I & II Thessalonians

I Thessalonians


Paul, AD 51, from Corinth, after Timothy returned with an update on them, Paul’s second canonized letter… maybe first.


Church of Thessalonica – Paul had to leave these young believers abruptly during his first visit (fled from authorities in the middle of the night after a three week visit during his second missionary journey).


Thessalonica is the chief Macedonian city. Gospel was bound to spread east via the ?Ignatia? Road. Archeological evidence indicates intense interests in life & death (Fee 366). Common Sexual Lifestyle: 1) wives for descendants & house keeping, 2) concubines for daily needs, and 3) prostitutes for sexual desire.


Assure them of Christ’s return – encourage & inspire over delivering theology. Teach eminent return, not immediate – they thought they had to be alive at Christ’s return.

How to Read it

Note the relationship more than instruction.


I. Remember Past Ministry & Fellowship (1-2:16) – read 2.8

II. Explaining his [Paul’s] Absence (2:17-3) – read 3.5

III. Instructions for Living (4-5)

a. Personal Lifestyle (4:1-12) – read 4.4-5a sexual self-control, love, work

b. Living in Anticipation of Christ’s Return (4:13-5:10) – read 4.13,15 the dead are first

c. Lifestyle of the Church (5:11-22) – read 5.14 work – one of many brief instructions


II Thessalonians


Paul, AD 51-52, very shortly after I Thessalonians – some even believe the order should be reversed.

Audience & Setting

See I Thessalonians above.


Clear up confusion about the second coming of Christ. Exhort that perseverance is the appropriate response to the immense of Christ’s return, not idleness – Fee does not believe that Thessalonians expresses Christ’s return as their motivation for idleness. Paul is not as warm in this letter because he is upset that 1) some have declared in Paul’s name that the second coming has passed, and 2) they still struggle with the idleness he addressed in I Thessalonians.

How to Read it

Christ as the key holder of the future.


I. Introduction (1)

II. Instruction (2) – read 2.2,15 clearing rumors that Paul announced that Jesus’ return has past

III. Living in Expectation of Christ’s Return (3) – read 3.7-8 idleness


No book of the Bible does a better job of addressing 1) expectation of Christ’s return, and 2) diligence in work at hand.


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