“Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1
Hi James and Ellen,
Do you like receiving personal letters in the mail? Do you like writing and sending personal letters? Paul sent letters to some of the Christ-follower communities of guys and gals that he was instrumental in initiating while he was on his missionary journeys. One of the first letters that Paul sent was to the infant Christ-follower community of guys and gals that he initiated in Thessalonica. Paul would ultimately send two letters to the guys and gals who were in the Thessalonica Christ-follower community that he initiated. Paul quite probably was still in Corinth when he sent the first letter to the Christ-follower guys and gals in the ‘First Evangelical Church of Thessalonica’. Paul’s stop in Thessalonica had been a short one. Paul’s preaching in Thessalonica’s synagogue about Jesus Christ being the Messiah caused some Jewish fanatics to become really angry with him. These Jewish zealots hauled Paul before the local magistrates or judges. The charge that these extremely zealous Jews laid on Paul was that he was fomenting an insurrection against Caesar. The title that a number of the Roman emperors used about this time – which was about fifty years after God the Son – Jesus Christ, died on a crude wood cross, was Caesar. Thessalonica was a prominent, burgeoning seaport city – with a population of somewhere around 200,000 guys, gals and kids, when Paul stopped there on his second missionary journey to preach in Thessalonica’s synagogue messages about the Messiah – Who was Jesus Christ. Thessalonica – which today is known by the name of Salonika, is located on The Great Sea or on the Mediterranean. When Paul made his stop in Thessalonica, Thessalonica was Macedonia’s capitol. Paul stayed about three weeks in Thessalonica. Paul was on his second missionary journey – traveling from Philippi to Achaia through Amphipolis and Apollonia, when he made his very short stop in Thessalonica. A number of the local guys and gals with Greek heritage along with some of the local gals who were local leaders who were Jews accepted as being true the message that Paul preached that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. It did not take long for the local Jewish extremists to manufacture a way to get rid of Paul. These phony truth seekers recruited some of the local bums and criminals to beat up Paul or maybe even to kill Paul. Because it was well-known in Thessalonica that Paul was staying in the house of a fellow Christ-follower – whose names was Jason, these nefarious guys headed for Jason’s place to . . . when they could not find Paul, they dragged Jason to a place where the local politarchs could accuse him of hiding or harboring Roman traitors. It was decided that Paul needed to move on that night with Silas and Timothy – who were Paul’s traveling companions, to Berea. Silas and Timothy would stay in Berea while Paul went on to the next city. Timothy returned to Thessalonica to help the fledging ‘First Evangelical Church of Thessalonica’ followers of the Messiah – Jesus Christ, develop Christological underpinnings. Timothy would catch up with Paul later during the time that Paul was spent in Corinth – at which time Timothy gave Paul a positive report of how the congregants of the ‘First Evangelical Church of Thessalonica’ were doing.
Timothy in the verbal report that he gave to Paul possibly mentioned some lifestyle changes that he saw in the lives of the guys and gals who were devotees of the ‘First Evangelical Church of Thessalonica’ that he thought that these guys and gals should make. In the first letter that he sent to the guys and gals who were attendees or members of the Christ-follower community in Thessalonica, Paul – in 1 Thessalonians 4, tackles the issues regarding morality and showing brotherly love to one another. Morality in the developing world in the first century after Jesus’ birth was very low even compared to today’s moral standards on planet Earth. An established norm that was accepted in a lot of places in the first century – like Thessalonica, was that chastity was an unreasonable expectation to be kept by any guy or gal so . . . Paul was very adamant that the early believers in the Messiah – Jesus Christ, were absolutely not to compromise a God expected moral standard that does not allow for any type of promiscuity. Your grandpaa will let your dad tell you someday what kinds of lifestyles are promiscuous. If you ever find yourselves getting caught up in any one of those lifestyles, you will find yourselves rejecting what your Father God through His Word and through His voice as God the Spirit has clearly told you not to do. Paul knew that this strong moral stand was against established norms but . . . it really was very important to Paul nearly 2000 years ago that every guy and gal who were adherents of the Messiah – Jesus Christ, live a holy life on planet Earth. Nothing has changed over the last 2000 years; adherents of the Messiah – Jesus Christ, must strive for doing the very best that they can to live sinless lives. Verse 1 “Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” succinctly sums up what Paul wanted the guys and gals who were active in the ‘First Evangelical Church of Thessalonica’ to grasp and to apply.
The second issue that Paul covered in this letter was to urge the new devotees of the Messiah – Jesus Christ, to have a ‘philadelphia’ love for each other. A ‘philadelphia’ love is a brotherly love. You live near Philadelphia. Philadelphia is said to be the city of brotherly love. Philadelphia to your grandpaa is not a city of brotherly love. Philadelphia to your grandpaa seems to be more critical of its city leaders and its pro teams and players than any city in the United States. God’s expectation for His specially elected guys, gals and kids who live on planet Earth is that they always convey a ‘philadelphia’ love to every other Christ-follower guy, gal and kid who lives on planet Earth.
1 Thessalonians 4 (491)