Paul warns the Church at Thessalonica of the Return of Jesus Christ | 1 Thessalonians commentary

On his second missionary journey (which we also see a lot of info in Acts 15-18 about it), Paul entered Europe for the first time when he went to Macedonia. The first churches that he established were in Philippi and Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first letter to the Thessalonian people only a few months after the establishment of the Church. Paul is glad of their development of character and the faith, love, and endurance that can be clearly seen. They have proved themselves to be God’s People. They look forward to the climax of their salvation at the return of Jesus Christ.

Paul admits that he preached so boldly that he endured bodily harm, but he didn’t want praise nor money. Therefore, he gave to them to help them. He worked at tent making to make an income for himself. Otherwise, he did his preaching as he could. He only wanted to bring God glory.

The Thessalonians knew they had a Word from God, and that Paul is who he said he is. The Jews were trying to prevent the message of Jesus from reaching the Gentiles, but all the while, they were preparing a big divine judgment unto themselves. Paul faced many difficulties, trials, etc. through trying to preach to the Gentiles, however, he desires to revisit them soon, and talks about how well they have progressed in their faith and love. He seems overjoyed about the love they’ve cultivated.

He talks to them about marriage and work, but they don’t need to be overly dependent on each other, but rather, be ready to help others. Faults must be corrected so that they can continue as a church, and so they don’t have non-Christians criticizing them. After this starts the info about the Return of Christ. Some were worried that those who’ve died would not experience Christ’s Return, and therefore, they want people that are alive to join them, so together, they could meet Christ.

Paul said that no one knows when He will return, however, He will come unexpectedly as a thief would. He talks more about what Christ will do once He arrives, and told them to be self-controlled, strong in faith and love, and be confident in their salvation. Having unity with Christ means that they would escape wrath and enjoy Salvation to its fullest. They need to live in a way that is pleasing to God and one that encourages others.

Lastly, he sees minor difficulties have occurred, and Church leaders had the responsibility to solve such problems. Paul reminds the members to respect those who are in leadership and don’t be offended when they need to correct you. All Christians should be helpful, joyful, prayerful, and thankful. God alone can give strength to put this advice into practice, and that God wants His People to constantly progress toward greater holiness. Paul ends it by telling them to read the letter to the Church to full understanding.

Comprehensive Outline of Paul’s Journeys | Acts 15-28

CHAPTER 15

·        Judaisers cause problems in the Church

o   They stated that unless a person is circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved.

§  Moses: A man called by God long ago, who was to do God’s Will in bring the people out of Egypt, and was the writer of the Pentateuch.

o   The trouble they caused spread through the Church.

o   They discussed the problem at Jerusalem.

§  The Church at Antioch appointed Paul, Barnabas, and other leaders to go to Jerusalem as representatives.

·        Paul: A man who helped persecute the Jews, before a blinding experience with God – with God instructing him to carry out His Will to preach and do missionary work.

·        Barnabas: A man that was called “The Son of Encouragement,” who was so generous, and quickly became quite a missionary with a strong will to work for the things of God.

§  They were excited along the way to talk about the Gentile conversion.

§  As soon as the meeting began, the Judaisers started their accusations.

§  After lengthy debate, Peter strongly opposed them, and defended the Gentiles.

o   Peter: This same hot-blooded man went on journeys with Jesus and did many works for the Lord. He continues in his pursuit to spread Jesus all around, and is willing to put his life on the line at all costs.

§  Jesus: The Son of God, sent to do His Will on the earth, before He ascended back to the Father at His Right Hand. He was accused of heresy, belittled, rejected, and crucified – and yet, He rose again.

·        He claimed they (the Gentiles) should not have to keep the Jewish Law.

·        The way of Salvation and entrance to the Church was by faith alone, and this was true for both Jews and Gentiles.

§  James agreed with Peter, Paul, and Barnabas.

o   James: This James is not the same that was martyred a few chapters ago. This is James, the Lord’s Brother, who had accompanied Jesus on his journey to Capernaum. This is the James that is the author of the book of James.

·        He added info on what he had witnessed with them and with Jesus.

·        James stated that the Gentiles should not have to be under Jewish Law.

·        Jews continued to see things different, though.

·        James considered that the Gentile Christians would improve relations if they were careful not to do things that Jews wouldn’t allow.

§  After acknowledging James, they took back with them two men from the Jerusalem Church, Judas and Silas, to create distinction between Jewish and Gentile groups.

§  When the group arrived in Antioch, they were glad on the outcome of the meeting.

o   Paul and Barnabas need a partner

§  They disagreed over Mark, and therefore, they split into teams.

o   John Mark: A man who had assisted Paul and Barnabas on a journey, but dropped out and went back to Jerusalem. Paul calls him unreliable and decides not to work with him. This is the same man who is the author of the book of Mark.

·        Barnabas going to Cyprus with Mark.

·        Paul going to Cilicia with Silas.

o   Silas: He was a man who had much wisdom and ability that Paul saw great potential in him to help, while they go into Gentile areas.

CHAPTER 16

·        Journey continues

o   After arriving in Lystra, Paul and Silas were joined by Timothy.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: A young man who was considered by the elders of the Galatian Church as well suited for this journey. He was half-Jewish, and Paul thought he should be circumcised. He was made an example of the Jews.

o   They passed through the Galatian areas, where the Missionaries delivered copies of the Jerusalem letter to the Churches.

o   They left Galatia and went to a certain area in Asia, where God didn’t allow them to preach.

o   After that, they went north towards Bithynia, but God prevented them there, too.

o   They traveled to Macedonia.

§  When they had left Troas, they added Luke to go with them.

·        Luke: A man who was a doctor and historic writer. He traveled with Paul quite a bit, and wrote the books of Luke and Acts.

o   They went to Philippi from Troas, where there were only a few Jews.

§  There was a group there who prayed. The Missionaries joined them.

§  A slave girl there who had an evil spirit and was a fortune teller was discovered.

·        She was probably converted, which probably prevented her ability.

o   When she couldn’t be used for money, they attacked the missionaries and rioted.

§  Paul and Silas were arrested, flogged, and thrown into prison without a trial.

§  In prison, they talked about Christ. The jailer was saved.

·        Christ: already mentioned.

§  Paul and Silas were released a bit later.

CHAPTER 17

·        Journey goes on

o   From Philippi, they moved to Thessalonica leaving Luke behind.

§  Luke: already mentioned.

§  Their preaching in the Synagogue yielded good results.

§  The Jews caused uproar in the house of Jason where Paul had been staying.

·        Paul: already mentioned.

·        Jason: A man not well known, just someone who Paul stayed with. The attackers accused him of helping a group of Jewish rebels.

o   More Jewish opposition occurred in Berea. Paul departed quickly, leaving Silas and Timothy behind.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: already mentioned.

o   Paul travels to Athens, where he sends a message to them to rejoin him soon.

§  Paul sent them back to Macedonia.

·        Timothy went to Thessalonica, Silas to Philippi, it seems.

§  Philosophers heard Paul preaching, and invited him to talk about his religion in a council of Philosophers.

·        He frequently talked about Jesus and the Resurrection close to each other, so the Philosophers thought he was talking on two gods, Jesus and Anastasis.

o   Anastasis: A Greek word used as a link between Jesus and the Resurrection.

o   Jesus: already mentioned.

·        Many different schools of thought were discussed in this meeting.

·        Paul announced that he would explain God, who is the creator and controller of the universe.

o   He also mentions more info on Jesus.

·        Many believed in what Paul was talking about, but some didn’t think Jesus’ resurrection was worth considering.

CHAPTER 18

·        Onward to Corinth

o   Paul planted a Church there.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   He met a Jewish married couple, Aquila and Priscilla.

§  Aquila and Priscilla: tent makers, like Paul, who became lifelong friends of him.

§  They, along with the other Jews, were forced to leave Rome at the command of the Emperor.

§  They likely went with Paul to the Synagogue where he preached.

·        Paul writes to the Thessalonians

o   Silas and Timothy had returned from Macedonia, bringing gifts for Paul.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: already mentioned.

o   Paul was glad on the good news from Timothy on what happened in Thessalonica, that Paul wrote them.

o   Some had criticized Paul for leaving new believers in Thessalonica to face anti-Christian troubles.

o   He instructed them in their behaviors, especially being more Christlike.

§  He also cleared up issues about Jesus’ return so they would understand better.

§  He had to send an additional letter clearing up worries over his first letter to them on Christ’s return.

·        They were afraid when he said suddenly that it meant “immediately.” He wanted to handle their fears on that.

·        Eighteen months in Corinth

o   Paul was having issues with Jews.

§  They forced him from the Synagogue.

§  He then went to preach in the house of Titius Justus.

·        Titus Justus: A Gentile, God-fearing man who lived next door.

§  Crispus believed.

·        Crispus: ruler of the Synagogue.

§  Sosthenes believed later.

·        Sosthenes: new ruler of the Synagogue later.

§  Paul kept preaching, even if they opposed him.

§  Church growth continued.

§  The local people decided to beat up one of the Jewish leaders because of their anger toward the Jews.

·        Antioch return

o   Paul wanted to return home.

o   He stopped at Cenchreae, and fulfilled a vow that he took upon himself.

o   He sailed to Ephesus where he stayed shortly.

§  He may have started a Church here at this time, but it’s unclear.

o   He left Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus.

o   He continued to try to get to Antioch.

·        He visited Churches in Galatia again.

o   He learned of a Jew named Apollos.

§  Apollos: he had detailed knowledge as a teacher of the OT references to the Messiah. He lacked knowledge of certain teachings, where Aquila and Priscilla helped him understand.

o   He returned to Corinth, helping the Church there.

§  The Corinthian Church, however, divided into factions.

§  People made favorites of teachers, so Paul dealt with it.

CHAPTER 19

·        Arriving in Ephesus

o   He met a group of twelve people who had repented and been baptized.

§  They were baptized in John the Baptist ways.

§  Paul corrected them to use Jesus’ way of doing so.

§  After that, they received the Holy Ghost.

o   After Paul preached for a few months, the Jews forced him out.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   Healing ministry also continued.

o   Sorcery, magic, and other superstitions were widespread in Ephesus.

§  God’s Power was at work nonetheless, and people turned to Him.

o   Paul aimed to go to Rome, so he could establish Christianity better.

§  First, he wanted to go to Jerusalem.

§  He wanted to bring the Jewish and Gentile churches together.

§  He sends two fellow workers to Macedonia to promote the project.

o   Paul had preached in Ephesus for three years.

o   Angry at the loss of income, the silversmiths stirred up the people against Paul.

§  With this, a riot broke out.

§  People who did not worship Artemis were in danger.

§  The Jews tried to protect themselves by saying they weren’t associated with Christians.

·        The mob didn’t care.

§  The city’s chief official defended Paul and warned the people about the riot.

CHAPTER 20

·        Traveling to Macedonia

o   Paul traveled to Macedonia to meet up with Titus, and to write 2 Corinthians.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Titus: a young preacher, who was regarded by Paul, and was eventually appointed to run a church.

o   Returning to Macedonia and Troas

§  He heard of a Jewish plot to kill him as he was setting sail.

§  He changed routes to go to Macedonia. Luke rejoined.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  He sailed then to Troas, joining the representatives of the Gentile Churches.

·        These representatives or assistants were to go with Paul to Jerusalem.

·        Paul had a final meeting with Christians in Troas, when a young man falls out of the window to his death.

o   Paul went and restored this man to life.

·        Paul travels to Assos

o   He rejoins the group and sails to Miletus.

o   He called for the elders of the Ephesian church to meet with him, so he could give them final encouragement and warning.

o   Paul’s enemies in Asia were trying to turn Christians against him.

CHAPTER 21

·        Paul goes to Patara, where they changed ships and sailed to Phoenicia.

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   The group fellowshipped with the Christians at Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea.

·        Paul finally reaches Jerusalem.

o   He stayed with Mnason.

§  Mnason: A Jewish Christian from Cyprus and early member of the Jerusalem Church. He was fully agreeing of the work of Paul.

o   Jerusalem rejects the Gospel.

§  Many Christians were found in Jerusalem to be back in legalistic ways.

§  The elders gladly received the offering from the Gentile Churches.

§  The Jews didn’t care about Paul’s teachings.

·        James and his friends suggested that Paul should prove to them that he was as religious as a Jew was.

o   James: already mentioned.

§  The crowd attacks Paul

·        A riot broke out; the mob seized Paul and tried to kill him.

·        The Roman troops swiftly prevented Paul’s death through riot control.

o   Lysias didn’t know Paul or what he had done to make the Jews angry.

§  Lysias: the military commander of the Roman troops.

§  Paul addresses the mob

·        Silencing the mob, Paul spoke unto them.

CHAPTER 22

·        Paul continues speaking to the crowd

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   He spoke about his Jewish upbringing, persecution of Christians, and Jesus calling him to do His Work.

o   He then spoke of his Gentile mission, which sparked further uproar.

o   The Roman commander wanted to know the truth, which might be through flogging.

§  Paul told the soldiers that he was a Roman citizen.

·        They untied him after hearing this.

§  He was brought before the Sanhedrin to examine him.

CHAPTER 23

·        He tricks the Sanhedrin

o   He originally is God’s Apostle to the Gentiles.

o   He actually addresses himself as a Jewish Pharisee.

o   He was condemned of his Pharisaic belief in the resurrection.

o   In an uproar that had followed, the Roman soldiers saved Paul again from death.

o   The Lord was still with Paul and would bring him to Rome.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   The Jews asked Lysias to send Paul for another trial.

§  They wanted to attack and kill Paul on the way. Lysias found out, though.

·        Lysias sends Paul to Caesarea to protect him from death.

§  Lysias: already mentioned.

o   Paul did not give up his fight against the Jews.

CHAPTER 24

·        Paul imprisoned in Caesarea for two years

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   Three accusations were made against Paul.

§  First, he created uprisings among the Jews.

§  Second, he was a leader of the Nazarenes.

§  Third, he defiled the Temple in Jerusalem.

o   He denied those accusations, saying no one could prove it.

o   Felix saw that Paul was not guilty, for the only thing they had against him was that he believed in the Resurrection.

§  Felix: the one who conducted the trial upon Paul. He was a fair judge, it seems.

§  He found out more about Paul’s beliefs.

§  Then, he offered a bribe that Paul could pay, but Paul refused.

§  Instead of accepting the bribe, he remained in prison until the next governor comes who could re-see the case.

CHAPTER 25

·        The New Governor arrives in Palestine.

o   Festus: the new governor of Palestine.

o   The Jews accused Paul quickly.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   A trial was conducted before Festus.

§  He didn’t know much about the whole situation.

§  He saw no point in imprisoning Paul further.

§  Paul was released then.

§  He told Paul to go to Jerusalem to have the case dealt with there before the Sanhedrin.

§  Festus said he would judge there.

§  Paul was angry at such injustice, because Felix and Festus did not find him guilty.

·        Felix: already mentioned.

§  He turned to the final court of appeal, to Caesar himself.

·        Caesar: This was a common name given to Roman emperors, which was after the order of Julius Caesar.

o   Here, the Caesar seems to be Nero.

·        Paul before Caesar

o   Caesar had good knowledge of the Jewish religion.

CHAPTER 26

·        Paul’s innocence

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   Paul stated he believed in the Resurrection.

o   He also stated about the forgiveness of sins to all who believed.

o   He said that he could understand the Jews’ feelings, due to his persecution of Christians in the past.

o   God forgave all, though.

o   Herod Agrippa II had visited. He was there in the trial.

§  Herod Agrippa II: The son of Herod Agrippa I, and was Rome’s appointed ruler over certain aeas in the north. He knew Jewish affairs well.

§  He understood what Paul was saying and where he was coming from.

§  Paul appealed to him for support.

§  The Christians then, no longer appeared unlawful or rebellious.

o   They did not find any guilt in Paul, and an expert on Jewish affairs declared him innocent, as well.

CHAPTER 27

·        Traveling to Rome

o   Festus arranged for a centurion and a unit of Roman soldiers to take Paul and other prisoners to Rome.

§  Festus: already mentioned.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Two Christians went with Paul – Luke and a church leader of Thessalonica.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  At the port of Fair Havens, Paul advised them not to sail further because of wintry conditions.

·        However, they moved forward rejecting his advice.

·        A fierce storm soon emerges, and it was certain the ship would sink.

·        Paul believed otherwise that they’d be saved, and Paul would reach Rome.

·        Paul instructed them further to save lives.

·        He guided them in survival and stopped the soldiers from killing the prisoners when the ship broke.

·        Everyone was saved and arrived on land.

CHAPTER 28

·        Continuing to Rome

o   The island they landed on was Malta.

§  The locals were helpful and kind to them.

§  Paul, legally a prisoner, spent time with the island’s chief.

·        Paul: already mentioned.

§  Paul and Luke attended to the medical needs that everyone had.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  Three months after landing on Malta, the winter was over and sailing should begin again.

§  Paul and everyone else boarded and sailed for Puteoli (in Italy).

·        From there, they went to Rome, meeting Christians along the way.

o   Arriving in Rome

§  Paul was continually guarded by a Roman soldier.

§  He invited the Jewish leaders in Rome to come see him.

·        He talked about the events that brought him there.

·        He pointed out he did nothing wrong in Jewish Law.

·        He had no accusation against the Jewish people.

·        He made an appeal to Caesar to prove his innocence – which was successful.

·        The Jewish leaders told him they heard no reports about “Paul.”

o   They stated that people everywhere were turning against Christians.

o   Paul felt that maybe the Jerusalem Jews thought they’d achieve their goal by pushing Paul out.

§  They may not have told Rome of the trouble.

§  Paul then preaches his message to the Jews first.

·        He told them about the OT that the Gospel he preached was fulfillment of the religion of Israel.

·        Jews rejected his message, however.

§  He then preaches to the Gentiles successfully.

§  He dwelt two whole years in his own hired house.

·        He received all in hospitality that came to him.

·        He preached the Kingdom of God and taught on Jesus Christ.

He did this with great confidence, and no man forbade it.

The hatred of the Jews toward the Christians during the Acts period | Acts 11

Scripture: Acts chapter 11

Commentary: We see in this chapter the intense hatred of the Jews toward the Christians and their complete rejection of the Gospel, forcing its teachings upon the Gentiles. The Gentiles open the door to receive the Holy Ghost and all the benefits of Salvation. The chapter can be summarized in three words broadly: 1. Persecution; 2. Prayer; and 3. Progress.

There was a group of people who contended with Peter over works-based Salvation problems, “those of the circumcision.” Another thing to note… The Church becomes satisfied at the preaching to the Gentiles (which could be a problem), as we see in 11:18, “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

Missionary work begins full scale, and they, which were scattered abroad in Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch; they preached to the Jews only. Revival also comes to Antioch of Syria. Barnabas is the first missionary that is sent out from the Church.

This was a chapter of firsts:

  • Believers in Antioch are called Christians
  • Barnabas is the first missionary to be sent
  • The first team of missionaries was Paul and Barnabas
  • The first church prophet (Christian prophet) was Agabus (and there were others soon)
  • The first prophecy in verse 28b, “…there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.”
  • Relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem

Barnabas went to Tarsus seeking Saul, so that they could go together to Antioch, as we see in 11:25-26. They wanted to deliver relief to the brethren who dwelt in Judaea. Just when people thought that the Church was on a decline, many firsts had occurred, which showed that God was not done making miracles, and that He wanted to continue demonstrating His Glory.

Commissioned and Ready | Acts 1:1-5

“The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

Commentary

Jesus Christ had lives a life of ministry, and then He died a sacrificial death to redeem the sins of His People. The Acts of the Apostles continue Jesus’ Ministerial Work, in that they are trying to uphold their commissioning to preach (Luke 24:45-49; see also Isaiah 52:10). Jesus is in His final day on Earth and is preparing to give the apostles (also called disciples) His final words – His final teaching is nigh.

We see Luke looking forward to Jesus’ Ascension, which means Luke likely wrote these things after Jesus ascended into Heaven. Luke seems to have absolute insight such events occurred, for he was one of a few who recorded such things. He indicates that it’s been forty days since the day of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, for Luke is noting this is His last day before He ascends into Heaven.

Jesus’ teaching includes the commission to preach to those in Jerusalem first and then spread to the outer nations. Jesus must have spoken unto the disciples several times of the doctrine/gospel that they were to preach and teach among other men. Some ordinances were to be administered as well; therefore, Jesus may have taught them during different occasions after His Resurrection.

Jesus notes here that the disciples should wait to depart from Jerusalem until they have received the promise of the Father, which one might remember Jesus saying He will send the Comforter – the Holy Ghost – to be with His disciples while they minister (John 14:16).

Jesus makes no contradiction here by saying that the disciples will be baptized – not with water as John the Baptist had done – but with the Holy Ghost. They would be baptized in the near future, as in a few days thence. Many proponents of baptismal regeneration negate this verse, and use Acts 2:38 to attempt to prove baptism is required for Salvation; however, Jesus would not contradict Himself nor would He allow Peter to contradict Him. Therefore, the argument for baptismal regeneration is countered here in this verse by Jesus Himself: Not baptized with water, but with the Holy Ghost.

Archaeological and Historical Notes

The layer of geography that the Book of Acts encompasses includes 58 cities in the eastern Mediterranean area near the Roman Empire. Hippodamus of Miletus composed much of the mapping systems in this era, and from the preclusion of the Greek maladies, most of the trade routes led to Rome.

Theophilus was a man to whom Luke wrote this book unto, but it is unclear who the exact man was, since many slaves and elites had this name. There were not many in the Jews who had this name, and the most notable, which could be the point of reference here, was a high priest named Theophilus who ruled from 37-41 AD. His name is inscribed atop an ossuary inside of a crypt near Jerusalem.

Other Notes

Modern day preservation of ancient historical sites has been threatened due to political conflict in the Middle East. This is increasingly deteriorating the chances of finding the hidden secrets of the world and the wisdom hidden in the ages.

Another neat note is that the book of Acts mends with the books of Peter (1 & 2 Peter), while some of Paul’s material mends in and through in a different way. The early works were greatly filled with many new converts to Christ, what a time to rejoice!