Book information

Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessaloniansby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-87083-154-2
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 5 of 31 Section 1 of 3

LIFE-STUDY OF FIRST THESSALONIANS

MESSAGE FIVE

THE TRIUNE GOD EMBODIED IN THE WORD TO PRODUCE A HOLY LIFE FOR THE CHURCH LIFE

(1)

Scripture Reading: 1 Thes. 1:1-10

It is accurate and correct to say that the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians are on the church life. Although the expression “the church life” cannot be found in these Epistles, the church is mentioned emphatically at the beginning of each book. First Thessalonians opens with these words: “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Second Thessalonians opens in almost exactly the same way. The only difference is that 1 Thessalonians 1:1 says “the Father” and 2 Thessalonians 1:1 says “our Father.” Both 1 and 2 Thessalonians were addressed to the church.

THE CHURCH OF THE THESSALONIANS

Each of the fourteen Epistles written by Paul opens in a particular way. The beginning of every Epistle matches the contents of that particular Epistle. For example, Romans 1:1 says, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, separated to the gospel of God.” First Corinthians begins in a somewhat different way: “Paul, a called apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God” (1 Cor. 1:1). In contrast, the opening of both 1 and 2 Thessalonians is quite simple. Paul does not use any titles to refer to himself; he does not speak of himself as a slave of Christ or as an apostle. Instead, he simply says, “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The expression, “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” is unique. On the one hand, the church is of certain persons; on the other hand, it is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This way of referring to the church is very different from that found in 1 Corinthians 1:2. There Paul says, “To the church of God which is in Corinth,” describing the church as being in a particular place. But in 1 and 2 Thessalonians Paul speaks of the church not as being in a certain place, but as being of certain persons, the Thessalonians, who are in God. In these Epistles the church is of the Thessalonians and in the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

According to history, Thessalonica was an immoral place. For the most part, the people of that city were not moral. Nevertheless, according to 1:1, the church in that city was “of the Thessalonians.” It does not seem possible that a church could be composed of people who lived in a city like Thessalonica.

It is very positive to say that the church is in God the Father, but it is not positive to say that the church is of the Thessalonians. In 1:1 we have the church of the Thessalonians in God. The prepositions “of” and “in” here are very important. The church in Thessalonica was of people from an evil city, but it was in God the Father. This is similar to speaking of the church in San Francisco as being the church of the San Franciscans in God the Father. San Francisco has a world-wide reputation for being an evil, immoral city. Nevertheless, there is a church in San Francisco today, the church of the San Franciscans in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


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