INTRODUCTION TO THE THESSALONIAN EPISTLES
The Thessalonian Church was one of a number of churches founded by the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40-18:23). It was usual practice for Paul to try and keep in touch with the churches he founded, either by way of visitation and by the writing of pastoral epistles. Through these pastoral letters Paul hoped to encourage the churches. In all of his epistles he also sought to teach them deeper truths.
THE FOUNDING OF THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH
The circumstances of the founding of the Thessalonian Church may be summarised thus:-
1. Paul’s ministry in Macedonia began with a special vision from the Lord (Acts 16:6-10).
2. The founding of the Philippian Church.
a) It was a humble beginning with Lydia, a seller of purple, one of the first converts (Acts 16:11-15).
b) It was also a tumultuous one where Paul and Silas were jailed (Acts 16:16-37).
c) Paul and his team were asked by the Philippian magistrates to leave their city (Acts 16:38-40).
3. The founding of the Thessalonian Church
a) Paul headed for Thessalonica and began his ministry trying to reach fellow Jews (Acts 17:1).
b) He was in Thessalonica for just “three Sabbaths” (Acts 17:2).
c) His reasoning from the Scriptures drew many to faith in Christ.
i) “A great multitude of the devout Greeks” (Acts 17:4)
ii) “Not a few of the leading women” (Acts 17:4)
d) The envious Jews who did not believe gathered a mob to attack Paul and his team.
i) The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away for their own safety (Acts 17:10).
ii) They went on to Berea where another church was founded (Acts 17:10-12).
KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH
Paul was of course deeply concerned that he could not stay in Thessalonica a little longer. Three Sabbaths was only about a month. How did the Thessalonian brethren fare on their own? How did they cope with the persecution of the Church? These and other questions prompted Paul to write to the Thessalonian.
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 1:1