1 Thessalonians 1:1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy (Paulo kai Silouano kai Timoqeo). Nominative absolute as customary in letters. Paul associates with himself Silvanus (Silas of Acts, spelled Silbano in D and the papyri), a Jew and Roman citizen, and Timothy, son of Jewish mother and Greek father, one of Paul's converts at Lystra on the first tour. They had both been with Paul at Thessalonica, though Timothy is not mentioned by Luke in Acts in Macedonia till Beroea ( Acts 17:14 ). Timothy had joined Paul in Athens ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1 ), had been sent back to Thessalonica, and with Silas had rejoined Paul in Corinth ( 1 Thessalonians 3:5 ; 2 Corinthians 1:1 Acts 18:5, 2Co_1:19 Acts 1:19 ). Silas is the elder and is mentioned first, but neither is in any sense the author of the Epistle any more than Sosthenes is co-author of I Corinthians or Timothy of II Corinthians, though Paul may sometimes have them in mind when he uses "we" in the Epistle. Paul does not here call himself "apostle" as in the later Epistles, perhaps because his position has not been so vigorously attacked as it was later. Ellicott sees in the absence of the word here a mark of the affectionate relations existing between Paul and the Thessalonians. Unto the church of the Thessalonians (th ekklhsiai Tessalonikewn). The dative case in address. Note absence of the article with Tessalonikewn because a proper name and so definite without it. This is the common use of ekklhsia for a local body (church). The word originally meant "assembly" as in Acts 19:39 , but it came to mean an organization for worship whether assembled or unassembled (cf. Acts 8:3 ). The only superscription in the oldest Greek manuscripts (Aleph B A) is Pro Tessalonikei A (To the Thessalonians First). But probably Paul wrote no superscription and certainly he would not write A to it before he had written II Thessalonians (B). His signature at the close was the proof of genuineness ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17 ) against all spurious claimants ( 2 Thessalonians 2:2 ). Unfortunately the brittle papyrus on which he wrote easily perished outside of the sand heaps and tombs of Egypt or the lava covered ruins of Herculaneum. What a treasure that autograph would be! In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (en qewi patri kai kuriwi Jhsou Cristwi). This church is grounded in (en, with the locative case) and exists in the sphere and power of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. No article in the Greek, for both qewi patri and kuriwi Jhsou Cristwi are treated as proper names. In the very beginning of this first Epistle of Paul we meet his Christology. He at once uses the full title, "Lord Jesus Christ," with all the theological content of each word. The name "Jesus" (Saviour, Matthew 1:21 ) he knew, as the "Jesus of history," the personal name of the Man of Galilee, whom he had once persecuted ( Acts 9:5 ), but whom he at once, after his conversion, proclaimed to be "the Messiah," (o Cristo, Acts 9:22 ). This position Paul never changed. In the great sermon at Antioch in Pisidia which Luke has preserved ( Acts 13:23 ) Paul proved that God fulfilled his promise to Israel by raising up "Jesus as Saviour" (swthra Ihsoun). Now Paul follows the Christian custom by adding Cristo (verbal from criw, to anoint) as a proper name to Jesus (Jesus Christ) as later he will often say "Christ Jesus" ( Colossians 1:1 ). And he dares also to apply kurio (Lord) to "Jesus Christ," the word appropriated by Claudius (Dominus, Kurio) and other emperors in the emperor-worship, and also common in the Septuagint for God as in Psalms 32:1 (quoted by Paul in Romans 4:8 ). Paul uses Kurio of God ( 1 Corinthians 3:5 ) or of Jesus Christ as here. In fact, he more frequently applies it to Christ when not quoting the Old Testament as in Romans 4:8 . And here he places "the Lord Jesus Christ" in the same category and on the same plane with "God the father." There will be growth in Paul's Christology and he will never attain all the knowledge of Christ for which he longs ( Philippians 3:10-12 ), but it is patent that here in his first Epistle there is no "reduced Christ" for Paul. He took Jesus as "Lord" when he surrendered to Jesus on the Damascus Road: "And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said to me" ( Acts 22:10 ). It is impossible to understand Paul without seeing clearly this first and final stand for the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul did not get this view of Jesus from current views of Mithra or of Isis or any other alien faith. The Risen Christ became at once for Paul the Lord of his life. Grace to you and peace (cari umin kai eirhnh). These words, common in Paul's Epistles, bear "the stamp of Paul's experience" (Milligan). They are not commonplace salutations, but the old words "deepened and spiritualised" (Frame). The infinitive (cairein) so common in the papyri letters and seen in the New Testament also ( Acts 15:23 ; Acts 23:26 ; James 1:1 ) here gives place to cari, one of the great words of the New Testament (cf. John 1:16 ) and particularly of the Pauline Epistles. Perhaps no one word carries more meaning for Paul's messages than this word cari (from cairw, rejoice) from which carizomai comes. Peace (eirhnh) is more than the Hebrew shalm so common in salutations. One recalls the "peace" that Christ leaves to us ( John 14:27 ) and the peace of God that passes all understanding ( Philippians 4:7 ). This introduction is brief, but rich and gracious and pitches the letter at once on a high plane.