2016-04-24 - 1 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Author and Context
- Author: Let's step back for a moment, and talk about the letter itself. Paul is generally accepted as the author, and while some scholarship disputes this position, this seems to be the best view, consistent with Scripture. After all, we read in 1 Thessalonians 1:1
“Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians …”
… and it seems that what Scripture says it means.
- Context: Next, we need to at least ask; “What is the history behind the letter?” It should be noted that the it is considered to be the earliest of the Pauline Epistles. It was written out of the background of Paul's involvement with these believers, as recorded in Acts 17, and the prelude of which in found in Acts 16:12-17:14: Here we see that Paul's ministry in Philippi was successful, and that he spent about two months there. It was at Philippi, that Lydia was led to the Lord. Through her salvation, her family also came to a relationship with the Lord, and her home became Paul's base of operations.
But as was often the case, Paul also managed to get himself in trouble, by casting a demon out of a female slave who was in the fortune-telling business for her masters. The result of this was the beating of Paul and his companions, as well as their being thrown into prison. Through the intervention of God, they had the opportunity to lead the jailer and his family to Christ, but once again, they had to leave town.
And so having been freed from prison, the group made its way to Thessalonica. There they spent less than a month teaching in the synagogue, three Sabbaths, though they were probably in the city longer than that; after all, we know that Paul earned his income by working during this period, and that he left behind a thriving church.
The missionaries were successful, but were forced to go to Berea about fifty miles away. There they also had success until a group of Jewish people from Thessalonica came to the city, to stir up trouble.
It was shortly after this, sometime between 50 and 53 AD, that Paul as a result of Timothy's report, was led to write this letter to the believers in Thessalonica. The report related how these believers were doing, since Paul had taught and then left them - and it included a number of positive statements, as well as an analysis of those areas in which they were having problems. Therefore, this letter encompasses Paul's comments, based on Timothy's report. By the way, this group would have included both Jewish and Gentile believers.
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
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CFD | April 2016
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