Friday, April 2, 2010
I Thessalonians - An Introduction
Well here we go folks. We're starting a new study. As you can see from the title we will be studying Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians for the next several weeks.
Before we get started on I Thessalonians I wanted to publicly thank Charlie for leading us in our study of Daniel. Daniel is a hard book to study but Charlie made it look easy. I learned a great deal and I'm sure y'all did as well. THANKS Charlie!
For this introduction I'm going to answer the good ol' 5 "W" questions, WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.
A. Who wrote the book? Paul is generally accepted as the principal author of the book. However, the opening versus suggest Silas and Timothy may also have had input or actually written part of the text.
B. Who is the intended audience? The book is written to the members of the church Paul founded in Thessalonica. According to Acts, Ch. 17 they were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles.
A. What is the book about? Here's an outline I obtained from the Easy English Bible Commentary web-site:
Greetings from Paul, Silas and Timothy 1:1
Thanks and prayer to God 1:2-4
How the Thessalonians accepted the good news about Jesus 1:5-10
How Paul and his friends came to Thessalonica 2:1-4
Their attitude to the people at Thessalonica 2:5-8
How they lived among them 2:9-12
Thanks to God for the *response of the people at Thessalonica 2:13-16
Desire to visit them again 2:17-20
Why Paul and Silas sent Timothy 3:1-5
Joy at the news that Timothy brought 3:6-10
Prayer for the Christians at Thessalonica 3:11-13
How you ought to live 4:1-8
How you should love each other 4:9-12
About those who have died 4:13-18
When the *Lord will come 5:1-11
Respect those who lead you and work for your benefit 5:12-13
Various Christian duties 5:14-22
Prayer for the Christians at Thessalonica 5:23-24
Greeting and blessing 5:25-28
A. In what year was the book written?
1. Most bible scholars believe the book was written sometime between 50 - 54 AD, thus making it one of the earliest, if not the earliest book of the New Testament.
2. Some scholars believe Galations may have been written before First Thessalonians.
B. When in Paul's travels was it written? Based on information provided in Acts it can easily be placed as having been written during Paul's second missionary journey.
A. Where is Thessalonica? A picture is worth a thousand words so check out the image at the top of the page. As you can see Thessalonica was a port city on the Aegean Sea. It was located south and west of Phillippi and north and a little west of Athens.
1. Thessalonica was founded in 316 BC. By the time Paul arrived to preach the good news it was almost 400 years old.
2. Thessalonica was the Roman provincial capital of Macedonia in 51 AD
3. Thessalonica was about 1 square mile in size and had a population of around 40,000 people.
B. Where was Paul when he wrote First Thessalonians?
1. Some historians place Paul in Athens.
2. However, others place him in Corinth believing he had already left Athens and was practicing his trade in Corinth.
A. He wanted to encourage the new Christians in Thessalonica who were making good progress in their faith (Ch. 1:2-10)
B. He wanted to correct some misinformation about himself and his fellow missionaries that were being spread by some of his critics
C. He wanted to give additional instruction that would contribute to the Thessalonians spiritual growth