Tagged: Thessalonian Church

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on October 22, 2017.

The introduction of the first letter to the Thessalonians has a structure similar to many of Paul’s introductions. It follows the typical Greco-Roman format, which begins with sender and recipient information and moves into a greeting and thanksgiving section. In 1 Thessalonians, though, Paul’s thanksgiving section is superlative in every way. “We always give thanks for all of you constantly,” Paul writes. Then he launches into a glowing recommendation of the believers’ faith, love, and endurance. My family jokingly calls me the queen of superlatives and I defend myself by saying, “Well, I just get so excited about everything that I have to amplify my language to communicate my enthusiasm clearly.” Similarly, Paul is very excited in this passage and expresses his pleasure with intensified language. He has probably just received a report on the fledgling Thessalonian church with the arrival of Timothy and is thrilled to hear that the church has survived through the persecution that plagued its members since the church’s inception.

The story of the founding of the Thessalonian church can be found in Acts 17. After considerable trouble in Philippi, Paul and Silas came to the Macedonian city of Thessalonica. Although Paul’s preaching in the synagogue only yielded some Jewish followers, there were “devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women” that were persuaded by Paul’s teaching (Acts 17:4). It is this diverse group that formed the first community of Christ-followers in that city. There was trouble for this church from the beginning. We learn in Acts 17:5-9 that a group of Jews formed a mob against the believers and even dragged one believer, Jason, from his home just for housing Paul and Silas. The believers then sent Paul and Silas away from their city, presumably to keep them safe, but it is likely that the persecution of the Thessalonian Christians continued even after the missionaries moved on.

Continue reading