It’s easy to learn a few basics about Saint Paul and the letters he wrote. You don’t need to have any special knowledge or background. For example, this coming Sunday, November 16, 2009, the second reading is from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians (1 Thes 5:1-6). Who are the Thessalonians?
Grab your New American Bible, and open it to the letter. At the very front of the letter, you’ll see an introduction. You can also read the intro online at http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/1thessalonians/intro.htm. It took me two minutes to read it. If you are a fast reader, it may take less time.
So, after I read the introduction, I knew:
- The Thessalonians were a community of Christians in the Greek town of Thessalonica.
- The community was established by Paul and his traveling companion, Silvanus, in the year 50.
- Because Paul was so successful at making converts, he was persecuted by those who didn’t like having a lot of new Christians around.
- Paul fled to another town, but his enemies tracked him down and he had to flee again.
Paul was worried about the community in Thessalonica, so he sent Silvanus and Timothy back there to find out how they were doing. Timothy’s report to Paul in the early summer of 51 caused Paul to write a letter to the Thessalonians.
The second part of the letter, from which we will read this coming Sunday, is a discussion of the principles for living the Christian life. These principles flow from our relationship to God, through Christ, by the sending of the Spirit.
In the passage for Sunday, Paul says the Thessalonians are “children of the light.” By that, he means they belong to the daylight of God’s personal revelation. Because they belong to the light, they are supposed to be light. (That last bit is not in the introduction; it’s in the footnote for the verse about “children of the the light.”)
So there you are! You are now a two-minute expert on Saint Paul. Click on the comments link and share something else you’ve learned about Paul this year.