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1 Thessalonians-Detailed Outline
A. Looking Backward-How They Were Called
1 Thessalonians 1 Through Example
1 Thessalonians 1:1-1:4 Introduction: Silas and Timothy had recently returned from Thessalonica with a good report and some questions for Paul to answer. The greeting is Paul’s usual friendly greeting to a church that is spiritually sound. “Grace” is the Greek form of greeting. “Peace” is the Hebrew greeting. We must know the grace of God before we can experience the peace of God. Grace is love in action. Paul associates these three Christian graces together: faith, love, hope (see 1 Corinthians 13). Faith seems to be in opposition to work; Faith produces works. Love seems to be in opposition to labor; Love produces labor. Hope seems to be in opposition to patience; Hope produces patience. “Election” … no one who was not running has ever been elected…God has no write-in candidates. Election is God’s side of salvation. Our side is still “whosoever will” may come. God gives a legitimate and sincere offer of salvation.
1 Thessalonians 1:5-1:7 Gospel received in much assurance and much affliction: Gospel was given not only in word but also in power and the Holy Spirit. Our Lord confirmed this method in John 16:7-11. Without the Holy Spirit, the gospel is mere words. Paul could cite Silas, Timothy and himself as examples. Paul puts together two experiences that the world cannot link together...affliction and joy. The Thessalonians were examples to all in Macedonia, and Paul cited them to the Corinthians.
1 Thessalonians 1:8-1:10 Gospel results: The example of the Thessalonians spread south to Greece. “How ye turned to God from idols” is the “work of faith”. Paul did not preach against idolatry. He presented Christ. When the Thessalonians turned to Christ, they automatically turned from idols. Their turning from idols was repentance. You cannot turn to Christ without turning from something. “To serve the living and true God” is the “labor of love”. The relationship between the heavenly Father and the believer who is a son of God is a love relationship. “We love him, because he first loved us”. “To wait for his Son from heaven” is the patience of hope. All of this rests upon the resurrection of Jesus, and it delivers us from “the wrath to come” … which is the Great Tribulation. The patience of hope is to wait, not for wrath, but for Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2 Through Preaching
1 Thessalonians 2:1-2:6 Motive and method of a true witness for Christ: Paul was salt in Thessalonica…salt irritates; Paul was light in Thessalonica. He was there less than one month (see Acts 17:1-3). This written. Preach the “Gospel of God”. Preach without “Deceit” Deceit means error… the content of the exhortation was not adulterated. Preach without uncleanness. “Uncleanness” is sensuality; the intent was not motivated by greed. Preach without guile. “Guile” …his method was not wrong. Paul did not lower his standards to accommodate the prejudices and passions of the old nature. Preach as allowed by God. “Allowed” is approved …he had been tested. He was no novice. Paul was not a man-pleaser; he never sought popularity. Paul never preached by flattery. He never flattered a prominent person; he did not play up to the rich; he did not butter up anyone. Never preach with a “Cloak of covetousness” Cloak could be money, but more likely honor, fame or position. Do not seek honor by preaching.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-2:9 Paul had a genuine love for believers. He nursed them. Nurse” is nursing mother, the word used for a mother bird. He was willing to die for the Thessalonian believers. And he “Labored night and day” … he was not hireling.
1 Thessalonians 2:10-2:13 Father side of the apostle’s ministry (charge). Our walk is to be a careful discharge of duty to God and to man. We are to be unblamable. A holy life does count. We are to exhort each other. “Exhorted” came to the side of; helped, entreated, convicted (the same word is used for the Holy Spirit). We are to comfort each other. “Comforted” is persuaded. We are to disciple each other. “Charged” has a note of severity, discipline; it is a virile, robust, firm, masculine word. We are to “Walk worthy” of God who has called us to His kingdom There is a supernatural character of the Word of God in two aspects:(1) How it is preached … minister; (2) How it is received … hearers.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-2:16 Brother side of the apostle’s ministry (challenge). Churches in Judea had likewise suffered. Paul holds his own people responsible for the death of Jesus. He himself may have participated in the events that led to the crucifixion. The tables were turned when he became a believer. God permits sin to run its full course.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-2:20 Reward of a true witness for Christ. Paul had a great desire to see the Thessalonians again. Paul had spiritual discernment to see that it was Satan’s strategy that kept him from returning to Thessalonica. “Satan” means adversary. Crown of Rejoicing mentioned. “Crown of rejoicing” is a victor’s crown given to those who witness for Christ and win others. At the coming of Christ, the very presence of those who have been won by a witness will be in itself the crown of rejoicing. Paul’s joy here (and hereafter) is the Thessalonian believers he had won.
1 Thessalonians 3 Through After-Care
1 Thessalonians 3:1-3:8 Timothy brings a good report of Thessalonians. Paul had to leave Thessalonica so quickly that there were many unfinished teachings he was not able to develop. He not only longs to return but wonders about the future of the believers. Paul longs to comfort them. He demonstrates a labor of love. Love is not affection; love seeks the welfare of another. A believer will not escape trouble. He is actually appointed to suffer. Paul recognizes that all professions of faith are not genuine. Timothy brings a good report from the Thessalonians and that they were enduring afflictions. Paul likewise is enduring afflictions, and the good report causes him to be comforted. “While we are standing fast in the Lord we are happy.”
1 Thessalonians 3:9-3:13 Paul urges Thessalonians to continue to grow in faith, to be unblamable. “To the end” - love is not an end in itself. Holiness is the end result in the life of a believer, which will not be fully attained until the return of Christ — “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” “Unblamable” (see also 2:10) means that no charge can be made.
B. How Should They Live
1 Thessalonians 4:1-4:12 How believers are to walk. The walk of the believer is all-important. A believer cannot do as he pleases; he does as Christ pleases. Chastity is mentioned. Immorality is condemned. A child of God cannot live an immoral life. A child of God cannot be sanctified when his relationship is immoral with the opposite sex, or dishonest with the same sex. A child of God cannot continue in sin. The Holy Spirit indwells a child of God. Charity is the mentioned. A believer must have love for the brethren…it comes supernaturally. Calmness is mentioned. “Study to be quiet” …only the Spirit of God conducts this type of school. “Tend to your own business” is also a Christian virtue. “Work with your own hands” is a commandment for believers. We are to walk honestly. “Walk honestly” is to gain the respect and confidence of mankind, as in v. 1 where the walk is to please God.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-4:18 The Coming of Christ is a comforting hope. This section has been labeled one of the most important prophetic passages in the Scriptures — and it surely is that. Actually, the primary consideration is not the Rapture, though this passage clearly teaches it. The question that Paul is answering is about believers who die before the Rapture. Paul had taught the young church in Thessalonica the truth of the imminent coming of Christ. After Paul left Thessalonica there was evidently a time of lapse for several months, as he had gone to Berea, Athens, and then to Corinth. During this interval some of the believers had died. Had they missed the Rapture? Paul had not dealt with this aspect of the subject while he was with them. He now answers their specific question.
C. Watching and Waiting
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5:10 Call to be awake and alert in view of Christ’s coming. The church is looking for a person, not times and seasons. Jesus comes as a thief in the night to the world, but not as a thief to the church. The church is made up of children of light. This admonition is for the children of light. It is a call to be awake. The Lord Jesus Christ promises believers deliverance from the “wrath”. “Wrath” refers to the Great Tribulation, the “great day of his wrath”.
1 Thessalonians 5:11-5:28 Commandments for Christians,
(There are 22.)
(1) “Comfort (encourage) yourselves.”
(2) “Edify [build up] one another.”
(3) Understand those who teach the Word — duty to pastor.
(4) “Esteem” (respect) the teacher.
(5) “Be at peace” — there should be peace among believers.
(6) “Warn them that are unruly” (those out of step).
(7) “Encourage the fainthearted” — help them to get instep.
(8) “Support the weak” — they cannot get in step.
(9) “Be patient toward all men” — don’t lose your temper.
(10) Don’t fight one another.
(11) Follow what is good
(12) “Rejoice evermore (always)” (“happy” is not a New Testament word).
(13) “Pray without ceasing (constantly)”
(14) Give thanks in all circumstances — not once a year n Thanksgiving Day.
(15) Don’t quench the Spirit. To quench the Spirit means to refuse to do the will of God, refuse to let the Holy Spirit have His way.
(16) Do not look down upon Bible study as something beneath you. Do not be indifferent to the Word of God.
(17) Do not be credulous, taken in by flattery
(18) Hold to that which is true and genuine.
(19) Abstain from appearance of evil.
(20) Pray for those who labor in the gospel.
(21) Greet each other in love
(22) This epistle is to be read in the church.
This section is practical. We need to watch our step as we look up for the coming of Christ.

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