Consider the eschatology. What is being said about the times before the second coming? There has to be a rebellion before the 2nd coming. Why does there have to be a military type aspect to the 2nd coming? Is Paul adopting the Jewish idea that the messiah would be a military leader and he would lead the rebellion. To asked if there was an us and them in terms of those who will be saved? Are some destined to not be saved. Lutheran theology stipulates that God wills all people to be saved. But in I Thess. He says some will go to hell. Isn’t this double predestination where there are some destined for heaven and some for hell? It is easier if you can identify your enemies. Bill says you can stop your enemies but not hate them. A policeman has to be sort of paranoid and not be taken in by the bad guys. Curt described a T-session about getting to know your neighbors and found a policeman was packing. Curt said he was too trusting that everyone had left guns behind. Vs 11 god sends delusion that they may believe what is false. The Message groups 9-12 together and condems people who consistently choose not to follow God. The Greek version indeed does say god sends a delusion for evil doers to continue their evil. But Paul says God chose you as first fruits to be saved thru sanctification thru Holy Spirit and belief in truth in vs 13. This is the theology of a young Paul, not the more mature thoughts in Romans or Galatians. Paul was facing a situation of a lot of false prophets. How do you respond to that? Bill says so much is written about persecuted, downtrodden, etc but we have such a good existence. Is our current well being a false prophet in our lives?
We started today talking about Pastor Dotzel’s sermon on Sunday particularly the discussion about the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on Creationism vs evolution. Both are adamant in their beliefs and Ham relies on a proof text to support his position. We then proceeded to read the 1st chapter of Thessalonians II. Paul is trying to explain to the people why the second coming of Jesus hasn’t happened yet. He says the people have to remain strong because Jesus will come on clouds of fire with mighty angels to accompany Him. This is how the Jews expected the messiah to come to them. Jesus, it appears, didn’t come that way and had a very different ministry which most Jews didn’t recognize as one that would be that of the Messiah for them. They wanted another King David who would vanquish all their foes and conquer the Romans and take them out from under the domination of the Romans. Now the people of Thessalonica were under the domination of the Romans and also facing the questioning from the Jews as well. They had been h0ping for Jesus to return and Paul had to urge them to remain strong, not give in to false prophets, and to continue to pray to God who would include them in the salvation that He offered and that they would be taken with Jesus to heaven in the second coming of Jesus. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing verses 5 and 11, as they seemed difficult to understand and there is a lot of difference in various translations of these verses.
Paul ends this letter talking about the second coming of Christ. He says that the people of the Thessalonian church don’t need to be told when Jesus will come again. They are prepared no matter what. This may be a ploy on Paul’s part to convince them that they need to be strong in their faith. He says the second coming will come as a thief in the night or just totally unexpected, but they need to be prepared. He has a nice phrase for the preparedness he desires of them. He says that they should put on the breastplate of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation. He makes them to be soldiers that have armor to protect them until Jesus returns. Then he goes on to tell them how they should live their lives. He urges them to encourage one another and to treat each other with respect and encouragement. Do not repay anyone evil for evil but always seek to do good to everyone. He urged them to pray and give thanks in all circumstances. Test everything, but hold fast to what is good. Matthew Henry in his commentary says that a truly religious life is a life of constant joy. I think that people should focus on this aspect and the charge to do good to others and put a positive spin on life even in times of difficulties. We must be careful not to quench the holy spirit. We could do this by indulging carnal lusts and affections and minding only earthly things. He says believers hinder their growth in grace, by not giving themselves up to the spiritual affections raised in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. He concludes by urging the people to read the scriptures and that they should strive to insure that there will be versions of the Bible that are accessible to everyone in their language. This must have been what Martin Luther was reading when he got upset with the Catholic church.
Mark announced the sad news about Frank and Mary Scamman’s daughter’s death. We then started reading I Thessalonians 4 and we focused on several verses that were interesting. A question was raised about verse 3 where Paul cautions against sexual immorality. The verse in Greek is pornias which is the root of pornography. I think the key is verse 4 that believers should know how to control their own body and this is stated in singular first person as opposed to most of the rest of the verses here which seem to be plural versions of the pronoun. We discussed why Paul was cautioning against sexual immorality. Was it because there were so many influences like the pagan sex worship all around, or was it because there were people among The Way who were doing this? John R. W. Stott is quoted at the link https://bible.org/seriespage/sanctification-sex-and-love-1-thessalonians-41-12 that it is such a basic human urge, but also because of the promiscuity of the Graeco-Roman world. Also both Corinth, where Paul was writing, and Thessalonica, where the people who he was writing to lived, were infamous for their immorality. I was quite likely that some of the women who were in the church had been temple prostitutes. In Corinth, Aphrodite sent her servants out as prostitutes to roam the streets by night and Thessalonica was associated with the worship of dieties called Cabiri in whose rites gross immorality was promoted in the name of religion. It was fairly accepted at that time that men either could not or would not limit themselves to their wife as their only partner.
We then talked about V 13 where some versions have people asleep in Jesus awaiting the second coming when they will go to heaven, whereas other versions have people dying in Jesus and then being taken to heaven at the second coming. Paul was preaching the believers would be taken to be with Jesus at the right time. People at that time were wondering when the second coming would happen. This is the scripture that is associated with the ‘rapture.’ The Holy Spirit here could be interpreted as life giving breath. In looking at the Greek for this passage, the stem is ‘than’ for death, but ‘quinono’ for asleep and the believers are associated with quinono or sleep and Jesus was associated with than or death. So Jesus died in order to overcome death and we are asleep in Jesus to be taken to Him at the second coming. Paul’s words became so dominant in the early church because he was writing to all the churches away from Jerusalem, whereas the disciples like Peter and James didn’t need to write so much. There probably isn’t much to say that what Paul was writing didn’t disagree with what Peter and James were teaching. The one big dispute is on the issue of whether Gentiles needed to be circumcised. Paul talked about Kairos or wonderful as apposed to the chronos or time of something happening.
We talked some about the beginning of Thessalonica, and a link to Wikopedia says The city was founded around 315 BC by King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and twenty-six other local villages. King Cassander of Macedon named the new city after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great. She gained her name (“victory of Thessalians”, from Greek: nikē “victory”) from her father, Philip II, to commemorate her birth on the day of his gaining a victory over the Phocians, who were defeated with the help of Thessalian horsemen, the best in Greece at that time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Thessaloniki
Out thoughts and prayers are with the Mary and Frank and their family at this time of sadness.