We are finishing Thessalonians today and we will start Galatians next week. Paul made a point of saying that he had paid his own way while he had been with them. He didn’t depend on them for his meals or lodging. Tom raised a question about whether Paul wrote this chapter. Mark responded that most of the time people thought he dictated his letters and someone else actually wrote them down. But in this case, it sounds like someone different wrote them down and so possible Paul actually wrote the conclusion of the letter. Some people think that there is a different teaching on the second coming compared to that of I Thessalonians, but aspects such as I Th 5:2 are common to both. Paul suggests that people should work and not be idle. It was probably a reaction to people thinking that Jesus was coming soon again and therefore they didn’t have to worry about caring for their families and working to provide for them. Again, Paul prays that they might be delivered from wicked and evil men. There were a lot of people saying they knew the way of Jesus who were just in it for the money they could take from people. Christ gives authority to those whom He has called into the apostolic Office of the Holy Ministry and is true to His promises. We got into a discussion about humility. Tom suggested that Paul was referring to this, but didn’t really follow it himself. Tom says we need to find God’s will for us and then do it. Bill suggested that humility is being honest about yourself and using that to help others.Teach others to treat others with love and respect. Paul sometimes speaks flatteringly of himself. We have to take ourselves and use that to follow God’s will for us.
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.