ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 124


Letters in Paul’s day had a common form, typically consisting of three
parts: an opening, a main body, and a closing.
In the opening, writers would give their name, identify whom they
were writing to, and offer a good wish or prayer for the recipients,
expressing gratitude for the relationship.
In the main body, they would introduce and deal with various items
of business.
In the closing, they would often name and vouch for the person delivering the letter, who would likely read it aloud to the recipients. Then
the writers would extend personal greetings and pass along greetings
from others. They might also say when they hoped to see the recipients
next, and then they end with a final good wish.
Paul makes masterful use of this ancient letter-writing form. He often
uses the standard opening and closing elements to summarize the letter’s main themes.
This first letter to the Thessalonian believers—the earliest letter we
have from Paul—provides the guidance and support they will need to
continue following Jesus with maturity and courage. With his opening
words, Paul rejoices in their eager reception of the Good News and
acknowledges the suffering they are experiencing because of their faith
in Jesus. Then, just before his final greetings, he efficiently summarizes
his responses to the challenges the Thessalonian believers are facing.
He tells them to work hard, live peacefully, and care well for others.
In the midst of this letter, Paul focuses on the great vision of Jesus’
glorious return as King and our great hope of the resurrection of the
dead. This vision and hope will sustain the Thessalonians as they seek
to live renewed lives that are pleasing to God.

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