The First to the Thessalonians 1:1-10

1  Paul, Sil·vaʹnus,+ and Timothy,+ to the congregation of the Thes·sa·loʹni·ans+ in union with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:+ May you have undeserved kindness and peace.  We always thank God when we mention all of you in our prayers,+  for we continually remember your faithful work, your loving labor, and your endurance because of your hope+ in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.  For we know, brothers loved by God, his choosing of you,  because the good news we preach did not come to you with speech alone but also with power and with holy spirit and with strong conviction,+ just as you know what sort of men we became among you for your sakes.  And you became imitators of us+ and of the Lord,+ seeing that you accepted the word under much tribulation+ with joy of holy spirit,  so that you became an example to all the believers in Mac·e·doʹni·a and in A·chaʹia.  The fact is, not only has the word of Jehovah sounded out from you in Mac·e·doʹni·a and A·chaʹia but your faith in God has spread abroad in every place,+ so that we do not need to say anything.  For they themselves keep reporting about our first contact with you and how you turned to God from your idols+ to slave for a living and true God, 10  and to wait for his Son from the heavens,+ whom he raised up from the dead, namely, Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.+

Footnotes

Study Notes

The First to the Corinthians: Titles like this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that they were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the letters. The papyrus codex known as P46 shows that scribes identified Bible books by titles. That codex is the earliest known collection of Paul’s letters, often dated to about the year 200 C.E. It contains nine of his letters. At the beginning of Paul’s first inspired letter to the Corinthians, this codex has a title that reads Pros Ko·rinʹthi·ous A (“Toward [or, “To”] Corinthians 1”). (See Media Gallery, “Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians.”) Other early manuscripts, such as Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century C.E., contain the same title. In these manuscripts, the title appears both at the beginning of the letter and at the end.

The First to the Thessalonians: Titles such as this were apparently not part of the original text. Ancient manuscripts show that the titles were added later, doubtless to make it easier to identify the books.​—See study note on 1Co Title.

Silvanus: This coworker is also mentioned by Paul at 1Th 1:1 and 2Th 1:1 and by Peter at 1Pe 5:12. In the book of Acts, he is called Silas. Luke’s account shows that he was a leading member of the first-century Christian congregation in Jerusalem, a prophet, and a companion of Paul’s on his second missionary journey. Silvanus was apparently a Roman citizen, which may explain why his Roman name is used here.​—Ac 15:22, 27, 40; 16:19, 37; 17:14; 18:5.

under much tribulation: This refers to the persecution experienced by the Thessalonian congregation soon after Paul and Silas introduced the good news to them. Enraged by the spread of the good news, fanatic Jewish opposers incited a mob to storm the house where Paul was staying. Not finding Paul there, they dragged his host, Jason, and some others before the city rulers and accused them of sedition. The brothers urged Paul and Silas to leave the city under cover of night and travel to Beroea. (Ac 17:1-10) Remarkably, the holy spirit enabled those Thessalonian Christians to maintain joy despite this persecution.

Silvanus: This is likely a Latinized version of the Greek name Silas.​—See study note on 2Co 1:19.

the congregation of the Thessalonians: Thessalonica was the principal seaport of Macedonia and a prosperous city when Paul and Silas arrived there about 50 C.E. (See Glossary, “Thessalonica.”) This visit and their ministry in Thessalonica led to the founding of a congregation that endured much persecution. (Ac 17:1-10, 13, 14; see study note on 1Th 1:6.) Paul likely revisited the city while he was passing through Macedonia during his later travels.​—Ac 20:1-3; 1Ti 1:3.

the hope of salvation as a helmet: Just as a helmet protects a soldier’s head, so the hope of salvation protects a Christian’s mind. Paul mentions this figurative helmet, as well as “the breastplate of faith and love,” when he discusses the importance of staying awake spiritually. (1Th 5:6, 7) A Christian who has this helmet on his head looks “intently toward the payment of the reward,” as Moses did. (Heb 11:26) If he keeps his hope of salvation strong, he will stay awake spiritually.​—See study note on Eph 6:17.

your faithful work, your loving labor, and your endurance because of your hope: Paul links the qualities of faith, love, and hope with the activity of the Thessalonian Christians. In Greek, the words here rendered “faithful,” “loving,” and “hope” are actually nouns. So this passage could also be translated “your work based on faith, your earnest effort out of love, and your endurance based on hope.” These qualities stimulated the Thessalonian Christians to work hard and to persevere in God’s service. The Bible repeatedly connects zeal in God’s service with the qualities of faith, love, and hope.​—1Co 13:13; Ga 5:5, 6; Col 1:4, 5; 1Th 5:8; Heb 6:10-12; 10:22-24; 1Pe 1:21, 22.

because of your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ: A Christian can endure even severe trials if he puts his hope in Jesus Christ. That hope includes faith in Christ’s coming as King of God’s Kingdom and in the fulfillment of God’s promises. (Ac 3:21) When that hope is fulfilled, any suffering that was experienced will seem insignificant. The hope will help the Christian not to give in to despair and lose faith in Jehovah. (Ro 5:4, 5; 8:18-25; 2Co 4:16-18; Re 2:10) Later in his letter, Paul compares hope to a helmet.​—See study note on 1Th 5:8.

with strong conviction: Or “with full assurance; with complete certainty.” The Christians in Thessalonica could see that Paul and his companions firmly believed what they preached. Their conviction was evident both in how they spoke and in how they lived.

under much tribulation: This refers to the persecution experienced by the Thessalonian congregation soon after Paul and Silas introduced the good news to them. Enraged by the spread of the good news, fanatic Jewish opposers incited a mob to storm the house where Paul was staying. Not finding Paul there, they dragged his host, Jason, and some others before the city rulers and accused them of sedition. The brothers urged Paul and Silas to leave the city under cover of night and travel to Beroea. (Ac 17:1-10) Remarkably, the holy spirit enabled those Thessalonian Christians to maintain joy despite this persecution.

Achaia: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, Achaia refers to the Roman province of southern Greece with its capital at Corinth. In 27 B.C.E., when Caesar Augustus reorganized the two provinces of Greece, Macedonia and Achaia, the name Achaia applied to all of Peloponnese and to part of continental Greece. The province of Achaia was under the administration of the Roman Senate and was ruled through a proconsul from its capital, Corinth. (2Co 1:1) Other cities of the province of Achaia mentioned in the Christian Greek Scriptures were Athens and Cenchreae. (Ac 18:1, 18; Ro 16:1) Achaia and Macedonia, its neighboring province to the N, were often mentioned together.​—Ac 19:21; Ro 15:26; 1Th 1:7, 8; see App. B13.

Achaia: See Glossary; see also study note on Ac 18:12.

the word of Jehovah: Or “the message of Jehovah.” This expression is frequently used in the Hebrew Scriptures, where it often refers to an inspired prophetic message from Jehovah. (Some examples are Isa 1:10; Jer 1:4, 11; Eze 3:16; 6:1; 7:1; Jon 1:1.) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term refers to the Christian message that originates with Jehovah God and that features the important role of Jesus Christ in the outworking of God’s purpose. It is often used in the book of Acts to describe the spread of Christianity.​—Ac 8:25; 12:24; 13:44, 48, 49; 15:35, 36; 16:32; 19:20; for the use of the divine name in this verse, see App. C3 introduction; 1Th 1:8.

sounded out: This phrase renders the Greek word e·xe·kheʹo·mai that occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures; it suggests a sound that spreads out from its source, reverberating in all directions. Paul is clearly pleased that “the word of Jehovah” has spread into the Roman provinces of Macedonia and Achaia and beyond. In commending the Thessalonian Christians for their role in the spreading of the good news, Paul indicates that not only the apostles but all Christians must preach.

Repent . . . and turn around: The Greek word me·ta·no·eʹo, “to repent,” literally means “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. In this context, repentance involved a person’s wanting to repair or restore his relationship with God. A sinner who genuinely repents deeply regrets his wrong course and is determined not to repeat his sin. (2Co 7:10, 11; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 8.) Moreover, true repentance moves a sinner to “turn around,” abandoning his wrong course and pursuing a course that is pleasing to God. Both in Hebrew and in Greek, the verbs for “to turn around” (Hebrew, shuv; Greek, streʹpho; e·pi·streʹpho) mean “to return; to turn back (around)” in a literal sense. (Ge 18:10; 50:14; Ru 1:6; Ac 15:36) When used in a positive spiritual sense, however, this may denote turning to God from a wrong way.​—1Ki 8:33; Eze 33:11; see study notes on Ac 15:3; 26:20.

slave: The Greek verb refers to working as a slave, that is, someone owned by only one master. Jesus was here stating that a Christian cannot give God the exclusive devotion that He deserves and at the same time be devoted to gathering material possessions.

a slave of Christ Jesus: Generally, the Greek term douʹlos, rendered “a slave,” refers to a person owned by another; often, he is a purchased slave. (Mt 8:9; 10:24, 25; 13:27) This term is also used figuratively, referring to devoted servants of God and of Jesus Christ. (Ac 2:18; 4:29; Ga 1:10; Re 19:10) Jesus bought the lives of all Christians when he gave his life as a ransom sacrifice. As a result, Christians do not belong to themselves but consider themselves to be “Christ’s slaves.” (Eph 6:6; 1Co 6:19, 20; 7:23; Ga 3:13) As an indication of their submission to Christ, their Lord and Master, writers of the inspired letters in the Christian Greek Scriptures who gave counsel to the congregations all referred to themselves as ‘slaves of Christ’ at least once in their writings.​—Ro 1:1; Ga 1:10; Jas 1:1; 2Pe 1:1; Jude 1; Re 1:1.

you turned to God: Paul uses a verb that means “to return; to turn back (around)” in a literal sense, but here and in other contexts, it denotes turning to God from a wrong course. (See study note on Ac 3:19.) Those Christians had rejected and abandoned their idolatrous ways and had wisely turned to worshipping “a living and true God.”

your idols: Idolatry was a prominent feature of life in Thessalonica. The city abounded with sanctuaries to such gods as Dionysus, Zeus, Artemis, and Apollos, along with some Egyptian deities and the cult of Cabirus, a patron god of Thessalonica. Additionally, refusal to participate in emperor worship could have been viewed by some as rebellion against Rome. Some of the city’s idol temples promoted promiscuity and sexual immorality, and Paul warned the Thessalonians against such practices.​—1Th 4:3-8.

to slave for: Or “to serve.” The Greek verb rendered “to slave” refers to serving others, usually an individual owner. Here the term is used figuratively, referring to serving God with undivided devotion. (Ac 4:29; Ro 6:22; 12:11) Paul knew that “to slave for a living and true God” is to live a happy life, far better than one of slavery to lifeless idols, to humans, or to sin.​—Ro 6:6; 1Co 7:23; see study notes on Mt 6:24; Ro 1:1.

the wrath that is coming: Paul here refers to a future time of divine judgment, the ultimate expression of God’s righteous wrath against this unrighteous world and those who refuse to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.​—Compare 2Th 1:6-9.

Media

Video Introduction to the Book of 1 Thessalonians
Video Introduction to the Book of 1 Thessalonians