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An Introduction to the THE FIRST LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS.

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1 An Introduction to the THE FIRST LETTER TO THE THESSALONIANS

2 When Paul parted from Barnabas at the beginning of what is called his second missionary journey, he chose Silvanus (Silas) as his traveling companion. (Act 15:36-41) Soon afterwards he took Timothy along with him (Act 16:1-3). Paul was now clearly at the head of his own missionary band.

3 About A.D. 50, he arrived in Greece for the first time. In making converts in Philippi and, soon afterwards, in Thessalonica, he was beset by persecution from Jews and Gentiles alike. Moving on to Beroea, he was again harassed by enemies from Thessalonica and hurriedly left for Athens (Act 16:11-17:15).

4 Silvanus and Timothy remained behind for a while. Paul soon sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to strengthen that community in its trials (1Th 3:1-5). Timothy and Silvanus finally returned to Paul when he reached Corinth, probably in the early summer of A.D. 51 (Act 18:1-18).

5 Timothy's return with a report on conditions at Thessalonica served as the occasion for Paul's first letter (1Th 3:6-8). The letter begins with a brief address (1Th 1:1) and concludes with a greeting (1Th 5:26-28).

6 How Do We Know? After leaving the Christians of Thessalonica, Paul had sent Timothy back to them from Athens. He now writes to praise them for their firmness of faith, as well as to exhort them to look for the resurrection of the dead (Theodoret).Theodoret Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians in order to praise them for their steadfastness in faith and to give them further instruction (Theodore).Theodore Here Paul encourages the Thessalonian Christians, who have endured a great deal of persecution and who remain vulnerable to pagan Greek influences. Central to Pauls encouragement is his teaching about the resurrection of the dead, since grief at the death of fellow believers is an especially heavy burden for the Thessalonians (Severian).Severian Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 58). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

7 How Do We Know? They must not be too curious about the exact time of the Lords coming (Theodoret). Paul praises the Thessalonians as an example of faith but also presses them to push on toward perfection. He wishes them to have such a measure of the Spirit that in the hope of what is to come they might continue to suffer persecution for the name of Christ (Ambrosiaster).Ambrosiaster Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 58). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

8 1:1-10 GREETINGS AND PRAISE Pauls intention in this opening section is to come before the Thessalonians in all humility, eschewing all titles, magnifying the work of his associates and praising the Thessalonians for their great faith and their hard work during persecution (Chrysostom).Chrysostom The very nature of true faith is that it arouses believers to good work, for love produces steadfastness in laboring, and hope produces endurance with patience. Paul gives thanks for all of the progress that the Thessalonians have made, holding them up to the other churches and praying for their continued growth (Ambrosiaster). Paul shows here that the believer who has perfect love, whose faith is whole, is able to bear all things patiently for the sake of the future hope (Pelagius).Pelagius Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 58). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

9 2:1-12 PAULS SOLICITOUS CARE In this passage Paul chooses to emphasize his weakness, in order then to highlight the great power of God working through him (Chrysostom). Pauls visit to the Thessalonians was clearly a matter of divine intention and divine leading, not a matter of human wisdom or of mere chance (Theodore). Paul shows here that his sufferings are a demonstration of the truth and power of his preaching, that such sufferings intensified his eagerness and zeal (Ignatius, Caesarius of Arles, Theodoret, Gregory the Great).IgnatiusCaesarius of ArlesGregory the Great Paul teaches that the boldness of his preaching was sustained by the hope of future reward, by the promise of a crown (Ambrosiaster). Do not make anothers praise your motive for doing right (Augustine, Fulgentius).Augustine Fulgentius Be gentle as a nurse caring for children (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine).Clement of AlexandriaOrigen Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 62). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

10 2:13-20 THE INTEGRITY OF THE PREACHER Paul intends here to make it clear that because his preaching contained no flattery or vanity, the Thessalonians received it gladly and have been properly fortified for the suffering that belongs to discipleship (Chrysostom, Augustine). Paul shows that it is not just great eloquence but faithful deeds that prove the truth of the gospel (Chrysostom). Both Pauls extraordinary gifts and his endurance of great hardship demonstrated to the Thessalonians that his words were inspired (Augustine). The glory and delight of preachers arise from the readiness and eagerness of their listeners to believe and to endure suffering (Origen, Athanasius, Jerome).AthanasiusJerome Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 68). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

11 3:1-13 PAULS TRAVAIL AND CONSOLATION Paul emphasizes the intimacy and fond love of his relationship with the Thessalonians in order to draw them more deeply into the mystery of suffering and its place in Christian discipleship (Chrysostom). Paul wants the Thessalonians to know that their steadfastness in faith is life itself for him (Theodore). It is their growing or progressing in faith that is his life (Chrysostom, Theodoret). In sending Timothy to them, Paul is letting them know that there is more that they need to know, if they wish to grow toward perfection (Theodoret). The dominant note here is that of praise and thanksgiving: for the maturity which the Thessalonians manifest, for their blessing of the Lord by their steadfastness and by the example they provide for others (Augustine). Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 73). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

12 4:1-12 EXHORTATION TO GODLY FAITH AND LOVE Paul emphasizes that faithful Christian discipleship is a matter of active love in which the believer goes beyond a mere avoidance of evil (Chrysostom). Paul now moves to instruction that will aid the Thessalonians in seeking the perfection of mature faith and practice, particularly in abstention from all forms of fornication (Pseudo-Cyprian, Augustine, Theodore).Pseudo-Cyprian Though Paul has been careful to praise the Thessalonians, now he moves to warning and admonition lest they be led astray by false teaching (Chrysostom, Ambrosiaster, John Cassian).John Cassian The Christian life is by its very nature a growth process analogous to the growth of the body; perfection in good habits ought to grow as faith grows (Clement of Alexandria, Ambrose).Ambrose Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 78). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

13 4:13-18 JOY IN THE FACE OF DEATH In our grieving over those who have died, Gods intention is to teach us to trust in him alone, and so to cure us of earthly attachments (Chrysostom). Paul wishes the Thessalonians to know that their grieving and sadness over the dead is understandable but that it must not pass over into despondency and a lack of faith in God (Theodore, Chrysostom, Gregory the Great). Pauls warning here is against immoderate or unbounded grief (Ambrose, Augustine, Fulgentius). Christians are privileged to know that their deceased loved ones go to a blessed place, unlike the unbelieving dead, and in this fact they can rejoice (Ambrose, Jerome). Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 83). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

14 5:1-11 PREPARATION FOR THE LORDS COMING Pauls intention is to suppress all detailed questioning about the time of the end as essentially faithless. The point is that there is an end, and we must live well in anticipating it (Origen, Chrysostom). Serious moral preparation is required for the return of the Lord, which will come suddenly (Augustine, Isaac of Nineveh, Prudentius).Isaac of NinevehPrudentius We know that the end will come, but God never allows us to know when (Theodoret). The faithful Christian always lives in a state of readiness and watchfulness (Clement of Alexandria, Leo).Leo The coming of the Lord may be painful, just like any process of repentance and transformation into new life (Chrysostom). Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 91). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

15 5:12-28 FINAL EXHORTATIONS AND GREETINGS Once again, Paul makes it clear that the Thessalonians are to be faithful, joyful and upright in their dealings, particularly in the midst of affliction, and particularly as he, Paul, models these by his humility (Chrysostom). Paul describes in essence the work of sound pastoral leadership in relation to different kinds of troubles in the community (Augustine, Theodore). These troubles are described by Paul with careful attention to the spiritual malady that underlies each (Augustine, Theodoret). Paul is most concerned here with the matter of due obedience to lawful pastors, as well as the importance of carefully distinguishing false from true teaching (Ambrosiaster, Caesarius of Arles). Faithful pastors and leaders are called to discern just what remedy and form of care are required for the ills of body, soul and spirit that afflict believers (Origen, Ambrose). Gorday, P. (2000). Colossians, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture NT 9. (Page 95). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

16 Theodoret of Cyr (c. 393–466). Bishop of Cyr (Cyrrhus), he was an opponent of Cyril who commented extensively on Old Testament texts as a lucid exponent of Antiochene exegesis. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

17 Theodore of Mopsuestia (c. 350–428). Bishop of Mopsuestia, founder of the Antiochene, or literalistic, school of exegesis. A great man in his day, he was later condemned as a precursor of Nestorius. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

18 Severian of Gabala (fl. c. 400). A contemporary of John Chrysostom, he was a highly regarded preacher in Constantinople, particularly at the imperial court, and ultimately sided with Chrysostoms accusers. He wrote homilies on Genesis. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

19 Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366–384). Name given by Erasmus to the author of a work once thought to have been composed by Ambrose. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

20 John Chrysostom (344/354–407; fl. 386–407). Bishop of Constantinople who was noted for his orthodoxy, his eloquence and his attacks on Christian laxity in high places. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

21 Pelagius (c. 354-c. 420). Contemporary of Augustine whose followers were condemned in 418 and 431 for maintaining that even before Christ there were people who lived wholly without sin and that salvation depended on free will. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

22 Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35–107/112). Bishop of Antioch who wrote several letters to local churches while being taken from Antioch to Rome to be martyred. In the letters, which warn against heresy, he stresses orthodox Christology, the centrality of the Eucharist and unique role of the bishop in preserving the unity of the church. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

23 Caesarius of Arles (c. 470–543). Bishop of Arles renowned for his attention to his pastoral duties. Among his surviving works the most important is a collection of some 238 sermons that display an ability to preach Christian doctrine to a variety of audiences. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

24 Gregory the Great (c. 540–604). Pope from 590, the fourth and last of the Latin Doctors of the Church. He was a prolific author and a powerful unifying force within the Latin Church, initiating the liturgical reform that brought about the Gregorian Sacramentary and Gregorian chant. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

25 Augustine of Hippo (354–430). Bishop of Hippo and a voluminous writer on philosophical, exegetical, theological and ecclesiological topics. He formulated the Western doctrines of predestination and original sin in his writings against the Pelagians. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

26 Fulgentius of Ruspe (c. 467–532). Bishop of Ruspe and author of many orthodox sermons and tracts under the influence of Augustine. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

27 Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215). A highly educated Christian convert from paganism, head of the catechetical school in Alexandria and pioneer of Christian scholarship. His major works, Protrepticus, Paedagogus and the Stromata, bring Christian doctrine face to face with the ideas and achievements of his time. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

28 Origen of Alexandria (b. 185; fl. c. 200–254). Influential exegete and systematic theologian. He was condemned (perhaps unfairly) for maintaining the preexistence of souls while purportedly denying the resurrection of the body. His extensive works of exegesis focus on the spiritual meaning of the text. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

29 Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 295–373; fl. 325–373). Bishop of Alexandria from 328, though often in exile. He wrote his classic polemics against the Arians while most of the eastern bishops were against him. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

30 Jerome (c. 347–420). Gifted exegete and exponent of a classical Latin style, now best known as the translator of the Latin Vulgate. He defended the perpetual virginity of Mary, attacked Origen and Pelagius and supported extreme ascetic practices. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

31 Cyprian of Carthage (fl. 248–258). Martyred bishop of Carthage who maintained that those baptized by schismatics and heretics had no share in the blessings of the church. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

32 Cassian, John (360–432). Author of the Institutes and the Conferences, works purporting to relay the teachings of the Egyptian monastic fathers on the nature of the spiritual life which were highly influential in the development of Western monasticism. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

33 Ambrose of Milan (c. 333–397; fl. 374–397). Bishop of Milan and teacher of Augustine who defended the divinity of the Holy Spirit and the perpetual virginity of Mary. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

34 Isaac of Nineveh (d. c. 700). Also known as Isaac the Syrian or Isaac Syrus, this monastic writer served for a short while as bishop of Nineveh before retiring to live a secluded monastic life. His writings on ascetic subjects survive in the form of numerous homilies. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

35 Prudentius (c. 348-c. 410). Latin poet and hymn-writer who devoted his later life to Christian writing. He wrote didactic poems on the theology of the incarnation, against the heretic Marcion and against the resurgence of paganism. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

36 Leo the Great (regn. 440–461). Bishop of Rome whose Tome to Flavian helped to strike a balance between Nestorian and Cyrilline positions at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. ACCS Introduction and bibliographic information. 2005. Ancient Christian commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.


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