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I THESSALONIANS (2)

 

Salutation (I Thess. 1:1)

Victor M. Eskew

 

INTRODUCTION

 

A.   When we write letters, our salutation is placed at the end of the letter:  “With love,” “Sincerely,” etc.

 

B.   Letters in the first century had the salutation at the beginning of the letter.  The recipients immediately knew who wrote the letter to them.

 

C.   In tonight’s lesson, we want to look at Paul’s salutation in I Thessalonians.

1.    Robertson:  “This salutation is brief, but rich and glorious and pitches the letter at once on a higher plane” (e-sword, Robertson’s Word Pictures).

2.    The salutation is composed of one verse (I Thess. 1:1).

 

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ:  Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

3.    This verse contains three sections that will study in this lesson.

 

I.             THE CONCERNED

 

A.   The letter is from three men:  Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus.

1.    Paul is the actual author of the book.

2.    One of the other two men may have been the amanuensis, that is, the scribe who dictated Paul’s words.

3.    All three of these men helped to establish the church in Thessalonica on Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-10, 15).

 

B.   A brief overview of each man.

1.    Paul

a.    A Jew and a Roman citizen by birth (Acts 22:28)

b.    A Pharisee (Acts 23:6; Phil. 3:5)

c.    Trained by Gamaliel (Acts 22:3)

d.    Persecuted the church (Acts 9:1; Phil. 3:6)

e.    Witnessed the resurrected Christ on the Damascus highway (Acts 9:4-6; I Cor. 15:8).

f.     Converted to Christianity and became a preacher and an apostle of Jesus Christ, especially to the Gentiles (II Cor. 11:5; 12:11; Gal. 2:7).

2.    Silvanus

a.    Better known as Silas, meaning “woody.”

b.    He was a Jew and a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37).

c.    He was one of the chief men of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:20).

d.    He went to Antioch following the Jerusalem conference.  He was one who took letters back to the Gentiles churches with regard to the decision about circumcision and the Law of Moses (Acts 15:22).

e.    He became Paul’s travelling companion on the second missionary journey (Acts 15:40).

3.    Timothy

a.    Resident of Lystra (Acts 16:1)

b.    Probably converted to Christianity when Paul went through Lystra on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:6, 8).

c.    His mother was a Jew and his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1).

d.    He joined with Paul on the second missionary journey (Acts 16:3).

e.    Paul wrote two letters of the New Testament to Timothy that bear his name.

f.     His name means:  “dear to God” or “honoring God.”

g.    He was a man who naturally cared for his brothers and sisters in Christ (Phil. 2:20).

 

C.   There men traveled together on two long journeys spreading the good news of Jesus Christ and establishing churches in various locales.

1.    They were friends and co-workers.

2.    Some of the qualities they had to possess:  faith, concern for the lost, courage, labor, integrity, sacrifice, and endurance.

 

D.   NOTE:  Paul does not use the word “apostle” to describe himself.

1.    He did not have to establish his authority with this church.

2.    It was a mark of the affectionate relationship that he had with this congregation.

 

II.           THE CONGREGATION

 

A.   Their designation:  “the church”

1.    The word “church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia.”

a.    Strong (1577):  a calling out

b.    Thayer:  those who anywhere, in a city, village constitute such a company and are united in one body

2.    They had been called out of the world by the gospel of Christ (II Thess. 2:14).

 

Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

a.    Acts 17:2-3 gives us some insight into Paul’s preaching.

 

And Paul, as he manner was, went in unto them, and three days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.

 

b.    The Thessalonians received the Word of God (I Thess. 2:13), and believed in the Christ (Acts 17:5).

3.    To become members of the church, their belief moved them to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:47; Mark 16:16; I Cor. 12:13).

 

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.

 

B.   Their physical location:  “of the Thessalonians”

1.    The church was established in the seaport city of Macedonia called Thessalonica.

a.    A city of Greeks, Romans, and Jews.

b.    A city of commerce and trade.

c.    A city given to idolatry.

2.    The makeup of the church (Acts 17:4)

 

And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

 

C.   Their spiritual location:  “which is in God the Father, and in the Lord Jesus Christ”

1.    They were now part of a group of people that were established, marked out, and in fellowship with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

2.    The boundaries of this group are established by the doctrine of Christ (II John 9b).

 

…He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

 

III.         THE CACHE OF BLESSINGS

 

A.   Paul wishes two gifts upon the Thessalonian Christians.

1.    Grace

a.    Most will define the term as “favor.”

b.    I prefer the definition of “help.”

c.    Even after becoming Christians, we still need help and assistance from God:  strength, protection, boldness, and forgiveness.

2.    Peace

a.    Thayer:  the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.

b.    It is a peace that Satan attacks on a daily basis.

c.    When it is possessed in its fullness, it is a peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7).

 

B.   The givers of these blessings are “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1.    These are divine gifts.

2.    They are good and perfect gifts (James 1:17).

3.    They are needed and useful gifts.

4.    They are spiritual and enduring gifts.

 

CONCLUSION

 

A.   A few lessons:

1.    Common men, just like us, preached the Word of God and established churches throughout the world in the first century.

2.    A church existed in the first century and was familiar with words such as “Paul,” “in God, “in the Lord Jesus Christ, “church,” “grace,” and “peace.”

3.    Paul’s Christology shines in the words:  Lord Jesus Christ.

a.    Lord:  Master, Sovereign, Superior

b.    Jesus:  the personal name of Christ meaning “one who saves”

c.    Christ:  the Messiah, the anointed one of God

4.    The churches of the first century needed divine grace and peace just like we do today.

 

B.   In many ways, this church is much like we are today.

1.    The words of this epistle applied to them.

2.    Because we are like them, we can take these words and make application to our lives as well.