This letter to the church in Thessalonica is thought to be Paul’s first letter – probably before AD53. It seems, according to chapter 3, that Paul is writing this letter after Timothy had visited the church in Thessalonica and reported back to Paul.
The church in Thessalonica was, obviously, a young church. We are used to reading letters from Paul that are full of teaching a doctrine, but it is clear in this letter that Paul means to first and foremost encourage the church in Thessalonica, as they are are young in their faith, and probably to some extent fairly immature in their faith. It is a church of Gentile believers – people who have had their lives radically transformed when they ‘turned to God from idols (1:9).
Towards the end of the letter, Paul moves onto matters of teaching and doctrine – addressing a couple of specific issues that may have been brought to his attention. Paul pays specific attention to the end times – what will happen at the end of this world – a question that has always held the attention of humanity.
We can take much encouragement from this letter – that is what is at the forefront of Paul’s mind – and as we read through this letter we can see that these encouragements apply directly to us also – culminating in the great hope that Jesus’ followers will live with him forever.