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Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation - Lesson 7

Thessalonians

Paul faced persecution when he preached in Thessalonica. The return of Christ is a central theme in the letters to the Thessalonians.

Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
Lesson 7
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Thessalonians

Letters of Paul

Part 2

II. 1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Balanced View of Christ's Return

A. Background to 1 Thessalonians

1. Acts 17:1-9

a. Paul's short time in town

b. Significant persecution by Jewish townspeople

2. Acts 17:10, 15; 18:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:1, 6

a. Coworkers' movements

b. Results in 50 or 51 in Corinth

B. 1 Thessalonians – Christ Will Return Soon

1. Greetings and thanksgiving (1:1-10)

2. Paul's ministry in Thessalonica (2:1-16)

3. Paul's concern since leaving (2:17-3:13)

4. Exhortations (4:1-5:22)

5. Conclusion (5:23-28)

C. Thessalonians and Christ's Return

1. Concern that Christ's return was delayed

2. 1 Thessalonians – "He is still coming soon"

3. Concern that Christ had already come (spiritually)

4. 2 Thessalonians – There are signs which must still occur

D. Exegetical Highlights in 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4:12

1. Sustained praise (cf. extra thanks in 2:13, 3:9)

a. Rationale (2:13)

b. Theme (4:10)

2. Motives for ministry – parental affection (2:7, 11)

3. Compare/Contrast popular philosophy and theme of imitation (e.g., 2:3, 4, 5, 6)

4. Will of God (as consistently in Scripture) = holiness/moral living (4:3-4)

5. Twofold reason for work, with godliness (4:11-12)

6. Eschatology (4:13-5:11)

a. Apant sis and posttribulationism

b. (Matthew 25:6, Acts 28:15 are other 2 New Testament uses of term)

c. Encouragement vs. grief

7. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

a. Context of testing prophecies

b. "Appearance" (eidos) = "kind"

E. 3 Views of the Rapture

1. "Pre-trib"

a. Church Age

b. Rapture

c. Tribulation

d. Second Coming

2. "Mid-trib"

a. Church Age

b. 3.5 years of Tribulation

c. Rapture

d. 3.5 years of Tribulation

e. Second Coming

3. "Post-trib"

a. Church Age

b. Tribulation

c. Rapture/Second Coming

F. 2 Thessalonians – "But Not That Soon!"

1. Intro and thanksgiving (1:1-12)

2. Signs still to come (2:1-17)

3. Exhortations and Conclusion (3:1-18)

G. Background to 2 Thessalonians

1. If Pauline and after 1 Thessalonians

a. A short time after 1 Thessalonians

b. Increased persecution

c. Increased problem with the idle

2. Irrespective of authorship and order

a. Also from Corinth (or meant to appear that way)

b. Disruptions described in 2:2

i. Commonly seen as due to a forged letter

ii. But perhaps a misinterpretation of first letter

H. Exegetical Highlights of 2 Thessalonians

1. Literal translation of 2:2, 2:15 for background

2. 1:9 (and judgment more generally)

a. Regarding nature of hell

b. Regarding annihilationism

c. God's love comforting the oppressed

3. Chapter 2 – Identity of man of lawlessness restrainer

a. Problems with a rebuilt temple

b. But again meant to encourage

4. Chapter 3 (especially v. 10) – Winter, Jewett and a sociological reconstruction


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  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

     

  • Correlation of the accounts in Galatians and Acts on Paul's trip to Jerusalem. 

  • Galatians as a model of apologetics supporting Christianity.

  • Comparing faith and works in Judaism and Christianity. 

  • Paul faced persecution when he preached in Thessalonica. The return of Christ is a central theme in the letters to the Thessalonians.

  • One aspect of the subject of biblical eschatology is the timing and nature of the tribulation. 

  • Paul addresses the extremes of asceticism and hedonism, as well as concerns regarding marriage, spiritiual gifts and the resurrection.

  • Divisions in the Corinthian church were caused by both theology and lifestyle.

  • Whether or not believers should eat food that had been offered to idols was an issue in the Corinthian church. The importance and role of spiritual gifts was a major topic of discussion.

  • Paul updates the people in the church in Corinth about his travels. He also follows up on relationships and defends his apostolic ministry.

  • Paul responds to specific situations in the Corinthian church including emphasizing a correct perspective on giving and encouragement to see God's redemptive purpose in our suffering.

  • Knowing the key places as backgrounds for Romans, the timeline and the outline of the book are helpful to understanding the context and message.

  • Paul wrote Romans as a systematic exposition of the gospel.

     

  • In Colossians, Paul emphasizes the deity of Christ. Philemon was written to a gentlema Paul knows to encourage him to welcome back Onesimus, his runaway slave, who became a disciple of Christ and was returning.

  • Paul addresses how to live in different roles: husbands and wives, masters and slaves, elders and others in the church.

  • Paul describes the blessings of salvation and encourages believers to live in unity that transcends cultural and racial barriers. 

  • Paul describes to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, who they are in Christ, and the ethical implications for how they should live their daily lives.

  • Paul contrasts the condescention and the exaltation of Christ, and addresses specific situations in the Philippian church.

  • Paul writes to encourage and instruct Timothy and Titus, both of whom are young pastors. It is important for Titus to identify and train elders and deal effectively with factious people. 

  • Paul instructs Timothy about how to pastor a church and turn it away from heresy.

  • Both 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians contain key passages addressing the roles of men and women in the local church. Some of them address conduct when gathering for corporate worship.

  • 1 Timothy 2:11-15 gives some direction for gender roles in a worship service.

  • Key themes and catchwords in James include trials, wisdom, temptation, speech, doubt and perseverance.

  • James discusses the roles of faith and works in a believers life and the importance of prayer.

  • A prominent theme in Hebrews chapters 1-5 is the superiority of Christ to the angels and to Moses.

  • Hebrews 6:4-8 is a key warning passage. Christ's priesthood is superior to both the Levitical priesthood and also to Melchizedek. Chapter 11 remembers the heroes of the faith.

  • A major theme of 1 Peter is perseverance despite persecution.

  • The outline of 1 Peter has similarities to other letters of the first century that emphasize a high view of Christology.

  • Jude and 2 Peter both emphasize refuting false teachers.

  • In his epistles, John emphasizes themes that refute gnostic doctrines. He outlines the tests of life as keeping God’s commandments, loving one another and believing in Jesus as the God-man.

  • As you study and preach from the epistles of John, note the passages that Dr. Blomberg describes as, “gems from John.”

  • Revelation was written by the apostle John in the late first century using apocalyptic, prophetic and epistolary genres. A possible structure by time line would be the past (chapter 1), the present (chapters 2-5) and the future (chapters 6-22). 

  • In addition to the framework of eschatology, Revelation chapters 1-6 develops themes of Christology including a description of Jesus as the lion who is a lamb, as well as the spiritual condition of some of the churches in the first century. 

  • In both of the possible scenarios for the tribulation, believers are exempt from God’s wrath but they are not exempt from Satan’s attacks.

  • Revelation chapters 12-22 cover themes of salvation and judgment of nations, Armageddon, the millennium and the new heavens and new earth.

Using the English New Testament, this course surveys the New Testament epistles and the apocalypse. Issues of introduction and content receive emphasis as well as a continual focus on the theology of evangelism and on the contemporary relevance of the variety of issues these documents raise for contemporary life.

 

Lecture 7: Thessalonians - Part 1

 

This is the 7th lecture in the online series of lectures on understanding the Epistles and Revelation, in complement with the textbook by Craig Blomberg’s Book, Acts through Revelation, An Introduction and Survey. 

 

A book known as the Bible Code Two published in 2003, stopped short of predicting the end of the world in 2004 which never happened of course. But nevertheless it gave reasons for strongly thinking that it might have happened at that time. Back at the turn of the millennium many of us can remember the scare over what was called Y2K or the millennium bug. There was a period of time during 1999 when six of the tops ten best-selling Christians books in the United States, all predicted with one  measure of confidence or another a catastrophic failure of computer systems and the ushering in of events which would lead to Christ’s return and the end of human history as we know it. In the 1990s there were similar prophecies, one well known Christian broadcaster and former executive of a well-known and respected Christian Bible College and University predicted the end of the world in 1994. Back in the early 90s, a Korean cult or sect was known for going around parking lots, including the seminary at which this lecturer teaches throughout the United States posting booklets and pamphlets explaining why September 21st would bring Christ’s return. A former NASA scientist by the name of Edger Wisnin published a book in the late 80s called eighty eight reasons why Christ will return in 1988. And as we move back through history, one can find particularly in the last two to three hundred years where at least once in every generation of Christian history, those who look to the signs of the times and confidently predicted that they knew they were in the final generation. For one thing that may be equivocally said about all of these prophecies that to this date, one hundred percent of them have proved wrong. One would think that would lead the Christian church at the very least to be extraordinary suspicious of the next round of such prophecies and at most simply pay no attention to them at all. But Christians seem to suffer from collective amnesia about the failed and false prophecies of the past and thus succumb to the proclamations of the present. 

 

The first letter to the Thessalonians gives the most balanced and certainly the most extensive teaching about how Christians should look ahead and forward to Christ’s return of all of the epistles in the New Testament. Fortunately, the background to 1st Thessalonians is much more straight forward and not nearly as contested as the background of Galatians which we surveyed in the last lecture. We look at Paul’s second missionary journey of which Thessalonica was one of the cities where Paul and his companions went. Located in Macedonia, in the northern part of what today is the country of Greece. They arrived after crossing crossed over the Aegean Sea into Europe. Unlike the small city of southern Galatia, Thessalonica today is a prosperous and flourishing city, second only to Athens, the capital of Greece, itself in size and significance. Thus different problems beset Archaeologists there, not that we are looking for the small, out of the way, places whose locations can’t always be identified and for which there isn’t often great interest which affects funding in doing excavation but rather that we have a bustling busy city that needs to be worked around if they are to dig up anything that may remind of ancient Thessalonica. One can, however, see ruins of the ancient Roman walls within the city that go back to the New Testament period and the immediate centuries following. There is the central agora or market place in Thessalonica which is in the process to being excavated within its business center. There also exist even ruins of ancient shops that originally lined the area of that ancient market place. In addition, one can see ruins of Roman baths, the ancient equivalence of our modern day hot baths. Roman baths could be cold, medium or hot. Even an Odium, an indoor theater that would have had a domed shaped covering over it is to be found. 

 

For additional historical information and background to 1st Thessalonians, perhaps the most important points come from the text of Acts and 1st Thessalonians themselves. In Acts 17:1-9, it describes how Paul spent a comparatively short period of time in planting the initial Christian congregation in that city. Acts refers only to a ministry of three Sabbaths though as our supplementary textbook, Acts through Revelation points out many scholars believe that he must have spent a short additional period of time there. But we are not talking about more than a few months. The fledging Thessalonian church we learn underwent significant persecution by local Jewish towns’ people who did not respond positively to the Gospel and that persecution initially led Paul to leave Thessalonica for the city Berea. 

 

As you move onto the next paragraph of Acts 17, we read how the believers sent Paul and Silas on their way leaving Thessalonica and then again in verse 15, we have to assume that Timothy went along or had caught up with the other two at some time in Berea. The believers there sent Paul, Silas and Timothy further down the Greek coastline and eventually to Athens. In Acts 18:5 however, we read that Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia to join up with Paul, conferring what 17:14 told us that Silas and Timothy initially stayed at Berea before joining Paul, which as it turns out did not occur while Paul was in Athens but only when Paul had moved further on down the coast to the town of Corinth. Or one would imagine unless we also had 1st Thessalonians chapter 3 in front of us, so at first glance the text might seem to contradict what we have just read, in fact it merely supplement’s it. 1st Thessalonians 3:1 reads, ‘so when we could stand it no longer we thought it best to be left to ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker in God’s service….’ In essence, Paul is saying, go back to Thessalonica to check up on how things were going there. And shortly after Timothy’s return, the first letter to the Thessalonians is written according to 1st Thessalonians 3:6 having just come back to Paul bringing good news about the growth and progress of the Christian community in Thessalonica. 

 

Apparently in addition to everything that we have just read in Acts, Timothy caught up with Paul in Athens earlier than Silas did and then was sent back to Macedonia, particularly to Thessalonica only to then rejoin Paul as Silas also did in Corinth further along in Paul’s second missionary journey. Because Acts tells us that is where the three missionaries finally got back together and because all three men are named, in some sense, in the authorship of 1st Thessalonians in chapter 1:1, we may infer that this letter was written from Corinth near the end of Paul’s second missionary journey before he began his journey back to the eastern end of the Mediterranean world. That means, according to all the dating and chronology that we surveyed in our introductory lectures to Paul life and letters, that we are somewhere in the year AD 50 or 51 in the 1st century. A concise, five point outline, corresponding relatively closely and closer than the letter to the Galatians to the conventional form of Hellenistic form of letter writing shows the greetings and thanksgiving comprised the 1st chapter, not only is the thanksgiving re-instated as it had been absent in Galatians but is effusive in Paul’s letter for the fledging Christian church in Thessalonica. The body of the letter includes three points, the information section is delineated by the first two major outline points which in turn can be divided into Paul’s reflections on the his time with the people there in Thessalonica, showing his concern for their wellbeing since he left, especially in light of the persecution that caused him to leave. Exhortation material is then largely grouped together in the final major section of the letter body in chapters four and five with a reasonable conventionally conclusion, rounding out the outline of this epistle. 

 

It is interesting to reflect on the relationship between the emphasis on Christ’s return as still being very soon, which extends to each chapter of 1st Thessalonians and is particular prominent in chapters four and five and what seems to be an opposite emphasis on the things that must still occur before the end can come in 2nd Thessalonians which we will analyze in more detail after surveying the exegetical highlights of Paul’s first letter. But to preview one very plausible way of putting the two letters together, it is not all fanciful to imagine that even a scant twenty years after Christ’s return with Jesus’ apostles having understood that Jesus’ own message to be one of a near or soon coming return to begin to wonder if something had gone wrong. If Jesus had it wrong, if their understanding of Jesus’ teaching had been wrong or if there were some other explanation for why, after a full twenty years, but there was no sign of any visible supernatural coming or presence of Jesus corresponding to the resurrection and ascension which foretold the way Jesus would come back as explained by the angelic messengers early in Acts chapter one. It would be natural therefore for Paul in 1st Thessalonians to attempt to address this question briefly and re-assert the conviction that Christ was indeed still be coming soon but why then the opposite problem, the setting of 2nd Thessalonians? Howard Marshell in his New Century Bible commentary on 1st & 2nd Thessalonians very plausible suggest that it could have been an overreaction to Paul’s 1st letter which now forced Paul now in his 2nd epistle to provide a balancing emphasis. 

 

For students who have already studied the Gospel of John may have learned that there was a similar pattern between the Gospel of John and later Epistles of John, a pattern we will introduce for those who have not encountered it later on in this series of lectures when we come to the epistles of John. A pattern which plausibly suggests among other things that the Gospel is responding to early Gnosticism so in the epistles, John had to introduce a balancing emphasis. It would be natural here in Thessalonians as well to imagine that the return of Christ was so near or perhaps from an imbibed Hellenistic philosophical notion that there were no supernatural resurrection and the Messianic age yet to come but that the only thing of a New Age or resurrection that Jesus had ever promised was the spiritual new life that believers could have already in this age. Thus, 2nd Thessalonians needs to debunk this second reaction and insist that there are very specific signs of the times that still much occur, only after which Christ will return and that it is indeed a public and bodily event that will usher in the final judgment in a way that has not already taken place in some invisible spiritual way. There are other ways of putting these two letters together but this is the way that certainly seems quite plausible.

 

Turning then to the 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians and commenting simply on some very select exegetical highlights and also referring the reader to the textbook for more detailed notes. We may observe in the opening three and a half chapters before turning to Paul’s more famous and extended and controversial discussion of eschatology or last things. It is not only his thanksgiving in its formal location in chapter 1:1-10 that is effusive in its praise for the Thessalonians growth and progress in Jesus, but he adds extra thanksgiving periods that could almost be viewed as discreet or separate thanksgivings in 2:13, a very lengthy and detailed verse and again in chapter 3:9. How is it that this young church, as far as we can tell had the shortest period of time of any of the other churches that Paul wrote letters to in terms of formal instructions they had with Paul’s physically present. How was it that such a church turns out to be the one in the first three chapters of 1st Thessalonians that Paul praises more than any of the other churches which we have preserved letters of, addressed to those Christian congregations. And it is indeed that the 2nd thanksgiving period of 2:13 that a significant component of an answer to this question. As Paul explains, we also thank God continually because when you received the Word of God you heard from us, you accepted it, not as a human word, but as it actually is, the Word of God which is indeed as work in you who believe. In other words, the accurate and faithful preaching of the Gospel message, it is itself, certainly not inerrant or flawlessly inspired in the fashion historically attributed to the written Scriptures, but nevertheless, God’s Word addressed to humanity with all the power and the possibilities of changing lives and fashioning new communities there unto appertaining. 

 

Martin Luther at the time of the protestant reformation, perhaps more than any other single individual in the history of the church emphasized the preaching of faithful exposition of Scripture as central to the task of Christian worship and as the very Word of God. It is a humbling, convicting task which Christian preachers and teachers and ministers of the Word have, but also that should be greatly encouraging as we are faithful to Scripture unfolding and explaining and applying it, we can know that we have and speak with the very authority of God himself. 

 

Chapter 4:10 also closely relates to Paul’s sustained praise for the Thessalonians and indeed has been identified from time to time as a possible theme verse to this epistle. We read, ‘in fact, you do love all the brothers and sisters throughout Macedonia, yet we urge you dear friends to do so more and more. Or in the words of the New American Standard translation at the end of that verse, ‘excel still more’. Even though the Thessalonians have begun with a rapid growth, there is always room for further growth and danger of falling back and so Paul urges them to press on to greater heights and greater Christian maturity. It is interesting to read as well, Paul’s very personal and poignant and transparent remarks and insights concerning his motives for ministry. He was reflective of his time in Thessalonica and of his concern for their well-being after he had left. We read, ‘instead we were like young children among you, just as a nursing mother cares for her children,’ and then on into verse 8:a, so we cared for you. Again in verse 11, you know we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his children. And finishing that sentence in verse 12, ‘encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God…

 

On the one hand, Paul compares himself to being like children in the mitts of the Thessalonians; there was a servant leadership role that was central to Paul ministry. He did not lord it over to people to whom and among whom he ministered, but rather sought to serve them and there was a vulnerability sense of helplessness attached to children’s lives and hostilities from outside and at times, division, within various churches which forced Paul to changed his plans in ways he had not expected. But the real burden of these verses is changing the metaphor, Paul as both mother and father. One should not try to deduce some bazaar conclusion about Paul’s gender or sexual orientation from this. He is simply appealing to what was in his world one of the most powerful and tender metaphors for gentle care and nurture to that of nursing mother with her baby at her breast, and then this balancing out the maternal metaphor with a paternal one in talking about the role of a father, not in this context, not as an authority which he clearly was in the ancient world, but as one who when functioning properly, encouraged and comforting his children as well as urging them and training them in proper spiritual living. Parents, of course, when functioning properly do not have the option of abandoning their children. They are ‘stuck’ with them for good or ill. 

 

It’s interesting, especially today in the 21st century western world with the turnover rate of pastors and other Christian leaders being at a seemingly all-time record high with people who at one stage of their lives seemed to have believed that God was calling them to ministry and indeed professional ministry for career, suddenly finding a fair amount of hardship of one kind or another and reinterpreting that call so as to leave the ministry for some other vocation altogether. Perhaps one of the things that has gone wrong is they have lost sight of the kind of commitment Paul expresses in these verses. Unless we recognize our flocks or our charges though they may change as people come and go and though they may change as we move from one place to the next. Nevertheless more like family, more like ministering to close relatives to whom we have become committed, no matter how much grift they may give us. Perhaps that is the model that will lead to the necessary stick-to-itiveness even through the very hard times and it needs to be emphasized more than it often is. There is another metaphor that punctuates the Thessalonian epistles and 1st Corinthians as well and several other portions of Paul’s letters of which we first encounter here in 1st Thessalonians 2, not least in four consecutive verses in chapter 2:3-6 and that is the theme of imitating Paul, much like the respected philosopher in the Greco-Roman world or the Rabbi in the Jewish world, did not give formal class room lectures nearly so much as gather a small group of followers who lived and walked with him at times as we would phrase it today, 24/7 (24 hours a day and 7 days a week), around the clock, seeing how he acted in a broad cross section of settings that life could show and seeing that he was not perfect, seeing how many mistakes he would make and seeing how he repented and sought forgiveness and moved on with his life, a fresh. 

 

Of course, there were popular philosophers, particularly in the Greco-Roman world who were viewed as hustlers as well and these were ones, not to be observable 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. They would put on a mask for a period of time in public without folks knowing what they were like in more private moments. It is interesting to see how implicitly some of those kinds of the practices by those philosophers would appear in contrast. Paul describes, ‘for the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motive nor are we trying to trick you,’ apparently as some popular philosophers were. Verse 4, ‘on the contrary we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel. We are not trying to please people but God who tests our hearts.’ It is even when Christians leaders, ancient or modern, are not consciously trying to deceive their charges or even themselves. It is so easy to do that drawing a greater praise rather than that one knows may well draw conflict or censor from others, even though one also knows the latter option is more faithful to Scripture. Verse 5, Paul continues, ‘you know we never use flattery nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed. God is our witness, as soon as one accepts money for ministry which Paul did at times though not in others. We will return to this conversation in 1st Corinthians 9. There is always the danger of doing that which will bring in the most money. Yet that can never be the guiding principle for one who wants to be faithful to the value of Scripture. Which more often than not call believers to do that which may, in the eyes of the world, lead to a less prosperous rather than a more prosperous outcome. Finally in 2:6, we read that Paul, Silas and Timothy were not looking for praise from any human being, not even from the Thessalonian church but as apostles of Christ, they could have asserted their prerogatives, they could have led in an autocratic way which leads into the metaphor we have already discussed in 7:a, ‘it because like little children, like servant leaders instead.’ 

 

Skipping ahead to chapter 4, we will see yet another exegetical highlight of many that we could mention. It has to do with a connection between holly lives and moral lifestyles. It talks about the will of God, are likely to draw a crowd among believers, rightly eager to discern God’s specific will for their lives in difficult or complex situations. Where should I work, what church should I join, what ministry should I be involved with, who should I marry, should I get married and the list can be seemingly endless. God does provide individual Christians at times with very specific answers to these questions. But even in Scripture, by no means, on a regularly basis, if one studies the concept of the will of God where it appears throughout the New Testament. One discovers very consistent links to Godly moral living and often ‘little more than that’, though in reality, Godly living is hardly a little thing. A classic example of this comes in 1st Thessalonians 3 and 4, it is God’s will that you should be sanctified, you should be made increasingly holly, you should avoid sexual immorality; perennial temptations for God’s people for compromising holiness. Each of you should learn to control you own body in a way that is holly and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans who do not know God. 

 

As we will see when we look at the sequence of topics in Roman 12, it’s arguable that Paul understood that God’s more general moral will be illustrated in this passage with the particular difficult area of sexual temptation, is almost a necessary prerequisite before being able to understand his more specific or particular will for our lives in convoluted situations. Put more simply, if we are not concerned to obey what we already know is God’s will for us in our lives in moral living in general. Why should we expect him to reveal to us more specific dimensions of his will that set us apart from what he requires of the Christian next to us. 

 

Finally, we may comment on chapter 4:11-12 which contain the often overlooked command to make it our ambition to lead quiet lives. We mind our own business and work with our hands just as Paul, Silas and Timothy instructed the Thessalonians so that our daily lives may win the respect of out siders and so that we will not be dependent on anyone else. There is an interesting two fold reason for work, work that pays our bills, that feeds our families, that puts bread on the table, work in Christian thinking and Jewish thought preceding it is something good and God ordained it to be just and from Genesis 1 onward, God planned that humanity should exercise Godly dominion in stewardship over the earth and in chapter 2 gave Adam and Eve the specific task of Stewarding the Garden of Eden. Of course, the fall in chapter 3 corrupted life in the workplace even as it did in every other area of life. But in Christ, the process of being redeemed from the cruse has begun and that means redeeming the workplace, not demeaning it, not look down on it as a necessary evil until we can do real Christian ministry in another context. Work is part of the Christian’s call, whether to use a modern dichotomy not nearly as common or understood in Paul’s day, whether sacred or secular, work is part of God’s will for our lives and we should in a Godly fashion to gain the respect of outsiders to be a good witness, whether we explicitly talk about Jesus at any given moment or not and also that we will not have to, as we might put it, mooch off anyone else, Christian or otherwise and thus create potentially a greater hardship for them and lose favor or respect with them as well.