1 & 2 Thessalonians

We are not gathering tonight or next Tuesday.  We will start our summer discussion of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians on Tuesday, June 7.  Before then, please take the opportunity to read through 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians.  Both of these books are fairly short.  Also, please read Acts 17:1-15 where Luke tells us of Paul’s missionary journey to the city of Thessalonica.  1 Thessalonians is generally considered to be Paul’s first letter and was written while he was in Corinth.  This letter, therefore, is the earliest Christian writing that we have.  I will generally be using N.T. Wright’s Paul for Everyone – Galatians and Thessalonians to guide our discussions.  If you would like a copy of the book, please let me know.

As an introduction to our studies, I have attached the ESV Study Bible’s introduction to 1 Thessalonians and the chapter on 1 and 2 Thessalonians from Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament (this is the same book Fr. Gabriel used for his teachings on Mark).  The ESV provides a good straightforward account of the letter and its purpose.  Johnson provides a more detailed understanding of the letters and particular their literary form.  Johnson shows us how the letters follow the parenetic (exhortatory) letter common in the Greek rhetorical and philosophical tradition.  These types of letters follow a memory-model-maxim formulation.  In 1 Thessalonians, Paul first recounts his historical relationship with the church, he sets himself as the father and model of the church, and once his history and authority with the church are established, he gives his moral exhortations to the congregation concerning the twin problem of external persecution and the meaning of the death of some of its members.   As you read through Johnson’s explanation, you can see this form in Paul’s other letters as well, especially 1 Corinthians and Galatians.  These secondary readings are not required, but hopefully will provide you with a deeper understanding of the scriptural text itself as we begin to read through it.

I am excited about our discussions this summer and look forward to seeing y’all on June 7.  Dinner is at 6. Discussions about 6:45. And we’ll end by 8:00 with Compline.  Summer is a bit more relaxed, and therefore, please feel free to invite others.

I give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in my prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 

1 Thessalonians 1:2

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