Tuesday, July 7, 2015

NT: 1 Thessalonians

I continue my cursory review of the New Testament with 1 Thessalonians, considered by many to be the first Epistle written, thus the first of any book in the New Testament. I’ve already skimmed over Galatians and James, also considered by some to be the first books written. It’s not relevant to me which is truly the first, because there seems to be nothing in any of them that tell me that this or that book is a direct consequence of meeting Jesus or those who met him. (See my NT index here for the entire series so far.)

I admit that my notes here are shallower than you might expect, given that this is the Bible we’re talking about. I’m a little surprised myself, having read this at least three other times over the decades - probably four. I attribute this to a slightly different point of view over the years. In the seventies, it was “this is the Bible - its the Word of God”. Then it became “this is inspired by thoughts of the divine, but probably muddled through human error”. Now it’s “where’s Jesus in all of this? How do I know that Paul is a fair broker?” Consequently, what Paul says, absent some clear authority from Jesus, is not that interesting to me. My sparse notes are a reflection of that ennui.

Chapter 1 is entirely a salutation.

Chapter 2 recounts travails at Phillippi, and expresses love for the Thessalonians. Verse 15 mentions that the Jews "... both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets". Red meat for the Mel Gibsons of the world?

Chapter 3 is more blessings and encouragement of the faithful. Meh.

Chapter 4 contains even more exhortations ... but includes a future meeting with Jesus and “them in the clouds” - clearly some imagery that took hold in Christianity.

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Chapter 5 is still more exhortations ... and a closing blessing. That’s it.

As I sort through these early Epistles, I’m struck at how no mention of Jesus’ miracle-working is made. Ignore the lack of historical or biographical information - the idea that people might have witnessed healing the blind, curing the sick, raising the dead, turning water into wine, or walking on water is never brought up. I understand (via a Dr. Robert M. Price video) that the explanation for this is that the recipients of the letter would have already known about these, thus mention of the miracles was not necessary, but I find that ... ummmmmm ... interesting. Weren’t miracles noteworthy? Anyway, 1 Thessalonians is yet another example of an Epistle in which Jesus is mentioned solely as the object of worship, not as having performed behavior similar to actual beings.

Here are the mentions of Jesus that I can find:

1 Thessalonians 1:1 (KJV)
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians [which is] in God the Father and [in] the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (KJV)
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

1 Thessalonians 1:10 (KJV)
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

1 Thessalonians 2:14 (KJV)
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they [have] of the Jews:

1 Thessalonians 2:15 (KJV)
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (KJV)
For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

1 Thessalonians 3:11 (KJV)
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 (KJV)
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 4:1 (KJV)
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort [you] by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, [so] ye would abound more and more.

1 Thessalonians 4:2 (KJV)
For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 4:14 (KJV)
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 (KJV)
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV)
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (KJV)
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and [I pray God] your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:28 (KJV)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you.

No comments:

Post a Comment