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1 Thessalonians

  Date: 50-51 AD


I Thessalonians is one of the seven letters that all scholars agree were genuine letters written by Paul. It was written to the Thessalonian church in 50-51. Regarding the rejection of its authenticity by the Tübingen School in the mid-19th century, Kümmel writes:
Baur and a part of his school (Volkmar, Holsten) denied the authenticity of this Epistle because it is lacking in originality and significant doctrinal ideas; it is dependent upon other NT writings; it contains nothing about justification by faith, no polemic against Judaizing teaching about the Law, and no OT quotations; finally, the apocalypticism in chaps. 4 and 5 is non-Pauline. The alleged literary parallels, however, do not exist, and in Thessalnica the battle against the Judaizers about justification by faith played no role. In vocabulary, style, and direction of thought the Epistle is genuinely Pauline. No later writer would have attributed to Paul the unfulfilled expectation of living to see the parousia (4:15, 17). There is no reason for denying to paul the apocalyptic thoughts of the Epistle-they are also found in I Cor. 15:23 ff., 51 ff...The additional supposition that the sections 2:13-16; 4:1-8, 10b-12, 18; 5:12-22, 27 are un-Pauline additions of the redactor (Eckart) runs aground on the incontestably Pauline language of these sections, and also on the fact that nothing convincing can be adduced against these texts. There can be no justifiable doubt that all of I Thessalonians is of Pauline origin.
To this one could add that, it has to be asked exactly how I Thessalonians is supposed to be "original" and have significant doctrinal ideas? If we are asked to compare that with 1 Corinthians or Romans, it could easily be answered that a) 1 Thessalonians was written years earlier than them (Rom - 57, 1 Cor - 55; compare the shorter Galatians, 54, and one can see why 1 Thess is so short and 'unoriginal'), and b) the occasion may not have given rise to this (though in my opinion point a) is more likely). One would therefore not be surprised to not see OT quotations in a letter that is fairly short. Also, if there were no Judaizers to cause a conflict, apparently there was no reason to address the issue. Also, the concept of salvation through faith alone is implicit nearly everywhere where faith is mentioned (e.g. 1:3, etc), but the fact that salvation by faith is not mentioned points more toward authenticity, along with the characteristically Pauline nuance of the passages relating to faith. Finally, the primitiveness of the theology itself speaks against forgery.


  1. Kümmel, W.G., Introduction to the New Testament, 14th ed., p.185