The simple epistolary opening here lacks Paul's later elaborations of the letter‐senderand letterrecipient (cf. Phil 1.1–2
). Silvanus is the Latin form of Silas, one of Paul's companions (Acts 15.22,40; 17.4
). Timothy, one of Paul's emissaries, was also a traveling companion (Rom 16.21; 1 Cor 4.17; 16.10; Phil 2.19
). Church, a term for the citizen assembly. In God … and the Lord indicates God'sselection of the congregation as a holy (set apart) community. Grace … and peace, (see 2 Bar 78.2
)is a variation of the Jewish greeting “mercy and peace.”
Paul thanks God for evidence of the gospel's benefits in the congregation's life.
Faith … love … hope is a typical Pauline triad (
5.8; Rom 5.1–5; 1 Cor 13.13; Gal 5.5–6
Beloved by God (Deut 33.12
) and chosen (Deut 4.37; 7.6–8; 10.14–15; 14.2
) describe God's call of the congregation with expressions used in the Hebrew Bible to portray the special call of Israel.
Our … gospel isnot just words, but the saving power of God.
An essential part of the gospel's effectiveness is the consistentcharacter it creates in its recipients despite opposition.
Paul and Silvanus's converts were subjected tomuch “persecution” (
), a term Paul uses for the apocalyptic horrors preceding Christ's end‐timeappearance, the “parousia.”
An indication of the gospel's effectiveness was its continuous spreading,as suggested by the Greek (perfect) tense of sounded forth. Macedonia, of which Thessolonica was thecapital, and Achaia (Greece) were two of the Roman provinces of Paul's ministry.
Turned to God from idols indicates (cf. Acts 17.1–4
) the strictly Gentile background of Paul's Thessalonian converts (
Wrath of God in judgment at the end‐time.
This self‐description distances Paul from charlatans. It reveals the opposition Paul faced (
), as if Paul were in an athletic contest (cf. “agon” inEpictetus's Dissertationes,
1.24. 1–2; 4 Macc 16.16
); the continuous involvement of God who tests our hearts (Gal 5.16; Rom 13.13
); and Paul's ministerial goal to help the congregation lead a life worthy of God (Gal 5.16; Rom 13.13
Another thanksgiving demonstrates Paul's persistent practice of giving thanks, a practice he will later commend (
5.18; cf. 3.9
Perhaps the wrath of God is not anexplicit occurrence (such as the expulsion of the Jews in 49 CE from Rome or the massacre of Jews in theTemple court in 49 CE [ see Josephus, War,
]), but simply God's justice (as in
) in preventingopponents anywhere from destroying God's churches.
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