Thessalonians – An Introduction


  • Both epistles identify Paul as the author. If fact his name occurs as the first word of verse 1 of 1 & 2 Thess. His authorship is rarely disputed among scholars.
  • Paul founded the church at Thessalonica in his second missionary journey. Acts 17.1-10.
  • “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women” (Acts 17.4)


  • One of Paul’s earliest letters.
  • 1 Thess. – early AD 50-51
  • 2 Thess. – late AD 50-51


The City –

  • Founded circa 315BC by a general of Alexander the Great. Named after his wife, Alexander’s half-sister, Thessalonica.
  • Located in a great natural harbor on the NW side of the Aegean Sea in Greece.
  • Later, in 146BC, Thessalonica became the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia.
  • In 42 BC, Thessalonica became a free city and was known as the most important and largest city in Macedonia.
  • Today, it is known as Salonika.
  • An important political and cultural city in Paul’s day. One of Rome’s important trade routes running east and west passed through the city (Egnatius Way).

The Church –

  • The account of the church’s founding in Acts shows that the church is a mixture of Jew and Gentile believers.
  • Paul seems concerned over the church’s possible longevity. The epistles and Acts both paint a picture of a small church encountering resistance from it’s beginning (1 Thess. 3.4,5).

Major Themes:*

  • Thanksgiving – for the church (The letters follow the often frequent style of a Hellenistic “thank-you note”.
  • Persecution & Peace – The gospel that brings peace between God and man often brings persecution from those against the kingdom of God. Paul encourages the church to live at peace with those who are in the world while noting that their persecution was evidence of their genuine belief.
  • Eschatology & Endurance – The sure return of Christ should promote endurance within His people. Paul addresses the rapture, the “man of lawlessness”, etc.
  • Election & Faith – The certainty of the future of believers is dependent on the certainty of their relationship with Him. 1) God had chosen them, 2) their is ample evidence of genuine faith, 3) thus their perseverance is guarantee

* D. Michael Martin, NAC: 1&2 Thessalonians.