Paul instructs Christians to encourage those in our communities who may be struggling in faith, calling on similar statements in Colossians 3 and Romans 12.
Paul tells is that we must be prepared for the end times, and not be in the dark like the rest of mankind. Isaiah 59 may have been in Paul’s mind when he wrote this section. Paul uses a metaphor of armor here that is similar to the one in Ephesians but with different metaphors.
Paul instructs Christians not to shun manual labor but to engage others in their lives in Christian love so that we are command the respect of others. We must be blameless and holy on the last day, since it will be on that state that we will be judged. There will not be a period in which some are left behind or a Rapture, and we must celebrate the death of any righteous man as he returns to God.
Paul calls Christians to catechize and root the new disciples in faith and in practice, but he focuses on three issues in chapter 4 under the subject of holiness: sexual issues, love of the brotherhood, and those Christians who have died. For Christians, it is vitally important that they do not give those who would oppose them an excuse that a sexual scandal might afford, and Paul uses language to describe this that may be shocking to modern readers.
God wishes us to become sanctified, which is a process that continues through our lives. Heb 12:14 commands us to be holy, else we will not see God. Sexuality is a mutual gift for giving and receiving by married couples, and this necessarily means that Christians cannot be unchaste, and so Paul calls Christians to control themselves sexually, and God will avenge the wrongs that have been done against others sexually.
Paul is driven to Athens and preaches there, but is not able to return to Thessalonica to continue preaching there, and sends a letter back to them explaining his great desire to return there with Timothy. Paul also says that we must be vigorous in our faith, even to the point of suffering.
Paul did not preach for prestige or glory, unlike other false teachers. He has worked intensely and personally with the people to make people’s lives worthy of God. In Philippians 1:6 and Philippians 2:13, Paul speaks of how God works through us to bring His work to completion. Paul is deeply grieved by his inability to get back to Thessalonica.
When Saul first encountered the Christian faith, he would have been offended that a man who claimed to be the Messiah was hung on a tree, and such men are described as being cursed.
Paul visits Cyprus as part of his first missionary journey, and they have a disagreement as to whether the Gentile converts must become Jews first by circumcision, which Paul is opposed to. Paul returns to Antioch, and his second missionary journey follows, which will take him to Thessalonica. Paul will be visiting the temple there, and so not to cause any unnecessary confrontation, he makes sure that his traveling companion is circumcised.
Paul exorcises a demon from a slave girl in Philippi who is following them. This causes an uproar from the men who are making money from this slave girl’s visions. Due to mistreatment, Paul is let go to leave and he continues on to Thessalonica, a trading hub. Paul makes converts there but he is again chased out of town. Paul continues to Berea and Athens, pushed far by the Holy Spirit.
On Paul’s journey, he is imprisoned, but through an earthquake, he persuades the jailer to convert to Christianity. Paul is released and goes to Thessalonica, where he preaches on the subject of the messiah for three weeks. The Jewish establishment sent troublemakers to cause a riot, and Paul is forced out of the city. The Jews in Beroea receive him well.
A large number of the converts coming into the church are Gentiles and Paul praises them for turning from from idols and to God.
Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians show a vivid snapshot of the church in mission. Paul was sent from the church in Antioch as a mission to the Gentiles to Cyprus.
The Antiochan church was being torn apart by the question of whether Gentiles must be circumcised. The Council of Jerusalem would decide that Gentiles must abstain from idolatry, abstain from sexual immorality and abstain from meat with blood. Paul returns from Jerusalem with this information to Antioch. There he splits with Barnabus and continues his missionary journeys returning to Greece and Crete.
Paul tells Philemon that he could be bold enough to command him to do what is required, he chooses to appeal out of love. Paul appeals to Philemon to take Onesimus back as he is useful to Philemon and to Paul, with whom he has formed a special bond.
Paul also says that he will be arriving to visit Philemon shortly. His unstated intention in doing this may be to pressure Philemon to do what he is calling him to do before his visit.