A Short Note on Thessalonians

by John W. Welch

Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians describe what I would call “The Way,” meaning to walk in the path of truth and life.[1]  First Thessalonians is Paul’s first letter back to his new converts in Thessalonica. He articulates what it means to live and walk as a Christian. He encourages the converts to seek faith, love, hope, and spiritual power:

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. (1 Thess. 1:3-5)

In chapter two, he reminds them to please God, not men, even when doing so causes them to suffer, trying their hearts (1 Thess. 2:4).

In chapter 4, he tells them that they can become sanctified by their purity and fairness (1 Thess. 4:3-6). They must seek holiness, brotherly love, study, being quiet or reverent, minding their own business, working with their hands, and walking honestly (1 Thess. 4:7-12).

In chapter 5, he tells them to esteem their leaders, rejoice, pray, give thanks, quench not the Spirit, despise not prophesyings, prove (test) all things, hold fast that which is good, and abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:13-22).

This rich description of what it means to live a holy life, walking in the path of Christ, still serves us well today.

Julie Smith has articulated in much more detail how the Way is described in Mark and the other Gospels, usually by the Greek word hodos. She explains that Paul used other language to describe a Christian life. See her presentation on The Way on video and transcript on this page, and in her commentary The Gospel according to Mark.  

[1] Although in 1 Thessalonians 3:11 Paul uses the word hodos, way, to describe the path that he needed to return to Thessalonica, it is not used to describe the way of Christian discipleship.