This week, I am working through Colossians, chapters 3-4 and 1 Thessalonians, chapters 1-3.
- Verses 5-10 - Without diminishing the importance of verse 5, it bothers me that it seems like so many Christians pay more attention to the list of vices in that verse than they do to those found in verses 8 and following.
- Verses 18-25 - This section is sometimes called a list of "household codes," and is very similar to the later part of Ephesians. For whatever reason, I was especially struck by the similarity of verse 21 to this section I commented on just a few weeks ago. What that says about me is anyone's guess.
- Verse 1 - Whether slavery was something to be condoned or not, even in Paul's day, it certainly makes for a useful illustration of our relationship to God.
- Verse 5 - As I read the word "outsiders" here, I can't help but wonder if Paul is giving instructions on how Christians are to treat other Christians (from far away), or non-Christians. O'Brien suggests the latter,1 which I would see as the most natural reading in any event.
- Verse 9 - Onesimus will be a focal point in a few weeks. Just note his presence for now.
- Verse 10 - This Mark is all but certain to be the same Mark with whom Paul had such trouble that he and Barnabas split up over a disagreement about Mark in Acts. Clearly he feels better about him by now.
- Verse 16 - There is no way to know for certain what the letter from Laodicea was. One popular theory is that Ephesians (which was probably not originally--or least not exclusively--intended for the church in Ephesus) is this letter, but O'Brien considers this unlikely, believing that Ephesians was written later, and therefore unlikely to be referenced here.2 If he's right,then it is all but certain that the Laodicean letter was lost.
- Verse 1 - We generally talk about these letters as being from Paul, but this one is clearly a group effort. A couple of "Paul's" letters before now have also included Timothy in the by-line (or, on one occasion, Sosthenes), but this is the first time three names appear!
- Verse 6 - What was the nature of the suffering Paul mentions here? It's one of those times when it seems as though it must have been obvious to the original readers (who would have experienced it!), but we'll have to figure it out from what else Paul writes about.
- Verse 2 - Paul (and his co-writers?) mentions suffering here, but this seems to be suffering he experienced, as opposed to the sufferings of the Thessalonians alluded to earlier. Whatever else is true, it seems that Paul is trying to assure his readers that he has something in common with them.
- Verse 14 - We begin to get a hint of the suffering of the Thessalonians here. Apparently they are being persecuted by (fellow Gentile) members of the nearby secular community, perhaps even former friends and family members.3
- Verse 16 - This is the second time Paul alludes to God's wrath in this epistle (the first being rather quickly at the very end of the previous chapter). This strikes me as unusual for his letters so far. It is hardly unique for Paul to suggest that non-believers are still subject to God's wrath (far from it), but there seems something odd about the way he's doing it here.
- Verse 3-5 - Without question, Paul sees suffering as inevitable for the Christian.
- Verse 5 - Does Paul fear that Thessalonians might fall to temptation after having previously "been saved," or does he presume that a "Christian" who later falls to temptation wasn't "really saved" in the first place?
1Peter T. O'Brien, Colossians, Philemon (Word Biblical Commentary), Word, 1982, pp. 240-241. O'Brien backs up this interpretation by noting a correspondence with the Greek word for "outsiders" to a word appearing in rabbinic literature, which would have had a specific connotation of "non-believers."
2O'Brien, pp. 257-258.
3Abraham J. Malherbe, Paul and the Thessalonians, Fortress, 1987, pp. 48-50. Malherbe notes the preponderance of familial language in the letter: father, orphan, children, brethren.