7. There are two parts: I. An Exhortation to constancy, conceived in the form of thanksgiving and prayer (1 Thessalonians 1-3). II. An Exhortation to the duties worthy of a Christian profession (1 Thessalonians 4; 5). Interpreters of the Epistle, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
If you remove the preface and the Epilogue of the Epistle, the body comprehends two heads. For, first, Saint Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to constancy, and that, not directly, but obliquely, praising, giving thanks to God, narrating their prayers for them (1 Thessalonians 1-4). Second, he exhorts them to the duties worthy of a Christian profession (1 Thessalonians 4; 5).
I. An Exhortation to constancy, conceived in the form of thanksgiving and prayer, Chapters 1-3. See:
1. His thanksgiving: chapters 1:1-3:10: in which:
a. With an inscription and prayer going before, he gives thanks to God because of them, in his prayers remembering their work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope (verses 1-3); he says that it is consistent with their election and his proclamation (verses 4, 5), commending them as imitators of him (verse 6), examples to the believers in Macedonia and Achaia, and in every place (verses 7, 8), with those reporting everywhere what manner of entrance Paul had unto them, and how they were turned from idols to the living God (verses 9, 10): chapter 1.
b. Narrating his entrance unto them, he attests to the sincerity of his exhortation, inasmuch as by it he studied to please God, not men, being gentle, even after the likeness of a nurse, towards them, ready to impart his soul for them (verses 1-12); and, again given thanks to God, that they, suffering many things of the Jews, received his speech as the speech of God (verses 13-16), he mentions that his journey to them, his glory and joy, was hindered by Satan (verses 17-20): chapter 2.
c. He presents Timothy as sent by himself, who would confirm them, and fortify them against afflictions (verses 1-5); with Timothy returning, and commending their faith and love towards him (verse 6), he sets forth his own consolation and joy (verses 7-10): chapter 3:1-10.
2. His prayer, that God might direct his way to them, and grant an increase of mutual love (verses 11-13): chapter 3:11-13.
II. Exhortation to the duties worthy of a Christian profession, Chapters 4; 5. In which:
1. He exhorts that they might abound in their walking, as they had received of him (verses 1, 2), study sanctification, defraud not each other (verses 3-8), but love one another in a brotherly way (verses 9, 10), do this with quiet industry, work with their own hand (verses 11, 12), not mourn excessively on account of the dead, because the dead are to be raised from death together with Christ (verses 13, 14), where the mystery of the resurrection of the dead is set forth (verses 15-18): chapter 4.
2. Describing the time of the coming of the Lord (verses 1-3), he commends vigilance and sobriety (verses 4-7), armor (verses 8-10), mutual exhortation and edification (verses 11-14), the study of goodness (verse 15), joy in all things (verse 16), prayer (verses 17, 18), the kindling of the Spirit (verse 19), the high estimation of Prophecy (verse 20), and the study of a good conscience (verses 21, 22); and, praying sanctification for them, comforts them (verses 23, 24); and closes with greetings and a prayer (verses 25-28): chapter 5.