Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians were written to a young church and one that was facing persecution. Yet, in the midst of their difficulties, these new converts were noted for their "work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." In the way that he dealt with their problems, the apostle has left Christians in all ages with teaching, ideally suited for the challenges they face.
In his first epistle we have a priceless opportunity to look into the heart of Paul himself and discover the burning passion for Christ and his Gospel which made him the man that he was. Both the apostle himself and the believers at Thessalonica set for us an example in evangelism and their concern to bring others to faith in Christ.
Paul's instructions to these new converts on the practical implications of holiness, and how to love an orderly life that was pleasing to God and would not bring the Gospel into disrepute, have much to say to people brought to Christ today from a background of religious pluralism and moral climate where anything goes.
In these two epistles we also find two of the clearest statements in the whole New Testament about the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the age. We, too, can find encouragement in the face of present difficulties as, like the Thessalonians, we in our day seek to "serve the living God, and to wait for his Son from heaven."
“He did not simply arrive in Thessalonica because it was a port” (Page 38)
“Peace follows naturally on from grace. Because God is gracious, it is gloriously possible for those who have offended him to be reconciled to him. Where once there were enmity and estrangement, now there is peace, and since God no longer has a quarrel against his people, they can be at peace within and among themselves. It follows that the word ‘peace’ involves more than the absence of war: it includes what Leon Morris calls ‘a flourishing state of soul’.” (Page 22)
“The heart of it, however, is wonderfully straightforward: whatever the situation, whatever the circumstances, the child of God is to please his Father.” (Pages 54–55)
“It is important that we grasp Paul’s purpose in writing as he did. It was not his intention to provide an exhaustive account of all that will take place at the end. Nothing is said here, for instance, about the resurrection of unbelievers. The apostle confines himself to answering questions which had evidently arisen in the minds of his friends in Thessalonica and which were, no doubt, relayed to him by Timothy. The first concerned the fate of those Christians who had already died (4:13–18) and the second, the timing of the end (5:1–11).” (Page 63)
“Paul’s concern at this point, however, was to show that the day of the Lord is inevitable. Once the mother-to-be starts to experience the contractions that mark the onset of labour, she can be sure that a process is under way which cannot be reversed.” (Page 75)
J. Philip Arthur grew up in the northeast of England. Converted to Christ in his teens, he read history at Cambridge and then earned his living first as a teacher and then as a lecturer in his native county Durham. In 1988 he became pastor of Free Grace Baptist Church in Lancaster.