The apostle Paul wrote the first letter (5 chapters, 89 verses, and 1,837 words) to the church in Thessalonica in about 52 AD from Corinth (Acts 18), and the second letter (3 chapters, 47 verses, and 1,022 words) was evidently written not too long after that. The historical record of how the Lord used the apostle Paul to start the church at Thessalonica during his second missionary journey is found in Acts 17.
From its very beginning, this church faced affliction. The unbelieving Jews instigated an uproar in the city that caused the brethren to send Paul away by night. He was concerned for this young church and so sent Timothy to further establish them and to comfort them in their affliction. Timothy met back up with Paul in Corinth and gave him a good report on the church.
The Thessalonian letters may have been Paul’s earliest inspired writings, but they are placed last in order of the church epistles because of their content. The emphasis is on the coming of the Lord which will conclude this present age and is the consummation of our blessed hope (Titus 2:13).
In the first letter, Paul writes to express his thankfulness for the church, review his ministry among them, comfort them in their affliction, exhort them to continual growth in their Christian walk, and further instruct them concerning the coming of the Lord.
The five chapters may be simply divided into two main sections:
I. Personal (l -3)
II. Practical (4-5)
The emphasis in the first letter is on the catching away of the Body of Christ up to heaven which was a mystery revealed to Paul (1 Cor 15:51; 1 Thess 4:15). The Body of Christ is the great mystery that Christ revealed through Paul and our rapture to heaven is one of the accompanying mysteries of this age (1 Cor 4:1). It is Paul alone that shows us this mystery. Reading our rapture into prophetic passages outside of Paul’s epistles will lead to false doctrine and rob us of our blessed hope.
What we believe about the blessed hope is very important. The apostle Paul has much to say about our hope (Eph 1:18; 4:4).