THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS.
ST. Paul having received an immediate order from Heaven, as St. Luke observes, Acts 16:9 to go and preach the gospel in Macedonia, he went immediately to Philippi, which was the first city in his way, upon entering Macedonia; and thence he passed on to Thessalonica, which was the capital, Acts 17:1. But soon after he had arrived there, in company with Silas and Timotheus, having gained to the Lord in the synagogue a great number of Greek converts, and many noble women, the Jews raised such a violent outcry against him, that he was forced to leave the city to save his life, according to the direction of our Lord, When they persecute you in one city, flee ye to another. The Apostle went therefore from Thessalonica to Berea, whence, being again driven by persecution, he retired to Athens. Silas and Timotheus, however by his order, returned to Thessalonica to comfort the faithful and strengthen them in the faith; as St. Luke clearly enough expresses it in the 17th chapter of the Acts, and as the Apostle tells us in the 3rd chapter of this Epistle. He waited for some time at Athens; but, wearied of remaining in a place which was the very seat and centre of idolatry, he went to Corinth, where Silas and Timotheus soon after joined him. The report which they brought him of the firmness and constancy of the Thessalonians filled him with extreme joy, as he tells them in this Epistle, ch. 1 Thessalonians 3:6, &c. which is a clear and certain proof, that it was not from Athens, as erroneously added to the conclusion of the Epistle, but from Corinth, that it was written; since St. Paul mentions the return of Timotheus, and since it was at Corinth, and not at Athens, that this disciple rejoined his Master, Acts 18:5. St. Paul's chief design in this Epistle, was to strengthen the Thessalonians in the profession of the gospel, amid the persecutions which they endured, and to teach them to sanctify their sufferings by the practice of the Christian graces and virtues. He consoles them, in particular, for the death of their relations, and especially for the loss of those whom persecution may have snatched from them, by hope of the glory with which the Lord Jesus will crown the zeal and fidelity of the saints, at his latter coming. Having added several important exhortations, he concludes his Epistle by forcibly recommending them to read it openly to all the believers; for the scripture is a treasure that we must envy no one, conceal from no one, being a source of life for the sheep as well as for the pastors.