1 Thessalonians

What Is the Book of 1 Thessalonians About?

Time: 5 Minutes

Hey Friend!

Our editorial team wrote this book introduction for you. We hope it helps you find your bearings in the Bible story, and inspires you to open this book of the Bible!

A cursory reading of 1 Thessalonians shows the beating heart of love and affection that drives the Apostle Paul’s ministry.  

In his second missionary journey (Acts 15:36-18:22), Paul and his co-laborers visited Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9) to preach the gospel. They were well received by the people in this city, who became Christians. These new Christians formed their own church in Thessolonica, which enraged local Jews, who created an uproar that forced Paul to flee their persecution.  

Unfortunately, Paul had to leave the fledgling Thessalonian church behind (Acts 17:10). Paul refers to this event as being “torn away” from the church (1 Thessalonians 2:17). Throughout this letter we hear Paul missing these people, praying for them, reminiscing on their time together. Paul loved this church.  

Paul spends the first chapter praising and encouraging this young church for their faithfulness. Faithfulness to him? No. To Paul’s great joy, this church was devoted to Paul’s Lord, Jesus Christ. He writes, “We give thanks to God always for all of you . . . remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV).  

The Thessalonians had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9 ESV). This is a lovely description of what Christians refer to as “conversion,” which simply means turning from sin to faith in Jesus Christ. This church had turned away from idols to the fullness of life that God offers us in Jesus. Paul regularly commends them for the various ways in which they faithfully obey God, living as “imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 2:14). 

Because of their growth in the faith and willingness to identify with Jesus, the Thessalonians suffered persecution. Paul encourages them in this letter that they’re not alone in their suffering, and to persevere. 

Paul points to the source of all their good works: “the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). Here, Paul commends the church for receiving the Word of God “not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God.”  

The same is true of all Christians. As believers in Jesus, we build our lives on God’s Word. We can gauge our spiritual health by how well we receive God’s Word. The church in Thessalonica enjoyed spiritual health because they loved and received God’s Word.  

As believers in Jesus, we build our lives on God’s Word. We can gauge our spiritual health by how well we receive God’s Word.

Paul also wrote to reassure the Thessalonians because they were anxious about death. Some wondered what happens to those who die before Jesus’ second coming. Paul comforts them with the fact that Jesus will come again and bring with him those who have died: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). The letter to the Thessalonians tenderly reminds us that our hope as Christians is in Christ’s death and resurrection and return.  

Just as God did not abandon Jesus in the grave, God will not abandon those who have died trusting in Jesus. Everyone will one day be raised from the dead, appearing with Jesus at his second coming. Paul tells the Thessalonians to encourage one another with the hope of Jesus’ return.  

In 1 Thessalonians, we see a man lovingly instructing those who are dear to him. Christians are known for this kind of love (1 Thessalonians 4:9)—the love taught us by God. This love is expressed in working hard, encouraging the weak, rejoicing, and giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18). Christians are to be diligent, living lives ready for Christ’s return, full of love for one another and God.  

Have you listened to God’s Word? Has it changed your life? Open 1 Thessalonians to discover how God’s Word works in the lives of those who trust in Jesus.