by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1 December 8, 2013 Dayton, Texas
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians [which is] in God the Father and [in] the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1901 ASV Translation:
1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
I. The Introduction.
A. According to the general scholarship, this book was the second of Paul's letters, following Galatians, written about 51 A.D., though there is some debate because of a difference of opinion as to where the Galatian letter was sent.
B. In any case, the general thrust of the Thessalonian letters has to do with the "hope" that believers are to live under.
C. There is this oddity: Luke never used "Silvanus", always opting for "Silas" (13 times in the Acts), and Paul never used "Silas", always opting for "Silvanus".
1. Silvanus was a "prophet" (Acts 15:32) by gifting and a "chief man" among the brethren in Jerusalem (Acts 15:22) and was Paul's choice over Barnabas and Mark (Acts 15:40) for the second missionary journey (a significant contrast to Acts 13:3 where the Holy Spirit summoned Paul and Barnabas to the work).
2. In the culture, "Silvanus" was the Roman god of the woodlands/forest. That he was a highly placed and trusted person in the Church in Jerusalem (before the Council of A.D. 49) argues that he was Jewish. According to 1 Peter 5:12, he was the one whom Peter used to write his first letter.
3. The question of Paul's choice to use the Roman name stands: why did he not call him Silas as did Luke, his personal attendant and fellow servant?
D. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy ...
1. "Paul" refers to Saul's desire to switch to a name that means "little" as a theological statement of his intention to reject the "Saulish" character: glory-seeker.
2. "Silvanus" refers to Luke's "Silas" and seems to indicate Paul's wish to use the deliberately "Roman" (and culturally polytheistic) name in his travels as an apostle of the Gospel. This may have special significance in that Paul characterized the Thessalonians as those who, like "Silvanus", "turned to God from idols" (1:9).
3. "Timotheus" refers to the highly regarded "young" man of Acts 16 mention whose name means either "honored of God" or "honoring God", both of which concepts were true of him according to the testimony (Acts 16:2).
D. Paul's immediate use of the appelation "church".
1. According to Luke's record in Acts, Paul, Sivanus, and Timothy were only in Thessalonica long enough for Paul to debate and preach Jesus in the synagogue for three Sabbaths (Acts 17:1-9). However, the preaching resulted in a large number of believers which caused the Jews to become jealous and create havoc. That such an impact could be made in such a brief time is remarkable on the face of it.
2. The "church" of the Thessalonians was the group of Jews and Gentiles who had believed. The appelation is etymologically significant in that it signifies a group of people "called out" from their setting so that they might become "residents" in another setting (identified by Paul as "in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ").
a. As "the church of Thessalonians", the group was specifically localized; thus, the term "a local church".
b. Paul's only other reference in this letter to "church" is also "localized", but plural (the "churches of God in Judea").
3. This "church of Thessalonians" is said to be "in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ".
a. This movement into "God" and "Christ" is biblically and theologically crucial since it is Paul's doctrine that when a person "believes" he/she becomes a part of "the new man" of Ephesians 2:15. This "new man" is the new humanity of which Christ is the "Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:45). Thus, just as in the original "Adam" all were participants in his choices and actions, so also are all of those in the second "Adam" participants in His choices and actions. As we died in him, so we live in Him.
b. That the locus of the new "place" is God the Father as well as the Lord Jesus Christ indicates that the Father is as much our "Host" as the Son. They in us and we in Them. No greater, or more significant, reality exists in respect to The Promise.