Notes on Paul’s Two Letters to Thessolonica

Thessolonica is located in northern Greece. Perhaps Paul wrote the first letter to the church of Thessolonica while in Corinth, or maybe Athens, shortly after his companion Timothy had visited Thessolonica and then returned to inform Paul of the challenges at the church. It has been suggested that the first letter is the earliest of Paul’s epistles.

Paul begins with a praise of the church at Thessolonica as a model to other throughout the region. Paul recalls his horrible treatment at Philippi and all that was risked to bring the gospel to Thessolonica. Much of the first four chapters of the five chapter letter are devoted to personal concerns. Paul recalls how he sent Timothy from Athens to deal with the church’s issues. Paul encourages love among the believers and he reminds them that the day of the Lord will “come like a thief in the night” (5:2).

In Paul’s second letter to Thessolonica, a slightly shorter letter, he sends it on behalf of himself, Silas, and Timothy. Paul opens, as he frequently does, praising their church and promising that when Jesus returns in a ‘blazing fire from heaven’ he will right all wrongs. He reminds them, in quelling an apparent rebellion, that Jesus has not already returned for the second coming. Apparently some of the church-goers believed they had already missed the second coming. This is the central apocalyptic purpose of the second letter to the Thessolonians.

In the closing chapter, Chapter 3, Paul advises the church not to associate themselves with idle nonbelievers. He says there have been reports that there are some among the Thessolonians who who are busybodies and disruptive, but Paul dismisses those people.

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