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1 Thessalonians
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The First Epistle to the Thessalonians

See Acts 17 for a description of the background to this letter.

Commentary

1:1

It is appropriate for Silas to be listed as a joint author of this letter, because he had been a member of the group that visited Thessalonica in Acts 17:1.

1:5

Words might be invented by humans, but apparently this message was confirmed by God's power and the Holy Spirit.

1:9f

See comment on Acts 17:22.

2:2

This is part of the background to Philippians.

2:13

cf. Hebrews 4:12; God's word has a message for each hearer because the Holy Spirit speaks to us individually through it.

2:16

The reference to God's wrath (NRSV) may indicate that this epistle dates from after the demolition of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., which Paul interpreted as God's judgment on the Jews.

3:2

cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9.

3:3

This theme returns in verse 8.

3:5

This verse confirms that Paul believes that those who once believed but fell away are not saved.

3:8

The theme returns to that of verse 3.

4:5

There have been calls for the AV word "concupiscence" to be replaced with the more familiar "lust".[1 p.124]

4:17

cf. Revelation 21:2.

5:2

See comment on Matthew 24:43, and cf. Luke 12:39, 2 Peter 3:10.

5:4–7

Paul is developing the theme of John 3:19.

5:8

Paul wants us to follow the example of God in Isaiah 59:17. Faith and Love; since biblical love is practical, both faith and works are called for, not just one or the other, as James explained. The reference to armour builds on Isaiah 59:17 and is developed further in Ephesians 6:10f.

5:17

In 1884 an anonymous Russian writer published a book (comparable with Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress but based on Eastern Orthodox spirituality) called The Way of a Pilgrim in which the Pilgrim asked a wise old man what this verse means. The man replied:

"The continuous interior prayer of Jesus is a constant uninterrupted calling upon the divine Name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the heart, while forming a mental picture of His constant presence, and imploring His grace, during every occupation, at all times, in all places, even during sleep. The appeal is couched in these terms, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me." One who accustoms himself to this appeal experiences as a result so deep a consolation and so great a need to offer the prayer always, that he can no longer live without it, and it will continue to voice itself within him of its own accord. Now do you understand what prayer without ceasing means?"

"Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" is known as "the Jesus prayer" (though expanded versions are also used).

5:18

See Romans 8:28 for the reason why we should give thanks in all circumstances.

5:24

cf. Isaiah 9:7.

References:

  1. Campbell, Gordon Bible: the Story of the King James Version (Oxford: OUP, 2010)

© David Billin 2002–2021