Both letters to Thessalonica have been referred to as “the eschatological epistles.” Eschatology is the doctrine of last things or the end times. This refers to the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth in power, might and glory.
However, in light of their more extensive focus upon the church, the two epistles would better be categorized as the church epistles. Five major themes are woven together in 1 Thessalonians: (1) an apologetic of defense theme for the Gospel with the historical relationship between The Book of Acts and 1 Thessalonians; (2) an ecclesiastical theme with the characteristics of a healthy, growing church; (3) a pastoral theme with the example of biblical shepherding activities and attitudes; (4) an eschatological theme with the focus on future events as the church’s hope; and 5) a missionary theme with the emphasis on the proclamation of the gospel and church planting.
It is clearly evident that churches do not need current church growth philosophies and strategies. Rather, churches and church leadership must adhere to the biblical truth found in I Thessalonians.
The major interpretive challenges in I Thessalonians primarily regard the sections that are eschatological in nature: (1) the coming wrath of God (1:10; 5:9); (2) Jesus Christ’s return (2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23); (3) the rapture of the church (4:13–18); and (4) the meaning and time of the Day of the Lord (5:1–11).
Take the opportunity today to read and meditate upon the Epistle of I Thessalonians. Merry Christmas.
Soli deo Gloria!