I’ve loved the book of 1 Thessalonians for a long, long time. Along with Acts 20:17-38, 1 Thessalonians has been a vivid, multidimensional picture to me of what gospel ministry looks like. This picture is not one only for pastors and seminary trained folks. It is for every believer in Christ who follows Jesus in ministering to others – to friends, spouses, children, grandchildren, neighbors, work associates and others. I read 1 Thessalonians and see a picture of what God is doing and wants to do through me in others. The book inspires and guides me as I choose to get out of myself and into others.
I see the book breaking across the following five points:
- The Nature of Gospel Ministry – Chapter 1
- The Shape of Gospel Ministry – Chapter 2:1-16
- The Nature of Gospel Relationships – Chapter 2:17-3:13
- A Picture of a Gospel-Lived Life – Chapter 4:1-12
- The Hope of the Gospel – Chapter 4:13-5:28
One other thing I love about 1 Thessalonians is how it fills out our understanding of the Apostle Paul. In this book, Paul likens himself both as a mother and a father to the Thessalonians. He says that he gave them not only the gospel but also his own soul. He tells the Thessalonians that they are his glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians is a book in which Paul rips his chest wide open for the readers to see his heart. This is quite extraordinary for a man of any generation to do. And as I read about it, I am drawn to be the same kind of man, with the same sort of heart, like Paul’s.
1 Thessalonians is a human picture of the effect of Christ and His Gospel. As we study it in the August Sunday Morning Class, may the Lord draw us into the picture and stretch us to, like Paul, lay down our lives for others.