Chapter 1 - Commentary

1:1 - The senders and the addresses

Silvanus and Silas (Acts 15:22) are both the Latin (Silvanus) and the Greek (Silas) version of the Hebrew name Saul. He was a Jew and a member of Jerusalem community, sent to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas after the Jerusalem council (50 AD). He was working with Paul during the second missionary journey (see Acts 15:22; 16:19.25.29; 17:4.10.14–15).

Timothy was the closest and the most faithful missionary partner of Paul (1 Thess 3:2; Phil 2:19–21; 1 Cor 4:17; 16:10). According to Acts, his father was Greek and his mother was a Jew. Since the second century before Christ, a boy born of a Jewish mother was considered a Jew even if his father was a Gentile. But, the boy had to be circumcised (Acts 16:1–3).

Church - “Ekklesia” - in the Greek culture the term meant a group of people having a specific political orientation. Moreover, politics and religion were not really separated as in our times. Thus by professing Jesus as the Lord and the Son of God, the Christians gave an suspicion to the outsiders that they hold a “political rally” against the Roman Emperor and the Empire. Paul makes it clear that Christianity is not a political movement by pointing out that the Church is “in God Father and Lord Jesus Christ”.

Grace and peace. These two are messianic gifts. Peace is the outcome of grace. God’s grace brings peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). This peace flows from the event of the Passion and the resurrection of Christ.

1:2–5 - Thanksgiving

Paul is thanking for the grace of vocation that brings to life another Christian community. It shows God’s power. It is a sign that God is alive and implements His own plans in the world. It is the plan of salvation reaching out the people through “the teaching about the Cross” (1 Cor 1:18–31), on which Jesus gave up his life for the salvation of the world. Its success is clearly seen when people open their hearts to it, change their lifestyle, and imitate the Redeemer by putting in practice His Gospel.

The apostle particularly stresses three virtues: faith, love, and hope (see 1 Cor 13:13; Gal 5:5; Col 1:14–15). The foundation of these virtues is Jesus Christ. The Gospel creates a new family of faith, so he calls them “brethren”.

Verse 5 clearly indicates the way of preaching the Gospel (see [Introduction])

1:6–10 - Praises

Paul praises the stand made by the Thessalonians. They accepted the Gospel under severe circumstances, and yet they accepted it with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit. They should keep that joy always (1 Thess 5:16). But, Paul also preached them the Gospel under severe circumstances. He just came out of prison in Philippi (Acts 16:19, 1 Thess 2:2), and yet was ready to preach the Gospel to them. He did not get discouraged by the suffering and difficulties. Thus Christian joy and suffering do not exclude themselves. After all, joy in the Holy Spirit, together with justice and peace are the marked of God’s kingdom (Rom 14:17).

Thessalonians did not only accepted the Gospel, they also spread it around. Since the city was located on a very important business route, so they had an opportunity to share their newly found faith with the visitors of the city.

Verses 9–10 show the main components of Paul’s Gospel being preached to them and its effectiveness.

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