Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy

Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy

Jehovah’s Word Is Alive

Highlights From the Letters to the Thessalonians and to Timothy

THE new congregation in Thessalonica has experienced opposition ever since it was formed when the apostle Paul visited there. So when Timothy​—perhaps in his 20’s—​returns from there with a good report, Paul is moved to write the Thessalonians a letter to commend and encourage them. Likely composed late in 50 C.E., that letter is the first of Paul’s inspired writings. Shortly thereafter, he writes the Christians in Thessalonica a second letter. This time, he corrects an erroneous viewpoint held by some and exhorts the brothers to stand firm in the faith.

About ten years later, Paul is in Macedonia and Timothy is in Ephesus. Paul writes to Timothy, encouraging him to stay in Ephesus and carry on spiritual warfare against false teachers inside the congregation. When a wave of persecution is unleashed upon Christians in the wake of a fire that ravages Rome in 64 C.E., Paul writes his second letter to Timothy. It is the last of his inspired writings. We today can benefit from the encouragement and counsel given in these four letters of Paul.​—Heb. 4:12.


(1 Thess. 1:1–5:28)

Paul commends the Thessalonians for ‘their faithful work, their loving labor, and their endurance.’ He tells them that they are his ‘hope and joy and crown of exultation.’​—1 Thess. 1:3; 2:19.

After encouraging the Christians in Thessalonica to comfort one another with the resurrection hope, Paul states: “Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.” He counsels them to “stay awake” and keep their senses.​—1 Thess. 4:16-18; 5:2, 6.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

4:15-17—Who are “caught away in clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” and how does this happen? These are anointed Christians who are alive during Christ’s presence in Kingdom power. They “meet the Lord” Jesus in the invisible heavenly realm. To experience this, though, they first need to die and be resurrected as spirit creatures. (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:35, 44) Christ’s presence has already begun, so anointed Christians who die today do not remain dead. They are “caught away,” or raised instantly.​—1 Cor. 15:51, 52.

5:23—What did Paul mean when he prayed that “the spirit and soul and body of [the] brothers be preserved”? Paul was referring to the spirit, soul, and body of the composite Christian congregation, which included spirit-anointed Christians in Thessalonica. Instead of simply praying that the congregation be preserved, he prayed for the preservation of its “spirit,” or mental disposition. He also prayed for its “soul,” its life, or existence, and for its “body”​—the composite body of anointed Christians. (1 Cor. 12:12, 13) The prayer thus highlights Paul’s intense concern for the congregation.

Lessons for Us:

1:3, 7; 2:13; 4:1-12; 5:15. An effective way to give counsel is to mix due commendation with encouragement to do better.

4:1, 9, 10. Jehovah’s worshippers should continue to make spiritual progress.

5:1-3, 8, 20, 21. As Jehovah’s day approaches, we should “keep our senses and have on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” Moreover, we should pay serious attention to God’s prophetic Word, the Bible.


(2 Thess. 1:1–3:18)

Twisting what Paul said in his first letter, some in the congregation apparently contend that “the presence of [the] Lord” is at hand. To correct that viewpoint, Paul relates what has to ‘come first.’​—2 Thess. 2:1-3.

Paul exhorts: “Stand firm and maintain your hold on the traditions that you were taught.” He gives them orders “to withdraw from every brother walking disorderly.”​—2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

2:3, 8—Who is “the man of lawlessness,” and how will he be done away with? This composite “man” is the clergy class of Christendom. The one authorized to declare God’s judgments against the wicked and to give orders to execute them is “the Word”​—God’s Chief Spokesman, Jesus Christ. (John 1:1) Hence, it can be said that Jesus will do away with the man of lawlessness “by the spirit [activating force] of his mouth.”

2:13, 14—How have the anointed Christians been ‘selected from the beginning for salvation’? The anointed as a class were foreordained when Jehovah purposed for the seed of the woman to bruise Satan in the head. (Gen. 3:15) Jehovah also prescribed the requirements they must meet, the work they would do, and the testing they would undergo. He thus called them for ‘this destiny.’

Lessons for Us:

1:6-9. Jehovah’s judgments are executed selectively.

3:8-12. The nearness of Jehovah’s day should not be used as an excuse for not working to provide for our needs and to support ourselves in the ministry. Idleness can make us lazy and induce us to become “a busybody in other people’s matters.”​—1 Pet. 4:15.


(1 Tim. 1:1–6:21)

Paul instructs Timothy to “go on waging the fine warfare; holding faith and a good conscience.” The apostle outlines qualifications for appointed men in the congregation. Paul also instructs Timothy to “turn down the false stories which violate what is holy.”​—1 Tim. 1:18, 19; 3:1-10, 12, 13; 4:7.

“Do not severely criticize an older man,” Paul writes. He urges Timothy: “Guard what is laid up in trust with you, turning away from the empty speeches that violate what is holy and from the contradictions of the falsely called ‘knowledge.’”​—1 Tim. 5:1; 6:20.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

1:18; 4:14—What “predictions” were voiced concerning Timothy? They may have been certain prophecies concerning Timothy’s future role in the Christian congregation, uttered under inspiration when Paul visited Lystra during his second missionary journey. (Acts 16:1, 2) Based on these “predictions,” the older men of the congregation “laid their hands” upon young Timothy, setting him apart for a specific service.

2:15—How is a woman “kept safe through childbearing”? Childbearing, caring for her children, and managing a household can keep a woman “safe” from becoming an unoccupied ‘gossiper and meddler in other people’s affairs.’​—1 Tim. 5:11-15.

3:16—What is the sacred secret of godly devotion? Whether perfect obedience to Jehovah’s sovereignty is possible for humans or not was a secret for ages. Jesus provided the answer by maintaining perfect integrity to God until his death.

6:15, 16—Do these words apply to Jehovah God or to Jesus Christ? These words apply to the one whose manifestation they describe, namely, Jesus Christ. (1 Tim. 6:14) In comparison with humans who rule as kings and as lords, Jesus is the “only Potentate,” and he alone has immortality. (Dan. 7:14; Rom. 6:9) Since his ascension to the invisible heavens, no man on earth “can see” him with literal eyes.

Lessons for Us:

4:15. Regardless of whether we have embraced Christianity recently or long ago, we should strive to be progressive and continue to make spiritual advancement.

6:2. If we are employed by a fellow believer, rather than take advantage of him in any way, we should serve him even more readily than we would someone outside the congregation.


(2 Tim. 1:1–4:22)

To prepare Timothy for the difficult times ahead, Paul writes: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind.” Timothy is advised: “A slave of the Lord does not need to fight, but needs to be gentle toward all, qualified to teach.”​—2 Tim. 1:7; 2:24.

“Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe,” Paul exhorts Timothy. Apostate teachings were spreading, so the apostle counsels the younger overseer: “Preach the word, be at it urgently . . . , reprove, reprimand, exhort.”​—2 Tim. 3:14; 4:2.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

1:13—What is “the pattern of healthful words”? The “healthful words” are “those of our Lord Jesus Christ”​—true Christian teachings. (1 Tim. 6:3) What Jesus taught and did was in harmony with God’s Word, thus the expression “healthful words” can also by extension refer to all Bible teachings. These teachings can help us to see what Jehovah requires of us. We keep holding to this pattern by practicing what we have learned from the Bible.

4:13—What were “the parchments”? The designation “parchments” refers to a writing material of prepared leather. It is possible that Paul was asking for portions of the Hebrew Scriptures so that he could study them during his imprisonment in Rome. Some of the scrolls could have been of papyrus but others of parchment.

Lessons for Us:

1:5; 3:15. The fundamental reason why Timothy had faith in Christ Jesus, that is, faith that influenced everything Timothy did, was the early Scriptural education he received at home. How vital it is that family members think seriously about how they are fulfilling this responsibility toward God and their children!

1:16-18. When our fellow believers undergo trials, face persecution, or are imprisoned, let us pray for them and do all we can to help them.​—Prov. 3:27; 1 Thess. 5:25.

2:22. Christians, especially youths, should not be so preoccupied with bodybuilding, sports, music, entertainment, hobbies, travel, aimless conversations, and the like, that they have little time for spiritual pursuits.

[Picture on page 31]

Which of the inspired letters composed by the apostle Paul was written last?