This is the Apostle Paul’s Discipleship Model for Church Planters. His words of encouragement and clarification are set against the backdrop of anticipating the return of the Lord Jesus. The context of persecution can be perplexing to young believers but should be expected as the world’s response to godliness. Conviction regarding God’s program for the future offers hope and keeps the disciples on task – both in their pursuit of personal spiritual vitality and their maintenance of the bonds of fellowship with one another. The critical role of the Holy Spirit carries forward from their reception of the gospel to their perseverance with joy to their evaluation of doctrine.
“so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:13
Church Planters Encourage Growing Disciples To Endure Persecution And Walk Worthy Of Their Calling In Anticipation Of The Lord’s Return.
I. (1:2 – 3:13) Church Planters Present Themselves As Role Models In Boldly Proclaiming The Gospel In The Face Of Persecution As They Encourage Growing Disciples To Walk Worthy Of Their Calling
a. (1:1-10) Changed Lives (The Mark Of Faithful Disciples) Spur Thanksgiving Because They Confirm God’s Election And Our Faith
b. (2:1-12) Supernatural Boldness In Proclaiming The Gospel Requires Pure Motives And Proper Conduct (The Marks Of Spirit-Filled Church Planters)
c. (2:13-16) The Proper Response To God’s Word Produces Godliness That Provokes Persecution
d. (2:17 – 3:13) Church Planters Feel The Burden Of Encouraging Their Disciples To Maturity
II. (4:1 – 5:24) Church Planters Clarify Some Questions Surrounding The Lord’s Return As They Offer Practical Exhortations On How To Walk In A Manner That Pleases God
a. (4:1-12) Growing Disciples Must Strive For Excellence In Pleasing God
b. (4:13-18) Conviction Regarding God’s Program For The Future — Gives Hope For The Bereaved
c. (5:1-11) Conviction Regarding God’s Program For The Future — Keeps Us Spiritually Alert
d. (5:12-15) 4 Imperatives For Maintaining Healthy Church Relationships
e. (5:16-18) 3 Perpetual Practices To Ensure Spiritual Vitality
f. (5:19-22) Promote The Liberty Of The Holy Spirit While Exercising Careful Discernment
David Malick: “The missionary team of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy urge the Thessalonians on the basis of their former walk of faith, and God’s faithfulness to them to endure persecution with a vital love for one another and for God.”
Mark Copeland: “The epistle is unique in that every chapter ends with a reference to the second coming of Christ – 1 Th 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23.”
Charles Ryrie: “In addition (1) to expressing his thankfulness, Paul (2) defended himself against a campaign to slander his ministry which asserted that it was done only for profit (2:9-10); (3) encouraged the new converts to stand not only against persecution but also against the pressure to revert to their former pagan standards (3:2-3; 4:1-12); (4) answered the question about what happens to Christians who die before the return of the Lord (4:13-18); and finally (5) discussed some problems in their church life which needed to be dealt with (5:12-13, 19-20).”
J. Sidlow Baxter: Christ Our Hope
I. (chaps. 1-3) Looking Back: How they were Saved
A. (chap. 1) Exemplary Conversion
B. (chap. 2) Exemplary Evangelism
C. (chap. 3) Exemplary After-care
II. (chaps. 4-5) Looking On: How they should Live
A. (4:1-12) Conduct and Calling
B. (4:13-5:11) Comfort and Challenge
C. (5:12-24) Concord and Constancy
John Stott: “There is a kind of unmingled sweetness in this epistle,” wrote Bengel about 1 Thessalonians in the eighteenth century. I agree. Indeed, I have found much sweetness in both letters as, for many years now, I have reflected on their meaning and message. Their value, I suggest, lies in three related areas.
First, these letters reveal the authentic Paul . . . We can hear his heart-beat and see his tears. It would be hard to find a finer model for ministry than Paul. . .
Secondly, these letters address a local church, and the life of the local church is of increasing concern to many people today. . .
Thirdly, these letters set the church in a theological, indeed an eschatological, context. . . In other words, it is the gospel which shapes the church, just as it is the church which spreads the gospel.”
Richard Mayhue: Six major emphases can be detected in 1 Thessalonians:
John MacArthur: “The Thessalonian epistles catalog the marks of a healthy, growing church. They give the responsibilities of the leaders to the congregation (1 Thess. 5:12, 14-15); the congregation to the leaders (1 Thess. 5:13, 25-28; 2 Thess. 3:1-2); of believers to grow spiritually (1 Thess. 5:16-22), stand firm in the midst of persecution (1 Thess. 2:14-16), and live orderly lives (2 Thess. 3:6-13); and the church’s responsibility to discipline sinning members (2 Thess. 3:6, 14-15). They also emphasize the church’s responsibility to reach the lost world with the saving truth of the gospel (1 Thess. 1:8-10).”