First Epistle to the Thessalonians

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, also known as the First Letter to the Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

The first letter to the Thessalonians was likely the first of Paul's letters, probably written by the end of A.D. 52Raymond E. Brown, "An Introduction to the New Testament", Anchor Bible, 1997. pp. 456-466.] , making it, so far as is now known, the oldest extant Christian document (almost all scholars hold that the gospels were written over a decade later). It was written from CorinthLiberty Bible Commentary, 1982. pp. 2470 ] after Timothy had returned from Macedonia, relating the state of the church in Thessalonica ()
#Past interactions with the church (bibleverse|1|Thes.|2:1-20|49)
#Regarding Timothy's visit (bibleverse|1|Thes.|3:1-13|49)
#Specific issues within the church (bibleverse|1|Thes.|4:1-5:25|49)
##Relationships among Christians (bibleverse|1|Thes.|4:1-12|49)
##Mourning those who have died (bibleverse|1|Thes.|4:13-18|49)
##Preparing for God's arrival (bibleverse|1|Thes.|5:1-11|49)
##How Christians should behave (bibleverse|1|Thes.|5:12-25|49)
#Closing salutation (bibleverse|1|Thes.|5:26-28|49)

Content

Paul gives thanks for the news about their faith and love; he reminds them of the kind of life he had lived while he was with them. Paul stresses how honorably he conducted himself, reminding them that he had worked to earn his keep, taking great pains not to burden anyone. He did this, he says, even though he could have used his status as an apostle to impose upon them.

Paul goes on to answer some concerns which have arisen in the church. Notably, there was some confusion regarding the fate of those who die before the arrival of the new kingdom. Many seem to have believed that an afterlife would only be available to those who lived to see the kingdom. Paul explains that the dead will be resurrected, and dealt with prior to those still living. Thus, he assures, there is no reason to mourn the death of fellow Christians, and to do so is to show a shameful lack of faith.

Unlike all subsequent Pauline epistles, 1 Thessalonians does not focus on justification by faith or questions of Jewish-gentile relations, themes that are covered in all other letters. Many scholars see this as an indication that this letter was written before the Epistle to the Galatians, where Paul formed and identified his positions on these matters.

Authenticity

The vast majority of New Testament scholars hold 1 Thessalonians to be authentic, with dissent from this position being minuscule at best. 1 Thessalonians matches other accepted Pauline letters, both in style and in content, and its authorship is also testified to by 2 Thessalonians.

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 have often been regarded as a post-Pauline interpolation. The following arguments have been based on the content: (1) the contradiction between Romans 9-11 and 1 Thess. 2.14-16. (2) The references to what has happened to Jews as a model for a Gentile Christian church. (3) There were no extensive persecutions of Christians by Jews in Palestine prior to the first Jewish war. (4) The use of the concept of imitation in 1 Thessalonians 2.14 is singular. (5) The aorist "eftasen" (has overtaken) refers to the destruction of Jerusalem [ [http://www.jstor.org/pss/1508972 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 A Deutero Pauline Interpolation, Pearson] ] (6) The syntax of 1 Thes 2:13-16 deviates significantly from that of the surrounding context. [Schmidt, D., "I Thess 2:13-16: Linguistic Evidence for an Interpolation," JBL 102 (1983): 269-279]

It is also sometimes suggested that 1 Thes 5:1-11 is a post-Pauline insertion that has many features of Lukan language and theology that serves as an apologetic correction to Paul's imminent expectation of the "parousia" in 1 Thes 4:13-18. [G. Friedrich, “1. Thessalonicher 5,1-11, der apologetische Einschub eines Spaeteren,” ZTK 70 (1973) 289]

Other scholars such as Schmithals [Schmithals, W., Paul and the Gnostics. Transl. by J. Steely (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972), 123-218] , Eckhart [K. G. Eckart, "Der zweite echte Brief des Apostels Paulus an die Thessalonicher," ZThK (1961), 30-44] , Demke ["Theologie und Literarkritik im 1. Thessalonicherbrief] and Munro [The Later Stratum in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Authority in Paul and Peter: The Identification of a Pastoral Stratum in the Pauline Corpus and 1 Peter] have developed complicated theories involving redaction and interpolation in 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

ee also

*Authorship of the Pauline epistles

References

External links

* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14629d.htm Epistles to the Thessalonians] entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia
* [http://www.gospelhall.org/bible/bible.php?passage=1Thess+1 "Online Bible" at GospelHall.org]


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