The modern city of Soloniki is located on practically the same site as was the ancient city of Thessalonica. Thessalonica had originally been named Therma, for the hot springs in the area. But 300 years before Christ it was renamed in honor of the sister of Alexander the Great. It was a free city, with its own government, and it was the capital city of Macedonia. Thessalonica stood on the important Egnation Way, which was Rome's greatest highway. The first record of the church at Thessalonica is found in Acts 17:1-15. Paul ministered in the synagogue there for at least three weeks and saw a number of people converted. The first letter to Thessalonica had several purposes: To encourage and confirm the new believers in the things of Christ; to answer false accusations made about Paul and his ministry (chapter 2:1-12); to explain that the Christian who had died would participate in the second coming of Christ; to warn the Christians against pagan immorality (chapter 4:4); to remind the church members to honor and follow their spiritual leaders (chapter 5:12,13); to warn the church members who had given up their jobs and were idle because they thought Christ would soon return (chapter 5:2-9).
In chapter 2 Paul gives a picture of the ideal Christian worker. He is a faithful steward (verses 1-6). Paul compares himself to a mother in verse 7, showing gentle, loving care for the church at Thessalonica. He shows fatherly concern in verses 9-16. He labored, preached, behaved himself, exhorted, and suffered. A father must watch over his family and make sacrifices for their welfare. Babies are great imitators, and it is important that we, who are spiritual fathers, live lives that are exemplary.
In verses 17-20 Paul shows brotherly love for the saints at Thessalonica. In every area of Paul's life he desired to magnify Christ. Never did he try to bring praise to himself; but in all things, whether being an example of a faithful steward, gentle mother, concerned father, or a loving brother, he sought to build up the saints at Thessalonica and teach them the successful way of living for Christ.
In chapter 4 we move into the second half of the letter dealing with the practical instructions for these new believers in Christ. The key word in this chapter is "walk." Paul compares the Christian's behavior to a alk for several reasons. It demands life, for the dead sinner cannot walk spiritually; it requires growth, for a little baby cannot walk; it requires liberty, for someone who is bound cannot walk; it demands light, for who wants to walk in the darkness; it cannot be hidden, but is witnessed by all; and, it suggests progress toward a goal.
Paul exhorts Christians to walk in holiness (verses 1-8); to walk in love (verses 9-10); to walk in honesty (verses 11-12); and to walk in hope (verses 13- 18).
The final chapter of I Thessalonians gives a series of instructions to the Christians on how to live in the light of the coming of Christ. The Christians in Thessalonica were living carelessly and some were not respecting their church leaders. There were also abuses in the public services and there was a general need for love and harmony among the saints. Just as Paul admonishes the church at Thessalonica as to how to live in harmony and purity and bring glory to Christ, we should take not of these instructions in our own churches and lives. We should be watchful (verses 1-11); be respectful to our leaders (verses 12,13); be mindful to one another (verses 14,15); be thankful (verses 16- 18); be careful in worship (verses 19-21); and be faithful in daily conduct (verses 22-28). In verse 22 Paul admonishes the Christians to abstain from all appearances of evil. Of course, no saint should allow anything in his life that others could misunderstand. God is faithful to build us up in holiness if we but yield to Him. Prayer and attention to the Word of God will groom each Christian and keep him ready for Christ's return. Beyond that, it will prepare him for any questions that may come concerning his Christian life, and will prepare his heart for witnessing to the lost as he travels life's journey.
Index of Daily Devotions