Study Guide

1-2 Thessalonians Community

Community

You, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews. (1 Thessalonians 2:14, NRSV)

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews. (1 Thessalonians 2:14, KJV)

The Thessalonians are part of the worldwide Christian community. Here, Paul's saying that they're so awesome, they're just like the original Christians in Judea, Jesus' homeland.

As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were made orphans by being separated from you—in person, not in heart—we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face[…] For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? Yes, you are our glory and joy! (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, NRSV)

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, KJV)

Paul really loves him some Thessalonians. Here, he explains how badly he wanted to be reunited with his precious community when he was absent. But he also notes that he was only physically absent. Spiritually, he's always been a part of this big happy family.

[Timothy] has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us—just as we long to see you. For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 3:6-8, NRSV)

Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 3:6-8, KJV)

Paul loves these guys so much that just thinking of them gets him through the tough times. Now that's a strong bond.

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:10, NRSV)

Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? (1 Thessalonians 3:10, KJV)

Hold on a second. We thought the Thessalonians were a-okay? So the reason Paul wants to see them is so he can lecture them into being even better Christians? Typical Paul.

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. (1 Thessalonians 3:12, NRSV)

The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. (1 Thessalonians 3:12, KJV)

The most important part of any community? Love, say P-dawg. Paul believes that everyone needs to love each other and get along in order to be living the kind of life God wants for them.

Concerning love of the brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anyone write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia. (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, NRSV)

As touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia. (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10, KJV)

And who's aces at loving? The Thessalonians, of course. These guys have practically written the book on loving their fellow Christians. They don't need anyone to tell them how important love is…except Paul, who plans on doing just that.

Encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. (1 Thessalonians 5:11-14, NRSV)

Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (1 Thessalonians 5:11-14, KJV)

Just a few simple rules for being in a Christian community. Paul encourages everyone to get along, respect the leaders in the community, and help out those who are following behind. Next, he'll have everyone hold hands around the campfire while he plays Kumbaya on his guitar.

Beloved, pray for us. Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (1 Thessalonians 5:25-28, NRSV)

Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (1 Thessalonians 5:25-28, KJV)

Paul doesn't write to just one person—his letters go to whole groups. Here, he asks everyone to pray for him and his friends and that someone should read his letter out loud. Okay, get the popcorn ready; this is gonna be good.

We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God. (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, NRSV)

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God. (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, KJV)

More bragging about the Thessalonians' love for each other. This is oddly similar to the opening of 1 Thessalonians, dontchathink? Does that mean this one is a fake? Or were the Thessalonians just that good?

Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us[…] Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right. Take note of those who do not obey what we say in this letter; have nothing to do with them, so that they may be ashamed. Do not regard them as enemies, but warn them as believers. (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 13-15, NRSV)

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us[…] But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 13-15, KJV)

Um, this is kind of a hardcore stance. How should you deal with people in the community who aren't pulling their weight? Shunning! But, it's also clear that this break in relationship isn't permanent. If these lazy bones feel sufficiently ashamed, then all will be well. Or so says Paul.