1 Thessalonians 1 – 3
In ch.1 of First Thessalonians, Paul commends the saints for believing the gospel, and maintaining a bright testimony for the Son of God, in the midst of a pagan world. In ch.2, Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his behavior among them, to show that he loved and cared deeply for them. In ch.3, Paul explains that he greatly desired to see them again, and attributed the riots of Acts 17 to Satan's efforts to hinder him. Paul says that he was "bereaved" of their company, and "separated for a little moment in person, not in heart" (1 Thess. 2:17). This was to show that his sudden departure was no indication that he loved them any less. If anything, the epistle would show that Paul had a special place in his heart for new converts. It was Paul's great love for the Thessalonians that caused him to send Timothy back to Thessalonica while Paul was in Athens (1 Thess. 3:1). When Timothy returned with a good report, it caused Paul to praise the Lord, and beseech Him for an opportunity to return to Thessalonica in person. Nevertheless, Paul recognized that he would have to wait for God's direction. By the language of ch.3, it would appear that the timing of the first epistle was shortly after Timothy's return; "Timotheus having just come to us from you" (1 Tim. 3:6). Since Paul was only a short time in Athens, he probably wrote 1 Thessalonians from Corinth, where he stayed for eighteen months.
1 Thessalonians 1
Paul’s Prayer of Thanksgiving (1:2-4)
The three things mentioned - faith, love, and hope - are the three great moral principles of Christianity; without which there would be no Christianity. Many times in the New Testament faith, hope, and love are put together (1 Cor. 13:13; Galatians 5:5-6; Col. 1:4-5; 1 Thess. 1:3; 1 Thess. 5:8-10). Faith is implicit and complete trust in God: a total contrast to the unbelief and skepticism in the world around us. Hope for the believer is a deferred certainly; whether it be the hope of the Lord's coming, or of being conformed to the image of Christ, or of enjoying the glory of God. Love is a settled disposition of favor: something God has toward us, and what we ought to have toward our brethren. These three principles "now abide" (1 Cor. 13:13), and are necessary for the pathway.Here in the lives of the Thessalonians, faith is connected with their service; “your work of faith”. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). With faith, our lives are full of fruit pleasing to God, because faith works (James 2). Love is also connected with service; “and labor of love”. Divine love is the proper motive for Christian service (Gal. 5:13). Hope is also connected with something practical; endurance. Living with the assurance of the return of Christ and of our future with Him results in consistency in our pathway; the “enduring constancy of hope” (see also Rom. 8:23-25). The proper hope of the believer is the coming “of our Lord Jesus Christ”. It isn’t so much about escaping the weariness of the pathway, but the joy of being with our Savior, the Person! These three moral principles – and evidences of divine life – were not only observed and remembered by Paul, but also they were seen “before our God and Father”. But it was the third feature (hope) that the enemy particularly attacked among the Thessalonians. Notice in 2 Thess. 1 that faith and love are mentioned, but not hope. And as the second epistle unfolds, we find that they had been troubled about the Lord’s coming.