Saturday, January 08, 2011

Paul's Occasion and Purpose For Writing 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Both 1 & 2 Thessalonians were written by Paul and also include Timothy and Silas. Timothy was a young man Paul led to Christ and we know that Silas was Paul’s primary associate on his second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). Perhaps Silas served as Paul’s amanuensis.[1] Paul had a number of reasons for writing these epistles: clearing up any misconceptions about his motives in light of his rather hasty departure from Thessalonica[2] (1 Thess. Chapters 1-3); remind the Thessalonians of some key ethical elements of their new faith[3] (1 Thess. 4:1-12); comfort the Thessalonians over the death of some fellow Christians[4] (1 Thess. 4:13-18); the healthy use of spiritual gifts [5](1 Thess. 5:19-22); expressing his concern for the persecution of the Thessalonians[6] (2 Thess. 1:1-12); the return of Christ[7] (2 Thess. 2:1-12).

The subject of Paul’s opponents in Thessalonica is the topic of much debate. On the one hand, many believe that Paul is combating definite opponents, typically thought to be Jews, spiritual enthusiasts, or Gnostics.[8] On the other side of the argument is Abraham Malherbe who contends that Paul was simply using an antithetical style to portray his motives as being pure.[9] I tend to believe that Paul did have actual opponents. It was Paul’s practice to begin his ministry in a new city in the local synagogues until persecution began. In Thessalonica, persecution certainly did begin and Paul was forced to quietly leave much sooner than he would have liked while others go bail for Paul and the other missionaries.[10]

The charge against Paul in Thessalonica was nothing short of proclaiming a rival emperor, Jesus.[11] This combined with the short time Paul was with the Thessalonians could have also lead to some claiming that Paul was no more than a charlatan who had tricked the new believers. Paul confronts this directs and boldly! Having been in Thessalonica only a short time, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Paul certainly taught the new Christians a great deal of basic Bible doctrine. As we study these two letters, we see that almost every major doctrine of the Christian faith is mentioned. [12]

[1] Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. (Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985), S. 2:690

[2] Carson, D A, and Douglas J Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 544

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Lea, Thomas D., and David Alan Black. The New Testament: It's Background And Message (2nd ed). (Nashville: Broadman & Hollman Publishers, 2003), 380.

[6] Ibid, 384.

[7] Ibid

[8] Carson, D A, and Douglas J Moo. An Introduction to the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 544.

[9] Ibid, 545.

[10] Bruce, F. F. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free. (Grand Rapids, MI / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977), 227.

[11] Ibid, 225.

[12]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. (Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989), S. 1 Th 1:1

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