The epistles to the Thessalonians is generally believed to the the earliest of the epistles that were written by Paul the apostle. The epistles focus on faith, love and hope, which are three essential characteristics of the Christian faith. Why faith? Our faith is in One Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His accomplished work on the cross. It is in a risen Person, Man and God at the same time. It is very difficult to grasp this, and we can only accept it by faith, and believe in God, who cannot lie. Why love? As Christians, we are different and show love for the people who God Himself created in His image. Why hope? The essence of Christianity is in the hope of the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ when He takes us to be with Him one day, and we will be with Him forever (1 Thess 4:13-18).
I attempt to point out some features of both epistles to the Thessalonians, which should encourage a study of this epistle, no matter under what circumstances we all live in.
1 Thess 1:3 shows the threefold character of Christianity – faith, love, hope found in all the chapters of the epistle. Therefore, the key themes that run in this epistle are faith, hope and love, the essence of the Christian life.
The chapter of faith is found in Hebrews 11
The chapter of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13
The chapter of hope is in the whole of 1 Thessalonians
Chapter 1:5 presents three aspects. Power: dynamite of the gospel – an energy that produced decisive results.
Holy Spirit: the living source of that power – supreme, divine, holy.
Much assurance: accompaniment – no doubtfulness or fears.
Chapter 1:8 we see the character of faith.
In verse 9 we see faith and love.
In verse 10 we see the hope.
In all the chapters of First Thessalonians we see the character of hope connected with the Lord coming with His saints, His appearing, with the exception of chapter 4, which is connected with His coming for His saints, known as the catching up, or the rapture.
Chapter 2:4 we see the character of faith.
In verse 5 and 9 the character of love.
In verse 19 the character of hope is before us.
Chapter 2:10 we have three expressions:
Devoutly – Godward (faithful to God).
Justly – man-ward (righteous before the presence of our fellow humans).
Blamelessly – self-ward (within ourselves).
In chapter 3:6 we see the triplet of blessing; faith, love, hope.
In verse 7 we see the character of faith.
In verse 12 we see the character of love.
In verse 13 we see the character of hope.
In chapter 4 from verses 1-8 we see the character of faith.
Verses 9-12 we see the character of love.
Verses 13-18 bring before us the blessed hope of the Lord’s coming for His own at the rapture.
In chapter 5:8 we see again the threefold characters of faith, love and hope.
In verses 6 and 7 we see the character of faith.
In verses 12 and 13 we see the character of love.
In verse 23 we see the character of hope.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:3 we see the characters of faith and love, but hope is absent because of false teaching that crept in to the assembly that the day of the Lord has already come.
In chapter 2 we see a threefold attack of the enemy.
⁃spirit; professing to be of God but false.
⁃word; imply oral reports falsely attributed to Paul.
⁃letter; forging of letters in the name of the Lord’s servants.
Chapter 2:13 brings the character of faith.
Verse 16 mentions hope for the first time in this second epistle after the apostle explained and expounded to them as to what has to happen before the day of the Lord.
In chapter 3 we are exhorted to withdraw from the disorderly brother, with the object of restoration. Verse 15 though tells us to not count him as an enemy.