While on his 2nd Missionary journey, Paul went from Philippi to Thessalonica from which he was run out of town. He barely escaped to Berea living the believers in Thessalonica to fend for themselves. He went on to Athens where he was greatly discouraged because the “philosophical elite” laughed at the Gospel. Paul’s concern for the Thessalonian believers became intense while in Athens. He knew that the new believers were suffering for their faith. Needing to know how they were holding up & wanting to help them, he sent Timothy, giving him instructions to meet in Corinth. Timothy goes north, back to Thessalonica and Paul goes west to Corinth. Timothy then joins Paul in Corinth and brings him the good news about the perseverance of the church in Thessalonica. With great joy, Paul writes his first letter to them and sends Timothy back with it.  Timothy spends some time in Thessalonica, but eventually returns and tells Paul four things: They were continuing to grow in their faith. The majority were remaining faithful amidst trials & persecution. Some false teaching concerning the Day of the Lord was being entertained. Some had quit their jobs in expectation of the Lord’s return. Paul writes 2nd Thessalonians! He begins his letter with, “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Although this is Paul’s shortest epistle, he will still address all four concerns that Timothy brought him concerning the church. But he begins the letter the same way he begins most of his letters, with commendation and praise. Like his first letter, both Paul and Silas (Silvanus) are listed as co-writers. The church knew these men well and would have been favorably disposed toward them. They were both well known. Richison describes the two. He says, “Silvanus, a Hellenistic Jew, held a prominent part of the Council at Jerusalem. The Council asked him to accompany Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to strengthen the church there. He also joined Paul on his second missionary expedition. He facilitated both, Paul and Peter, in the writing and delivery of their epistles. Timothy was a vest pocket edition of the apostle Paul and Paul’s son in the faith. His father was a Gentile and his mother a Jew. Timothy was a pastor and a troubleshooter for Paul.”[1]

The only difference in the opening of this letter from his first letter to them is the addition to “our father” when referring to God. Jesus wanted his disciples to pray to “Our Father who art in Heaven.” The point is we are all part of a larger family. Green observes, “God is not viewed simply as the one to whom humans owe their existence and who sustains all human life, but as the God with whom these former pagans have come into intimate familial relationship. At the same time, the designation of God as our Father draws the Thessalonian believers into one family and joins them together with Paul and his associates, as well as with the church throughout the world. The foundation of the Christian family and of Christian unity finds its bedrock in this prayer/confession.”[2] When we pray “Our Father” we are acknowledging our part in a larger, grander family of believers from the days of Jesus through our day even to the time of Jesus’ return. Paul is speaking to all of us in Ephesians 2:19 when he writes, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

[1] Richison, Grant. 2006. Verse by Verse through the Books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems.

[2] Green, Gene L. 2002. The Letters to the Thessalonians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.