Brief Overview of 1 Thessalonians
The record of the apostle Paul’s work in Thessalonica is found in Acts 17:1-10. During his second missionary tour, Paul had a three-week stay in this city. During that time Paul, accompanied by Timothy and Silas, founded and established a church here.
Several people responded to the gospel message, which provoked such opposition that Paul and his friends had to leave the city by night. Paul then went to Berea, Athens and then Corinth and it was from Corinth that he wrote this letter and sent it back to Thessalonica by way of Timothy. 1 Thessalonians is one of the earliest New Testament documents, dating to around AD 50-51.
The book of 1 Thessalonians is only five chapters long. It is divided into two major parts: 1:1-3:13 and 4:1-5:28. It is a warm letter, exuding affection, pastoral concern and practical instructions for Christian living. A key verse from 1 Thessalonians is found in 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.”
The city of Thessalonica is located in modern-day Greece. It is more commonly referred to now as Thessaloniki and it is Greece’s second-largest city with a current population of a little over one million. During the first century, the city was part of the Roman Empire and grew to be a very important trading hub facilitating the exchange of goods between Europe and Asia.
The church in Thessalonica was a healthy group overall, so much so that Paul called them “models” for other believers. Paul exhorts them to stand firm and remain steadfast because they are living in the light of the resurrection! In these disorienting times, the call for us is the same: to stay confident and hopeful because the truths of the gospel are unshaken.
In this series, we’ll study through 1 Thessalonians to see the connection between that young church and the challenges we face today.