I found this book personally helpful. Although accessible to all Christians, it reminded me of what lies at the heart of a pastor’s work. The author explains how its content is taken from sermons preached to his church from Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians. This was just after he declined a call to another church, convinced his place was with his present church.
Hyde chose to preach from these epistles, because, in them, ‘Paul opens his pastoral heart more than to any other congregation to which he wrote’ (p.14). That personal aspect is evident. As Hyde expounds these two letters, you not only experience Paul’s heart for the Thessalonian church but also Hyde’s heart for his own congregation.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians because he was encouraged by their testimony in a pagan world. He encouraged them to persevere in living for their God and Saviour.
Hyde points out that Paul wrote in such a personal and passionate way to the Thessalonians that he reveals what a pastoral ministry should be. For example, ‘The ministry to see progress in our people must be done in person … people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care … The pastor’s heart towards his people leads to the pastor’s labour for his people’ (pp. 22, 26).
Throughout, Hyde brings out Paul’s shepherd heart for the Thessalonian believers. Paul encourages believers in the face of persecution from outside the church; he sets them straight about enemies inside the church, teaching false doctrine concerning Jesus’ Second Coming. Additionally, he exhorts them to practice the Christian life before the world, especially in the place of work.
This is not a verse-by-verse commentary; its 32 chapters were once 32 sermons. Some chapters focus on specific verses, while others cover a larger passage. On a few occasions, Hyde can be digressive, but there is nothing here that jars with biblical truth.
This is not a technical, but a devotional, commentary. It is by no means light reading, but full of good theological meat. It contains generous quotations from the Church Fathers, various confessions and modern commentators.
Hyde works through topics specific to 1 & 2 Thessalonians, such as persecution, false doctrine, election, justification, sanctification, death, glorification, prayer, church life, the Christian’s work ethic, the Second Coming, the great apostasy and the antichrist.
It reads well and I recommend it to pastors preparing to preach from these epistles and Christians seeking to understand and live out God’s Word.
I close with this quotation: ‘Why must pastors strive for their people’s progress? Because Jesus is holy and has given his Spirit to lead us. Why must pastors know their people personally? Because Jesus knows our names and cares for us individually. Why must pastors pour themselves out for their people? Because Jesus did. He “loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2)’ (p.27).