1 Thessalonians 1:1
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, to the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ…
This Epistle has the distinction of being the first in time of all Paul's Epistles. The leading thought, to which there is reference toward the close of each of the five chapters into which the Epistle has been divided, is the second coming of our Lord. The first three chapters are personal, setting forth the apostle's connection with the Thessalonians, and interest in them as a Church. In the remaining two chapters he addresses them in view of their condition as a Church, and especially in view of anxiety connected with the second coming. Pleased with the progress they were making, he writes to them in a quiet, practical, prevailingly consolatory strain.
I. THE WRITERS. "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy." Paul comes first, as preeminently the writer. It can be made out that the matter and style are characteristically Pauline. It speaks to his humility that he does not claim it as his own, that he does not put forward his official position, but associates two brethren with him as joint-writers. These, Silvanus (to be identified with Silas) and Timothy (less prominent at the time), assisted at the founding of the Thessalonian Church. Timothy had just returned from a visit of inquiry to Thessalonica. He therefore claims them as adding the weight of their influence with the Thessalonians to his own. And their place as joint-writers is accorded to them throughout. Only in three places, for a special reason in each case, does he make use of the singular number.
II. COMMUNITY ADDRESSED. "Unto the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Thessalonica - so named by Cassander in honor of his wife, who was a sister of Alexander the Great - was well situated for commerce "on the inner bend of the Thermaic gulf - half-way between the Adriatic and the Hellespont - on the sea-margin of a vast plain watered by several rivers," the chief of these being the Axius and Haliacmon. Under the Romans it became a large, wealthy, and populous city; and was chosen as the Macedonian capital. Its importance has been well kept, up to the present day. Saloniki (slightly altered from Thessalonica) ranks next to Constantinople in European Turkey, with a population of seventy thousand. Paul visited Thessalonica in his second missionary tour, after the rough handling he had received in the other Macedonian city of Philippi. The Jews, being more numerous here than at Philippi, had a synagogue; and in this, Paul, for three sabbath days, reasoned with them from the Scriptures, opening and alleging that it behooved the Christ to suffer and to rise again from the dead, and that this Jesus is the Christ. The result was so far favorable. Some Jews were persuaded, and consorted with Paul and Silas; of the Gentile proselytes attached to the Jewish synagogue, a great multitude, and, among these, not a few chief women. But there was also what was unfavorable. The Jews as a body, being moved with jealousy, took unto them certain vile fellows of the rabble, and raised a tumult against the Christian preachers, which ended in their departing by night for Beraea. Paul and his assistants had a very short time in which to found a Church in Thessalonica. For three sabbath days Paul reasoned in the Jewish synagogue. We may allow a little longer time for the ripening of Jewish opposition. Short as the time was, they had settled down to supporting themselves by laboring with their own hands. Short as the time was, the Philippian Christians, in their eagerness, had managed once and again to send unto Paul's necessity. What would render the formation of a Christian Church at Thessalonica easier was the number of Gentile proselytes who embraced Christianity. These had received training in monotheistic ideas, and had already the elements of a godly character. But, beyond this, many Gentile idolaters must have been brought in; for the entering in of Paul and his companions was signalized as a turning of the majority of them from idols unto the living and the true God. Under the conditions of time and manual labor and Jewish fanaticism, the founding of the Thessalonian Church was a most marvelous work. So short time with them, Paul wrote to them when he got to Corinth, after Visiting Beraea and Athens, about the close of the year 52. The Thessalonians are addressed as a Church, i.e. in their corporate capacity, with corporate responsibilities and privileges, not as saints, i.e. in respect of the consecration of the members-individually. They are addressed as a Church in God the Father, i.e. as having all the position of sons. They are also addressed as a Church in the Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. as a Christian family where the sons are all saved men placed under the superintendence of him who has the position of Lord, and distributes to their need.
III. GREETING. "Grace to you and peace. This did not necessarily exclude favor and peace from men, from these persecuting Jews. But whether it had that sweep or not, it certainly meant the Divine treatment of them, not according to merit, but according to infinite mercifulness, and the consequent freeing of them from all disturbing influences. It is what we should invoke for all our friends. - R.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.