15 million Ukrainian are displaced by Russia's war.
Millions miss a meal or two each day.
Help us change that! Click to donate today!

Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature

Thessalonians Epistles to the

First Thessalonian Epistle

The authenticity and canonical authority of this epistle have been from the earliest ages admitted; nor have these points ever been called in question, either in ancient or modern times, by those who have received any of Paul's Epistles.

This epistle has generally been regarded as the first written by Paul of those now extant. In the Acts of the Apostles (, sq.) we are told that Paul, after preaching the Gospel with success at Thessalonica, had to flee from that city in consequence of the malice of the Jews; that he thence betook himself to Berea, in company with Silas; that, driven by the same influence from Berea, he journeyed to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy (the latter of whom had probably preceded him to Berea) behind him; and that after remaining in that city for sometime, he went to Corinth, where he was joined by Timothy and Silas. It appears also from this epistle (; ), that while at Athens he had commissioned Timothy to visit the infant church at Thessalonica; and from , we learn that he expected to be joined by Timothy and Silas in that city. Whether this expected meeting ever took place there, is a matter involved in much uncertainty.

But whatever view we adopt on this point, it seems indisputable that this epistle was not written until Paul met Timothy and Silas at Corinth. The ancient subscription, indeed, testifies that it was written at Athens; but that this could not be the case is clear from the epistle itself. It must, however, have been written very soon after his arrival at Corinth; for, at the time of his writing, Timothy had just arrived from Thessalonica, and Paul had not been long in Corinth before Timothy and Silas joined him there ().

The design of this epistle is to comfort the Thessalonians under trial, and to encourage them to the patient and consistent profession of Christianity. The epistle may be conveniently divided into two parts. The former of these, which comprises the first three chapters, is occupied with statements chiefly of a retrospective character: it details the apostle's experience among the Thessalonians, his confidence in them, his deep regard for them, and his efforts and prayers on their behalf. The latter part of the epistle () is, for the most part, of a hortatory character: it contains the apostle's admonitions to the Thessalonians to walk according to their profession; to avoid sensuality, dishonesty, and pride; to cultivate brotherly love, to attend diligently to the duties of life, to take the comfort which the prospect of Christ's second coming was calculated to convey, but not to allow that to seduce them into indolence; or idle speculations; to render due respect to their spiritual superiors; and, by attention to a number of duties which the apostle specifies, to prove themselves worthy of the good opinion he entertained of them. He concludes the epistle by offering fervent supplication on their behalf, and the usual apostolic benediction.

Second Thessalonian Epistle

The apostle's allusion in his former epistle to the second coming of Christ, and especially his statement in , appear to have been misunderstood by the Thessalonians or willfully perverted by some among them, so as to favor the notion that that event was near at hand. This notion some inculcated as a truth specially confirmed to them by the Spirit; others advocated it as part of the apostolic doctrine; and some claimed for it the specific support of Paul in a letter (). Whether the letter here referred to is the apostle's former epistle to the Thessalonians, or one forged in his name by some keen and unscrupulous advocates of the notion above referred to, is uncertain.

On receiving intelligence of the trouble into which the Thessalonians had been plunged, in consequence of the prevalence among them of the notion (from whatever source derived) that the second coming of Christ was nigh at hand, Paul wrote to them this second epistle, in which he beseechingly adjures them by the very fact that Christ is to come a second time, not to be shaken in mind or troubled, as if that event were near at hand. He informs them that much was to happen before that should take place, and especially predicts a great apostasy from the purity and simplicity of the Christian faith (). He then exhorts them to hold fast by the traditions they had received, whether by word or epistle, and commends them to the consoling and sustaining grace of God (). The rest of the epistle consists of expressions of affection to the Thessalonians, and of confidence in them: of prayers on their behalf, and of exhortations and directions suited to the circumstances in which they were placed.

There is the strongest reason for believing that this second epistle was written very soon after the first, and at the same place, viz. Corinth. The internal evidence in favor of the genuineness of this epistle is equally strong with that which attests the first.





Copyright Statement
Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Thessalonians Epistles to the'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature".

Search for…
Enter query in the box below:
Choose a letter to browse:
Prev Entry
Next Entry