The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 208–9


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Author and Audience:The book of 1 Thessalonians was written by Paul and addressed to the church at Thessalonica (see 1 Thessalonians 1:1). Many believe it to be his earliest Epistle.

Historical Background:The Thessalonian church had its beginnings during Paul’s second missionary journey. Soon after leaving Philippi, Paul arrived in Thessalonica, a major port city and trade center on the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea (see Bible map 13). On three successive Sabbaths he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in Jewish synagogues with a good measure of success (see Acts 17:1–4). However, some unbelieving Jews, “moved with envy,” gathered a hostile crowd that sought to assault Paul and his companions and any others who sympathized with them (see Acts 17:5). Paul, concerned for the safety of the new converts, agreed to leave (see Acts 17:10). He continued his missionary journey and at some point sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to strengthen the young church (see 1 Thessalonians 3:1–3). Later Timothy joined Paul at Corinth to report on the condition of the Thessalonian church (see Acts 18:5). Paul wrote this letter from Corinth around A.D. 50–51 to counsel the Thessalonian Saints regarding the concerns reported by Timothy.

Theme:Paul wrote this letter to encourage the Thessalonians to live worthy lives in preparation for the coming of the Lord, and to relieve their concerns about relatives who had died without a knowledge of the gospel.