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The Thessalonian Letters An Introduction. “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed.

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Presentation on theme: "The Thessalonian Letters An Introduction. “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Thessalonian Letters An Introduction

2 “After some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.’” (Acts 15:36)

3 The Egnatian Way

4 William Barclay writes...  “It is impossible to over-stress the importance of the arrival of Christianity in Thessalonica. If Christianity was settled there, it was bound to spread East along the Egnatian Road until all Asia [Minor] was conquered and West until it stormed even the city of Rome. The coming of Christianity to Thessalonica was crucial in the making of it into a world religion.” William Barclay writes...  “It is impossible to over-stress the importance of the arrival of Christianity in Thessalonica. If Christianity was settled there, it was bound to spread East along the Egnatian Road until all Asia [Minor] was conquered and West until it stormed even the city of Rome. The coming of Christianity to Thessalonica was crucial in the making of it into a world religion.”

5 “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.” (Acts 17:4) Two of the members of the church (Aristarchus and Secundus) even joined Paul in his work. (Acts 20:4) “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.” (Acts 17:4) Two of the members of the church (Aristarchus and Secundus) even joined Paul in his work. (Acts 20:4) Success in Thessalonica

6 How Long Did Pay Stay in Thessalonica? Luke states that he reasoned with the people in the synagogue for three Sabbaths. (Acts 17:2)

7 How Long Did Pay Stay in Thessalonica? Evidence of a Longer Stay...  His love and concern suggest a knowledge and closeness that would have grown over a period of months instead of weeks.  He labored with his own hands.  The church at Phillipi sent him financial support on at least two occasions (Phil 4:16).  Acts may simply show how much time he spent exclusively with the Jews, after which he began to preach to the Gentiles along with the Jewish converts. Evidence of a Longer Stay...  His love and concern suggest a knowledge and closeness that would have grown over a period of months instead of weeks.  He labored with his own hands.  The church at Phillipi sent him financial support on at least two occasions (Phil 4:16).  Acts may simply show how much time he spent exclusively with the Jews, after which he began to preach to the Gentiles along with the Jewish converts.

8 The Date of First Thessalonians Timothy, having been sent back to check on the situation at Thessalonica, met Paul in Corinth and delivered his report (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 3:6). Paul’s inclusion of Silas in the greeting of the letter indicates it was written on his second missionary journey, since Silas did not accompany him on his third journey (Silas is not mentioned in Acts after 18:5). Timothy, having been sent back to check on the situation at Thessalonica, met Paul in Corinth and delivered his report (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 3:6). Paul’s inclusion of Silas in the greeting of the letter indicates it was written on his second missionary journey, since Silas did not accompany him on his third journey (Silas is not mentioned in Acts after 18:5).

9 The Date of First Thessalonians Paul’s stay in Corinth can be correlated with Gallio’s term as proconsul (Acts 18:12).  An inscription found at Delphi refers to Gallio as proconsul at Corinth in early a.d. 52.  Since proconsuls took office during the summer, Gallio would have began his term in the summer of a.d. 51.  Paul’s trial before Gallio (Acts 18:12–17) probably took place shortly after he assumed office.  Since Paul had apparently been in Corinth for some time before Gallio arrived, and he would have written 1 Thessalonians shortly after his arrival in Corinth.  Therefore, the epistle was probably written late in a.d. 50 or early in a.d. 51. Paul’s stay in Corinth can be correlated with Gallio’s term as proconsul (Acts 18:12).  An inscription found at Delphi refers to Gallio as proconsul at Corinth in early a.d. 52.  Since proconsuls took office during the summer, Gallio would have began his term in the summer of a.d. 51.  Paul’s trial before Gallio (Acts 18:12–17) probably took place shortly after he assumed office.  Since Paul had apparently been in Corinth for some time before Gallio arrived, and he would have written 1 Thessalonians shortly after his arrival in Corinth.  Therefore, the epistle was probably written late in a.d. 50 or early in a.d. 51.

10 The Date of Second Thessalonians A date shortly after 1 Thessalonians is most probable for the writing of 2 Thessalonians, perhaps late in the summer of a.d. 51 or 52.

11 The Date of Second Thessalonians Was second written first?  Argument 1: In 2 Thess. 3:17 a mark is given by which the genuineness of the Epistles of Paul may be recognized, but such a mark belongs properly to the first Epistle, not to a second.  Answer: The mark of authenticity in 2 Thess. 3:17 was not required until, as we learn from 2 Thess. 2:2, attempts had occurred to forge epistles in the name of the apostle. Was second written first?  Argument 1: In 2 Thess. 3:17 a mark is given by which the genuineness of the Epistles of Paul may be recognized, but such a mark belongs properly to the first Epistle, not to a second.  Answer: The mark of authenticity in 2 Thess. 3:17 was not required until, as we learn from 2 Thess. 2:2, attempts had occurred to forge epistles in the name of the apostle.

12 The Date of Second Thessalonians Was second written first?  Argument 2: That 2 Thess. 2:1–12 is to be referred to the Emperor Caius Caligula.  Answer: Caligula was dead approximately 10 years before Paul even traveled to Thessalonica. Why would he refer back to him and still speak in terms of a still future revelation of the man of lawlessness? Was second written first?  Argument 2: That 2 Thess. 2:1–12 is to be referred to the Emperor Caius Caligula.  Answer: Caligula was dead approximately 10 years before Paul even traveled to Thessalonica. Why would he refer back to him and still speak in terms of a still future revelation of the man of lawlessness?

13 The Date of Second Thessalonians Was second written first?  Argument 3: That the second letter was placed after the first simply because of its brevity but was really written before 1 Thessalonians.  Answer: “Ewald’s assertion, that our Second Epistle manifestly declares itself to be a first Epistle...is thoroughly erroneous.” (Lunemann, 169) Was second written first?  Argument 3: That the second letter was placed after the first simply because of its brevity but was really written before 1 Thessalonians.  Answer: “Ewald’s assertion, that our Second Epistle manifestly declares itself to be a first Epistle...is thoroughly erroneous.” (Lunemann, 169)

14 The Date of Second Thessalonians Was second written first?  Argument 4: In 2 Thessalonians trials are said to be at their height, whereas in 1 Thessalonians they are past.  Answer: 1 Thessalonians 3:4 is easily understood to indicate trials as present in that Epistle too. Was second written first?  Argument 4: In 2 Thessalonians trials are said to be at their height, whereas in 1 Thessalonians they are past.  Answer: 1 Thessalonians 3:4 is easily understood to indicate trials as present in that Epistle too.

15 The Date of Second Thessalonians Was second written first?  Argument 5: In 2 Thessalonians internal difficulties (3:6–15) are a new development, but in 1 Thessalonians they are already well known (4:11, 12; 5:14).  Answer: The situation had become more aggravated in 2 Thessalonians, necessitating extended discussion. Was second written first?  Argument 5: In 2 Thessalonians internal difficulties (3:6–15) are a new development, but in 1 Thessalonians they are already well known (4:11, 12; 5:14).  Answer: The situation had become more aggravated in 2 Thessalonians, necessitating extended discussion.

16 The Date of Second Thessalonians Was second written first?  Argument 6: Three didactic sections of 1 Thessalonians, each introduced by peri de correspond to questions raised by 2 Thessalonians.  Answer: “While interesting, these correspondences may be just as easily explained by postulating the traditional order for the Epistles.” (Gaebelein, 303) Was second written first?  Argument 6: Three didactic sections of 1 Thessalonians, each introduced by peri de correspond to questions raised by 2 Thessalonians.  Answer: “While interesting, these correspondences may be just as easily explained by postulating the traditional order for the Epistles.” (Gaebelein, 303)

17 Authorship of First Thessalonians The majority of students and scholars believe that Paul was the author. The main serious objection to Pauline authorship is that of the Tubingen School of Germany. Questions have been raised on grounds that what is said in the letter does not always agree with what is recorded in Acts. The majority of students and scholars believe that Paul was the author. The main serious objection to Pauline authorship is that of the Tubingen School of Germany. Questions have been raised on grounds that what is said in the letter does not always agree with what is recorded in Acts.

18 Authorship of First Thessalonians The letter twice claims to have been written by Paul. (1:1; 2:18) It harmonizes with the Acts account of his travels (2:1–2; 3:1–2; Acts 16–18), and contains many intimate details about him. The letter shows clear evidence of having been written early in church history, during Paul’s lifetime. There is no reference to church organization or a specialized ministry; only the general reference in 5:12 to “those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.” The letter twice claims to have been written by Paul. (1:1; 2:18) It harmonizes with the Acts account of his travels (2:1–2; 3:1–2; Acts 16–18), and contains many intimate details about him. The letter shows clear evidence of having been written early in church history, during Paul’s lifetime. There is no reference to church organization or a specialized ministry; only the general reference in 5:12 to “those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction.”

19 Authorship of First Thessalonians Also, a forger, writing long after Paul’s death, would not have allowed for the possibility that Christ could return during the apostle’s lifetime (4:15, 17). The vocabulary is consistent with Paul’s other letters. The testimony of the early church also strongly supports the Pauline authorship of 1 Thessalonians. Also, a forger, writing long after Paul’s death, would not have allowed for the possibility that Christ could return during the apostle’s lifetime (4:15, 17). The vocabulary is consistent with Paul’s other letters. The testimony of the early church also strongly supports the Pauline authorship of 1 Thessalonians.

20 Authorship of Second Thessalonians Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 1: The eschatology of the letter...  Some believe that 2 Thessalonians is not Pauline because of the teaching concerning the parousia.  Answered: Other teaching concerning the parousia often combines the suddenness with preparatory signs. Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 1: The eschatology of the letter...  Some believe that 2 Thessalonians is not Pauline because of the teaching concerning the parousia.  Answered: Other teaching concerning the parousia often combines the suddenness with preparatory signs.

21 Authorship of Second Thessalonians Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 2: There is no other corresponding teaching on the Man of Lawlessness.  Answered: Just because Paul doesn’t mention this elsewhere does not mean he didn’t write it. After all, Paul doesn’t face the contention that “the day of the Lord” has already come (2:2) any where else. Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 2: There is no other corresponding teaching on the Man of Lawlessness.  Answered: Just because Paul doesn’t mention this elsewhere does not mean he didn’t write it. After all, Paul doesn’t face the contention that “the day of the Lord” has already come (2:2) any where else.

22 Authorship of Second Thessalonians Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 3: Stylistic difference between the two letters.  Answered: Does Paul always write with the same tone? Must he do that to prove that the letter is genuinely from him? Obviously not. Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 3: Stylistic difference between the two letters.  Answered: Does Paul always write with the same tone? Must he do that to prove that the letter is genuinely from him? Obviously not.

23 Authorship of Second Thessalonians Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 4: The main reason is the combination of likeness and unlikeness to the first letter.  Answered: The passages with similar words are used in different ways. Arguments Against Pauline Authorship...  Argument 4: The main reason is the combination of likeness and unlikeness to the first letter.  Answered: The passages with similar words are used in different ways.

24 Authorship of Second Thessalonians “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer One: Perhaps Paul did write both letters, he just wrote them to two different recipients.  Option 1: 1 Thess. written to Gentiles. 2 Thess. written to Jews.  Option 2: 2 Thess. was originally intended for Berea.  Option 3: 1 Thess written to congregation. 2 Thess written to elders. “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer One: Perhaps Paul did write both letters, he just wrote them to two different recipients.  Option 1: 1 Thess. written to Gentiles. 2 Thess. written to Jews.  Option 2: 2 Thess. was originally intended for Berea.  Option 3: 1 Thess written to congregation. 2 Thess written to elders.

25 Authorship of Second Thessalonians “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer One: Perhaps Paul did write both letters, he just wrote them to two different recipients.  Answer Two: Reversed Sequence “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer One: Perhaps Paul did write both letters, he just wrote them to two different recipients.  Answer Two: Reversed Sequence

26 Authorship of Second Thessalonians “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 1: Vocabulary and Style  Answer: The range of unusual words and expressions and distinctive styles is not wider than that in other Pauline letters. “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 1: Vocabulary and Style  Answer: The range of unusual words and expressions and distinctive styles is not wider than that in other Pauline letters.

27 Authorship of Second Thessalonians “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 2: Tone  Answer: The second letter is less personal in tone because of the aggravated situation being addressed. “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 2: Tone  Answer: The second letter is less personal in tone because of the aggravated situation being addressed.

28 Authorship of Second Thessalonians “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 3: Form  Answer: Departures from standard letter format occur in other letters as well. The circumstances of writing shape the form. “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 3: Form  Answer: Departures from standard letter format occur in other letters as well. The circumstances of writing shape the form.

29 Authorship of Second Thessalonians “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 4: Theology  Answer: “Judgments and apostolic and post-apostolic theology are chronically difficult to make because of the circular reasoning which often goes into such judgments.” (Elias, 377) “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 4: Theology  Answer: “Judgments and apostolic and post-apostolic theology are chronically difficult to make because of the circular reasoning which often goes into such judgments.” (Elias, 377)

30 Authorship of Second Thessalonians “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 5: Eschatology  Answer: Early Christian expectation of the coming of Christ maintained an emphasis on both surprise and signs (Mark 13:14-37).  Answer: Rather than developing a timetable, 2Thessalonians 2:1-12 and provide proofs that “the day of the Lord” has not yet come. “Scholarly” Answers to These Arguments...  Answer Three: 2 Thessalonians is pseudonymous.  Argument 5: Eschatology  Answer: Early Christian expectation of the coming of Christ maintained an emphasis on both surprise and signs (Mark 13:14-37).  Answer: Rather than developing a timetable, 2Thessalonians 2:1-12 and provide proofs that “the day of the Lord” has not yet come.

31 Purpose of First Thessalonians After the church had been established, there was a riot led by the Jews (Acts 17:1-9). Paul is forced to flee. Silas and Timothy arrive at Corinthian with a great report concerning the brethren (Acts 18:5). Some believe that Timothy brought a letter to which 1 Thessalonians was Paul’s reply. Jewish opponents of the church were slandering Paul. After the church had been established, there was a riot led by the Jews (Acts 17:1-9). Paul is forced to flee. Silas and Timothy arrive at Corinthian with a great report concerning the brethren (Acts 18:5). Some believe that Timothy brought a letter to which 1 Thessalonians was Paul’s reply. Jewish opponents of the church were slandering Paul.

32 Purpose of Second Thessalonians He was generally pleased with their progress (2 Thess. 1:3–4), yet there were still some issues that needed to be resolved. In his second letter, Paul addressed three essential matters... First, the persecution, which had begun while he was there with them, was still ongoing. Second, Paul had instructed them about the parousia yet they were still confused, fearing they had missed the resurrection. Finally, the problem of idleness had escalated. He was generally pleased with their progress (2 Thess. 1:3–4), yet there were still some issues that needed to be resolved. In his second letter, Paul addressed three essential matters... First, the persecution, which had begun while he was there with them, was still ongoing. Second, Paul had instructed them about the parousia yet they were still confused, fearing they had missed the resurrection. Finally, the problem of idleness had escalated.

33 Major Themes HopeFaithLoveSanctification The Virtue of Hard Work The Return of the Lord Admonition of the Unruly PrayerHopeFaithLoveSanctification The Virtue of Hard Work The Return of the Lord Admonition of the Unruly Prayer

34 Difficult Questions What does Paul mean by “they always fill up the measure of their sins” (1Thess 2:16)? When Paul says “do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess 5:19), is he referring to the use of miraculous gifts or something else? Can we be guilty of this today? What does it mean to “despise prophetic utterance” (1 Thess 5:20)? In 2 Thess. 2:3-10, Paul discusses the man of lawlessness. Is this one specific person in the history of mankind (or future)? Is this one type of person? What does Paul mean by “they always fill up the measure of their sins” (1Thess 2:16)? When Paul says “do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thess 5:19), is he referring to the use of miraculous gifts or something else? Can we be guilty of this today? What does it mean to “despise prophetic utterance” (1 Thess 5:20)? In 2 Thess. 2:3-10, Paul discusses the man of lawlessness. Is this one specific person in the history of mankind (or future)? Is this one type of person?

35 Difficult Questions In 2 Thess 2:11 Paul states that “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.” Does this mean that God will play an active roll in helping people believe a lie? In both letters, Paul speaks a great deal about the second coming of the Lord. Was this going to be an event that would take place in the life of the recipients? How do we apply Paul’s statement today that “if a man it not willing to work, then neither should he eat”? In 2 Thess 2:11 Paul states that “God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.” Does this mean that God will play an active roll in helping people believe a lie? In both letters, Paul speaks a great deal about the second coming of the Lord. Was this going to be an event that would take place in the life of the recipients? How do we apply Paul’s statement today that “if a man it not willing to work, then neither should he eat”?

36 Difficult Questions In the final chapter of 2 Thess. Paul uses three different words to describe how we should act toward those who are not following Paul’s teaching. The NASB uses the terms “keep away from,” “take special note of,” and “do not associate with.”  What are the differences in these three ideas?  Are these actions that we should only take in regard to our brethren?  When do we take these actions? In the final chapter of 2 Thess. Paul uses three different words to describe how we should act toward those who are not following Paul’s teaching. The NASB uses the terms “keep away from,” “take special note of,” and “do not associate with.”  What are the differences in these three ideas?  Are these actions that we should only take in regard to our brethren?  When do we take these actions?

37 The Thessalonians Letters They encourage believers to stand firm in the midst of persecution (1Thess. 2:14–16). They encourage believers to live orderly lives (2Thess. 3:6– 13). They show the church’s responsibility to discipline sinning members (2Thess. 3:6, 14–15). They emphasize the church’s responsibility to reach the lost world with the saving truth of the gospel (1Thess. 1:8– 10). They encourage believers to stand firm in the midst of persecution (1Thess. 2:14–16). They encourage believers to live orderly lives (2Thess. 3:6– 13). They show the church’s responsibility to discipline sinning members (2Thess. 3:6, 14–15). They emphasize the church’s responsibility to reach the lost world with the saving truth of the gospel (1Thess. 1:8– 10).

38 Victory Over Falsity May we all be as committed as these brethren were so we too can have “victory over falsity.”


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