Lessons from
The Book of  1st Thessalonians
James J. Barker

Lesson 01



  1. Most Bible teachers believe that I & II Thessalonians were the apostle Paul’s first epistles (written about 54 AD according to the Scofield Bible). That would mean Paul wrote them shortly after the church was established.
  2. The purpose of I Thessalonians was threefold:
  1. To confirm the new believers in the fundamental doctrines of the faith.
  2. To condition them to go on unto holy living.
  3. To comfort them regarding the second coming of Christ.
  1. The city of Thessalonica
  1. In 315 BC, Cassandra, the son of Antipater, founded the city of Thessalonica, naming it after his wife, who was the daughter of Philip of Macedonia. She was the half-sister of Alexander the Great.
  2. Thessalonica was a strategic city – it was the principal artery of communication between Rome and her eastern provinces.
  3. Situated at the northwestern corner of the Aegean Sea, Thessalonica had a beautiful harbor and a busy waterfront.
  4. Thessalonica was the largest city in Macedonia (the northern part of Greece), with a population in Paul’s day of about 200,000 people. The city is still in existence with a current population of about 400,000.
  5. The majority of people in Thessalonica were Greeks, and like most Greeks, they were idolaters (cf. I Thess. 1:9). And wherever there is idolatry and false religion there is immorality.
  6. In Thessalonica there were heathen temples where all sorts of disgusting, lewd perversions took place – all in the name of religion (cf. 4:3-8).
  7. The church at Thessalonica was established by the apostle Paul with Silas and other disciples during Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 17).
  8. In many respects, the church in Thessalonica was a model church. "So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia" (1:7).
  9. "Ensamples" is translated from the Greek word tupos. It is where we get our English word "type."
  10. This word means, "a mark, print, impression, figure, pattern, example -- a model. They were a model church!
  1. It was a saved church – they were “delivered…from the wrath to come” (1:10b).
  2. It was a sound church – “having received the Word” (1:6).
  3. It was a suffering church – “in much affliction” (1:6b).
  4. It was a soulwinning church (1:8).
  5. It was a separated church – “ye turned to God from idols” (1:9b).
  6. It was a serving church – “to serve the living and true God” (1:9c).
  7. It was a second-coming church (1:10a). Archaeologists have found an inscription in Thessalonica: “After death no reviving, after the grave no meeting again.” Thank God, Paul brought them the true Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the risen Christ.
  1. Paul commends their “work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3).
  2. This commendation is similar to the commendations we see in Revelation 2 & 3. "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience" (Rev. 2:2; cf. I Thess. 1:3).
  3. “Hope” refers to our blessed hope, i.e., the imminent return of our Lord (cf. Titus 2:13; I Thess. 1:10).


I. A SAVED CHURCH -- they were "delivered...from the wrath to come" (1:10b).

  1. The "wrath to come" is a great theme in Scripture (cf. Rev. 6:16, 17).
  2. In verse 4, Paul refers to their "election." The Bible teaches that God not only saves us, but that He has chosen us before the foundation of the world.
  3. Election is a doctrine often misunderstood but the Bible teaches it.
  4. Spurgeon said, "Election is sovereign; and election is free; and election is irreversible; and election is effectual; and election is personal" ("Election: Its Defenses and Evidences").
  5. Albert Barnes said, "Every church should evince such a spirit, that there may be no doubt of its 'election of God.' It should be so dead to the world; so pure in doctrine and in practice, and so much engaged in spreading the knowledge of salvation, that the world will see that it is governed by higher principles than any worldly association, and that nothing could produce this but the influence of the Holy Spirit of God."
  6. Ephesians 1:4 says, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world..."
  7. First Peter 1:2 says, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father."
  8. Vincent's Word Studies says, "Neither here nor elsewhere in the N.T. is there any warrant for the revolting doctrine that God has predestined a definite number of mankind to eternal life, and the rest to eternal destruction."
  9. The Gospel came unto the Thessalonians “in power, and in the Holy Ghost” (1:5).



  1. They "received the word in much affliction" (1:6; cf. 2:2; 3:4; II Thess. 1:4, 5).
  2. In Scripture, we see that joy often accompanies affliction. James 1:2 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (trials)." Cf. Acts 5:40-42; 16:22-25.
  3. Acts 17 records the beginning of the church in Thessalonica. There was persecution right from the very beginning (Acts 17:5-9).



  1. "For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place..." (1:8).
  2. Churches must choose -- it is either evangelize or fossilize! Sadly, many churches are fossilizing.
  3. Len G. Broughton, was great Baptist preacher and author. He stared out as a doctor, and afterwards he and his church, Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta, started the Tabernacle Infirmary in 1901.
  4. The Infirmary started with only five beds and Pastor Broughton as the only doctor, but it quickly grew and became the Georgia Baptist Hospital.
  5. Today it is called the Atlanta Medical Center, and it has 460 beds and over 700 physicians.
  6. Pastor Len Broughton once described a church that made its report at an annual association meeting. The report read as follows: "Members received, none; members dismissed, none; members died, none; members married, none; given to missions during the year, nothing." The report concluded with the comment: "Brethren, pray for us that during the next year we may hold our own."
  7. We can laugh at that, but it is no laughing matter that most churches, and most Christians, and even most pastors are not winning souls!
  8. But the church in Thessalonica was winning souls. That is why it was a model church.



  1. They "turned" (repented) to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1:9) -- not dead, useless idols (cf. Psalm 135:15-18).
  2. Too many churches have not turned from sin and worldliness.
  3. The Christians in Thessalonica were surrounded by idolatry and paganism and wickedness, but they turned from this heathen darkness.
  4. The other day, World Vision, a "Christian" humanitarian organization, came out in support of so-called "gay marriage." They defended their change of policy by claiming that many of their supporting (apostate) churches are pro-homosexual.
  5. There was a great uproar, and so after only two days World Vision reversed their policy.
  6. My point -- many Christians today are not separated from sin. Many years ago, World Vision and their supporters repudiated Biblical separation and that is why they now are in such a place.



  1. The second coming of Christ is emphasized in I & II Thessalonians (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; II Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8; 3:5).
  2. First Thessalonians 1:10 says we are to wait for his Son from heaven..."even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
  3. There are two aspects of this wrath -- hell, and the coming tribulation.
  4. These epistles deal with both aspects (cf. II Thess. 1:7, 8; 2:7-12).

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