First Epistle to the Thessalonians

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, usually referred to simply as First Thessalonians (written 1 Thessalonians and abbreviated 1 Thess.[1] or 1 Thes.), is the thirteenth 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 AD 52.[2]


Most New Testament scholars believe Paul the Apostle wrote this letter from Corinth, although information appended to this work in many early manuscripts (e.g., Codices Alexandrinus, Mosquensis, and Angelicus) state that Paul wrote it in Athens[3] after Timothy had returned from Macedonia with news of the state of the church in Thessalonica (Acts 18:1–5; 1 Thes. 3:6). For the most part, the letter is personal in nature, with only the final two chapters spent addressing issues of doctrine, almost as an aside. Paul's main purpose in writing is to encourage and reassure the Christians there. Paul urges them to go on working quietly while waiting in hope for the return of Christ.


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's positions on these matters were formed and elucidated.[2]


Minuscule 699 (GA) folio 18
The first page of the epistle in Minuscule 699 gives its title as προς θεσσαλονικεις, "To the Thessalonians."

The majority of New Testament scholars hold 1 Thessalonians to be authentic, although a number of scholars in the mid-19th century contested its authenticity, most notably Clement Schrader and F.C. Baur.[4] 1 Thessalonians matches other accepted Pauline letters, both in style and in content, and its authorship is also affirmed by 2 Thessalonians.[5]

1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 have often been regarded as a post-Pauline interpolation. The following arguments have been based on the content:

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 Second Coming in 1 Thes. 4:13–18.[10]

Other scholars, such as Schmithals,[11] Eckhart,[12] Demke[13] and Munro,[14] have developed complicated theories involving redaction and interpolation in 1 and 2 Thessalonians.


Paul claimed the title of the "Apostle to the Gentiles", and established gentile churches in several important cities in the Roman Empire.[15]

According to Bart D. Ehrman, the Acts of the Apostles tells a different story of Paul's career,[15] but in this case it reports that, while there were "some" Jews converted during Paul's initial preaching in Thessalonica, the gentiles who were converted were "a large number" and the Jews as a body fiercely opposed Paul's work there.[16]



  1. Salutation and thanksgiving (1 Thes. 1:1–10)
  2. Past interactions with the church (1 Thes. 2:1–20)
  3. Regarding Timothy's visit (1 Thes. 3:1–13)
  4. Specific issues within the church (1 Thes. 4:1–5:25)
    1. Relationships among Christians (1 Thes. 4:1–12)
    2. Mourning those who have died (1 Thes. 4:13–18)
    3. Preparing for God's arrival (1 Thes. 5:1–11)
    4. How Christians should behave (1 Thes. 5:12–25)
  5. Closing salutation (1 Thes. 5:26–28)


Paul, speaking for himself, Silas, and Timothy, 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 explain that the dead will be resurrected prior to those still living, and both groups will greet the Lord in the air.[17]

See also


  1. ^ Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Ed.
  2. ^ a b Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, Anchor Bible, 1997. pp. 456–466.
  3. ^ Ernest Best, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), p. 7
  4. ^ Best, Thessalonians, pp. 22–29.
  5. ^ "The only possible reference to a previous missive is in 2:15...." Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, Anchor Bible, 1997. p. 590.
  6. ^ CollegeVille Bible Commentary, p 1155
  7. ^ Pearson, p. 88
  8. ^ Birger A. Pearson, "1 Thessalonians 2:13–16 A Deutero Pauline Interpolation", Harvard Theological Review, 64 (1971), pp. 79–94
  9. ^ Schmidt, D., "I Thess 2:13–16: Linguistic Evidence for an Interpolation," JBL 102 (1983): 269–279
  10. ^ G. Friedrich, "1. Thessalonicher 5,1–11, der apologetische Einschub eines Spaeteren," ZTK 70 (1973) 289
  11. ^ Schmithals, W., Paul and the Gnostics Transl. by J. Steely (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1972), 123–218
  12. ^ K. G. Eckart, "Der zweite echte Brief des Apostels Paulus an die Thessalonicher," ZThK (1961), 30–44
  13. ^ Theologie und Literarkritik im 1. Thessalonicherbrief
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ a b Ehrman, Bart. Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. Oxford University Press, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-19-530013-0
  16. ^ Acts 17:4–5
  17. ^ 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainEaston, Matthew George (1897). "Thessalonians, Epistles to the" . Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.

External links

First Epistle to the Thessalonians
Preceded by
New Testament
Books of the Bible
Succeeded by
Second Thessalonians
1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1 is the first chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle.

1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2 is the second chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle.

1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thessalonians 3 is the third chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle.

1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 4 is the fourth chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle.

1 Thessalonians 5

1 Thessalonians 5 is the fifth (and the last) chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is authored by Paul the Apostle.

Antisemitism and the New Testament

The idea that the New Testament is anti-Semitic is a controversy that has emerged in the aftermath of the Holocaust, although the Holocaust is almost exclusively known as a byproduct of the anti-Semitic ideas of racial supremacism and social Darwinism. It is often associated with a thesis put forward by Rosemary Ruether, and the various positions depend on how anti-Semitism is defined, and on scholarly disagreements over whether anti-Semitism has a monolithic continuous history, or is an umbrella term gathering in many distinct kinds of hostility to Jews over time. James Dunn has argued that the New Testament contributed toward subsequent antisemitism in the Christian community.According to Louis Feldman, the term anti-semitism is an "absurdity which the Jews took over from the Germans." He argues that anti-semitism did not exist during Antiquity apart from a popular form of anti-Semitism in Egypt. He thinks the proper term is Anti-Judaism. The distinction between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism is often made, or challenged, with regard to early Christian hostility to Jews: some, notably Gavin I. Langmuir, prefer anti-Judaism, which implies a theological enmity. They say that the concept of anti-semitism "makes little sense" in the nascent days of the Christian religion and that it would not emerge until later. In this context, the term anti-semitism implies the secular biological race theories of modern times. Peter Schäfer prefers the word Judaeophobia for pagan hostility to Jews, but considers the word antisemitism, even if anachronistic, synonymous with this term, while adding that Christian anti-Judaism eventually was crucial to what later became anti-Semitism. A. Roy Eckardt has asserted that the foundation of antisemitism and responsibility for the Holocaust lies ultimately in the New Testament, however, this itself may be anti-Semitic considering the New Testament was written by Jews, besides Luke the Evangelist, although it is widely believed he may have been a Hellenistic Jew, and would thus be blaming the Holocaust on Jews extensively and by fault. James D. G. Dunn argues that the various New Testament expressions of anger and hurt by a minority puzzled by the refusal of a majority to accept their claims about Jesus the Jew reflect inner tensions between Jewish communities not yet unified by rabbinical Judaism, and a Christianity not yet detached from Judaism. The Greek word Ioudaioi used throughout the News Testament could refer either to Jews or, more restrictively, to Judeans alone.

Factional agendas underpin the writing of the canonical texts, and the various NT documents are windows into the conflict and debates of that period. According to Timothy Johnson, mutual slandering among competing sects was quite strong in the period when these works were composed. The New Testament moreover is an ensemble of texts written over decades, and reflects the different milieux of composition.

Epistles to the Thessalonians

There are two Epistles to the Thessalonians in the Bible:

First Epistle to the Thessalonians

Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

Holy Spirit in the Pauline epistles

The Holy Spirit plays a key role in the Pauline epistles and Apostle Paul's pneumatology is closely connected to his theology and Christology, to the point of being almost inseparable from them.The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, which was likely the first of Paul's letters, introduces a characterization of the Holy Spirit in 1:6 and 4:8 which persist throughout his epistles. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6 Paul refers to the imitation of Christ (and himself) and states: "And ye became imitators of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit", whose source is identified in 1 Thessalonians 4:8 as "God, who giveth his Holy Spirit unto you".These two themes of receiving the Spirit "like Christ" and God being the source of the Spirit persist in Pauline letters as the characterization of the relationship of Christians with God. For Paul the imitation of Christ involves readiness to be shaped by the Holy Spirit and as in Romans 8:4 and 8:11: "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwelleth in you." The First Epistle to the Thessalonians also refers to the power of the Holy Spirit in 1:5, a theme which persists in other Pauline letters.

Papyrus 30

Papyrus 30 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), designated by 30, is an early copy of the New Testament in Greek. It is a papyrus manuscript of the Pauline epistles, it contains only 1 Thess 4:12-5:18. 25-28; 2 Thess 1:1-2; 2:1.9-11. The manuscript paleographically has been assigned to the 3rd century.

Papyrus 46

Papyrus 46 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), scribal abbreviation 46, is one of the oldest extant New Testament manuscripts in Greek, written on papyrus, with its 'most probable date' between 175 and 225. Some leaves are part of the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri ('CB' in the table below), and others are in the University of Michigan Papyrus Collection ('Mich.' in the table below).

Papyrus 61

Papyrus 61 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), signed by 61, is a copy of the New Testament in Greek. It is a papyrus manuscript of the Pauline epistles. The manuscript paleographically has been assigned to the 8th century.


Ro 16:23-27; 1 Cor 1:1-2.4-6; 5:1-3.5-6.9-13; Philip 3:5-9.12-16; 1 Thess 1:2-3; Tit 3:1-5.8-11.14-15; Philem. 4-7;


The Greek text of this codex is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. Aland placed it in Category II.


It is currently housed at The Morgan Library & Museum (P. Colt 5) in New York City.

Papyrus 65

Papyrus 65 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), designated by 65, is a copy of the New Testament in Greek. It is a papyrus manuscript of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. The surviving texts of the epistle are the verses 1:3-2:1 and 2:6-13. The manuscript has been assigned on palaeographic grounds to the 3rd century.


The Greek text of this codex is a representative of the Alexandrian text-type. Aland placed it in Category I, but text of the manuscript is too brief for certainty. According to Comfort P {\displaystyle {\mathfrak {P}}} 49 and 65 came from the same manuscript.


It is currently housed at the Papyrological Institute of Florence in National Archaeological Museum (Florence) (PSI 1373).


The rapture is an eschatological concept of certain Christians, particularly within branches of North American evangelicalism, consisting of an end time event when all Christian believers who are alive will rise along with the resurrected dead believers into Heaven and join Christ. Some adherents believe this event is predicted and described in Paul's First Epistle to the Thessalonians in the Bible, where he uses the Greek harpazo (ἁρπάζω), meaning to snatch away or seize. Though it has been used differently in the past, the term is now often used by certain believers to distinguish this particular event from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to Earth mentioned in Second Thessalonians, Gospel of Matthew, First Corinthians, and Revelation, usually viewing it as preceding the Second Coming and followed by a thousand year millennial kingdom. Adherents of this perspective are sometimes referred to as premillenial dispensationalists, but amongst them there are differing viewpoints about the exact timing of the event.

The term "rapture" is especially useful in discussing or disputing the exact timing or the scope of the event, particularly when asserting the "pre-tribulation" view that the rapture will occur before, not during, the Second Coming, with or without an extended Tribulation period. The term is most frequently used among Christian theologians and fundamentalist Christians in the United States. Other, older uses of "rapture" were simply as a term for any mystical union with God or for eternal life in Heaven with God.There are differing views among Christians regarding the timing of Christ's return, such as whether it will occur in one event or two, and the meaning of the aerial gathering described in 1 Thessalonians 4. Many Christians do not subscribe to rapture-oriented theological views. Though the term "rapture" is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—"we will be caught up", (Latin: rapiemur), Catholics, as well as Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and most Reformed Christians, do not generally use "rapture" as a specific theological term, nor do any of these bodies subscribe to the premillennialist dispensationalist theological views associated with its use, but do believe in the phenomenon—primarily in the sense of the elect gathering with Christ in Heaven after his Second Coming. These denominations do not believe that a group of people is left behind on earth for an extended Tribulation period after the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:17.Pre-tribulation rapture theology originated in the eighteenth century, with the Puritan preachers Increase and Cotton Mather, and was popularized extensively in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and further in the United States by the wide circulation of the Scofield Reference Bible in the early 20th century.

Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, often referred to as Second Thessalonians (US) or Two Thessalonians (UK) (and written 2 Thessalonians) is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It is traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle, as it begins, "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians" and ends, "I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand, which is the distinguishing mark in all my letters." Modern biblical scholarship is divided on whether Paul was the author or not; many scholars question its authenticity based on what they see as differences in style and theology between this and the First Epistle to the Thessalonians.Scholars who support its authenticity view it as having been written around 51–52 AD, shortly after the First Epistle. Those who see it as a later composition assign a date of around 80–115 AD.


THES may refer to:

Times Higher Education, a weekly British magazine based in London

Toronto Hydro Electric System, the local distributor of electric power in the City of Toronto

Twin Hickory Elementary School, an elementary school in Henrico County, Virginia


Thessalonians may refer to:

People of Thessaloniki, in Greece

The two Pauline epistles to the people of Thessaloniki:

First Epistle to the Thessalonians

Second Epistle to the Thessalonians

Thessalonians (band), a mid 80's San Francisco experimental noise band founded by Larry Thrasher and Kim Cascone

Uncial 0183

Uncial 0183 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, dated palaeographically to the 7th century.

Uncial 0226

Uncial 0226 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament. The manuscript paleographically had been assigned to the 5th-century. It contains a small parts of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians (4:16-5:5), on 1 parchment leaf (17 cm by 12 cm). It is written in two columns per page, 25 lines per page.The Greek text of this codex is mixed. Aland placed it in Category III.Currently it is dated by the INTF to the 5th-century.The text of the codex was published in 1946 by Peter Sanz.Guglielmo Cavallo published a facsimile of the codex.The manuscript was added to the list of the New Testament manuscripts by Kurt Aland in 1953.The codex currently is housed at the Austrian National Library, in Vienna, with the shelf number Pap. G. 31489.

Books of the Bible
See also

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