Who are the recipients of 1st Thessalonians? There is much to learn about them just by isolating references to them and examining those in this epistle. I’ll start there. There are also details that help explain who the Thessalonians are in Acts 16 and 17. I’ll add those later. (You should read those exciting chapters for the big picture)
Who are the Thessalonians? The authors call them Brethren (1:4, 2:1, 9, 13, 5:4) which is the same tag used for Timothy (3:1-6). This tells me that they were equal in the sight of God to the authors, family. It is said that the “Word” came to them with power, IN the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t just philosophy as it was in Athens (Acts 17:22-32). How was the power manifest? The word came to them with tribulation (Acts 17:5) IN the joy of the Holy Spirit!! They turned from the icons of the local gods (idols, (Ephesians 6:2) to serve The God of gods and to wait for His Son to return. Unlike the Corinthian church, the Thessalonians believed that the Word they received was the Word of God himself (1 Corinthians 3:3-5). They are known as people of faith and of love (3:6) which was tested in suffering (2:15, Acts 17:5f) and as those who are very dear to the authors (2:8). They stood firm in the Lord (3:8) while loving those known as “brethren” (4:9) The book of Acts adds the mix of people. Paul first spoke in the Synagogue of the Jews (Acts 17:2) to people who worshiped YHVH, where there were Jewish people (Romans 3:1-2), God-fearing men (Non-Jewish men who followed the Scripture in every way except physical circumcision… which is why they are not known as proselytes, example, the centurion of Matthew 8:5-13) and some of the leading women of the area (Acts 17:4)
Where in the world (and the Spirit Realm) are they? Their synagogue (Acts 17:1-2) was located in the seaport city of Thessaloniki (have a peek at the map at the top of the page) That was their earthly location. In the spirit realm they were IN God and Y’shua-Jesus (1:1, John 14:19-24), IN the presence of YHVH (God the Father 1:3) and IN tribulation with the Holy Spirit (1:7, John 14:26).
What are they known for? Right away they are remembered by the authors for “their work of faith” The word work is from the Jewish Mitzvot, which is fulfilling the Torah. The same verse (1:3) tells me that they labor (physical work) in love with steadfast hope IN the Lord Jesus. They have power because they are IN the Holy Spirit (1:7). The Word of God came to them in Tribulation (Acts 17) but that could not stop them. The Word “sounded forth” from them (1:8). They are a community, a mix of bloodlines, who serve the creator instead of the local “principalities” (Ephesians 6:2) while waiting for the return of the Son of God whom they have only met “by faith”. The authors tell them that on the one hand, they are pleasing to God, but on the other, encourage them to excel in this (4:1). They are reminded that they know the commandments (4:2) and acknowledged for loving all the Brethren (5:14)
Problems that need addressing. I need to read between the lines a bit to address this question.
- “be sober” is the exhortation to the “sons of day and light (5:4, and 8)
- the “unruly” need to be admonished (5:14)
- the “faint hearted” (encourage them 5:14)
- the “weak” need help (5:14)
- “despising prophetic utterances” Like the modern church, they did not trust anyone who said they had a word from the Lord. (5:20) The Thessalonians are encouraged to “examine carefully” what they are told. Hang on to what is good (in line with the Word), abstain from every form of evil (1 John 4:1-4)
The Thessalonians are a light in a dark world. They need to live as “children of the light” in the world, but not of it. Sounds like a good word for me, today
Debs in Everett, WA on October 18, 2017
Our brave, goofy, dearly loved Bomber passed to the next life on Tuesday, October 17. We cannot stop crying. He was ready but I was not. He was such a gentle, loving soul yet more then once he was ready and willing to “terrier-up” putting himself between me and danger. Always by our side, he was Chris’ dog and camping buddy but he loved all of us (even though Chris was his hands down favorite). He walked through the nights with Jason when he was transitioning from who he was to who he is. He delighted in grumping with Ray, the other old man, about who gets how much space on the bed. He usually let Ray win but never skipped the routine. My sweet Rudy is not known for being brave or for making friends, Bomber was brave for him and was his only dog-friend. Me? I’m having a really difficult time, everywhere I went he was there, now he is not. If there are horses in heaven then surly there are dogs too. Good by sweet Bomber-Dear, I’ll see you on the other side. Mom.
My overview of the authors of 1 Thessalonians can be found by clicking HERE
Next up is an overview of the “other people” mentioned in this epistle (an epistle is a teaching letter)