Lectionary Year A
October 20, 2002
I Thessalonians 1:1-10
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) The second chapter of I Thessalonians defends Paul for what the larger
community of Thessalonica objected to, re: his faith after his Damascus Road transformation, i.e., his conversion from Judaism to Christianity, his parenting-like labors of love while there when he founded the church there to relieve the community of believers from having to support him and his insisting he never intended to flatter or unjustly over-emphasis his affection for them and for God's Gospel which called them.
B. Organization of the Composition Whole
(JFC) The next chapter (2) of this epistle tells how Paul and company labored
faithfully in Thessalonica. Then chapter 3 tells of Timothy's mission and how the church there is to strengthen itself. Chapter 4 includes Paul's plea for the purity of family life, verses 1-8. Other ethical and moral topics as well as the importance of publicly showing and telling of Christian principles via obvious behavior are also addressed there, in the 4th chapter, too. Chapter 5 refers repeatedly to the delay of Christ's return and seeks to deal with some questions, re: death, resurrection and end time(s). The Catholic Encyclopedia calls chapters 1 and 3 "personal" and chapters 4 and 5 "doctrinal". Its whole tone or even tendency seems to be full of compassion for the newly organized church that needs some careful guidance from its absent founder, Paul. He emphasizes his thanks for their faith.
C. Issues of Authorship
(JFC) Commentaries agree, Paul is the author of I Thessalonians & it is one of the earliest written parts of the New Testament. He wrote from Corinth in about 50 CE. Paul had been in Thessalonica, Acts 17:1-9 tells us. There Paul preached in the synagogue & converted some Jews by explaining to them using the scriptures with which they were familiar and the necessities of Christ's suffering and death. Of Thessalonica, we read in Harper's Bible Commentary, "Thessalonica was one of the two most important trading center in Roman Greece. . . Although it was the Roman capital of Macedonia, Thessalonica remained a free Greek city with its own council . . ." Some there objected to his proclaiming Christ as the Messiah. They interpreted his statements as declaring "another King, Christ", one other than Caesar. Some of Paul's gentile converts helped him & his company leave there to avoid more abusive opposition.
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