1 Thessalonians Chapter 1 Introduction
by Diane Barstow

“Paul and Sylvanus and Timothy, to the Church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor, of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit, and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” NASB

Acts 16:9-10

“A vision appeared to Paul in the night; a man of Macedonia was standing and appealing to him, and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.” NASB

Acts 17:1-9

“Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul's custom he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I am proclaiming to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the House of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some of the brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another King, Jesus.” They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them. The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.” NASB

Today we’re going to review Acts chapter 16 and 17, Paul’s second missionary journey, the roman world, and get a little background information on Thessalonica. But wait - there’s more. We’re also going to watch the Bible Project animation of the entire book!


After a sharp disagreement with Barnabas, Paul selected Silas (Silvanus is his Greek name) to accompany him on a trip to check on the status of the churches that were founded during his first journey. They left Antioch and traveled northwest to Cilicia visiting Derbe, Iconium and Lystra (in Lycaonia) where he acquired another traveling partner - Timothy (son of a Greek father and Jewish mother). From there they traveled through Phrygia and Galatia and more northerly because the Spirit directed them away from Mysia and Bithynia to Troas where Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia asking for help. This ‘man’ was likely a God-fearing Greek or Roman. We’ll ‘circle back’ to this topic a little later.

From Troas they ‘put to sea’ to Samothrace, Neapolis, Philippi (the leading city of Macedonia) where Paul and Silas were imprisoned. Next, they traveled through Amphipolis and Appolonia then arrived at Thessalonica.

Run out of town by a mob of angry Jews and ruffians, he moved on to Berea (where he called the believers ‘noble’) and was run out of town again and fled to Athens. From there he went west to Corinth (where he wrote this book!) After some time, Paul then sailed across the Aegean Sea to Ephesus. After a short stay in Ephesus, Paul set off for Cesaria on the Mediterranean. Then made the trek south to Jerusalem where the second missionary journey ended. 1 thing to note as you refresh your memory of the book of Acts is that Paul NEVER ceased to deliver the Gospel to the Jews wherever they met, he moved on to the Gentiles as his message to the Jews was rejected. If indeed ‘the church’ replaced Israel, he would not have continued to evangelize them.


Macedonia was the home of Alexander the Great. Thessalonica had previously been called Thermi, which means the hot springs, and it gave its name to the Thermaic gulf on which it stood. It had been described as a great city and had always been a famous harbor. It was there Xerxes the Persian had his naval base when he invaded Europe, and even in Roman times it was one of the world's greatest dockyards. In 315 BC, Cassander had rebuilt the city and named it Thessalonica, the name of his wife, who was the daughter of Philip of Macedon and half-sister of Alexander the Great. It was a free city, that is to say, it had never suffered the indignity of having Roman troops garrisoned there. It had an elected citizen's assembly and was permitted to mint its own coins. It had approximately 200,000 inhabitants, mostly Greeks, Romans, and a considerable population of Jews - thus a synagogue. But its supreme importance was that it straddled the Via Egnatia, or the Egnatian Road which stretched from Dyrrachium on the Adriatic to Constantinople on the Bosphorus, and thence away to Asia Minor and the East.

In Barclay's commentary he says, “It is impossible to overstress the importance of the arrival of Christianity in Thessalonica. If Christianity had settled there, it was bound to spread east along the Egnatian Road until all Asia was conquered, and West until it stormed even the city of Rome. The coming of Christianity to Thessalonica was crucial in the making of it (Christianity) into a world religion.”

According to Acts 17, Paul and company may have spent as little as 3 weekends teaching and preaching in the Synagogue, reasoning FROM THE SCRIPTURES that Jesus was the Messiah to a growing group of disciples - some (male) Jews, God-fearing Greeks, and prominent Jewish women. Imagine the jealousy of the Jews when Paul was joined by some of their own people, proselytes (both Greek and Roman gentiles), and influential women! INFURIATING!! God calls all manner of people to Himself. In the book of Acts gentiles are called God-fearing - in chapter 10 verse 22, 13 verse 43, 17 verse 4, and 17: 4 & 17. The Lord has installed, think factory setting, in EVERY PERSON an internal understanding that there’s more to life than just this earthly experience. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind will find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) An eternity exists which they might not be ready to enter!

The word ‘help’ here isboetheo- from the Greek ‘to run to the cry’ thus to help, succor, bring aid. Yes, this night vision was a cry for help - help to escape the bondage to idolatry, help to respond to the inner call of God to come to Him!

Reading between the lines, Paul may have only been allowed to spend 3 Sabbaths in the Synagogue, and then forced to go elsewhere to continue teaching the new believers. He was supplied with financial support by the Church Philippi - twice (Philippians 4:15-16). At some point he was run out of town in the dead of night and may not have even had an opportunity to say goodbye. After he left Berea and arrived in Athens, he became so concerned for the condition of his little church that he sent Timothy to suss out the situation in person and report back to him. The news Timothy brought back was almost entirely good, but there were a few doctrinal issues Paul wanted to clarify. Thus, his care and concern for the church (the people!) he founded inspired this letter.

Next week we’ll get into the meat of this letter. This itself, being one of, if not the earliest, of Pauline letters to gentile believers is more conversational in nature, rather than doctrinal instruction. Remember when Paul left Thessalonica, they also were undergoing civil and religious persecution - he had been genuinely concerned for their welfare and was delighted with the good report he had received from Timothy.

Your homework is to read chapter 1 and watch for these 3 foundations:

Prayer -

Reputation -

Regeneration -