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1 Thessalonians 1-5


A Devotional Journey 
    led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
                        Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians can be dated from the time of Gallio’s proconsulship.  Since he served from about A.D. 51-52, and since Paul most likely wrote this letter from Corinth during Gallio’s term, the date is fixed.  This makes 1 Thessalonians the most likely candidate as the earliest of Paul’s letters recorded in the New Testament.
                        As the largest city in Macedonia (northern Greece) with a population of 200,000 Thessalonica was both the capital of its province and a leading commercial center (it lay at the junction of the famous and important Roman road, the Egnatian Way and another road leading to the Danube River in modern-day Germany.
                        Even though this church was founded from a Jewish synagogue, its make-up appears to be largely Gentile at the time 1 Thessalonians was written. 
                        Paul begins with his customary thanksgiving for the faith of this congregation.  Next, in chapter 2,  he describes his ministry among them and his desire to return to the region and see them once again.  In chapter 3, he summarizes Timothy’s encouraging report regarding the faith and lives of the Thessalonians.
                        Chapter 4 is an appeal to live in such a way as to please God.  This means avoiding immorality, refusing to take advantage of fellow Christians (or anyone else for that matter!), living in a way that does not call attention to ourselves but rather causes others to see in us the difference God makes and want that difference in their own lives.  Paul also stresses the importance of earning a living.
                        The return of Christ is a key theme in this book, and all the more so because there was an initial expectation among Christians that the Master’s return was immanent.  Paul’s teaching is that while we need not worry over the condition of those who have died since Christ’s ascension into heaven and therefore will not be alive to greet Him on His return (he insists that the dead in Christ will rise first), we must still maintain a normal and faithful Christian life while we wait.
                        Once again, at the end of this letter, Paul emphasizes the proper attitude“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances...”  How much better our lives would be if we consistently applied such teaching!
                        Have you learned to give thanks in all circumstances?  It helps to remember that we need not give thanks for all circumstances.  The teaching is that we can always find something to be thankful for – if only for the presence and love of God who is always with us!
                        Today, ask God to make you more thankful – by helping you remember His love.  We each face difficulties, crises and tragedy; but we never face such things alone, and, in the end, such things do not define our lives:  We belong to our faithful Savior Jesus Christ, and that is our salvation!           
© A.  Eugene Pearson