In an attempt to articulate the “big idea” of Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, one author has written the following:
Impressed by the faithfulness of the Thessalonians in the face of persecution, Paul wrote to encourage the Christians in that community with the goal that they would continue to grow in godliness. Paul knew that the people had been exposed to errant teaching from those in opposition to the way of Jesus Christ and the grace of God. And Paul also understood that unless the young church continued to mature in its faith, the danger would only increase over time.
With that in mind, Paul taught the people that any spiritual growth would ultimately be motivated by their hope in the ultimate return of Jesus Christ. Paul was never interested in simply telling people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, for he knew that what ultimately inspired change was a life of consistently walking in the power of God’s Spirit. And so to a group of young Christians with questions and uncertainties, Paul offered the hope of Christ’s return, providing both comfort in the midst of questions and motivation to godly living.
The same author, points out why this writing is so important for believers two thousand years later.
Everyone would like to have some insight into what their future holds. How much more so when it comes to the end of the whole world? First Thessalonians provides Christians with the clearest biblical passage on the coming rapture of believers, an event that will inaugurate the seven-year tribulation. At the rapture, Christ will return for His people. The dead in Christ shall rise first, while those still living will follow close behind. All believers will meet Jesus in the air to begin an eternity spent with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).
It’s an encouraging, insightful, and important piece of the biblical account and, to help us better understand and appreciate it, we welcome back to the podcast John Oglesby. John is a husband, father, theologian, and writer. He currently serves as executive vice president and associate professor of transformative learning and leadership at Colorado Biblical University, a subsidiary of AgathonEDU Educational Group.