Monday, September 20, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: 1 Thessalonians 4-5 and 2 Thessalonians 1-3

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

This week, I am working through 1 Thessalonians, chapters 4-5 and 2 Thessalonians, chapters 1-3.

Chapter 4

  • Verses 3-8 - I wonder if there is a particular reason why Paul gives this extended teaching on sexual immorality to the Thessalonians.  Did he know (or suspect) that this was a particular problem for this community?
  • Verses 13-18 - It seems apparent that many Christians expected Christ's return (and the subsequent end of the world, whereby believers would be taken to heaven to spend eternity with God) to happen within a natural human lifetime after Christ's resurrection.  Indeed, if Paul's response is any indication, they seem anxious about the possibility that Christians who died before Christ's return might hae missed out.  We look upon a passage like this 2000 years later with an obviously different perspective.
Chapter 5
  • Verses 19-22 - If wonder if Paul would consider the interpretation of Scripture itself, according to the principles suggested in these verses, to be consistent with his intent for writing them?
2 Thessalonians
Chapter 1
  • Verse 11- I'm not sure what to make of the fact that, after several verses where Paul praises the Thessalonians for their perseverance (and in particular verse 5, where Paul says they will be "counted worthy" as a result of this persevereance), Paul here seems to feel the need to pray for them in order that they will be made worthy.  What does he fear they lack, and why did he seem so confident only to flip like this so quickly?
Chapter 2
  • Verse 2 - Who is this that's sending a letter in Paul's name, and why make such a deception?
  • Verses 3-12 - Paul seems here to talk of a particular rebellion, and a particular "lawless man" (it's easy to see the "Antichrist" in this, but for whatever reason Paul doesn't use that title).  Did he imagine that this would happen within his own lifetime (see now for 1 Thessalonians chapter 4)?  If so, did he have a particular, known, person in mind?
Chapter 3
  • Verses 6-13 - Of all the sins Paul writes about in his letter, "idleness" seems an odd one to single out.  Again, did Paul have a particular concern in regard to this congregation, that might explain his need to focus on it here?
  • Verse 17 -This is an interesting assertion.  Although there are other letters in which Paul points out that he's writing the letter himself, this is not so in all of his letters, as he suggests here.  It seems apparent that he does use what we might call a "secretary" from time to time.  Perhaps he exaggerates a bit here because of the fact that someone else has been using his name to spread false teachings (as noted in chapter 2)?

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