Newsflash: Jesus didn't come to save some guy sitting all by himself in a corner—he came to save the whole world. Which means that Christians are all in it together, right? Enter Paul. He's really big on love and togetherness, which means that he has some input on how the Thessalonian Christians should be behaving towards each other. (Of course he does.) But Paul isn't just some distant authority figure. It's also pretty clear that he gets as much from being part of this community as they get from him.
Time for the ultimate showdown! At its heart, the Bible is really just an old-fashioned epic of good vs. evil. In the letters to the Thessalonians everyone is convinced that someday very soon, God will vanquish evil and reward good behavior. So if you find yourself aligning with Satan and the forces of evil, you might want to be out of town when Jesus comes back. Just a suggestion.
Hope. It's a warm, fuzzy word that makes us think of a future filled with rainbows, kittens, and all kinds of good things. But when Paul imagines the future, he sees anything but rainbow-colored kittens. He sees the destruction of the Earth and everlasting torment for the vast majority of people living on the planet. Good news, though: you can escape this whole God's wrath thing if you just listen to what Paul is telling you. Or so says Paul…
What does it mean to follow Jesus? What does a Christian identity look like? Well, Paul has some ideas. He's all about instructing believers in the things they need to do in order to live good Christian lives. Not only is this stuff that God wants for them (which Paul is totally privy to); it's also stuff that sets them apart from the Gentiles.
In the first century, being Christian wasn't easy. There was a ton of pressure to just conform already and worship Greek and Roman gods like everyone else. Your neighbors didn't want to hear you talking about some guy named Jesus who was gonna come back and end the whole world. It was sort of social suicide. So it took a lot of guts to believe in the face of all that opposition. And Paul is pretty darn proud of the way his little community of believers keeps on keeping on.