THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
AUTHOR: The apostle Paul, joined in his salutation by Silvanus and
Timothy (1:1), and with specific mention of his name again later in the
epistle (2:18). Early sources in church history that attribute this
letter to Paul include: Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.), Tertullian
(200 A.D.), and Irenaeus (200 A.D.).
THE CITY OF THESSALONICA: It was the capital and largest city of the
Roman province of Macedonia. Located on the Egnatian Way, a major road
from Rome to the eastern provinces, the city served as center of trade
and commerce. Today, it is known as Thessaloniki, or Salonica.
THE CHURCH AT THESSALONICA: The establishment of the church is
recorded in Ac 17:1-9. On his second missionary journey, Paul and his
companions (Silas and Timothy) had just left Philippi and passed
through Amphipolis and Apollonia to arrive at Thessalonica. As was his
custom, Paul immediately located the synagogue and reasoned with the
Jews for three Sabbaths concerning Jesus Christ. While some of them
were persuaded, including a great number of devout Greeks and leading
women, the unbelieving Jews became jealous and created an uproar in the
city. Therefore it became necessary to send Paul and Silas away
secretly by night to Berea.
Despite such ominous beginnings, a strong church was established in
Thessalonica (cf. 1:2-10). Mostly Gentile (cf. 1:9), its members
included Jason (Ac 17:9), Aristarchus, and Secundus (Ac 20:4).
TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING: First Thessalonians is considered one of
Paul's earliest epistles, if not the first. From the letter itself
(3:1-6), and the record of Paul's travels in Acts (Ac 17:10-18:11), it
appears that Paul wrote this letter soon after arriving in Corinth on
his second journey. This would put it somewhere around 52 A.D.
PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE: The abrupt departure from Thessalonica so soon
after the beginning of the church naturally left Paul anxious...