New Testament Survey: The Book Of First Thessalonians

Written By: Steve Shirley


The Book Of First Thessalonians

Author:  Paul (1 Th 1:1)(1 Th 2:18)
(For more on Paul see: Survey: Biography Of Paul)

The Stats:

Date Written:

Place Written:  Corinth

Written To:  Christians at the church in Thessalonica.

Key Verses:  (1 Th 1:6-7)(1 Th 2:12-13)(1 Th 3:12-13)(1 Th 4:13-18)(1 Th 5:8,11)(1 Th 5:14-22)


About The City:

About The Church

On his 2nd missionary journey, Paul (along with Timothy and Silas), traveled about 100 miles from Philippi to Thessalonica, taking the Egnatian Way.

As was his custom, Paul sought out the synagogue and began "reasoning with them out of the scriptures" that "the Christ" who had been prophesied had come, and had "suffered and risen from the dead" (Acts 17:3). At his preaching, some (Jews, but not many) believed along with a large number of Greeks and some very prominent women (Acts 17:4). This was the beginning of the church at Thessalonica.

The unbelieving Jews became envious of what Paul and Silas were doing, and formed a mob to attack the house of Jason, where they had been staying. When Paul and Silas were not found there, they dragged Jason and some other brethren before the city magistrates (politarchs), accusing them of harboring men who had "turned the world upside down" and were doing "contrary to the decrees of Caesar" by "saying there was (is) another king, named Jesus." The magistrates decided there was not enough evidence for this, and released them (Acts 17:5-9).

As a result of this uprising, the brethren sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea (Timothy may have been sent ahead: Acts 17:14). Again, Paul went to the synagogue and preached, with many Jews, Greeks, and prominent women believing. However, the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica heard what was going on in Berea, and went there to stir up the people as well. This forced Paul to go to Athens, but he left Silas and Timothy behind in Berea (Acts 17:10-14).

While Paul was in Athens, he heard about the persecutions that the Thessalonians were facing (1 Th 2:14)(1 Th 3:3) and he yearned to return to them (1 Th 3:5). Twice he tried to do so, but Satan prevented him (1 Th 2:18).

After Timothy rejoined him in Athens, Paul sent him back to Thessalonica to strengthen and encourage them, and to find out about their faith (1 Th 3:1-5). In the meantime, Paul moved on to Corinth for a year and a half (Acts 18:1,11). During this time, Timothy, as well as Silas, joined Paul in Corinth and Timothy brought "good news of their (your) faith and love" and that they longed to see him just as he longed to see them (1 Th 3:6)(Acts 18:5). This gave Paul great comfort (1 Th 3:7) and glory and joy (1 Th 2:20)(1 Th 3:9).

Responding to Timothy's report, Paul wrote 1st Thessalonians. (He wrote 2nd Thessalonians a few months after.)

1. Philippi was more than 100 miles away, and the church at Philippi sent two separate financial gifts to help Paul while he was in Thessalonica (Phil 4:16).

2. Paul (and Silas) worked "day and night" (1 Th 2:9)(2 Th 3:7-9), probably making tents (Acts 18:1-3), to support himself while there. In other words, he likely ministered mainly on the Sabbath days. Three Sabbath days would not have been enough time to effectively build and instruct the new church.

3. Paul describes his relationship to the church as: a nursing mother (1 Th 2:7) and an exhorting and comforting father (1 Th 2:11). He had developed a close bond with them (along the lines of his relationship with Philippi)(1 Th 3:6). This seems unlikely to have formed in just 3 weeks.

Special Emphasis:


1. The model church, and the three tenses of the Christian life, 1:1-10.

2. The model servant and his reward, 2:1-20.

3. The model brother, and the believer's sanctification, 3:1-13.

4. The model walk, and the believer's hope, 4:1-18.

5. The model walk, and the day of Jehovah, 5:1-28.

(Survey from Scofield Reference Notes [1917 ed.]: Public Domain)