry out the mission of living together in community while continuing to make disciples of Jesus.
The next few paragraphs are from bible.org, and they are general information about what was taking place in the Thessalonian church. Over the next few weeks, we’ll make our way slowly through 1-2 Thessalonians.
More books of the New Testament were written by the Apostle Paul than any other New Testament author. He was certainly a man God used in special ways to minister to the church, but it is important to recognize that none of the New Testament writers wrote in a vacuum nor were their writings the product of simple dictation. While they wrote under the inspired guidance of the Holy Spirit, they wrote from the source of their relationship with the Lord Jesus and what God was doing or had done in their hearts and to their thinking, values, goals, sources of trust, and purposes for life. This is also the exact kind of change God wants to bring about in our lives and seeks to do so through these vibrant epistles of the New Testament.
Of course each book has its special purpose, subject matter, and theme as determined by the inspired direction of the Holy Spirit on the human author, but this was always in conjunction with the particular historical and personal circumstances and needs of the recipients. The human authors of Scripture wrote to real people with real problems in real situations in such a way that their writings are still very much applicable with tremendous relevance in our modern world. Man’s problems in ancient times are still man’s problems in modern times, and likewise, the solutions to man’s problems then are the same today.
The Thessalonian epistles were written to the church at Thessalonica. It was a church under persecution, but also a church that had a dynamic testimony and that had grown through the persecution. Significantly, in every chapter of 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle sought to comfort and motivate with the truth of the Lord’s sure return. As we study these books, therefore, we need to grapple with how the return of the Lord for the body of Christ should impact us and how it should not affect us, for as we will see, some had made a wrong application of the Lord’s imminent return.
Do the circumstances of your life right now seem heavy or light? Is living for Jesus difficult? How might remembering His return help bring perspective to that?
Father, as I read 1 Thessalonians over the next few weeks, would you remind me not only in my head but also in my heart that Jesus could return any minute. Help me to live with passion for you today.
Pick Four More Activities
Listen and Worship.
Pray a Psalm.
Read a Book.
Retell the Gospel to Yourself.
Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.
Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.
Memorize a Verse.
List Five Things You're Thankful For.