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I Thessalonians

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The First Epistle to the Thessalonians (or I Thessalonians or 1 Thessalonians) is a letter written by St Paul to the nascent Christian church in Thessalonica (in modern-day Greece), in response to news brought back to him by Timothy after Paul had sent him to visit the city. It is included in the Bible alongside St Paul's other letters in the New Testament.

Encouraged by Timothy's favourable report, Paul congratulates the Thessalonians on their faith and celebrates his own success in preaching to them, when he had previously met with only limited success in Philippi. He assures them that he and his companions are acting in good faith, contrary to what others might be saying about them.

Paul goes on to give general advice on living a life of righteousness, similar to that found in other epistles such as Galatians and Ephesians, including avoiding sexual immorality (1 Thess 4:3-6) and showing brotherly love to fellow Christians (1 Thess 4:9-10).

Finally, he warns of the Last Judgement, briefly describing what he believes will come to pass; the modern belief in the Rapture stems from 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Paul emphasises that nobody knows when the Second Coming will take place, and urges constant vigilance and mutual support as the way to make sure the faithful are prepared when it does arrive.

Brotherly love is a strong theme of this letter, and Paul ends it by encouraging the Thessalonians to help each other live righteously, by reproving each other and accepting reprovals from others, by loving each other, and by taking an open but cautious approach to prophecies (1 Thess 5:19-22).

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