Epistles To The Thessal0nians, two canonical books of the New Testament, addressed to the church at Thessalonica by the apostle Paul. They are expressly referred to by Irenasus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian. In modern times the authenticity of both epistles has been doubted by Noack, Van der Vries, and Volkmar, and that of the second by Lip-sius, Hilgenfeld, Weisse, Hausrath, Pneiderer, and others. Special treatises in support of their authenticity have been written by W. Grimm, Lunemann, and others.. The first epistle to the Thessalonians, commonly believed to have been the first of the Pauline epistles, is supposed to have been written from Corinth about A. D. 52 or 53. The occasion seems to have been the favorable report of the faith of the Thessalonians which Timothy brought on his return from Macedonia. Chapters i. to iii. express the apostle's feelings respecting their religious condition, and his own kindly reception among them. Then follow an exhortation to holiness (iv. 1-12), an instruction on the fate of the dead at the expected return of Christ (iv. 13-18), an admonition to be always prepared for that event (v. 1-11), several other admonitions, and the conclusion.
The second epistle is believed by most of the theologians who regard it as authentic to have been written soon after the first, in the year 53 or 54. It was designed to correct some errors into which the church had fallen, especially respecting the coming of Christ. The apostle commends the Thessalonians for their patience and faith in their persecutions, and announces that those who trouble them will be punished (ch. i.); he shows that the arrival of Christ was not near at hand, but must be preceded by a great apostasy and the appearance of the Antichrist (ii. 1-12), and gives them appropriate admonitions (ii. 13-17, and iii.). Among the most valuable commentaries on these epistles are those by Schott (Leipsic, 1834), Jowett (London, 185G), Lunemann (Gottingen, 1859), Ellicott (2d ed., 1862), Hofmann (1862), and Auberlen and Riggenbach in Lange's Bibelwerk (2d ed., 1867; English translation by Lillie).