Topic 7 1 _ 2 Thessalonians

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Topic 7 1 _ 2 Thessalonians Powered By Docstoc
					Topic 7

1 & 2 Thessalonians

A. Church in Thessalonica
1. Founded on Second Journey (Acts 17:1-10).
a. Paul preached 3 weeks in synagogue. b. Jews stir up opposition – accused of “turning world upside down”
and claiming Jesus as “another king” instead of the emperor.


Paul left suddenly by night under pressure from hostile Jews.

2. Church is predominantly Gentile (1 Thess. 1:9).
a. Preached monotheism. b. Paul’s mission is to bring Gentiles into worship of the one true God of Israel.

3. Church has suffered persecution (1 Thess. 1:6; 2:2, 14-16).
a. Not official Roman persecution. b. But informal, local opposition.

B. 1 Thessalonians
1. Authenticity – undisputed. 2. Date and place of writing.
a. Corinth; 2nd Journey; c. 50 (cf. 3:1, 6; Acts 18:5). b. Probably earliest letter; earliest surviving Christian writing.

3. Occasion – Responds to Timothy’s report (3:6, 10).
a. Young church under persecution needs encouragement. b. Death of some Christians has raised questions (4:6):
1) What is fate of believers who die before Parousia? 2) When will Parousia occur? Problem of idleness (4:11-12; 5:14) – related to spiritual fervor? Problem of moral laxity (4:1-8) – Gentiles need instruction in biblical morality.

c. d.

4. Unity
a. Some think 2:13-16 is a later, non-Pauline interpolation.
1) Interrupts context – renews thanksgiving. 2) Anti-Jewish tone is uncharacteristic of Paul.

b. Others maintain unity of letter.

5. Outline of 1 Thessalonians
1:1 1:2-10 Salutation – Note co-senders. Thanksgiving
1) Joy over faithfulness in spite of persecution. 2) Note “faith…love…hope” in v. 3 (cf. 5:8).


Paul’s self-defense – charges of flattery, greed, self-seeking.
1) Accused of tactics typical of wandering philosophical teachers. 2) Defends his apostolic integrity (v. 3-7a): a) “Gentle (infants?) among you like a nursing mother” (v. 7). b) Worked for his living to avoid burdening others (v. 9). c) Like a disciplining father (v.11).

2:13-16 Renewed thanksgiving 2:17-3:13 Sending of Timothy – in lieu of personal visit. 4:1-12 Exhortation to proper conduct
1) Sexual morality (v. 3-8). 2) Love for one another (v. 9-10). 3) Responsibility for work (v. 11-12).

5. Outline of 1 Thessalonians – cont.
4:13-18 Concerning the dead in Christ – Will they be left out?
1) 2) Resurrection of believers at Parousia to participate fully. Raised and living believers will be “caught up” (harpazō; Latin, rapio; “raptured”) to meet Christ in the air. No “Rapture” here in popular sense of being caught up to heaven while Tribulation occurs on earth. Pictures Christian welcoming party greeting Christ in air, then returning with him to earth.



Concerning time of Parousia – request for a timetable.
2) 3)

Refuses to calculate time; sudden, unexpected, “like a thief” (v. 2; cf. Mk. 13:32). Not a cause for fear/dread; day of salvation (v. 4-5, 9-10). Duty is not to calculate but to live in meantime as those who belong to Christ (v. 6-8).

5:12-22 5:23-28

Paraenesis Closing

C. 2 Thessalonians
1. Authenticity – disputed; scholars divided.
a. Three main problems for Pauline authorship:
1) Seems modeled on 1 Thess. – verbal similarities, in order. 2) Parousia not imminent/sudden but delayed (2:1-12). 3) Circulation of false letters (2:2; 3:17).

b. Many acknowledge problems but find ways to explain them and still maintain authenticity.

2. Date and place of writing.
a. If authentic – soon after 1 Thess. (one theory reverses order). b. If inauthentic – c. 70-100.

3. Occasion
a. False teaching that Parousia has already arrived (2:2) – agitating the church (fear? excitement?). b. Problem of idleness – probably related to eschatological fervor (3:6, 11)

4. Outline of 2 Thessalonians
1:1-2 1:3-12 Salutation – nearly identical to 1 Thess. Thanksgiving
1) 2) 3) For faithfulness in midst of persecution. Assurance of reversal of fortunes on Judgment Day (v. 6-9). May borrow material from Jewish apocalyptic.


Teaching on Parousia – Not yet; preliminary events must come first:
1) 2) The “Rebellion” (“apostasy”) – apocalyptic conflict. Appearance of “Man of Lawlessness.” a) Identity of this “Antichrist” figure is endlessly debated (Paul never uses this term, nor does Rev.). b) May be modeled on Antiochus, Caligula, or Nero. c) Interpretations include every notorious figure from emperors to popes to Hitler to presidents, etc. Removal of the “Restrainer/Restraining Force.” a) Varied interpretations (note masculine and neuter). b) Emperor/empire; Paul/preaching of gospel; etc. Point is not identity of these mysterious figures but that only then will Christ come – things get worse before it gets better!



4. Outline of 2 Thessalonians – cont.
2:13-3:5 Renewed thanksgiving – only 1 & 2 Thess. have two thanksgivings.


Paraenesis: Problem of idleness
1) 2) 3) Reference to Paul’s working as example for others (v. 7-9). Don’t want to work – don’t eat (v. 10)! Not a prohibition of helping the needy but a warning against apocalyptic fanaticism.
Note greeting in Paul’s own hand as mark of authenticity (v. 17). Does this favor authenticity or inauthenticity?


1) 2)

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