This summary of the book of 1 Thessalonians provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of 1 Thessalonians.
It is helpful to trace the locations of Paul and his companions that relate to the Thessalonian correspondence. The travels were as follows:
Both external and internal evidence (see 1:1; 2:18) support the view that Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians (from Corinth; see note on 3:1-2). Early church writers are agreed on the matter, with testimonies beginning as early as a.d. 140 (Marcion). Paul's known characteristics are apparent in the letter (3:1-2,8-11 compared with Ac 15:36; 2Co 11:28). Historical allusions in the book fit Paul's life as recounted in Acts and in his own letters (2:14-16 compared with Ac 17:5-10; 3:6 compared with Ac 17:16). In the face of such evidence, few have ever rejected authorship by Paul.
It is generally dated c. a.d. 51. Weighty support for this date was found in an inscription discovered at Delphi, Greece (see map No. 13 at the end of this study Bible), that dates Gallio's proconsulship to c. 51-52 and thus places Paul at Corinth at the same time (see Ac 18:12-17 and note on 18:12; see also chart, p. 1673). Except for the possibility of an early date for Galatians (48-49?), 1 Thessalonians is Paul's earliest canonical letter.
Thessalonica was a bustling seaport city at the head of the Thermaic Gulf (see map, p. 2280). It was an important communication and trade center, located at the junction of the great Egnatian Way and the road leading north to the Danube. It was the largest city in Macedonia and was also the capital of its province.
The background of the Thessalonian church is found in Ac 17:1-9. Since Paul began his ministry there in the Jewish synagogue, it is reasonable to assume that the new church included some Jews. However, 1:9-10; Ac 17:4 seem to indicate that the church was largely Gentile in membership.
Paul had left Thessalonica abruptly (see Ac 17:5-10) after a rather brief stay. Recent converts from paganism (1:9) were thus left with little external support in the midst of persecution. Paul's purpose in writing this letter was to encourage the new converts in their trials (3:3-5), to give instruction concerning godly living (4:1-12) and to give assurance concerning the future of believers who die before Christ returns (4:13-18; see Theme below; see also notes on 4:13,15).
Although the thrust of the letter is varied (see Purpose), the subject of eschatology (doctrine of last things) seems to be predominant in both Thessalonian letters. Every chapter of 1 Thessalonians ends with a reference to the second coming of Christ, with ch. 4 giving it major consideration (1:9-10; 2:19-20; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23-24). Thus, the second coming seems to permeate the letter and may be viewed in some sense as its theme. The two letters are often designated as the eschatological letters of Paul.
From the NIV Study Bible, Introductions to the Books of the Bible, 1 Thessalonians
Copyright 2002 © Zondervan. All rights reserved. Used with permission.