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1 Thessalonians

General

The Thessalonians are best known for the things written in them regarding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. In itself this is also obvious because, for example, each chapter of the first letter is concluded with a reference to the coming of Christ. Everything in this letter is more or less in the light of the future expectations. Furthermore, Paul tells a lot about all kinds of practical matters; how did certain things go; how did he stand in his ministry; Paul's Joy over the Thessalonians, etc.

Writer, origin and destination

Together with Silvanus (another name for Silas) and Timothy, Paul writes this letter. Of all his letters, this is the very first letter he wrote. From 1 Thessalonians 3:1 and 2 we learn that Paul stayed at Athens (cf. Acts 17:15) and sent Timothy ("our brother, and a co-worker of God") to Thessalonica. It is not entirely clear when this 'sending' took place. This may have been from Athens, but also before Paul arrived in Athens (cf. Acts 17:14 and 15).

At the time of writing, Silas and Timothy had come to Corinth from Thessalonica (Macedonia) (Acts 18:5; see also 1 Thess. 3:6). Because after this stay in Corinth no more mention is made of a meeting of Paul, Silas and Timothy, we may assume that both Thessalonians were written from Corinth, because both were written by these three brothers (see 1 Thess. 1:1 and 2 Thess. 1:1).

As for the time, we have to think about the end 52 / beginning 53.

With regard to the origin of the church at Thessalonica, we read in Acts 17 that Paul proclaimed three Sabbaths in succession from the Scriptures the death and resurrection of Christ (vs. 2 and 3). Verse 4 shows that the base of this congregation were "some of them" (Jews), but also "a great multitude of Greeks worshiping God, and many great women." After heavy opposition from the envious Jews - Paul refers to this in 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2:2, 14-16 and 3:3 - Paul and Silas are sent to Berea by the brothers.

In the short time that Paul stayed in Thessalonica, a close and cordial bond had developed between Paul and the Thessalonians, as can be seen from the letters themselves.

Structure

A. 1:1 Letter style and introduction.
B1. 1:2-3:10 Thanksgiving; narrative report and messages; profession / call.
B2. 3:11-13 Prayer.
B1. 4:1-5:22 Exhortation / admonition; teaching.
B2. 5:23-25 ​​Prayer.
A. 5:26-28 Letter style and conclusion.

Purpose and content

Anyone who reads the letter soon discovers that it is especially Paul's concern that moved him to write this letter. Because of the resistance from the Jewish side (see under 'Writer, origin and destination'), the apostle had to leave Thessalonica early. The situation in Thessalonica was of great concern to him and he wants to encourage them in his letter in addition to a number of things that he could no longer say to them.

As indicated under 'General', the outlook for the future occupies an important place in this letter. Much of what Paul writes about this has been appropriated by believers over time. If current expectations for the future are described, this is usually done in words that come from the Thessalonians. In that respect, these letters provide a clear line of things to come. At the same time, we should also realize that it is not so much our hope that is described here! We find this much more in the late epistles of Paul.

When Paul wrote the first of all his epistles, this first Thessalonian epistle, he was doing so against the background of the expectation of the revelation of Christ.

The "coming" that Paul is writing about here is the coming that Christ Himself foretold (eg Matt. 24:3 and 27-31) and which is later repeated (Acts 1:11). In 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15 and 5:23 Paul uses the Greek parousia (pronounced paroesia) for the word "coming", which is usually rendered "future" in the King James Version. Literally, however, it means "presence" (see Phil. 2:12, where it is translated "presence"). The word parousia thus does not so much refer to the coming, but rather to the time that comes after the coming. This parousia began with the revelation of Christ (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7), with loud trumpet blast and flaming fire. That coming and presence was the hope for the Thessalonians, and that is what Paul looked forward to with them.

core text

"And He, the God of peace, sanctify you wholly, and may all your spirit, soul, and body at the coming (lit: in the presence) of our Lord Jesus Christ be found blameless in all parts" (ch. . 5:23).