SummaryThe Apostle Paul and his associates write a tender pastoral letter to believers in Thessalonica to reaffirm their strong faith, strengthen their ground for hope, encourage them in holy living, and instruct them about the coming of the Lord Jesus. The letter affords glimpses into the most affectionate aspects of Paul's pastoral and theological guidance to a church he helped found. The themes of future hope and expectant anticipation of Christ's return are prevalent in this letter.
This letter offers an intimate view into Paul's concern for a young and embattled community of faith. The theological guidance Paul gives consistently calls the Thessalonian believers to live in a distinctive way and to cultivate a fellowship of faith, hope, and love. This is not a gospel message that compels people to ignore or forsake the world; instead it calls them to live in it with a distinctively Christian hope.
Where Do I Find It?
Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians is the thirteenth book in the New Testament. It is situated in the midst of the "Pauline corpus," the collection of letters attributed to the Apostle Paul (the books of Romans through Philemon).
Who Wrote It?
The opening words of 1 Thessalonians identify the authors as the coworkers Paul, Silvanus (identified as Silas in the book of Acts), and Timothy. The Apostle Paul appears to have been the principal writer, but it is noteworthy that the letter almost always speaks in the voice of multiple authors (using pronouns such as "we," "us," and "our").
When Was It Written?
Of all the surviving letters written by the Apostle Paul, 1 Thessalonians is very likely the first to have been written. This also makes 1 Thessalonians the oldest book in the New Testament. It was written in the early 50s, probably in 51 C.E.
What's It About?
The Apostle Paul and his associates write a tender pastoral letter to believers in Thessalonica to reaffirm their strong faith, strengthen their ground for hope, encourage them in holy living, and instruct them about the coming of the Lord.
How Do I Read It?
As with any other New Testament epistle, to read 1 Thessalonians is to read someone else's mail. Paul and his coworkers had a preexisting relationship with the believers in Thessalonica, and this letter is only one piece of their ongoing communications over a span of time. The letter itself yields clues about the circumstances that prompted Paul and the others to write it, and the content of the letter addresses certain "hot-button" issues that were probably concerns for the members of the church in Thessalonica.
AUTHOR: Matt Skinner, Associate Professor of New Testament