1 Thessalonians Commentary

On his second missionary journey, Paul entered Europe for the first time when he crossed from Asia Minor to Macedonia, the northern part of present-day Greece. The first churches that he established in Europe were in the Macedonian cities of Philippi and Thessalonica (Acts 16:11-12; 17:1). Paul wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians only a few months after he established the church.

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Growth of the Thessalonian church

Paul’s initial work in Thessalonica brought fruit among the Greeks but violent opposition from the Jews. When the Jews created a public uproar, the city authorities tried to restore peace by getting rid of Paul. They made one of the local Christians deposit an amount of money with them, apparently as a guarantee that Paul would leave the city and not return (Acts 17:2-10; cf. 1 Thess 2:18). (Although Paul did not visit Thessalonica again on his second missionary journey, he may have visited it on his next journey; see Acts 20:1-2.)

From Thessalonica Paul went to neighbouring Berea and then on to Athens in the province of Achaia, the southern part of present- day Greece (Acts 17:10-15). From Athens he sent his fellow worker Timothy back to Thessalonica to help the young church (1 Thess 3:1-2). After a short time in Athens, Paul went across to Corinth, also in the south of Greece (Acts 18:1), and it was there that Timothy met him upon returning from Thessalonica a few weeks later (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess 3:6).

Timothy brought Paul news that the church in Thessalonica, though it suffered persecution, had grown strong. Within only a short time it had spread the gospel far and wide throughout the surrounding districts (1 Thess 1:6-8; 2:13-16;

3:3). Thankful at this news, Paul sent off the letter that we know as 1 Thessalonians. In this letter Paul also dealt with a number of matters that needed attention in the church. He defended himself against unwarranted accusations, instructed misguided believers about aspects of Christian behaviour, and cleared up misunderstandings about Christ’s return

 

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