1 ThessaloniansRead Scripture
In this letter, Paul and colleagues encourage and instruct a recent missionary church in Thessalonica.1 During Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 15:40–18:22), he was directed in a vision to preach the gospel in Macedonia (Acts 16:9). Paul typically ministered alongside colleagues, including Silas and Timothy. After being expelled from Philippi, Paul and his companions travelled to Thessalonica (Acts 16:35–17:1; 1Thes 2:2). There they proclaimed the crucified and risen Messiah in the Jewish synagogue, and many became followers of Jesus (Acts 17:1–4). However, some synagogue members opposed Paul and Silas, raising a mob to create an uproar throughout the city. Paul and Silas had to abandon this newborn church amid persecution (Acts 17:5–10). One can only imagine the missionaries’ pain and worry as they left these new believers in such difficult circumstances. This letter stems from Paul’s continued attempts to remain in contact with these new Christians.
Who Wrote 1 Thessalonians?
This letter designates its authors: “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy” (1:1; cf. 2Thes 1:1). Paul is lead author, since at three junctures he speaks personally to the readers (e.g., “I, Paul” in 2:18; cf. 3:5; 5:27). Paul’s authorship is affirmed by modern scholars—both conservatives and critics. However, although Paul often coauthors with other missionaries (1Cor 1:1; 2Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1), this letter has many more first-person plural (“we” or “us”) references than in other epistles. Paul wished the Thessalonians to know the whole missionary team was unified in writing them.
When and Where Was 1 Thessalonians Written?
The letter indicates Timothy’s recent return from Thessalonica to Paul (3:1–10), probably during Paul’s initial stay in Corinth around the early 50s AD. The letter was written from there shortly afterward.
What Do We Know about Thessalonica?
Thessaloniki (modern-day Thessalonica) is the second largest city in Greece, after Athens. In antiquity it was the largest metropolis in Macedonia, with an economically and politically strategic location as a harbor on the Thermaean Gulf and as a city on the Via Egnatia, an important Roman road. First-century Rome designated Thessalonica the provincial capital, granting it rights of local self-government. Excavations in the ancient town have unearthed key economic, cultural, and political buildings. There is ample archaeological evidence of Roman pagan religion, including the imperial cult. Amid pressures from both the synagogue and pagan culture, the early church faced many challenges. Yet this church was also well-positioned to influence the spread of the gospel in Macedonia.
Why Was This Letter Written?
Desiring to embolden these new believers in their faith, Paul and colleagues remind the Thessalonians of their conversion to Christ and of the mutual love between the missionaries and the church (e.g., 1:4–3:13). Paul and Silas had sent Timothy back to Thessalonica; then Timothy returned with a good report of the Thessalonians’ continued faith and love (3:1–10). The missionaries likely remained concerned for the church’s further growth in the faith (3:10). Challenges to the church included persecution, sexual promiscuity in the Roman world, and debates about what happens to believers upon death.
This letter encourages the Thessalonians, deepens relationships between missionaries and the church, and instructs believers in key matters of Christian living in their locale.
“. . . and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
— 1 Thessalonians 3:11–12 ESV
I. Greeting (1:1)
II. Thanksgiving to God for the Thessalonians (1:2–10)
III. The Missionaries’ Ministry and the Thessalonians’ Response (2:1–3:13)
A. The Missionaries’ Motives and Service (2:1–12)
B. How the Thessalonians Responded and Persevered (2:13–16)
C. Paul Longs for News (2:17–3:5)
D. Joy at Timothy’s Report (3:6–10)
E. Benediction (3:11–13)
IV. How Christians Walk and Please God (4:1–5:22)
A. Purity and Holiness (4:1–8)
B. Love and Work (4:9–12)
C. Resurrection and Christian Grief (4:13–18)
D. Waiting for Christ’s Return (5:1–11)
E. Further Instruction (5:12–22)
V. Benediction and Closing (5:23–28)
A. Benediction (5:23–24)
B. Closing (5:25–28)
1:1 As is typical in ancient Greek letters, the authors are identified (“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy”) followed by the recipients (“the church of the Thessalonians”). As in 2 Thessalonians (1:1), Paul is lead author, with Silvanus and Timothy credited as co-authors (see “Introductory Material” above). Silvanus and Timothy served together with Paul on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40–18:22; cf. 2Cor 1:19). Paul is well-known from his thirteen New Testament letters and from extended biographic material in Acts.
“Silvanus” is the latinized form of “Silas,” perhaps latinized here to connect better with this Roman city. In Acts, Silas was one of the “leading men” at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:22, 27) and a prophet (15:32). Paul and Silas were imprisoned together in Philippi (Acts 16:19–34) prior to arriving in Thessalonica (17:4).
Timothy joined Paul and Silas in southern Turkey (Acts 16:1–3). Timothy frequently ministered alongside Paul, and he repeatedly served as Paul’s delegate when Paul could not travel to a church (e.g., 1Cor 4:17; 16:10; Phil 2:19; also see 1 and 2 Timothy). Paul co-authored other letters with Timothy (2Cor 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1; Phlm 1).
These missionaries wrote to this church they had recently planted (cf. Acts 17:1–10). They were probably in Thessalonica only a few weeks or months before the church’s opponents forced them to flee the city. The missionaries were undoubtedly concerned for these believers, both because they were recent converts and because they faced persecution. Consequently, Paul sent Timothy to establish the Thessalonians in their faith (cf. 1Thes 3:1–3). Timothy returned to Paul with a good report (3:6), and they wrote this letter in response.
Paul reminds the church it is united “in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This provides an opening encouragement to the persecuted church. The God of the universe is their “Father” (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:4–7). Jesus is proclaimed as Messiah (“Christ”) and “Lord.” Messiah is the long-expected Jewish deliverer, and “Lord” is a title regularly designating deity in the Old Testament.
Paul commonly invokes God to supply “grace and peace” upon recipients in his letter greetings. He is likely modifying a standard Greek greeting, substituting charis (“grace”) for chairein (“greetings”). Paul combines this with the Jewish greeting of peace (“Shalom”). Both “grace” and “peace” are key terms for Paul that express the undeserved gift of God’s blessing along with the church’s sense of his enveloping peace.2
Thanksgiving to God for the Thessalonians (1:2–10)
In 1:2–10, Paul and colleagues express thanksgiving to God for the Thessalonians’ persevering service and for his election of these believers. They also affirm the Thessalonians, remind them of their deep relationship with the missionaries, state confidence in their divine calling, admire their faithful and exemplary response to the gospel, point them to the Triune God, and remind them to wait with endurance for the Lord’s return.
1:2 Paul begins most letters with thanksgiving. This was acceptable in Greek letter-writing, but Paul’s thanksgivings are purposeful and deeply felt, as they are adapted to each church’s particular circumstances. Here Paul and colleagues emphasize their regularity in prayer for everyone in the church. The Greek term for “constantly” probably modifies “remembering” (1:3) rather than “mentioning you in our prayers” in 1:2. This thanksgiving provides a model for Christians, especially leaders, to regularly and openly express to fellow believers what prompts our thanksgiving to God for them.
1:3 The missionaries prayerfully recall the Thessalonians’ persevering service. Three words with overlapping meanings emphasize their service and perseverance: “work,” “labor,” and “steadfastness.” Each of these words is modified by faith, love, or hope—three terms Paul often collates together (cf. 1Thes 5:8; 1Cor 13:13; Gal 5:5–6; Col 1:4–5). The Thessalonians’ persevering service springs from their faith, hope, and love in the Lord Jesus Christ. The missionaries remember the Thessalonians in thankful prayer before “our God and Father,” and this collective “our” includes the Thessalonians and the missionaries in a shared relationship with the Father and the messianic Lord Jesus.
1:4 The missionaries’ thankful prayer flows from their knowledge about how the gospel came to Thessalonica (1:5) and how it was received (1:6–10), which provide evidence of God’s love and election of the believers. Paul regularly depicts the relationship between all Christians with family terminology (“brothers and sisters”), unified under the adopting Fatherhood of God (see 1:1). Thus, the Thessalonians are called “brothers” (understood to include all the believers) eighteen times in 1 Thessalonians. These brothers and sisters have been “loved” by their heavenly Father, and they are “chosen” (or “elected”) by God unto salvation and growth in Christ. Election is central to how Paul conceives of God’s sovereign providential calling of Christians to himself (e.g., Rom 8:28–39; Eph 1:3–14). Their election provides confidence that will help this persecuted church persevere.
1:5 Paul’s Greek in verses 4–5 is better rendered, “For we know, brothers loved by God, concerning your election, that our gospel came to you . . .” This is due to how the Greek word hoti (“that” or “because”) behaves after verbs of knowing (cf. 2:1).d The missionaries recognize two key truths concerning the Thessalonians’ election: (1) the gospel came to them bearing the power of God (1:5), and (2) the Thessalonians responded in amazing ways that manifested their Christian calling (1:6–10).
Verse 5 presents Paul’s reflection on the delivery of the gospel to the Thessalonians, while verse 6 speaks to the Thessalonians’ reception of the gospel. What did God deliver to the Thessalonians through the missionaries? Ultimately, they brought the “gospel” (i.e., the “good news” of Jesus) in word, power, the Holy Spirit, and full conviction. Certainly, good news comes with a message/word, but Paul emphasizes that more was at work. The message also arrived with the power of God, with the Holy Spirit active in the proclamation and the reception. And God’s sovereign calling was also displayed in the conviction (literally “much assurance”) that the evangelists brought to the task.
Note repeated references to the Trinity in these opening verses: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who work in unison for the Thessalonians’ salvation. Verse 5 concludes with a reminder that the Thessalonians themselves serve as witnesses to how God employed the words, power, Holy Spirit, and gospel-conviction of these missionaries (the Greek is literally “. . . as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake”). Both Paul and the Thessalonians could be confident God had elected the church because God clearly blessed the missionaries’ message from the beginning.
1:6 As mentioned, the Thessalonians’ election (1:4) is evidenced both in how the missionary message came and in how the Thessalonians responded.4 Paul now transitions to the Thessalonians’ response to the gospel (note “And you”)—they became gospel-driven imitators and exemplars of Jesus, even amid persecution. Paul regularly engages the call to “imitation” among believers (e.g., 1Cor 4:16; Eph 5:1; Phil 3:17). A key instance appears in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” There is a gospel-driven chain here: Christ is the perfect exemplar, Paul and the missionaries imitate Christ, the churches imitate the missionaries, and then churches imitate one another (also 1Thes 2:14; 2Thes 3:7, 9). This process ultimately leads to churches imitating Christ. In 1:6, Paul’s confident statement that “you became imitators of us and of the Lord” serves as evidence of the electing work of God in their lives. Indirectly, this also encourages them to persevere in such imitation.
Their exemplary response to the gospel occurred amid persecution. The church “received the word in much affliction” during their early reception of the gospel (Acts 17:5–9; 1Thes 2:2, 15), and persecution continued against this church afterward (e.g., 1Thes 2:14–16; 2Thes 1:4–6). “Affliction” (Greek thlipsis) refers to some aspect of suffering and hardship, here impressed upon them from outside. Their exemplary response during such affliction even exhibited the “joy” that comes only from the Holy Spirit.
1:7 Being imitators of the missionaries, and thus of Christ, the Thessalonians also serve as an “example” for believers elsewhere. The Roman province of Macedonia (currently northern Greece) included Thessalonica. Achaia was the province of southern Greece that contained Athens and Corinth, from which Paul was writing.
1:8 The report of their faith circulated even further. Paul speaks of the “word of the Lord” (i.e., the gospel; cf. 2Thes 3:1; Acts 13:49; 15:35; 16:32), which “sounds forth” from the Thessalonians, just as their “faith in God” has “gone forth everywhere.” While “everywhere” may be a bit of hyperbole (as perhaps “we need not say anything”), Paul remains thankful that the Thessalonians’ faithful response to the gospel encouraged other churches around the Roman world to continue following Jesus.
1:9 Paul portrays what others reported about the Thessalonians. This includes their initial reception of the missionaries and their conversion from pagan worship (“from idols”) to the worship of the “living and true God.” Drawing on the Old Testament, as well as Jewish and early Christian teaching, God is called “living” (as opposed to the dead and worthless idols of pagan religion) and “true” (as opposed to the false gods of Rome).
1:10 God the Father and God the Son are here intimately connected. The Thessalonians’ conversion issued into service to the Father and into hopeful waiting for deliverance in the Son. Jesus’s resurrection and ascension are affirmed, and he will return from heaven to judge and deliver. Consistent with later themes in the letter (4:13–5:11, 23), at Jesus’s second coming he will save the church from the wrath that will be poured out on all God’s enemies who disbelieve his truth (5:9; cf. 2Thes 1:5–10; 2:9–12). Thus, the missionaries conclude their thanksgiving by emphasizing Christ’s return.
The Missionaries’ Ministry and the Thessalonians’ Response (2:1–3:13)
Already in chapter 1, Paul appealed to how the gospel came to the Thessalonians (1:5) and to how they responded (1:6–10). In chapter 2, Paul again emphasizes the missionaries’ roles in bringing the gospel (2:1–12) and the Thessalonians’ faithful reception of that message (2:13–16). The missionaries long to learn how the Thessalonians are faring (2:17–20), which motivated them to send Timothy back to Thessalonica (3:1–5). Timothy returned with a good report of the believers’ perseverance in Christ (3:6–10). Paul responds with a prayer and benediction (3:11–13).
Some commentators detect a very defensive posture from Paul in this letter (especially in chapters 2 and 3). Perhaps his opponents have circulated rumors that his ministry arose from ungodly motives? Some scholars even contend that the whole letter employs a standard Graeco-Roman rhetorical form to counter such assertions. However, attempts to outline the whole epistle within ancient rhetorical structures have failed to reach a consensus.5 Paul does regularly counteract opponents in other epistles, and adversaries often maligned his ministry (cf. Galatians or 2 Corinthians), yet there is no overt mention in 1 Thessalonians of opponents spreading rumors. Without discarding the possibility of some defensive goals, it should be recognized that Paul’s principal disposition is an insistence on his love and care for the church, alongside his confidence before God that he acted appropriately in his God-given ministry. More broadly, Paul may be distinguishing the missionaries’ ministry from itinerant pagan philosophers and religious teachers, who regularly appeared in Roman public spaces and who often taught for personal gain.
The Missionaries’ Motives and Service (2:1–12)
2:1 Paul transitions back to discussing the missionaries’ ministry. He reminds the church of their experience (“you yourselves know”). He again addresses the Thessalonians as family (cf. 1:4). And he affirms that the missionaries’ preaching in Thessalonica was effective (“not in vain”).
2:2 Paul reminds the Thessalonians (“as you know”) of the events in Philippi preceding his arrival in Thessalonica (cf. Acts 16:11–40). Paul and colleagues saw ministry success in Philippi, but they were opposed by key citizens. Indeed, they were beaten and imprisoned by command of the Philippian civil magistrates (Acts 16:19–24). Even then, miracles occurred, and the prison guard believed in Christ. However, despite Paul’s Roman citizenship, the missionaries were still expelled from Philippi (Acts 16:35–40). First-century Roman citizens viewed such treatment as “suffering and shameful” (1Thes 2:2). Such willingness to suffer indicates that Paul sought to “please God” rather than “please man” (2:4). He also hints in 2:2 that similar difficulties followed them to Thessalonica (“in the midst of much conflict”).
However, Paul does not dwell on such maltreatment; rather, he emphasizes how, despite such circumstances, the missionaries were emboldened to speak the “gospel of God.” Such boldness is evidence of their calling as those “approved by God,” who were “entrusted with the gospel” and who aim to “please God” in their ministries (2:4).
2:3 In first-century Roman cities, itinerant teachers frequently sought money and hospitality from wealthy benefactors by means of concocted philosophies and religions. Paul vigorously declares his gospel proclamation was different. The missionaries’ exhortations (“appeal”) did not originate in “error” (a wandering from the truth) or “impurity” (an uncleanness of origin or motive) or “any attempt to deceive” (dishonest guile).
2:4 In contrast to any potentially impure motives (2:3), Paul insists the missionaries maintained godly character and calling. The missionaries had been tested and “approved by God.” God deemed them faithful to be “entrusted” with God’s own message (“the gospel of God” in 2:2). Their evangelism and teaching were not sullied by self-serving goals of making people happy (i.e., “to please men”), but they proclaimed the gospel so that God himself, who had already examined their inmost thoughts (i.e., “tests our hearts”), was pleased with their message and manner of proclamation.
2:5–6 Returning to negative aims that motivated many orations in Roman forums, Paul disavows all such motives. The missionaries did not flatter their hearers to win allegiance. Nor did they have hidden designs for greed and personal gain. The Thessalonians can testify here (“as you know,” cf. 2:1–2), and God himself attests the missionaries’ pure intent (“God is witness”). They did not pursue glory and honor among people (“whether from you or from others”). They even set aside their missionary rights as Christ’s apostles for the sake of the church’s good (see notes on 2:9; cf. 1Cor 9:1–18; 2Thes 3:7–9; 2Cor 11:7–9).
2:7–8 In contrast, Paul observes the tender way the missionaries conducted themselves. The Greek manuscripts are divided on whether the missionaries were “gentle” (ēpioi) or “like infants” (nēpioi) among the Thessalonians (see ESV footnote)—the difference being a single Greek letter, easily omitted or added by a scribe. The data slightly favors “infants,” with Paul then utilizing a series of family metaphors in a few verses (“infants,” “mother,” “brothers,” “father” in 2:7, 9, 11). The missionaries had pure motives and were without greed (2:5–6), just like infants.
Still, the primary metaphor in 2:7–8 is that of “a nursing mother” (cf. Gen 35:8; 2Kgs 11:2). In Roman society, this likely referred to a woman whose role was to feed and nurture other people’s children. Here she is caring not merely for the children of others but for her very own offspring. Such imagery overflows with notions of love, affection, tenderness, and care. With such affectionate yearning, the missionaries not only shared their gospel but also “our own selves.” They fully invested themselves in the believers “because you had become very dear [literally “beloved”] to us.” Such affection and love models for all readers a wonderful approach to Christian ministry.
2:9 Paul continues to evoke the Thessalonians’ memories of their time together. With two overlapping Greek words (translated “labor” and “toil”), Paul insists the missionaries worked hard while they were with them. This involved both their gospel preaching (“while we proclaimed to you”) and their wage-earning work that supported their mission. While wealthier Romans only worked during the daytime, these missionaries worked “night and day.” The goal was not to be a “burden” to the church (cf. 2Thes 3:8). In addition to receiving funds from well-established sending churches (Phil 4:15–16; cf. 2Cor 11:7–9), Paul often conducted missions while laboring for his livelihood (probably as a “tent-maker,” see Acts 18:3). Thus, Paul did not need the local, newly founded church to support him. God did not prohibit apostles and missionaries from accepting local funds (cf. 1Cor 9:12–18; 1Thes 2:6–7), but this approach beneficially distinguished Paul’s ministry from those itinerant philosophers who sought money from their adherents. It also presented a good model of diligent work that encouraged believers to work heartily for their own income and to provide for others (2Thes 3:5–12; cf. 1Thes 5:14; Eph 4:28).
2:10 As in 2:5, Paul again invokes the dual witness of the Thessalonians and of God. Together they testify to how the missionaries behaved with religious sanctity (“holy”), with justice (“righteous”), and with spotless morality (“blameless”).
2:11–12 Having compared the missionaries to mothers (2:7–8), Paul now shifts to a paternal metaphor. First-century fathers were associated with the moral and religious upbringing of children. The missionaries exemplified that role by their teaching (“exhorted”), consolation (“encouraged”), and witness (“charged”). They motivated fellow Christians to “walk in a manner worthy of God.” “Walking” was an Old Testament metaphor (e.g., Gen 6:9; 17:1) that Paul employs to depict daily living in a manner that pleases God and is consistent with God’s character (1Thes 4:1; Gal 5:16; Eph 4:1; Col 1:10).
Referring again to God’s election of the Thessalonians (cf. 1:4), Paul identifies God as the one “who calls you.” God’s call enables believers to live in keeping with the gospel. The calling is eternal, bringing believers into God’s kingdom and his glory. Christians have already switched allegiances from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God (Col 1:13; cf. Rom 14:17), which believers fully inherit at Christ’s return (1Cor 15:24; Eph 5:5; 2Thes 1:5; 2Tim 4:18).
In this section (2:1–12), Paul has repeatedly reminded the Thessalonians of the upstanding character of the missionaries, who labored against much affliction to bring the gospel message to them. He has also affirmed the deep love Paul and colleagues have for the recipients of this letter.
How the Thessalonians Responded and Persevered (2:13–16)
2:13 Paul now returns to thanksgiving for the Thessalonians’ gospel response (cf. 1:6–10). As in 1:2, the missionaries habitually (“constantly”) gave thanks for them. Because the missionaries presented the true word of God (2:1–12), Paul thanks God that the Thessalonians recognized the gospel’s divine origin. That divine message actually “is at work” among the believers. God is transforming their lives.
2:14 As in 1:6, the gospel’s effectiveness is displayed in how the Thessalonians “imitate” fellow believers. In 1:6–7 they imitated the missionaries and became an example to others; here the Thessalonians follow the example of Jewish-Christian churches in Judea (southern modern Israel). Like in Judea, the Thessalonians remain faithful to Christ amid persecution.
The Thessalonian church began in Thessalonica’s Jewish synagogue (Acts 17:4), but local Jewish leaders subsequently rejected Jesus as the Messiah and began persecuting the Thessalonian believers by raising a mob, attacking people in their homes, and dragging them to court on false accusations (Acts 17:5–9). Paul recognized an analogy to the persecution of Jewish Christ-followers in Judea, including Jerusalem (e.g., Acts 4:1–22; 5:17–40; esp. 7:54–8:3; 9:29; 11:19; 12:1–19). Paul knew such Judean abuses well, since he had been an instigator of those persecutions prior to confessing Jesus (Acts 7:58; 8:1–3; 9:1–5), and afterward he was an intended victim of such attacks (Acts 9:29; cf. 21:27–36).
2:15–16 Paul recounts the severity of the Judean persecutions, likely to prompt comradery between the Thessalonian believers and the Judeans. Some modern readers have charged Paul with anti-Semitism here, and, tragically, over the last 2,000 years, others have distorted these verses to justify abuse and pogroms against Jews. However, Paul was never anti-Semitic. Paul strongly self-identified as Jewish, wishing even to be cursed for the sake of his Jewish countrymen so they could meet their Messiah (Rom 9:1–5; Phil 3:3–6). Paul regularly ministered in synagogues, and he recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of Jewish Old Testament hopes.
Prior to following Jesus, however, Paul himself had been commissioned by the high priest to imprison Christians, and he witnessed their executions (Phil 3:6; Acts 7:58; 8:1–3; 9:1–5). Later, Paul the missionary repeatedly experienced opposition to his proclamation of Jesus the Messiah in synagogues and often faced Jewish persecution (“drove us out” in 2:15 and “hindered us from speaking to the Gentiles” in 2:16; e.g., Acts 13:45, 50; 14:2, 19; 17:5, 13; 18:12). This section is like Old Testament prophetic pronouncements where the prophet, who identifies with the Israelite people, pronounces God’s judgment on the actions of his fellow citizens. Jesus too accused his countrymen of killing Old Testament prophets and refusing God’s Messiah (Matt 5:12; 23:39–34; cf. Jer 2:30).
Both Jewish and Gentile leaders sought Jesus’s execution in Jerusalem, though the Jewish leadership and mob were most insistent (Luke 24:20; Acts 2:23; 5:30). Paul warns synagogue leaders they will be held accountable for rejecting the Messiah and for attempting to hinder the Messiah’s gospel. It is debated whether “wrath has come upon them at last” signifies some event during Paul’s day (e.g., an edict from Emperor Claudius or some local event in the region) or in the future. The Greek aorist verb tense (“has come”) can refer to future events with certainty (“will have come”), and the “at last” may thus point to Jesus’s final judgment on those who oppose him and his church.
Paul Longs for News (2:17–3:5)
2:17–18 Paul expresses his deep desire to return to the Thessalonians. This reminds readers again of the missionaries’ love for this persecuted church. The missionaries were “torn away,” but they continued thinking of, praying for, and yearning to return to these believers (they were separated “not in heart”). Paul especially emphasizes his own “eagerness” and “great desire” to revisit them in person (“face to face”) and his multiple attempts to get back (“again and again”), yet he was “hindered” by Satan. Though we cannot know specifically how such hindrance occurred, Paul concluded the circumstances had been the result of a demonic conspiracy against him.
2:19–20 Like parents boasting and rejoicing in their children, Paul frequently refers to churches as his “joy and crown” (Phil 4:1) or his basis for “boasting” before the Lord (Phil 2:16; 1Cor 9:15–18; 2Cor 10:13–18). “Crown” is an athletic metaphor for the prize a victor receives (cf. 2Tim 2:5; 4:8). The appearance or “coming” of Christ refers to Jesus’s return to judge all and fully establish his kingdom (1Thes 4:15). Boasting is wrong when it is prideful or based on an attempt to earn salvation (e.g., Rom 2:23; 3:27; 1Cor 1:28–31; Eph 2:9). However, there is an appropriate confidence Paul takes in his proper ministerial conduct (2Cor 1:12), in the growth of churches in Christ (2Cor 7:14; 8:24), and in how God receives glory through Paul’s weaknesses (2Cor 11:30). Paul’s boast in the Thessalonians would have been a deep encouragement to those believers, who had been “fathered” by these missionaries.
3:1–2 After multiple attempts to revisit Thessalonica, Paul determined to send Timothy back to encourage and instruct the church. Paul desires the Thessalonians to know this delegation was done with compassion (“could bear it no longer”), with sacrifice (“left behind in Athens alone”), with a valued colleague (“our brother and God’s coworker”), and with purpose (“to establish and exhort you in your faith”). “To establish” refers to further strengthening someone to persevere, and “to exhort” grants encouragement to the same end.
3:3–4 The reason for Timothy’s visit was to help the church stand strong, even during persecution. “These afflictions” likely refers both to the church’s sufferings (2:14) and to opposition against the missionaries (2:15–16). Like Jesus (e.g., Matt 5:10–12, 44; John 15:20), Paul expects such suffering in this world, especially in Christian mission (“destined” in 1Thes 3:3; “we were to suffer affliction” in 3:4). He reminds them neither to be surprised nor shaken by such persecution.
3:5 Again Paul speaks directly (“I”, as in 2:18). He repeats his deep desire for news from the church (“when I could bear it no longer,” cf. 3:1). And he shares something of his anxieties for them (cf. 2Cor 11:28). He worried that Satan (“the tempter,” cf. Matt 4:3; 1Cor 7:5) might succeed in using persecution to tempt them away from faith in Christ, and thus all the missionaries’ hard work would have been wasted. Therefore, he sent Timothy to discover whether they had endured in their faith.
Joy at Timothy’s Report (3:6–10)
3:6–7 Timothy travelled to Thessalonica, then he returned to Paul (probably in Corinth). His arrival brought great joy because he reported the Thessalonians were well. “Brought us the good news” is the same Greek verb used for spreading the gospel (it can refer to bringing any good tidings). The “good news” here is threefold: the Thessalonians remain faithful, they practice love for one another, and they remember the missionaries fondly. Even amid ministerial difficulties (“distress and affliction”), this report brought comfort to Paul, who cared for them deeply.
3:8 Paul even announced this report was life-giving to him, since they were “standing fast” in perseverance. The metaphor of “standing” provides another picture of perseverance in Christian faith amid the world’s challenges (cf. 1Cor 16:13; Phil 4:1; 2Thes 2:15).
3:9 The missionaries again express thanks to God (cf. 1:2; 2:13), here in the form of a question. Paul well knows the impossibility of “returning to God” (literally “repaying God”) anything (Rom 11:35; cf. Job 35:7; 41:11); therefore, he cannot thank God enough for how the Thessalonians remain steadfast. Paul’s Greek emphasizes the missionaries’ joy (literally “for all the joy with which we rejoice because of you before God”).
3:10 Paul again accentuates the missionaries’ frequent prayers for the church (cf. 1:2; 2:13) and their desire to return to Thessalonica (cf. 2:17) with encouragement and further instruction. This provides a hinge to the prayer in 3:11 and upcoming instructions beginning in 4:1.
3:11 Having mentioned prayer in 3:10, the missionaries pen a prayerful benediction, invoking blessing on the church. This invocation is addressed to God the Father and the Lord Jesus, referencing two persons in the singular Godhead (see 1Thes 1:1, 3; 3:13). The missionaries request that they be permitted to return again to Thessalonica (cf. 3:10).
3:12–13 Then Paul prays two things for the Thessalonians: for their mutual love within the church, and for their perseverance in holiness. Paul acknowledges their love and perseverance, yet he also prays for these to grow. Their love for one another is connected to the love the missionaries have for the church, re-emphasizing Paul’s affection for them. And the overall context for their perseverance is Christian hope in the Lord’s return (1:10; 4:13–5:11; and esp. 5:23).
How Christians Walk and Please God (4:1–5:22)
Paul just prayed for the church’s growth in love and holiness (3:12–13), and earlier he expressed desire to return to Thessalonica to instruct and “supply what is lacking in your faith” (3:10). Therefore, it is natural that he now provides further instruction in their Christian walk, especially concerning holiness and purity (4:1–8) and growing in love (4:9–12). Apostolic guidance then continues concerning Jesus’s return (4:13–5:11), church relationships (5:12–15), prayer (5:16–18), and other matters (5:19–22).
Purity and Holiness (4:1–8)
4:1–2 Paul often utilizes the transitional word “finally” to begin and punctuate a series of ethical instructions, whether toward the end of a letter (2Cor 13:11; Eph 6:10; Phil 4:8) or in the middle (Phil 3:1; 2Thes 3:1). Paul again refers to Christians as family (“brothers,” cf. 1:4). Repeated verbs of request (“ask” and “urge”) emphasize the urgency, as do dual metaphors for Christian living: “walk” (see notes on 2:11–12) and “please God” (see 2:4; contrast 2:15). Paul references instructions given earlier while in Thessalonica, and he is careful to laud the church’s obedience while also exhorting their growth (“do so more and more”).
4:3 Paul directs believers to abstain from sexual immorality. He identifies such abstinence as a key aspect of sanctification. “Sanctification” often speaks broadly to the holiness that God calls Christians to live out through Christ’s work (Rom 6:19; 1Cor 1:30). Christians are called holy (i.e., “saints”; 3:13) in Christ, and we are also charged to live like God’s holy children. Holy living is “the will of God” for every believer.
Sexual immorality presented a particular challenge for Christians in the Roman world, since Greeks and Romans regularly permitted men to engage in sexual acts with unmarried women and boys, especially slaves and concubines (cf. 4:5). Prostitution was widespread, and shocking sexual acts receive frequent references in Roman literature, art, and graffiti. However, from the beginning of the Bible, God intended that sex should be practiced only within marriage between a husband and wife (Exod 20:14; Lev 20:10ff.; Deut 5:18). The early church followed Jesus in insisting on this rule (Matt 19:18; Rom 13:19; Jas 2:11), which was God’s creational design for the flourishing of humanity. Jesus spoke of marriage and sex between a husband and a wife as a bond that God himself ordained in creation (Matt 19:4–6; 19:9). Sex is a wonderfully good gift from God to humanity; yet like all good gifts, it should be utilized in the way God designed.
4:4 Paul continues calling for sexual purity, but commentators debate the meaning of his “vessel” metaphor. The Greek literally reads, “each one of you know how to control his own vessel in holiness and honor.” The question concerns the referent of “vessel.” Does “vessel” refer to one’s own spouse? Or one’s body? Or one’s bodily member? Likely, “vessel” serves as an idiom for “sexual organ” in the context of controlling one’s sexual activity. Note the term “holiness” (“sanctification” in Greek, cf. 4:3).
4:5 Paul contrasts Christian sexual holiness with Roman (“Gentile”) culture in pagan Thessalonica (“who do not know God”). Lust here refers to inappropriate sexual desire (cf. Rom 1:24), a subset of the broader range of unrighteous desires (Gal 5:16; Col 3:5). Believers (ancient and modern) must oppose cultural permissibility and pressures to practice sex outside God’s design (cf. Eph 5:3–14).
4:6 Paul continues addressing sexual immorality (“this matter”) through 4:8. The one who engages in sex outside of marriage ultimately “transgresses and wrongs his brother.” The boundaries of others are contravened, covetousness injures others, and many are hurt (including spouses, families, and the church). Paul cautions that God is an “avenger” (cf. Rom 13:4) in such matters. Paul reminds them the missionaries taught this while previously in Thessalonica, and he re-emphasizes this command through his “solemn warning.”
4:7–8 God calls Christians to sexual purity and holiness (“sanctification,” cf. 4:3, 4). To discount this instruction is to disregard God. Paul elsewhere asserts it is unacceptable for believers, whose bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, to give their bodies over to fornication, prostitution, or adultery (1Cor 6:12–20). A similar argument may be hinted at here with “who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” Since the Holy Spirit of God indwells believers, believers ought to be holy. Paul’s insistence on these matters indicates how great a cultural challenge this was in first-century Thessalonica and how important sexual purity should be in Christian lives.
Love and Work (4:9–12)
4:9–10 Paul directs believers to grow in loving one another. He affirms the Thessalonians already know and do this, since they have previously been taught God’s love command (cf. 3:6, 12). Macedonia is their Roman province (1:7), thus neighboring churches have all benefitted from the Thessalonians’ love. Paul urges them to excel even more (cf. Rom 13:8–10; 1Cor 13:1–13).
4:11–12 In addition to loving those within the church, believers should conduct themselves appropriately before outsiders. Paul highlights three aspects of such conduct: “live quietly” (not disturbing public peace, cf. 2Thes 3:12), “mind your own affairs” (doing what God calls you to and not meddling in other people’s lives, cf. 1Pet 4:15), and “work with your hands” (engaging in meaningful labor, cf. 2Thes 3:11–12). Two benefits result: outsiders will admire the church, and everyone supplies their own livelihood.
Resurrection and Christian Grief (4:13–18)
In 4:13–18, Paul seeks to quiet the fears of some in Thessalonica concerning those in the church who have died (“those who are asleep”).
4:13 “Asleep” was a common metaphor for death—especially applicable for Christians, who know Christ will raise (or awaken) his dead followers to new life (1Cor 15:6, 18, 51; cf. Matt 27:52; John 11:11–12; Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1Cor 11:30; 2Pet 3:4). Paul teaches a pattern of grief for Christians that is different from how the world grieves. It is not that Christians deny grief during earthly separation from deceased loved ones, but we grieve in ways consistent with hope in their coming resurrection at Christ’s return (and thus differently from those who grieve without such hope).
4:14 Paul reasserts the essential Christian proclamation: “Jesus died and rose again.” Jesus’s resurrection proves God’s people will be raised (1Cor 15:12–28), and Jesus will return to judge those currently living and those who are dead. When Jesus returns, he will bring with him the Christian dead (“those who have fallen asleep”).
4:15–16 In the midst of the Thessalonians’ grief for departed loved ones, Paul goes further. He insists the dead are privileged to be the ones “raised first.” Some Christians will still be alive when Christ returns, and they will witness Jesus raising the dead into physical, immortal, resurrection bodies like Christ’s (cf. 1Cor 15:35–57; Luke 24:36–43; John 20:24–29). However, those most privileged are the dead in Christ, who first experience resurrection.
Paul asserts this based on a “word from the Lord.” This might conceivably denote a revelation given Paul, but it more likely references Jesus’s own teaching (such as in Matt 24–25). Three striking auditory features accompany Jesus’s second coming: “a cry of command,” “the voice of an archangel,” and “the trumpet of God.” His return will be obvious to all (cf. Matt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52; cf. Joel 2:11).
4:17–18 Paul continues the sequence: Christ descends, the dead in Christ are raised, the still-living Christians (“we who are alive”) greet the Lord, then all believers spend eternity with Christ. The main theological question concerns meeting “the Lord in the air.” Some suggest this constitutes a rapture, where believers are taken into heaven (possibly to await a second descent); however, the two other New Testament uses of this Greek word for “meet” (apantēsis) both refer to groups going out to greet someone in order to welcome that person back to the group’s starting point (Matt 25:6; Acts 28:15). It is most consistent with New Testament teaching concerning Christ’s rule over the New Earth (2Pet 3:13; Rev 14:3) to speak of Christians alive on earth greeting Christ to welcome him back to his earthly kingdom. Yet despite that controversy, Paul’s central point is that our deceased Christian loved ones will be raised, and believers should take solace and courage in that hope.
Waiting for Christ’s Return (5:1–11)
Having just mentioned Christ’s return, Paul further discusses the end of this age. In ways analogous to the disciples’ questions to Jesus (e.g., Matt 24:3), Paul addresses the issue of when Christ will return. His answer, like Jesus’s (Matt 24:36; 24:42–25:13), is that Jesus’s return will be sudden and unpredictable. This should motivate Christians to wait eagerly with perseverance and faithfulness.
5:1–2 In this context, “the times and seasons” signifies the timing of Christ’s return (cf. Acts 1:6–7). This church (addressed familiarly as “brothers”; see 1:4) has already received instruction (“you yourselves are fully aware”) concerning Christ’s coming, probably through the missionaries’ previous teaching in Thessalonica (cf. 2Thes 2:5). The “Day of the Lord” references Old Testament notions of God’s sudden appearance to judge the world and vindicate his people (e.g., Isa 13:6–13; Joel 3:14; Amos 5:18–20; Zeph 1:7–18; Mal 4:5). Jesus equated his return to that eschatological Day (Matt 24:42; Luke 17:24; John 6:39–40; cf. 2Thes 2:2; 2Pet 3:10).
Although Christians naturally desire to know specifically when Christ will return, the Lord instead comes “like a thief in the night.” This simile indicates humans cannot accurately predict the timing of this event. This metaphor (and much of Paul’s eschatological instruction) originated with Jesus’s own teaching (cf. Matt 24:42–44; Luke 12:39–40; cf. 2Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15). Although “signs” precede Jesus’s return (see TGCBC commentary on 2Thes 2:1–12; also Matt 24:3–44), these are not entirely specific, and most generations over the last 2,000 years have suspected Jesus’s return was imminent. Jesus and Paul instruct Christians to avoid over-fascination with guessing “when” Jesus will come; rather, they exhort us to daily living consistent with perpetual preparation for the Lord’s arrival (1Thes 5:4–11).
5:3 The surprise and suddenness of Christ’s return is highlighted. People think all is well and they need not be concerned with eternal judgment. But the Day of the Lord comes suddenly, like the unexpected beginning of a woman’s first labor pains, and people will be caught unprepared.
5:4–5 Paul employs another metaphor, contrasting light/day and darkness/night. Those who are God’s people belong to the light/day, while darkness/night represents that which is opposed to God. Though no one can discern the specific timing of the Day of the Lord, those in the light confidently believe Jesus will return; therefore, Christians should be prepared through faithful endurance, ready at any moment for their Lord to come (cf. Matt 24:45–25:13).
5:6–8 Paul applies a sleep metaphor (different than the metaphor in 4:13–14; 5:10). Here wakefulness and sobriety refer to being prepared for Christ’s return through Christian living characterized by faith, love, and hope (5:8). Amid a world plunged in spiritual darkness and asleep to the things of Christ, Christians are to be “awake” and to act like God’s light-filled children. Faith, love, and hope protect believers against challenges from this dark world, just like a soldier’s breastplate and helmet (compare and contrast Eph 6:14–18; cf. Isa 59:17).
5:9–10 Paul emphasizes the reason Christians confidently live in God’s light, endure this dark world, and walk in faith, hope, and love. Namely, God has graciously destined believers to salvation through the work of Christ, whose death has made it possible to live in relationship with God. This contrasts with others who will receive only the just judgment of God’s anger.
5:11 Such truths reinvigorate this fledgling, persecuted, Christian church in Thessalonica. They can take confidence in their future hope in Christ. They have been granted the capacity to live as God’s children in faith, hope, and love. With such hope they encourage each other to persevere.
Further Instruction (5:12–22)
5:12–13 Again addressing the Thessalonians as family (“brothers”; see 1:4), the missionaries call for order in the church. This includes proper honor and recognition for church leaders. In Paul’s Greek, a single article (“the”) unites three descriptors of these leaders: (1) “labor among you,” (2) “are over you” (Greek “manage you”), and (3) “admonish you.” Likely, the same individuals performed all three aspects of leadership. These leaders are thus responsible for managing and instructing the church, and the church should recognize them for their work. Paul elsewhere calls for submission to church leaders (1Cor 16:16; cf. Heb 13:17) and for leaders to be recognized (1Cor 16:18) and honored (1Tim 5:17, likely also indicating economic support; cf. 1Tim 5:3).
Paul does not here record the leaders’ titles, though in Philippians (1:1) he refers to “overseers and deacons.” According to Acts, elders existed in the Jerusalem church (Acts 11:30; 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4), and Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in Asian churches (Acts 14:23) before Paul arrived in Thessalonica. Elders/overseers and deacons are also evidenced in Paul’s other writings (1Tim 3:1–13; 4:14; 5:17–19; Titus 1:5–9; cf. Acts 20:17, 28; Jas 5:14; 1Pet 5:1–5). In the New Testament, the titles “elder” and “overseer” were apparently interchangeably used for the same position. Elders/overseers are especially tasked with instruction and management (1Tim 3:5; 5:17; Titus 1:9). Whether or not such titles were already employed in Thessalonica (and it seems probable they were), leadership was clearly in place.
The churches should respond to such leaders with “high regard” and “love” (5:13). Paul also insists churches be unified and peaceful (cf. Rom 12:18; 2Cor 13:11; and Phil 2:1–11).
5:14–15 These short exhortations focus on relationships within the church. The “idle” should work, as Paul will later develop more fully (2Thes 3:6–12). The Greek word for “fainthearted” implies those who are lowly, discouraged, and have diminished souls (cf. Isa 35:4; 57:15). They should be comforted and encouraged. The “weak” in the New Testament can refer to the physically ill or to those weakened in faith or soul. Paul calls for Christians to be patient with everyone in the congregation (see NIV or NASB translations). Paul also directs believers to do good to others (5:15). Even when others perform evil against us, we are to respond with goodness.
5:16–18 Paul solicits prayers of joy, petition, and thanksgiving, each with a repeated and continual dimension (“always,” “without ceasing,” and “in all circumstances”). Here again a key aspect of Christian living is termed the “will of God” (cf. 4:3). The missionaries modeled such prayer (1:2–3; 2:13; 3:9–10; cf. Phil 4:4).
5:19–22 Paul appeals for proper church response to the prophetic work of the Spirit. Such works of the Spirit are not to be ignored or despised (5:19–20), yet they must always be tested to be sure that the Holy Spirit is truly the origin (5:21) and not something more malevolent (5:22).
Benediction and Closing (5:23–28)
Paul’s letters often close with benedictions (5:23–24; Eph 6:23; 2Thes 3:16–18) and with parting requests for prayer, alongside short instructions (5:25–28).
5:23 Both of the letter’s benedictions (cf. 1Thes 3:11–13) invoke God the Father and the Lord Jesus, close a section, and connect thematically with nearby verses. This benediction focuses on the sanctification (growth in holiness) of the church (cf. 4:1ff.) until the return of Christ (cf. 4:13–5:11). Paul calls upon the “God of peace” (cf. Rom 15:33; 16:20; Phil 4:9). He asks for God’s work to engage every aspect of the Christian person, with the goal that the believer is sanctified “completely” and the whole person (“your whole spirit and soul and body”) is found blameless.6
It is ultimately God’s work that enables growth in holiness (5:23), and it is thus God’s faithfulness (5:24) that provides the hope of sanctification, wholeness, and blamelessness. Yet the Christian walks in sanctification with God, and thus Christians are fully participative while ascribing all goodness to God’s work.
5:25 As the missionaries close the letter, they request the church’s prayers for them (cf. 2Thes 3:1). This reciprocates how the missionaries pray for the church (1Thes 1:2–10; 3:11–13). And this emboldens the church to offer up to God their concerns for the missionaries’ welfare and success (e.g., 3:3–4).
5:26 Paul’s letters regularly mention greeting one another “with a holy kiss,” following a standard gesture of friendship still practiced today in many European and Middle Eastern countries (Rom 16:16; 1Cor 16:20; 2Cor 13:12).
5:27 Letters to churches were typically read aloud in church gatherings. Paul wishes all in the church to hear this letter, and so he invokes a solemn oath.
5:28 Paul often concludes in this fashion (e.g., 1Cor 16:23; 2Cor 13:14; Gal 6:18; Col 4:18; 2Thes 3:18). The form in 5:28 reminds all that Jesus is their Messiah and Lord, and it equates Jesus with the Father in both title (“Lord”) and prerogatives (dispensing of grace). Moreover, he asks that Jesus grant good gifts—especially salvation, welfare, and ongoing sanctification—to the church by his grace.
Bruce, F. F. 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1982.
Chapman, David W. “1 Thessalonians” and “2 Thessalonians.” In ESV Expository Commentary. Edited by Iain M. Duguid, James M. Hamilton, Jr., and Jay Sklar. Vol. 11, pp. 257–357. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018.
Fee, Gordon D. The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009.
Green, Gene L. The Letters to the Thessalonians. Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002.
Gupta, Nijay K. 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Zondervan Critical Introductions to the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2019.
Malherbe, Abraham J. The Letters to the Thessalonians. Anchor Bible. New York: Doubleday, 2000.
Morris, Leon. The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians. Revised ed. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991.
Nicholl, Colin R. From Hope to Despair in Thessalonica: Situating 1 and 2 Thessalonians. SNTSMS 126. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Shogren, Gary. 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.
Wanamaker, Charles A. The Epistle to the Thessalonians. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990.
Weima, Jeffrey A. D. 1–2 Thessalonians. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014.
Witherington, III, Ben. 1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006.
Endnotes & Permissions
1. Many thanks to Leela Chapman for help in editing this commentary.
2. This opening is identical to 2Thes 1:1–2, except 2Thes 1:2 adds: “from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Many Greek manuscripts also import that addition to 1Thes 1:1, but the shorter text is likely original here.
4. The Greek verb egenēthēte (“you became”) in 1:6 parallels the verb egenēthē (the gospel “came”) at the beginning of 1:5; thus, both verses indicate what Paul “knows” about the electing work of God among the Thessalonians (1:4).
5. Concerning contradictory rhetorical outlines for 1 Thessalonians, see Stanley E. Porter, “Paul of Tarsus and His Letters,” in Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period 330 B.C. – A.D. 400, ed. Stanley E. Porter (Leiden, Brill: 1997), 547–51 (esp. 562–67).
6. Some discover in “spirit and soul and body” a tri-partite (three-part) division of the human person. Yet in other places Paul speaks simply of spirit and body (1Cor 7:34; 2Cor 7:1). Paul’s use of “soul” (Greek psuchē) is particularly complex, with most instances rendered by some other term in English translations (Rom 2:9; 11:3; 13:1; 16:4; 1Cor 15:45; 2Cor 1:23; 12:15; Eph 6:6; Phil 1:27; 2:30; Col 3:23; 1Thes 2:8). In English, like in Greek, we utilize various expressions to indicate the whole person without suggesting absolute divisions within the human being (e.g., “heart and soul,” “heart and mind,” “heart, mind, and strength”). Thus, it is best not to develop a full doctrine of the “nature of man” from this verse alone. Rather, this verse emphasizes that the whole human person should be blameless in Christ.
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1 Thessalonians 1
1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly1 mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers2 loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.