In Acts 17:1-10, while on his second missionary journey, the Apostle Paul and his companions established the church in Thessalonica. After only a brief time in the city, dangerous opposition arose from those who thought Paul's message was a threat to Judaism.
Since Paul had to leave these new converts sooner than he wanted to, at his earliest opportunity, he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to check on the church. When Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth, he had good news: In spite of intense persecution, the Christians in Thessalonica were standing firm in the faith.
Thus, Paul's primary purpose for writing the epistle was to encourage, comfort and strengthen the church. He also answered some of their questions and corrected a few misconceptions about the resurrection and Christ's return.
Author of 1 Thessalonians:The Apostle Paul wrote this letter with the assistance of his co-workers, Silas and Timothy.
Date Written:Around A.D. 51.
Written To:1 Thessalonians was sent specifically to young believers in the newly established church in Thessalonica, although in general it speaks to all Christians everywhere.
Landscape of 1 Thessalonians:The bustling seaport city of Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonia, located along the Egnatian Way, the most important trade route in the Roman Empire running from Rome to Asia Minor. With the influence of various cultures and pagan religions, the fledging community of believers in Thessalonica faced a multitude of pressures and persecutions.
Themes in 1 Thessalonians:
Standing Firm in the Faith - The new believers in Thessalonica faced heavy opposition from both Jews and Gentiles. As first century Christians, they were constantly under threat of stoning, beatings, torture and crucifixion. Following Jesus Christ took courageous, all-encompassing commitment. The believers in Thessalonica managed to stay true to the faith even without the presence of the apostles.
As believers today, filled with the Holy Spirit, we too can stand firm in our faith no matter how difficult the opposition or persecution becomes.
Hope of the Resurrection - Besides encouraging the church, Paul wrote this letter to correct some doctrinal errors regarding the resurrection. Because they lacked foundational teachings, the Thessalonian believers were confused about what would happen to those who died prior to the return of Christ. So, Paul assured them that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will be united with him in death and live with him forever.
We can live confidently in the hope of resurrection life.
Daily Living - Paul also instructed the new Christians on practical ways to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ.
Our beliefs ought to translate into a changed way of life. By living holy lives in faithfulness to Christ and his Word, we remain ready for his return and will never be caught unprepared.
Key Characters in 1 Thessalonians:Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-7
So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. (NLT)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. (NLT)
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (NLT)
Outline of 1 Thessalonians:
- Greeting - 1 Thessalonians 1:1.
- Commendations and explanations - 1 Thessalonians 1:2 - 3:13.
- Practical instructions and encouragement - 1 Thessalonians 4:1 – 5:24.
- Closing and benediction - 1 Thessalonians 5:25-28.