Date of this letter in the early 60s

This letter may have been written by Paul at Rome during his imprisonment.  Paul likely wrote it at roughly the same time that he wrote Philemon and Ephesians, since all three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus.  A date of 62 CE assumes that the imprisonment Paul spoke about is his Roman imprisonment that followed his voyage to Rome.  Other scholars have suggested that it was written from Caesarea while he was in prison there or even earlier from Ephesus.  If the letter is not considered to be an authentic part of the Pauline corpus, then it might be dated during the late first century, possibly as late as 90 CE.  However, everything seems to point to a Roman imprisonment in the early 60s CE.  Certainly, it was written in the second half of the first century after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Stand firm in the Lord (1 Thess. 3:8)

“We now live,

If you continue

To stand firm

In the Lord.”

ὅτι νῦν ζῶμεν ἐὰν ὑμεῖς στήκετε ἐν Κυρίῳ.

Paul said, “We now live (ὅτι νῦν ζῶμεν), if you continue (ἐὰν ὑμεῖς) to stand firm (στήκετε) in the Lord (ἐν Κυρίῳ).”  Paul emphasized the importance of faith among the Thessalonians.  He would continue to live, if they remained strong in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul almost seemed to say that his life depended on their faith in Jesus Christ.  His life was revived by their strong faith.  Does your life depend on the faith of others?

Encouraged by your faith (1 Thess. 3:7)

“Brothers!

For this reason,

During all our distress

And our sufferings,

We have been encouraged

About you

Through your faith.”

διὰ τοῦτο παρεκλήθημεν, ἀδελφοί, ἐφ’ ὑμῖν ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἀνάγκῃ καὶ θλίψει ἡμῶν διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως,

Paul said, “Brothers (ἀδελφοί)!  For this reason (διὰ τοῦτο), during all our distress (ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἀνάγκῃ) and our sufferings (καὶ θλίψει ἡμῶν), we have been encouraged (παρεκλήθημεν) about you (ἐφ’ ὑμῖν) through your faith (διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως).”  Paul indicated to his fellow Christian brothers in Thessalonica that anytime that he was distressed or suffering, he was encouraged by the faith of the Thessalonians.  Thus, it was the faith of this developing community church in Thessalonica that sustained Paul in his sufferings.  What sustains you when you are suffering?

Timothy just got here (1 Thess. 3:6)

“But Timothy

Just now came to us

From you.

He has brought us

Good news

About your faith

And your love.

You always remember us

Very kindly.

You long to see us,

Just as we long to see you.”

Ἄρτι δὲ ἐλθόντος Τιμοθέου πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν καὶ εὐαγγελισαμένου ἡμῖν τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην ὑμῶν, καὶ ὅτι ἔχετε μνείαν ἡμῶν ἀγαθὴν πάντοτε, ἐπιποθοῦντες ἡμᾶς ἰδεῖν καθάπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμᾶς,

Paul said, “But Timothy (Τιμοθέου) just now came (Ἄρτι δὲ ἐλθόντος) to us from you (ἡμᾶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν).  He has brought us good news (καὶ εὐαγγελισαμένου ἡμῖν) about your faith (τὴν πίστιν) and your love (καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην ὑμῶν).  You always remember us (αὶ ὅτι ἔχετε μνείαν ἡμῶν) very kindly (ἀγαθὴν πάντοτε).  You long to see us (ἐπιποθοῦντες ἡμᾶς ἰδεῖν) just as we long to see you (καθάπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμᾶς).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word μνείαν, that means remembrance, recollection, mention, or commemoration, and the word ἐπιποθοῦντες, that means to long for, strain after, desire greatly, or have affection for.  Paul was happy that Timothy had returned to him with good news about the Thessalonian’s faith and love.  Everything was going well.  He was even more excited that they were concerned about him and remembered him with great love.  He too wanted to go back and see the people of Thessalonica.  Have you ever longed to see old friends?

I was afraid of vain labor (1 Thess. 3:5)

“For this reason,

When I could bear it no longer,

I sent Timothy

To find out

About your faith.

I was afraid

That somehow the tempter

Had tempted you.

Thus,

Our labor had been in vain.”

διὰ τοῦτο κἀγὼ μηκέτι στέγων ἔπεμψα εἰς τὸ γνῶναι τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν, μή πως ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς ὁ πειράζων καὶ εἰς κενὸν γένηται ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν.

Paul then said, “For this reason (διὰ τοῦτο), when I could bear it no longer (κἀγὼ μηκέτι στέγων), I sent Timothy (ἔπεμψα) to find out (εἰς τὸ γνῶναι) about your faith (τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν).  I was afraid that somehow (μή πως) the tempter (ὁ πειράζων) had tempted you (ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς).  Thus, our labor had been (γένηται ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν) in vain (καὶ εἰς κενὸν).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word στέγων, that means to cover closely, bear up under, endure patiently.  Paul was worried about the situation in Thessalonica.  He could not bear to wait any longer.  He decided to send Timothy to find out what was going on there.  He was concerned about their faith in Jesus Christ.  He thought that maybe the tempter or Satan had tempted them so badly that they had lost faith in Jesus Christ.  He was bothered and anxious about his own work there.  Had he labored in vain?  Did he do something to cause their faith to be weak?  Have you ever labored in vain?

We told you about suffering (1 Thess. 3:4)

“In fact,

When we were with you,

We told you beforehand

That we were about

To suffer persecutions.

Thus,

It turned out,

As you know.”

καὶ γὰρ ὅτε πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἦμεν, προελέγομεν ὑμῖν ὅτι μέλλομεν θλίβεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ ἐγένετο καὶ οἴδατε.

Paul said, “In fact, when we were with you (καὶ γὰρ ὅτε πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἦμεν), we told you beforehand (προελέγομεν ὑμῖν) that we were about to suffer persecutions (ὅτι μέλλομεν θλίβεσθαι).  Thus, it turned out (καὶ ἐγένετο), as you know (καὶ οἴδατε).”  Paul explained when he was in Thessalonica that they were about to suffer some persecutions.  As they know, that is exactly what happened.  Paul and his companions suffered and were persecuted in various ways.  The same thing has now happened to them.  Have you ever suffered any persecutions?

Suffering (1 Thess. 3:3)

“No one should be shaken

By these sufferings.

You yourselves know

This is what

We are destined for.”

τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις. αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε ὅτι εἰς τοῦτο κείμεθα·

Paul said “No one (τὸ μηδένα) should be shaken (σαίνεσθαι) by these sufferings (ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις).  You yourselves know (αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε) that this is what we are destined for (ὅτι εἰς τοῦτο κείμεθα).”  Only this letter to the Thessalonians used this unique word σαίνεσθαι, that means to wag the tail, to greet, flatter, disturb, fawn upon, flatter, beguile or perturbed.  Paul pointed out that they should not be surprised, shaken, or disturbed by the various persecutions and tribulations that they were undergoing in Thessalonica.  They knew and realized that this was their destiny.  The true apostle of Jesus Christ would suffer various distresses in their lives.  Jesus suffered.  Paul suffered.  They would suffer.  Suffering might be a way of life for them.  Have you suffered a lot in your life?

We sent Timothy (1Thess. 3:2)

“We sent Timothy,

Our brother

And deacon for God

In the gospel of Christ,

To strengthen you

And encourage you

For the sake of your faith.”

καὶ ἐπέμψαμεν Τιμόθεον, τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ διάκονον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλέσαι ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν

Paul said, We sent (καὶ ἐπέμψαμεν) Timothy (Τιμόθεον), our brother (τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν) and deacon of God (καὶ διάκονον τοῦ Θεοῦ) in the gospel of Christ (ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ), to strengthen you (εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς) and encourage you (καὶ παρακαλέσαι) for the sake of your faith (ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν).”  Paul indicated that he was going to send his good friend Timothy to the Thessalonians.  Timothy was like a brother deacon in the service of God in furthering the gospel of Christ that had not yet been written.  Paul was sending him to strengthen and encourage them in their faith in Jesus Christ.  Has someone ever encouraged you in your faith in Jesus Christ?

We left for Athens (1 Thess. 3:1)

“Therefore,

When we could bear it no longer,

We decided to be left alone

In Athens.”

Διὸ μηκέτι στέγοντες ηὐδοκήσαμεν καταλειφθῆναι ἐν Ἀθήναις μόνοι,

Paul said, “Therefore, when we could bear it no longer (Διὸ μηκέτι στέγοντες), we decided to be left (ηὐδοκήσαμεν καταλειφθῆναι) alone in Athens (ἐν Ἀθήναις μόνοι).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word στέγοντες, that means to cover closely, to bear up under, bear with, or endure patiently.  Once again, Paul pointed out that he had left Thessalonica in a hurry at night.  However, he ended up in Athens in southern Greece all by himself as indicated in Acts, chapter 17:14-15.  Paul was left alone in Athens.  Things had become difficult in northern Macedonia.  He could hardly bear up under those conditions.  Paul felt safer in Athens.  Have you ever felt unsafe in some place?

You are our glory (1 Thess. 2:20)

“You are

Our glory

And joy.”

ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά.

Paul said, “You are our glory (ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν) and joy (καὶ ἡ χαρά).”  Paul then answered all his rhetorical questions by simply saying that the Thessalonians were his glory and joy.  Paul was proud of the faith of the people of Thessalonica.  Actually, Paul later used the same terminology about the Philippian church, Philippians, chapter 4:1, “Therefore (Ὥστε), my brothers (ἀδελφοί μου)!  I love (ἀγαπητοὶ) and long for you (καὶ ἐπιπόθητοι), my joy (χαρὰ) and my crown (καὶ στέφανός).” Paul said that that he loved his beloved brothers in Philippi and longed for them.  They were his joy and crown.  However, he had an admonition for them that they had to stand firm in Lord.  They were not to waver.  Here, Paul did not ask the Thessalonians to stand firm.  He just assumed that they would.  Are you the crown and joy for anyone?

What is our hope? (1 Thess. 2:19)

“What is our hope

Or joy

Or crown

Of boasting

Before our Lord Jesus

At his coming?

Is it not you?”

τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως— ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς— ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ;

Paul said, “What is our hope (τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς) or joy (ἢ χαρὰ) or crown (ἢ στέφανος) of boasting (καυχήσεως) before (ἔμπροσθεν) our Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν) Jesus (Ἰησοῦ) at his coming (ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ)?  Is it not you (ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς)?”  Only the Pauline letters used this word καυχήσεως, that means a boasting, glorying, or exultation.  Paul then asked a series of rhetorical questions.  What is his hope?  What is his joy?  What is his crown?  Why should he boast?  Why is he waiting for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ?  Then he had the final question.  Was it not them, the Thessalonians?  Paul’s hope, joy, and crown of boasting before his Lord Jesus Christ was these Thessalonians.  They made his day.  If Paul wanted to boast it would be about the followers of Jesus Christ at Thessalonica.  Who will you boast about before Jesus Christ?