Lectionary Year B
October 24, 1999
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
IV: Broader Context
(JFC) A. NT & PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY
Paul recalls in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 how converts turned from idol worship to God. Christians were expecting Christ's immediate return in glory and had to learn patience to adjust their thinking and hoping to the realities of their times. If they gave up hope, their past accomplishments, like establishing a believing community in their rather strategic city, would suffer set backs. Paul was trying to address their frustrations with the delay in Christ's return and "hoi polloi"'s opposition to the gospel in this epistle. Some believers, even, worried so about the Parousia, they became lethargic and/or lazy and couldn't or wouldn't work.
(JFC) B. OT & JUDAISM
Acts 17:3c states, ". . . the Lord tests the heart."
Jeremiah 11:20 uses the , "who try the heart . . ." of God. Evidently, ancient Jews believed such a characteristic was attributable to the Deity. Ancient Jews were loyal to want to please God. They held high value in obedience to the Torah. Obeying God would, surely, please God, as Paul contends in this pericope, to be eager in doing.
(JFC) C. HELLENISTIC WORLD
Paul could well be speaking language familiar to Hellenists when he refers to the gospel spreading throughout the then-known world and to peoples' knowledge of events and eventualities in the early century of Christianity. They could appreciate Paul's disclaimers and attempts at being ethically responsible. They might have rated right highly how Paul refuses to yield to the temptation (verse 7) to make demands on the Thessalonians just because they could have gotten away with doing so by their beings disciples of Christ. Who knows the Hellenists better than I on such a point as, did they value gentleness?
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