There is treasure hidden in Paul’s thirteen letters, but the path to find it is not obvious. Here is a tip: in the Bible, Paul’s letters are not sequenced in chronological order.
The Bible rarely gives us specific dates about events it addresses, which can be frustrating for modern readers. As an example, this is a very brief timeline of the first four decades of Christianity that is probably correct to within a few years:
27 AD to 30 AD Ministry of Jesus
30 AD to 39 AD Death, resurrection of Jesus; Christianity spreads among the Jews
40 AD to 48 AD Christianity spreads increasingly to non-Jews
48 AD to 57 AD Paul’s three missionary journeys
58 AD to 70 AD Paul’s imprisonment; Paul’s death; Temple destroyed
Paul wrote his letters within the two decades of 48 AD to 68 AD. His thirteen generally accepted letters are arranged in the New Testament in two blocks: the nine written to churches, then the four written to individuals. The nine written to churches are generally placed in order by length. (This also assumes Hebrews was not written by Paul.)
This letter was probably written shortly after First Thessalonians. The church at Thessalonica seemed to be doing pretty well except for one thing, manifested in two ways: they were so focused on the second coming of Christ that they weren’t maturing in other areas and were not taking care of their daily business.
It may be a little dramatic to say it this way, but in this letter, Paul is setting the stage for an “us versus them” mentality, where “us” are the believing Christians (especially the persevering true believers like the Thessalonians) and “them” are all others. Developing this type of mentality is a proven way for making people commit to a cause and keeping them committed. It is a simple way to develop distinguishing characteristics.
Unbelievers will be paid back trouble for the trouble they have caused, will be punished with everlasting destruction and kept from the presence of the Lord. This will happen when Jesus is revealed from heaven. Unbelievers are those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of Jesus. (1:6-9)
Believers are those who endure through suffering. God will give them relief, and will be glorified through their lives. (1:5-12)
Paul reassures the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord has not yet occurred, and it will not occur until certain things happened. Paul reminds them he had told them about these things before. These things may sound mysterious and incomprehensible to modern people because we do not know what he had previously told them in person. Paul must have thought this was sufficient information for them, though, so he moves on to other matters.
Among other things, he reminds the Thessalonians they must lead holy lives while they wait for the Day of the Lord. They must work to take care of themselves and set a good example for non-Christians, so that through their attractive lives they may bring others into the kingdom of God. That message was a big key to the growth of the church for the next two hundred years, and continues to be a good message today.
Demetrius the Silversmith – JC Scott
Eunice – Mollie Milligan
Lois – Rebekah Turner
Silas – Tony Schneider
Jason – Cory Phillips
Priscilla – La’Netia D. Taylor
Aquila – Joe Rojas Jr.
Sosthenes – Selase Botchway
Titus – Orlando Valentino
Tertius – Curtis Von
Phoebe – Kenneisha Thompson
Tychicus – Ace Anderson
Onesimus – Hevin Hampton
Paul – Brian Shoop
Epaphroditus – Tim Taylor
Euodia – Salome Charron
Apollos – Tim Urban
Cretan Elder – Garry Nation
Timothy – Paul Christian