The book of 1 Thessalonians (Thessalonians 1)

Bilderesultat for 1 thessalonians

This letter identifies its author as Paul (and his associates Silas and Timothy, 1 Thessalonians 1:1). Despite the fact that a few critics have denied Paul’s authorship of this letter, the vast majority of scholars remain convicted that it is Pauline.

Two factors suggest a date of about A.D. 51-52: The letter fits with what we know of Paul’s missionary work from Acts 17-18, and tha Gallio inscription is evidence that Timothy’s visit to Corinth took place during that time period (see Gallio, proconsul of Achaia under Acts 18).

Paul wrote to the new believers in Thessalonica, a major military and commercial port located along the Egnatian Way (an important Roman road connecting Asia Minor with the Adriatic Sea). Thessalonica had a population of about 200.000, making it the largest city in Macedonia (see Thessalonica, also under 1 Thessalonians 1).

After having planted a church in Thessalonica, Paul was abruptly forced out of the city (Acts 17:1-10), leaving the new Christians there with only minimal teaching in Christian doctrine. Paul dispatched Timothy to check on the Thessalonian Christians while he himself remained in Athens (1 Thessalonians 3:1-2). Upon his return Timothy found the apostle in Corinth (Acts 18:1-5). Although Timothy could report that the Thessalonians were established in the faith, he relayed the need for additional teaching in matters of Christian ethics and eschatology (teachings relating to the end times). Paul wrote this letter to assure the Thessalonian Christians that his abrupt departure had not signified lack of love for these believers (1 Thessalonians 2-3), to encourage them to avoid sexual immorality (4:1-8) and to clear up confusion in some of their minds regarding the resurrection and second advent of Christ (4:13-5:3).

As you read, note the repeated references to God’s faithfulness, and list truths from this letter regarding the end times and Christ’s second coming. Watch for practical advice on living the Christian life within the context of an immoral culture that is hostile to Christian values.

Did you know that Greeks despised manual labour and viewed it as fit only for slaves (2:9)? Did you know that a wide range of sexual values and practices existed in Paul’s day both in Greek and Roman society, and that moral standards were generally low, and chastity was regarded as an unreasonable restriction (4:3)? Did you know that inscriptions on tombs and references in literature demonstrate that first century pagans viewed death with horror (4:13)?


 

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