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- THE TITLE
This book is so called because it is the first of two epistles addressed to "the church of the Thessalonians" (I Thessalonians 1:1).
- THE WRITER
Paul is named as the writer in the first verse of chapter 1.
- THE CITY OF THESSALONICA
The town was formerly called Therma (Bath, or Hotwells), and was situated on the Thermaic Gulf almost 100 miles southwest of Philippi. In 315 B.C., Cassander, King of Macedonia, named it for his wife Thessalonica, half-sister of Alexander the Great. During Paul's time, it was a great commercial and political center, being the Roman capital of one of the four districts of Macedonia. The modern town goes by the name of Salonika. It compares favorably with many Mediterranean ports. During World War I it was the main seaport to the entire Balkan area.
- TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING
It was written from Corinth about A.D. 52 or 53 (Acts 17:14-16; 18:1-5; I Thessalonians 3:1-6).
- ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH
Paul established the church on his second missionary tour. After leaving Philippi, the party passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica where they spent three Sabbaths preaching in the synagogue (Acts 17;1-4). On account of persecution by the Jews, they went on to Berea. Leaving Silas and Timothy there, Paul went on to Athens, and finally to Corinth where he spent eighteen months. Silas and Timothy rejoined him there (Act 17:5-8:11). While Paul was in Thessalonica he received support from the Philippians (Philippians 4:16). The evangelization of Thessalonica had far-reaching consequences. Here the normal course of the gospel was realized, for from this radiating center was "sounded forth the word of the Lord" (I Thessalonians 1:8). In no other Macedonian community was there found a more effective sounding board for the gospel.
- THE EPISTLE
This is probably the first epistle by Paul, and perhaps the first written document of the Christian religion. It is full of the spirit of love for the Thessalonians, whose "work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope" was remembered by the apostle. The main idea is consolation (4:17,18). The keynote is hope, and the key words are afflictions and advent.
- EXERCISES FOR STUDENT ACTIVITY
- Who was with Paul when he wrote this letter? (1:1).
- What are some of the things in the church for which Paul is thankful? (1:2-6).
- Give a description of Paul's ministry at Thessalonica (2:1-16).
- Who hindered Paul from returning to Thessalonica? (2:1-16).
- Describe Paul's great solicitation for the Thessalonians (3:1-10).
- Was Paul's prayer in 3:11 ever answered? (Acts 20:1-4).
- What duties and exhortations are enjoined? (4:1-12; 5:12-22).
- What does Paul say about Christ's second coming? (4:13-18; 5:1,2).
- What should be our attitude in view of His second coming? (5:3-11).
- Complete the following quotations:
- "For from you _____________ out the word of the Lord."
- "But we were _____________ among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children."
- "Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, _____________ our way unto you."
- "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which _____________ in Jesus will God bring with him."
- "Abstain from all _____________ of evil."
- "_____________all things: hold fast that which is good."
- "_____________no the Spirit."
- Topics for further study
- What evidences in I Thessalonians indicate that many of the Thessalonians came into the church directly from heathendom?
- Discuss the position held by many that I Thessalonians is one of the most gentle and affectionate of Paul's letters.
- Note statements in the epistle regarding the deity of Jesus.
- What does the epistle teach regarding the use of sexual instinct?
- Why were the Thessalonians unduly alarmed concerning their Christian dead?
Published in The Old Paths Archive