Studies in First Thessalonians (Part 2)

Tom Bentley

In our first paper we presented the A (Author) B (Background) and C (Content) Now we look at the D’s:


1 Thessalonians is likely the earliest of Paul’s Epistles. Some would advance that Galatians is earlier. However, it was written during Paul’s second missionary journey while he was in Corinth after Timothy had returned from Thessalonica (3/6). A.D. 50 - 51 is the most exact area of time affixed to its origin. One of the fixed points of New Testament chronology is Paul’s stay in Corinth which overlapped that of the proconsul of Achaia, Gallio (Acts 18:11). From the remains of a dated rescript of the Emperor Claudius, it is possible to infer that Gallio took office in the summer of A.D. 51. It is not known how long he had been proconsul when Paul was brought before him. If he had recently arrived, Paul may have been in Corinth for eighteen months. Thus it is safe then to advance that 1 Thessalonians was written in the years A.D. 50 or 51.


To establish the saints in their faith (Ch. 3). Severe persecution brought grievous affliction upon the believers and they were concerned lest their beloved dead would miss the prophetic future. Remember they were raised in a philosophy that offered no hope, for in the local Necropolis many a tombstone had this inscription: "From death there is no waking and from the grave there is no rising." See how Paul answers this so effectively by using these very words in chapter 4:13-18. Saturated too in uncleanness of every possible kind, Paul urges them to holy living in the midst of such contemporary corruption.


Thessalonica, the modern Salonica or Saloniki was formerly known as Therma, situated on the arm of the Thermaic Gulf. Its later name was given by the Macedonian general Cassander, in honor of his wife, half-sister to Alexander. Due to its position on the great Egnatian Road from Illyria through Macedonia to Thrace, and at the head of a most commodious harbor, it became a flourishing city with a mixed population of Greeks, Romans and Jews. Its geographical position and maritime importance fitted it to become in Paul’s eyes and in keeping with proper missionary procedure, a strategic centre for the starting-point of the Gospel. This surely explains the fact that from this city the word of the Lord sounded forth "in every place" (1:8). Thessalonica means "to win a victory." Characteristically, Paul would have the Thessalonians and also ourselves, win both moral and spiritual victories.


While I could fill in the spaces, may I ask all who receive this communication to read the Epistle and fill in the times these themes occur?

God Times; Christ Times; The Holy Spirit Times; Gospel Times; Faith Times; Sin Times; Brethren Times; Love Times; Lord Times; Jesus Times.

In your reading you will list other words that occur and recur and always remember it is by observing these occurrences that the Word of God is understood and embedded in your mind as renewed by the Spirit of God.


One of the most recognizable features of this great Epistle is, the manner in which so much is presented in threes e.g. "Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus;" "faith love hope;" "holily justly unblameably;" "exhorting encouraging testifying" (RV). Doubtless you will discover more.

Our next communication Lord willing will commence with a direct exposition of the passage commencing with chapter one and verse one.