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1st Chapter of Book of 1 Thessalonians


Overview of 1 Thessalonians

This is most likely the earliest letter we have from Paul - likely written in 50 or 51 CE. The events of Acts 17 and 18 detail Paul's mission to Thessaloniki from a historical point of view, which you can read to get the back story.


Paul and his coworker Silas went to the ancient Greek city of Thessaloniki (or Thessalonica), the second most important trading city in the Roman empire. It was located in what is modern day Macedonia and was the primary link between Asia and Europe, especially the Danube River.


After just one month of telling people the good news, a large number of primarily Greek people converted to the way of Jesus and formed the first church community there. But trouble was brewing as Paul’s announcement of the risen Jesus as the true Lord led to local opposition. The Christians in Thessaloniki were accused of defying Caesar, the Roman emperor, by “saying that there’s another king, Jesus”, Paul and Silas were forced to flee from Thessaloniki.


Later on, Paul sent his disciple, Timothy, back to Thessalonica to check in on the fledgling church. This letter is Paul’s attempt to reconnect with them after rece­iving a report from Timothy that the Thessalonian Christians were doing more than okay—they were flourishing despite intense persecution.


About Chapter One

The first chapter consists of Paul's greetings and welcome to the church. These greetings are intended to set up the themes of the letter and to organize Paul's thoughts about what he would like to address in this writing.


Paul reminds the church the best way for them to get to know God is by coming together in community. It's through the acts of service to one another, the bounding of support, and stories they share which give them the most strength. The word of God is carries by fragile vessels, so binding together is important for their survival.


He also reminds them their greatest "weapons" in this "spiritual warfare" the fight as a result of their conversion against the surrounding culture are three fold - faith, hope, and love. Their lives should be defined by those three markers which are the best witness they have.


REFLECTION QUESTIONS
  • Who was this letter written to?

  • Where is Thessalonica?

  • What do we know about Thessalonica? What is the background and history there?

  • What do we know of Paul’s time ministering there? Who went with him?

  • Based on this chapter, what is the main content and/or main themes of this epistle?

  • What was the condition of the Thessalonian church?

  • How would you describe the tenor of Paul’s letter to them?

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