1. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians

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New Testament
Acts of the Apostles
Paul's letters
Catholic letters
Apostle Paul , by Rembrandt van Rijn , around 1633, oil on canvas, Kunsthistorisches Museum

The 1st letter Paul to the Thessalonians is a book of the New Testament and one of the earliest surviving written documents of Christianity . It has been divided into 5 chapters since the Middle Ages .

Author and recipient

The unanimous opinion of research is that the author of the 1st Letter to the Thessalonians is Paul .

The recipient is the church founded by Paul in Thessalonica , which according to Acts 17.4f  EU consists mainly of godly Greeks and some distinguished women. The 1st letter to Thessalonians itself suggests a Gentile Christian background ( 1 Thess 1.9  EU ). Since the godly Greeks were still viewed as Gentiles by the Jews, the accounts do not contradict one another.

Place and time of writing

Paul probably wrote his letter in Corinth around AD 50 . There he met, according to Acts 18.5  EU, the co-senders Silvanus and Timothy , whom he mentions at the beginning of the letter.

The letter was probably written at the beginning of Paul's 18-month stay in Corinth, shortly after Timothy and Silvanus had arrived there (cf. Acts 18.5 and 2 Cor 1.19  EU with 1 Thess 3.6  EU ). That will have been around 50 AD, a few months after Paul's stay in Thessalonica (1 Thess 1.8; 4.10 EU , but also cf. 2.17 EU ). It is also possible that Timothy met Paul again in Athens after 1 Thess 3: 1-5. Paul could also have written the letter from Athens, but this is considered less likely.


On his second missionary trip, Paul set foot on the European continent for the first time. After he had spent a short time in prison with Silas in Philippi, he moved on to Thessalonica ( Acts 16.40f  EU ). Paul preached here on three Sabbaths in the synagogue (Acts 17.3). When some converted, including many Greek proselytes and some noble women, the Jews became jealous and caused a commotion (Acts 17.4f). Since they could not find Paul and Silas, they sued Jason, who had hosted Paul and Silas, and several other Christians before the rulers of the city (Acts 17: 6). So the newly formed church had to live with persecution from the beginning (1 Thess 3: 4). With all this, however, its members had received the gospel with joy and had become a model for all Christians in the area (1 Thess 1: 6-8).

Paul may have been in Thessalonica for more than three weeks. In his letter to the Philippians he seems to say that during his stay in Thessalonica he received financial support from the Philippians several times ( Phil 4.16  EU ). That would be very unusual for a period of three weeks. In addition, Paul and his companions had to take care of their livelihood in addition to preaching the Gospel in Thessalonica (1 Thess 2,9). Would that have been necessary for only three weeks? Phil 4:16 can also be translated in such a way that Paul only received the first donation in Thessalonica, and the costs for a period of three weeks are also not small, especially since Paul did not know at the beginning that he would leave Thessalonica so quickly would. The Bible text leaves it open whether there was a long period between the three Sabbaths in the synagogue and the tumult.

After the tumult in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas quickly moved on to Baroa (Acts 17:10). Then Paul traveled on to Athens, while Timothy and Silas stayed in Macedonia (Acts 17: 14f). Timothy soon came to see Paul in Athens. Out of concern for the congregation, Paul sent Timothy from there back to Thessalonica (1 Thess 3: 1f.5). Paul would have liked to come himself, but the circumstances did not allow him (1 Thess 2:17f). Paul soon went on to Corinth (Acts 18: 1). He stayed there for a year and six months and at the beginning of this time (cf. 1 Thess 2.17) probably also wrote his letter to the Thessalonians (cf. Acts 18.5 with 1 Thess 3.6).


Although Paul himself had brought the gospel to Thessalonica, there were some things that he was unable to pass on to the young church in the short time. Therefore he wanted to come back to Thessalonica himself (1 Thes 3:10). But first he wrote his letter. In chapters 1-3, Paul writes about his own life in the past few months. In particular, it is about his relationship with the Thessalonians. He describes his worries for her, but also his joy after receiving good news from Timothy about her steadfastness. In chapters 4-5 Paul then also has a few words of admonition to say. He especially goes into the Second Coming of Jesus. The topic appears in every chapter (1.10; 2.19; 3.13; 4.14f; The nearness of the second coming of Jesus should comfort the Thessalonians and direct their gaze away from the afflictions and towards Jesus.


  • Greeting (1.1)
  • Personal words: Paul and the Thessalonians (1,2-3,13)
    • Joy over the living faith of the Thessalonians (1: 2-10)
    • The example of the apostles (2.1-16)
    • Good news from Thessalonica (2.17-3.13)
  • Words of Admonition: Living in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus (4.1-5.24)
    • Exhortation to live a sanctified life (4.1-12)
    • Encouragement from the nearness of Jesus' return (4: 13-5: 11)
    • Final Admonitions (5: 12-24)
  • Final words and greetings (5.25-28)

Content background



  1. Udo Schnelle. Introduction to the New Testament. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007. p. 62.
  2. ^ Rainer Riesner . Paul's Early Period: Chronology, Mission Strategy, Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans., 1998. pp. 348-349.
  3. ^ Leon Morris. The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, rev. ed. NICNT. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991. p. 4.


  • Franz Laub: 1st and 2nd letters to Thessalonians. 2nd Edition. Echter, Würzburg 1988, ISBN 3-429-00947-2 ( The New Real Bible. Commentary on the New Testament with the standard translation. Volume 13), pp. 5–35.
  • Nikolaus Walter: The letters to the Philippians, Thessalonians and Philemon . The New Testament German 8.2. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen u. a., 18th edition (first edition of this arrangement) 1998 ISBN 3-525-51381-X (generally understandable)
  • Traugott Holtz: The first letter to the Thessalonians . Evangelical-Catholic Commentary on the New Testament 13. Benziger, Zurich a. a. / Neukirchener Verl., Neukirchen-Vluyn, 3rd edition 1998 ISBN 3-545-23110-0
  • Günter Haufe: The first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians . Theological commentary on the New Testament 12.1. Deichert, Leipzig 1999 ISBN 3-374-01743-6
  • Christoph vom Brocke: Thessaloniki - city of Kassander and parish of Paul. An early Christian church in its pagan environment . WUNT 2/125. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2001 ISBN 3-16-147345-0
  • Leon Morris: The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians , rev. ed. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids 1991 ISBN 978-0-8028-2168-3
  • Gene L. Green: The Letters to the Thessalonians . The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmanns, Grand Rapids 2002 ISBN 978-0-8028-3738-7

See also

Web links