Short introduction to 1 Thessalonians

“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:1-2).

Paul’s work (along with Silas, Timothy and Luke) in Thessalonica was short-lived and somewhat violent. Though many Greeks and notable women converted to Christ (Acts 17:4), the Jewish leaders of the synagogue were not impressed. They incited a mob to throw Paul out of town, took the man to court who was housing him, and followed him all the way to the next synagogue in Berea (Acts 17:5-11).

However, those who were converted to Christ, and constituted the Thessalonian church, were later praised for their faithfulness (1 Thes. 1:2,3,8-9; 2:13-14; 3:6-7). They were told that the return of the Lord would not precede a great “falling away” from the faith (2 Thes. 2:1-10) – a necessary correction for at least two reasons: (1) they believed those who passed from this life would miss His return (1 Thes. 4:13-18); (2) it had incited a spirit of idleness (cf. 2:9; 4:11).

The “great falling away” and the “man of sin” (cf. 2 Thes. 2:1-9) are only specifically mentioned in 2 Thessalonians. Some believe (Barnes, Hinds, Jackson, et. al.) this is the Catholic church, and the Pope. If it isn’t, we’d be hard pressed to find an historical circumstance and personage that better fit the description.

So with corrections in place, the church could now concern itself with the more pressing concerns of the moment, “…warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (5:14), a good admonition for us all.

—Rick Kelley, Prestonsburg (KY) Informer

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Paul’s kindness seen as weakness in Corinth

Paul’s ‘Second’ Letter to the Corinthians, by Rick Kelley

Having already corresponded with the Corinthian brethren repeatedly, this second inspired letter is yet another turbulent one. Paul is thankful that some of his instructions (particularly those concerning the man engaged in an incestuous lifestyle) have been received with repentance (2 Cor. 2:5-11; 7:8-10). But trouble is still afoot in the ancient City of Vice.

Paul’s wisdom and authority as an apostle are still under fire by those who remain convinced he is nothing but a blowhard: “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (2 Cor. 10:10).

Paul’s longsuffering kindness was seen as weakness. He invites them to compare his character and ministry with those who spite him. Have any of them worked harder, suffered more, or experienced greater privilege from the Lord (2 Cor. 11:16-12:13)? Rhetorical questions, of course.

Meanwhile, more pressing matters, like a vowed lump of financial support for a struggling Jerusalem church, remained unfulfilled, and needed collected (2 Cor. 8:8-11).

Paul still intends to pay the worldly saints of Corinth a visit, but fears what he will find upon arrival. He hopes they will at last respond in full to his inspired correspondence (12:20-21). Either way, he’ll do as he must when he arrives (13:10).

Stubborn and worldly as they were, the spirit of some of the Corinthian saints is undoubtedly still alive in congregations today.

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