Background: What is the background for this letter? See Acts 16-17, esp. Act 17:1-15, 1Th 3:1-3 and notes below.
1Th 1:1 Who wrote the letter to the Thessalonians? Who was with Paul when he wrote it?
1Th 1:2 How often did Paul pray for the Thessalonians? See Rom 1:8-9, Eph 1:15-16, Phil 1:3-4, Col 1:3, Phm 1:4.
1Th 1:4 How did Paul know that God had chosen the Thessalonians; i.e., what evidence was there that this was so? See 1Th1:6-10.
1Th 1:5 Paul said that the gospel did not come to the Thessalonians in words only, but how? See 1Co 2:4-5, 4:20.
1Th 1:6 How did the Thessalonians become imitators of both Paul and the Lord?
1Th 1:7-8 What was the result of their becoming imitators of Paul and the Lord?
1Th 1:9 What was the testimony that people everywhere had of the Thessalonian believers? What is the difference between the true God and an idol?
1Th 1:10 What does Jesus deliver us from?
Following the decision of the Jerusalem council Paul returned to Antioch, and after a time embarked on his second missionary journey (Acts 15), delivering the decrees of the Jerusalem council to the Galatian churches he had established on his first missionary journey. Moving on from there and seeking the direction of the Lord, Paul received the Macedonian vision and they set out for Philippi, where he was shamefully treated but succeeded in establishing one of his most faithful churches (Acts 16). Driven out from there he then came to Thessalonica, a large city on the strategic Egnation Way, a major Roman highway running west to east across Macedonia. Thessalonica also had an excellent harbor on the Aegean sea and unlike Philippi a large population of Jews with a synagogue. As we read in Acts 17:1-10, Paul was driven out of Thessalonica after barely establishing the church there, by the Jews who had become jealous at the large number of God-fearing Greeks who had believed the good news of Paul’s gospel. From there he went on to Berea and again was driven away after barely establishing a church (17:11-15). Leaving Timothy and Silas to remain and help the churches there, he went on to Athens where he requested Timothy and Silas to rejoin him as soon as possible. Upon their arrival, Paul was very concerned about the welfare of the new believers he had left behind in Macedonia, and sent them back to see how they were faring (see 1Th 3:1-2). In the meantime he moved on to Corinth (Act 18:1-4) where Timothy and Silas later rejoined him after their return trip to Macedonia (Act 18:5). Paul rejoiced to hear from them that the Thessalonians were standing firm and in response to his joy and some issues that needed addressed he wrote his first letter to the Thessalonians. One of the main issues had to do with the Lord’s coming, or parousia, and how they ought to live in light of it. In each of the chapters we find reference to the Lord’s return.