This book is so called because it is the first of two epistles addressed to "the church of the Thessalonians" (I Thessalonians 1:1).
Paul is named as the writer in the first verse of chapter 1.
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.
It was written from Corinth about A.D. 52 or 53 (Acts 17:14-16; 18:1-5; I Thessalonians 3:1-6).
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.
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.