Most know Paul wrote 1 &2 Thessalonians, but many forget that Timothy and Silas are also named as authors (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1).
Something that’s interesting is that most people agree that the letter to the Thessalonians is the oldest letter in the New Testament.
Thessalonica was the capital of Macedonian. Acts 17:19 tells us the story of Paul’s visit to the city. It appears that after he left Philippi, traveling along the Via Egnatia, he comes to the Capital. This was basically a Greek city with a strong Jewish population and synagogue. The local Greek response to Paul’s preaching caused the Jews to be jealous and formed a mob hoping to stop Paul.
The reason for the first letter seems to be that Paul and his companions had to leave the city quickly due to the fierce Jewish opposition. This meant that the new converts would also face severe persecution and they were unprepared for it being new Christians. As such, Paul needed to teach them how to handle it. As soon as possible he sent timothy back to the city to see how they were doing (Acts 18.5).
The reason for the second letter was that Paul had heard about some misunderstandings in the church that needed to be corrected. Apparently, some of the Thessalonians had started believing that the second coming was so close that they needed to prepare for it. Therefore, they quit their jobs, stopped doing anything required for daily life, and was depending on the church to support them.
The teaching of both letter’s gives us a clear window into the lines and beliefs of Christians who lived around 20 to 30 years after Jesus’ ascension. Just as importantly it gives us real insights into the heart of the apostle Paul. Both letters deal with Eschatology (the study of the end times) and should be extremely relevant for today’s church that is also struggling with the same topics. Let me encourage you to take some time and study these great letters. It will be worth your time and effort.
Jeff, Central Haywood Church of Christ.