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Apostle Paul along with Silas and Timothy were in Thessalonica for just a few weeks. Thessalonica was a capital city in Macedonia, northern Greece; it was wealthy and had a Jewish community who were doing business there. In the book of Acts Chapter 17, we see that these Jews did not agree with Paul’s preaching, and they led a protest against Paul, and the leaders of the new Church. Paul and his team left Thessalonica and went south to Berea and later on to Corinth.
Paul wrote the letter to the Thessalonians from Corinth. He was worried about the young Church and the persecution they faced; so he sent Timothy to go find out how they were doing. Timothy came back with the good news that the Thessalonians had convictions of steel and were standng strong. He also brought back news that the Jews had continued to speak evil about Paul, and that the young Church had concerns about sexual behavior, and questions about life after death for Christians.
Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was written to address the concerns of the young Church. In Chapter 1, he praised the Thessalonians for their strong faith, love, and continued hope in Christ. In Chapter 2, he encourages them to compare his conduct with that of those who speak evil about him, he is saying “who do you think loves you and cares about you” – Paul makes it clear that he loves the Thessalonians deeply. In Chapter 3 we see Paul explaining why he sent Timothy to stregthen them, and how joyful he is to hear that they are strong in the face of continued persecution.
In Chapter 4:3-8 (NIV) (shortened) Paul writes: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before… anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God…”
Paul uses very strong words here, because in Thessalonica, like in other major cities like Corinth and Rome, sexual relations were very loose, anyone could partner with anyone else or anything, married or unmarried. Many historians have written about this, and how Christianity was radically different. In the lower half of Chapter 4, Paul addresses the issue of life after death by telling the Thessalonians that the dead in Christ will resurrect first before those who are alive, at the second coming of Jesus.
The first letter to the Thessalonians ends in Chapter 5, with exhortation to the young Church to remain prepared and alert as the second coming will happen unexpectedly. The letter closes with more encouragement to good behavior, faithful service, love for one another, holiness, and endurance.
May we be a source of joy to our Christian mentors and pastors who sincerely pray for us and work for our good, Amen!