Thessalonica was a city in Macedonia (North of Greece). The
Apostle Paul established a "church" (assembly of
Christians) there during his 2nd missionary journey (Acts
17). Having arrived from Philippi, he first began preaching
in the Jewish synagogue.
Some local people became Christians but the Jews stirred
up trouble for Paul and his friends. Paul had to leave because
there was a riot.
Paul was worried because he had not been with the Thessalonian
believers long enough to see them really well established.
Being so worried, he sent Timothy back to see how they
were getting on.
Paul had arrived at Corinth when Timothy returned
from Thessalonica with good news (3:6). The church at Thessalonica
had not turned back to their old idol worship. They were enthusiastic
and had been preaching in all the regions around (1:7-8).
They were excited about Jesus coming back - an event they
expected very soon.
The coming back to earth of the Lord Jesus Christ is one
of the main teachings of the New Testament. It is mentioned
more than 300 times in the 260 chapters! Paul makes many references
to this teaching in the letter to the Thessalonians.
One thing bothered the believers. Supposing they died before
Christ returned? Some had already died - what would happen
Paul gives the answer in chapter 4:13-18. The dead believers
will be raised from their graves first, at the coming of Jesus.
They will be joined by the living believers and together they
will meet Christ as he descends to earth. Afterwards, they
will always be with Christ - on the earth, helping him to
rule (Revelation 5:9-10).
Three vital things were needed then - and now! They are Faith,
Hope and Love. They are mentioned several times
in this letter.