DATE: 51 AD
On his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-14), Paul went to the Macedonian port city of Thessalonica taking with him Silas and Timothy. This was the second place the gospel was preached in Europe (Philippi was first). Some think that Paul was in Thessalonica less than a month (only three Sabbaths are mentioned in Acts 17:2). However, since this church was largely Gentile, his ministry was likely outside the synagogue and the Jewish community. The men departed under pressure and went to Athens, but Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica (1 Thess 3:1-2, 5) to encourage the believers and then to report back on the condition of the church. Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth (3:6). His report was a healthy church and Paul wrote to them to express relief and gratitude, to defend his ministry (1 Thess 2:9-10), to encourage new converts to stand strong and not revert to former pagan standards (1 Thess 3:2-3; 4:1-12) and to answer questions about what happens to Christians who die before the return of the Lord (4:13-18). Paul also addressed some problems in their church that needed to be dealt with (1 Thess 5:12-13, 19-20).
There are significant passages in this book that relate to the rapture of the church (1 Thess 4:13-18) and the Day of the Lord (1 Thess 5:1-11).
OUTLINE OF 1 THESSALONIANS
I. Personal and Historical, 1:1-3:13
A. Paul’s Greeting, 1:1
B. Paul’s Commendation of the Thessalonians, 1:2-10
C. Paul’s Conduct Among the Thessalonians, 2:1-12
1. His uprightness, 2:1-4
2. His industry, 2:5-9
3. His blameless behavior, 2:10-12
D. Paul’s Concern for the Thessalonians, 2:13-3:13
1. For their sufferings, 2:13-20
2. For their testings (Timothy’s visit), 3:1-8
3. For their continued growth, 3:9-13
II. Practical and Hortatory, 4:1-5:28
A. Teaching Concerning Development, 4:1-12
1. In sexual relations, 4:1-8
2. In brotherly love, 4:9-10
3. In orderly living, 4:11-12
B. Teaching Concerning the Dead, 4:13-18
C. Teaching Concerning the Day of the Lord, 5:1-11
D. Teaching Concerning Various Duties, 5:12-28
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