Writer

The author doubtless was the Apostle Paul. He called himself by that name twice (1 :1; 2:18). His associates at the time of composition were Silas and Timothy, the very men who assisted 

Paul in the evangelization of Thessalonica (1:1; cf. Acts 17:1-9). The geographical movements of the author from Philippi to Thessalonica to Athens to Corinth (2:2; 3: 1, 6; cf. Acts 16-18) correspond to Paul's recorded journey. 

The typical Pauline style of an opening salutation, blessing, prayer of thanks-giving, followed by a major section on doctrine and practice, and ending with a personal greeting and benediction can be traced in the book. 

Distinctive Pauline words and phrases such as faith, love, and hope; (5:8; cf. Col. 1:4-5) are dotted throughout the Epistle.

The Apostle Paul

Several Church Fathers recognized these features and acknowledged the Epistle to be from Paul. Among them were Marcion, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria. It was also listed with the Pauline letters in the Muratorian Canon. 

 Salonika from Space

The city was founded in 315 B.C. By Cassander who named it after his wife, the stepsister of Alexander the Great. 

When Rome organized Macedonia into a province in 146 B.C., Thessalonica (Salonika) was made its capital. 

It soon grew into the second largest city of that area, next only to Philippi which was about one hundred miles to the northeast.  As a free city, it had its own government, ruled by politarchs (Acts 17:6). 


It had a commercially strategic location. Situated at the head of the Thermaic Gulf, it was able to serve as a seaport for the rich agricultural plains of Macedonia. 


It was also the largest city on the Via Egnatia, the main highway between Rome and the region north of the Aegean Sea. 


 In commerce with the Orient, it almost rivaled Corinth and Ephesus. Its mercantile importance no doubt attracted a good number of Jews since there was an active synagogue in the city.


Today the city still stands, bearing the name Salonika and having a population of over 200,000. 

City

Thessalonica - (Salonika) 

Establishment of the Church

After overnight stops at Amphipolis and Apollonia, Paul with Silas' and Timothy came to Thessalonica from Philippi (Acts 17:1; A.D. 50). For three Sabbaths Paul had the opportunity to preach in the Jewish synagogue. His logical reasoning had a double thrust:

  1. The Old Testament predicted that the Messiah or Christ had to suffer, to die, and to rise again;
  2. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled in His life, death, and resurrection those prophecies (Acts 17:2-3).

As a result, some of the Jews, and “of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few” believed and identified themselves with the missionary team (Acts 17: 4 ).

During those three weeks and shortly after Paul's synagogue ministry was over, a great number of pagan idol worshipers also were converted (1 Thessalonians. 1:9).

The unbelieving Jews, full of rage and jealousy, then hired a mob to stir up the unbelieving Gentiles and to assault the house of Jason, possibly the meeting place of the Christians and the lodging site of the missionary team. When they did not find Paul and his companions there, they dragged Jason and some of the Thessalonian believers before the politarchs. 

Current Churches In Thessalonica 

  They brought several false charges of insurrection and treason against the Christians.  The rulers and the inhabitants were troubled over the accusations, but when they investigated the situation, they released Jason and his friends. Because of the persecution, the team was conducted out of town secretly by night, and they journeyed on to Berea (Acts 17:5-10).


Time and Place

Forced out of Thessalonica, Paul and his team went to Berea where many Jews and Greek proselytes believed through his synagogue ministry. When the unbelieving Jews of Thessalonica heard that Paul was preaching in Berea, they came to that city, stirred up the people, and forced him out of that city also. The Berean Christians personally conducted Paul out of Macedonia to Athens in Achaia; Silas and Timothy remained in Berea to establish the work. At Athens Paul told the believers that when they returned to Berea they should charge Silas and Timothy to rejoin him in Athens (Acts 17: 10-15). While Paul waited for them, he preached in the synagogue, in the marketplace, and on Mars' Hill (Acts 17: 16-34). After the two associates came to Athens, Paul became burdened over the spiritual condition of the Thessalonians so he sent Timothy back to establish and to comfort them in the midst of their persecutions (3: 1-5). At this time Silas was also sent to Macedonia, probably to Philippi or Berea.

Paul then moved alone to Corinth (Acts 18:1 ). Soon after-wards Silas and Timothy joined him there (Acts 18:5). Timothy brought back a glorious report that the Thessalonian believers loved Paul exceedingly, that they wanted to see him again, and that they were standing firm in their faith in spite of the persecutions (3: 6-9). Full of joy, 

Paul penned this Epistle to commend them for their faith and to explain his absence and deportment (chapters. 1-3). 

Corinthian Canal 

Timothy, however, did report that there were some moral, practical, and doctrinal deficiencies in the church. Unable to return to Thessalonica to correct the problems himself, Paul, in the last part of the letter determined to "perfect that which is lacking in your faith" (3:10). The apostle thus wrote this letter from Corinth during his second missionary journey (A.D. 51). The letter carrier is unknown, more than likely Timothy. 

The ministry at Thessalonica lasted approximately one month, although some have argued for a longer stay. Such advocates state that Paul must have stayed long enough to receive two financial gifts from Philippi (Phil. 4:16), to have worked with his hands to set a precedent (2:9; II Thess. 3:6-13), and to have evangelized such a large number of pagans. However, these events could have been achieved during an intensive ministry of one month. Paul did work night and day. The overwhelming success of his ministry no doubt provoked the unbelieving Jews to envy and worried the political authorities. Some key converts out of Thessalonica were later associated with Paul in the ministry: Demas (II Tim. 4:10), Secundus (Acts 20:4), Gaius (Acts 19:29), and Aristarchus (Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2).

 Distinctive Features

The major theme of the Epistle is the second coming of Jesus Christ. Each chapter contains at least one reference to this great truth (1:3, 10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23). The classic passage on the rapture of the church is found here:

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (4:17).

The term “rapture” is based upon the Latin equivalent of the Greek word translated “shall be caught up.”

This passage (4:13-18), the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25), the defense of the resurrection (I Cor. 15), and the Book of Revelation, contain the great prophetic sections of the New Testament. The dominance of this theme demonstrates the fact that eschatological truths are among the basic fundamental doctrines taught to new converts (Acts 17:7; I Thess. 5:1-2; II Thess. 2:5).

The exaltation of the deity and lordship of Jesus Christ is clearly seen in this book. These titles were ascribed to Him:

  1. Lord Jesus Christ (1:1 [twice], 3; 2:19; 3:11, 13; 5:9, 23, 28);
  2. Lord Jesus (2:15; 4:1, 2)
  3. Lord (1:6, 8; 3:8; 12; 4:6, 15 [twice], 16, 17 [twice]; 5:2, 12, 27);
  4. Jesus Christ (2:14; 5:18)
  5. Christ (2:6; 3:2; 4:16)
  6. Jesus (1:10; 4:17 [twice])
  7. His Son (1:10)

This corresponds to the content of Paul's synagogue ministry at Thessalonica (cf. Acts 17:3).

 Purposes

In examining the text closely, Paul's purposes for writing the letter are many:

  1. To commend them for their exemplary living under persecution (1:1-10)
  2. To defend his conduct at Thessalonica against criticism that had developed in his absence (2:1-16).
  3. To explain his absence from them (2:17-20).
  4. To explain why he sent Timothy to them (3:1-13).
  5. To give them instructions on sexual purity (4:-1-8).
  6. To admonish them to proper manifestations of brotherly love (4:9-12).
  7. To correct misconceptions about the relationship of the Christian dead to living believers at the return of Christ (4:13-18).
  8. To define the character of the Day of the Lord and to show the believers' relationship to it (5:1-11).
  9. To outline their obligations to their spiritual leaders (5:12-13).
  10. To command them about various spiritual duties (5:14-28).

Outline

SALUTATION (1:1)

I.  The Nature of the Church (1:2-10)

A. Character of the church (1:2-3)
B. Example of the church (1:4-7)
C. Reputation of the church (1:8-10)

II. Paul's Relationship (2:1-3:13)

A. Paul's behavior in the church (2:1-12)
B. Paul's reception by the church (2:13-16)
C. Paul's concern for the church (2:17-3:10)
D. Paul's prayer for the church (3:11-13)

 


III. The problem of the Church (4:1-5:22)

A. Sexual purity (4:1-8)
B. Social conduct (4:9-12)
C. State of the Christian dead (4.13-18)
D. Times and seasons (5:1-11)
E. Church officers (5:12-13)
F. Church responsibilities (5:14-22)

CONCLUSION (5:23-28)  

When Old Meets New In Thessalonika

Thessalonika Sunset 

Macedonia & Achaea 

Macedonia 

Achaea 

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