First Epistle to the Thessalonians
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians is a letter in nearly every New Testament canon among religions that identify as Christian. The author identifies himself as Paul writing to the church of the Thessalonians in northern Greece. While it's not without its share of deniers, this letter is one of the few books of the New Testament generally accepted by scholars to be authentic. It was probably written by Paul the Apostle around 52 CE, making the oldest book in the New Testament.
The letter begins as a personal correspondence where the author pays lip-service to the reader, blames the Jews for killing Jesus, and blames Satan for not being able to get to Thessaloniki in person lately, but being glad that the person he sent in his stead gave a favorable report of the church. Then, the author talks about the importance of not having creative sex, and that God will come soon when people least expect it, raise corpses from the grave, and the living will float up into the sky. It ends with the author telling the reader to be joyful, always, to pray all the time, and to never do anything evil, or even be around anything evil.
The letter is missing two talking points that show up in all later letters by Paul, justification by faith, and Jew-Gentile relations, suggesting that Paul had yet to set his ways on these subjects of theology.
One portion of the letter, however, is contested by most scholars. In (2:13-16), the author blames the Jews for killing Jesus, says they are hostile to all men, and that God wrath is finally upon them. This is considered a late addition by an unknown person because it doesn't agree with the rest of Paul's message and uses a completely different writing style. It's good to excise this verse because it paints Paul as a bigot.
There is an early version of the Armor of God (5:8) which gets updated in Ephesians (though possibly not by Paul).
I have several translations of this book from various bibles, and have read it.
- The letter could have been written by Buzz Killington and you'd get a similar result.
- The author suggests that he never uses flattery (2:5), but begins the letter with a very flattering introduction, and in (2:20) refers to the reader as his glory and joy!
- The author blames Satan for not being able to see the Thessalonians as often as he'd like (2:18). Sounds like a deadbeat dad telling his kids he really wanted to see them, but gosh, stuff came up!
- The author says the importance of leading a quiet life where you mind your own business (4:11). Oh, if only Christians would do that!
- Paul's description of the end of times is quite parochial (4:17). People will float up into the clouds to be with God.
- Thus begins the usual, always be good, never be bad approach to life that works so well for everyone (5:16-22).