1 Thessalonians is a pastoral letter written by Paul of Tarsus to the recently formed Christian community of Thessalonica. The letter, written in response to concerns of the newly converted Gentiles, offers encouragement and support, and addresses specific issues and problems they were confronted with.
Paul begins his letter by giving thanks for the Thessalonians’ faith, love, and hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have “turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven...” (1 Thessalonians: 9-10). Paul assures the people that he brings the message of the gospel of God to them. This is to set himself apart from others who may have come preaching to them from “deceit or impure motives or trickery” (1 Thess. 2:3). Paul identifies himself as countercultural and works throughout 1Thessalonians to show the new Christians that they too are called to live a countercultural life as well, “worthy of God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thess. 2:12) because they have accepted the word of God, which is working within them to shape their new identity as Christians. Paul’s belief in the living and true God with the message of the gospel of God exhibits his monotheistic belief and rejection of idols.
Paul knows that these Thessalonians are first-generation converts living among many idol-worshipping Gentiles. Because they are Christians, they can no longer attend pagan festivals, worship other gods, or possibly even continue to buy their meats from the local butcher, because the meat may have been an offering of sacrifice to idols. Paul recognizes they have become social outcasts, no longer Gentiles; they are called to live differently now. Paul had forewarned t...
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...or non-violence; do not repay evil with evil, do good to all. He exhorts the people to rejoice, pray, and give thanks, as this is the will of God. “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the word of prophets, but test everything, hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thess. 5: 19-22) Paul again is instructional and tells them to let the Spirit flow in and among them, don’t stop it. Let the Spirit flow in their community in their actions and let people speak because they might have a message from Jesus. Paul is telling them to keep close to what is good and protect themselves from evil, relating again to the spiritual warfare, moral vigilance and living a countercultural life. He ends with a command by God that his letter be shared among the community and calls upon the grace of God to remain with the Thessalonians’ community.
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