Introduction to 1 Thessalonians

It seems to be generally admitted that this was the first of all Paul's inspired epistles to be written. If any desire confirmation of this they will do well to read the third chapter of the Epistle and then compare it with Acts 17. The Epistle was written just after Timothy had returned from his visit to Thessalonica, paid while Paul was at Athens; and hence when he wrote it the Apostle's labours at Corinth had barely begun and he had not even visited Ephesus. In any event read the early verses of Acts 17 for the historic details there found give much point to various details in the Epistle.

The fact that the Thessalonians were believers of not many months standing-just young converts-imparts a peculiar interest to this epistle. It is most encouraging to see how many things are true of even the youngest believers in Christ, and also how much grace and devotedness may mark them if their simplicity be unspoiled.

Paul's labours at Thessalonica were very brief; at the end of about three weeks they were cut short by a riot. Very solid work was done however, as this first chapter bears witness. We may take it as certain that intense Satanic opposition is always a sign that a real work of God is proceeding. The rioters called Paul and his friends, "These that have turned the world upside down," and this designation was not far from the truth. The truth was that the world itself was completely upside down, and the labours of Paul and others were setting men right side up before God. The world itself was left in its upside down condition, but many in Thessalonica were converted out of the world and set in right relations with God. These converts became the church, or assembly, of the Thessalonians.