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1 Thessalonians

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Title: 1 Thessalonians  
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Subject: Epistle to the Colossians, Pentecostalism, Second Epistle of Peter, Saint Timothy, 51, Kiss, Archangel, Dating the Bible, Authorship of the Pauline epistles, Quantity Is Job 1
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1 Thessalonians

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, usually referred to simply as First Thessalonians and often written 1 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible. The first letter to the Thessalonians was probably the first of Paul's letters, probably written by the end of AD 52,[1] making it the first written book in the New Testament.


Most New Testament scholars believe return of Christ.


The majority of New Testament scholars hold 1 Thessalonians to be authentic, although a number of scholars in the mid-19th century contested its authenticity, most notably Clement Schrader and F.C. Baur.[3] 1 Thessalonians matches other accepted Pauline letters, both in style and in content, and its authorship is also affirmed by 2 Thessalonians.[4]

It is also sometimes suggested that 1 Thes. 5:1–11 is a post-Pauline insertion that has many features of Lukan language and theology that serves as an apologetic correction to Paul's imminent expectation of the second coming in 1 Thes. 4:13–18.[9]

Other scholars, such as Schmithals,[10] Eckhart,[11] Demke[12] and Munro,[13] have developed complicated theories involving redaction and interpolation in 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Church members

Paul claimed the title of the "Apostle to the Gentiles", and established gentile churches in several important cities in the Roman Empire.[14] The Thessalonians to whom the letter is addressed were the mainly gentile Christians of the congregation he had founded. This reflects the ethnic and religious makeup of that congregation in Thessalonica, and is supported by Paul's brief remark in 1:9 that they "turned to God from idols." It was gentiles, not Jews, who stopped worshiping idols.

According to Ehrman, the Book of Acts tells a different story of Paul's career,[14] but in this case it reports that, while there were "some" Jews converted during Paul's initial preaching in Thessalonica, the gentiles who were converted were "a large number" and the Jews as a body fiercely opposed Paul's work there.[15]


Paul was concerned because of the infancy of the church. He had spent only a few weeks with them before leaving for Athens. In his concern, he sent his delegate, Timothy, to visit the Thessalonians and to return with a report. While, on the whole, the news was encouraging, it also showed that important misunderstandings existed concerning Paul's teaching of Christianity. Paul devotes part of the letter to correcting these errors, and exhorts the Thessalonians to purity of life, reminding them that their sanctification is God's will for their lives.



  1. Salutation and thanksgiving (1 Thes. 1:1–10)
  2. Past interactions with the church (1 Thes. 2:1–20)
  3. Regarding Timothy's visit (1 Thes. 3:1–13)
  4. Specific issues within the church (1 Thes. 4:1–5:25)
    1. Relationships among Christians (1 Thes. 4:1–12)
    2. Mourning those who have died (1 Thes. 4:13–18)
    3. Preparing for God's arrival (1 Thes. 5:1–11)
  5. How Christians should behave (1 Thes. 5:12–25)
  6. Closing salutation (1 Thes. 5:26–28)


Paul, speaking for himself, Silas, and Timothy, gives thanks for the news about their faith and love; he reminds them of the kind of life he had lived while he was with them. Paul stresses how honorably he conducted himself, reminding them that he had worked to earn his keep, taking great pains not to burden anyone. He did this, he says, even though he could have used his status as an apostle to impose upon them.

Paul goes on to answer some concerns which have arisen in the church. Notably, there was some confusion regarding the fate of those who die before the arrival of the new kingdom. Many seem to have believed that an afterlife would be available only to those who lived to see the kingdom. Paul explains that the dead will be resurrected, and dealt with prior to those still living, who will greet the Lord in the air. Thus, he assures, there is no reason to mourn the death of fellow Christians, and to do so is to show a shameful lack of faith.

Unlike all subsequent Pauline epistles, 1 Thessalonians does not focus on justification by faith or questions of Jewish-gentile relations, themes that are covered in all other letters. Many scholars see this as an indication that this letter was written before the Epistle to the Galatians, where Paul formed and identified his positions on these matters.[1]

See also


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External links

  • Catholic Encyclopedia
  • at
First Epistle to the Thessalonians
Preceded by
New Testament
Books of the Bible
Succeeded by
Second Thessalonians

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