First Epistle to the Thessalonians

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The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, usually referred to simply as First Thessalonians and often written 1 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

The first letter to the Thessalonians was likely the first of Paul's letters, probably written by the end of AD 52,[1] making it, so far as is now known, the oldest extant Christian document.

Contents

Composition

Most New Testament Scholars believe Paul wrote this letter from Corinth, although information appended to this work in many early manuscripts (e.g. Codices Alexandrinus, Mosquensis, and Angelicus) state that Paul wrote it in Athens[2] after Timothy had returned from Macedonia, with news of the state of the church in Thessalonica (Acts 18:1-5; 1 Thes. 3:6). For the most part, the letter is personal in nature, with only the final two chapters spent addressing issues of doctrine, almost as an aside. Paul's main purpose in writing is to encourage and reassure the Christians there. Paul urges them to go on working quietly while waiting in hope for the return of Christ.

Authenticity

The vast majority of New Testament scholars hold 1 Thessalonians to be authentic, although a number of scholars in the mid 19th century contested its authenticity, most notably Clement Schrader and F.C. Baur.[3] 1 Thess. matches other accepted Pauline letters, both in style and in content, and its authorship is also affirmed by 2 Thessalonians.

1 Thes. 2:13-16 have often been regarded as a post-Pauline interpolation. The following arguments have been based on the content: (1) It is perceived to be theologically incompatible with Paul's other epistles: elsewhere Paul attributed Jesus's death to the "rulers of this age"(1 Cor 2:8) rather than to the Jews, and elsewhere Paul writes that the Jews have not been abandoned by God for "all Israel will be saved"(Rom 11:26); According to 1 Thes 1:10, the wrath of God is still to come, it is not something that has already shown itself [4](2) There were no extensive historical persecutions of Christians by Jews in Palestine prior to the first Jewish war[5] (3) The use of the concept of imitation in 1 Thes. 2.14 is singular. (4) The aorist eftasen ("has overtaken") refers to the destruction of Jerusalem[6] (5) The syntax of 1 Thes. 2:13-16 deviates significantly from that of the surrounding context.[7]

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