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LDS New Testament Notes 20: 1 & 2 Thessalonians

LDS New Testament Notes 20: 1 & 2 Thessalonians

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Published by: Mike Parker on Apr 07, 2011
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New TestamentWeek 20: 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Introduction to the Pauline epistles.a) Paul’s letters are the earliest writings we have in our New Testament. Beginning around
. 50, Paul wrote to Christian churches in Asia Minor and Europe, explaining hisunderstanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is through his lens that we understandmuch of who and what Jesus was.b) Occasion.i) Many of Paul’s letters were written to churches in cities where he had previouslministered. Hearing reports of their struggles, he wrote letters of correction andencouragement.
ii) Sometimes he wrote to churches in places he had not yet been, but hoped to visitsoon, as a way of introducing himself and his teachings.
iii) Occasionally he wrote directly to individuals to offer instruction and resolvedisputes.
c) Style.i) Sometimes his tone was tender and affectionate;
other times he was forceful andstern.
ii) Sometimes he wrote authoritatively, claiming that what he taught was given by theLord himself;
other times he resolved problems by offering his opinion.
d) Copies of his writings were made and circulated among local churches, and eventually his best-known letters came to be part of the New Testament canon.
They are not found in chronological order in our New Testament, but areinstead organized by length, with the longest epistle (Romans) first, and the shortest(Philemon) last.
e) Authorship.i) Did Paul write all the letters that the New Testament that bear his name? Thisquestion has been the subject of intense debate, especially over the last 150 years.
His epistles to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians would be included in this group.
The Epistle to the Romans is the chief example of this. See Romans 1:9–13.
The Epistle to Philemon is one example of this. If the Pastoral Epistles were written by Paul, then 1 and 2 Timothy andTitus would also be in this group.
For example, see Philippians 1:7–11.
For example, see 1 Corinthians 11:17–22.
For example, see 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:8.
For example, see 1 Corinthians 7:6, 12.
In addition to the letters in our New Testament, there are also other letters Paul himself refers to, of which we have noexisting copies. These include an epistle to the Corinthians, written before 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:9); another epistle tothe Corinthians, written “out of much affliction and anguish of heart…[and] with many tears” between 1 and 2 Corinthians(2 Corinthians 2:4; an earlier epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 3:3–4); and a lost epistle to the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16).There are also several early letters that claimed Pauline authorship, but were rejected from the canon, including a3 Corinthians and an epistle to the Laodiceans.
If his letters were placed in chronological order, they would probably be as follows: 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy. (There is somedispute on the exact order, however.)
© 2011, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: 1 & 2 Thessalonians Week 20, Page 2
There are some letters of Paul that contain teachings that contradict things he wrotein his other letters, and some letters that read like copies of other letters.
Of the thirteen letters in the New Testament that are ascribed to Paul,only seven were undisputedly written by him: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians,Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.(1) Everyone agrees: Paul wrote these epistles. They have a consistent message,grammar, and word choice.iii) Two others are disputed: Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians.(1) Some scholars believe Paul wrote these three letters, while others say he didn’t.iv) The remaining four are pretty widely regarded as
having been written by Paul:Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.(1) These letters are considered
, a fancy word that means they werewritten by other people who claimed to be Paul, and used his name to giveauthority to their writings.
(2)Only the most conservative Biblical scholars still try to argue for Paulineauthorship of these books.v) Note that I did not include the Epistle to the Hebrews. Although Paul is commonly referred to as the author of Hebrews, no one today—even the most traditionalBiblical scholars—believes that Paul wrote it.vi) We’ll discuss why or why not Paul is believed to be the author of each of these booksin the upcoming lessons.f) It is impossible to understate the importance of Paul’s writings in the formation of New Testament Christianity.i) Paul wrote extensively on the nature of Jesus’ atonement and on how it affects man’srelationship to God.ii) Perhaps his greatest influence came during the Protestant Reformation of the 16thand 17th centuries. The Reformers—especially Martin Luther and John Calvin—appealed to Paul’s theology in their break from Catholic tradition.iii) Many scholars and historians rightly argue that Paul is second only to Jesus as themost important person in the origins of Christianity.g)
At this point I’d like to again
recommend that you use a reliablemodern Bible translation alongside your King James Version. It’s going to be even morecritical now because Paul’s language is difficult and his ideas are complicated. The KJV stays pretty faithful to Paul’s long, run-on sentences, but this makes him extremely hardto follow. For example:
KJV 1 Thessalonians 3:9 NRSV 1 Thessalonians 3:9
For what thanks can we render to God againfor you, for all the joy wherewith we joy foryour sakes before our God.
How can we thank God enough for you inreturn for all the joy that we feel before ourGod because of you?
One example of the latter is Ephesians, which reads a lot like Colossians, down to exact phrases being reproduced. Forthis reason, many scholars believe Ephesians was not written by Paul, but rather by someone who copied Colossians in order to
like Paul. (Some scholars also believe that Colossians itself was not written by Paul.)
See lesson 2, pages 4–6;
© 2011, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.
Hurricane West Stake Adult Religion Class New Testament: 1 & 2 Thessalonians Week 20, Page 3
i) Reading solely from the KJV, does anyone had
idea what Paul is talking abouthere?ii) The KJV adheres closely to the original Greek syntax,
but this makes Paul nearly impossible for the modern reader to understand. His idea here is complicated, but amodern translation makes it much easier to grasp.iii)
My personal recommendation for a companion study Bible would be theNew Revised Standard Version (NRSV), which is similar to the KJV in its phrasing.
(1) The New International Version (NIV) is the most popular English translation,and some of you have been using it in this class. I would only warn you here thatthe NIV has a tendency to render passages in a manner that is acceptable tomodern Evangelical Christians; this sometimes means that Paul’s message is notconveyed accurately. For this reason I would not recommend the NIV over theNRSV .
Introduction to 1 and 2 Thessalonians.a)
Background on Thessalonica.i) Thessalonica was the Roman capital of the province of Macedonia. It was founded in316
. and was a prominent center of land and sea trade routes.b)
Paul’s missionary work in Thessalonica.i) Thessalonica was the second European city visited by Paul, along with hiscompanions Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:1–9; 1 Thessalonians 2:2).
ii) They first preached in a Jewish synagogue, gaining converts mostly from the God-fearing Gentiles
and prominent women of the city.iii) They were forced to leave when Jews incited a riot and abused Jason, their host.c) Occasion for these letters.i) After leaving Thessalonica, Paul went to Athens. He wrote that he wanted to return,“but Satan hindered us,” so he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica while he went onto Corinth (1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:5; Acts 17:14–15; 18:1). Timothy eventually joinedPaul in Corinth, bringing good news of the faith and love of the Thessalonian saints(1 Thessalonians 3:6; Acts 18:5).
Paul then wrote his first epistle to theThessalonians from Corinth in
. 50–51.
Literally translated, this passage would read, “For thanks are we able God to repay for you for all the joy in which werejoice because of sake before God of us” (
). As with all translations from a foreignlanguage, it requires some interpretation and reordering of words to make it intelligible in English; unfortunately the KJV doesnot do a good enough job at this for the modern reader to follow Paul’s train of thought.
There are two popular NRSV study Bibles I recommend:
The New Oxford Annotated Bible
(ISBN 0195289617) and the
HarperCollins Study Bible
(ISBN 9780060786847). You can search for either of these by ISBN number at Amazon.com.
N. T. Wright, an Anglican bishop and one of the foremost New Testament scholars in the world, has recently written: “…I must register one strong protest against one particular translation. When the New International Version was published in1980, I was one of those who hailed it with delight. I believed its own claim about itself, that it was determined to translateexactly what was there, and inject no extra paraphrasing or interpretative glosses…. Disillusionment set in over the next twoyears, as I lectured verse by verse through several of Paul’s letters, not least Galatians and Romans. Again and again, with theGreek text in front of me and the NIV beside it, I discovered that the translators had had another principle, considerably higherthan the stated one: to make sure that Paul should say what the broadly Protestant and evangelical tradition said he said. …[I]f a church only, or mainly, relies on the NIV it will, quite simply, never understand what Paul was talking about. * * * Yes, theNRSV [New Revised Standard Version] sometimes lets you down, too, but nowhere near as frequently or as badly as the NIV.”N. T. Wright,
Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision
(Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2009), 51–52.
The first was Philippi (Acts 16:19–40), to whom Paul wrote his
Epistle to the Philippians
were Gentiles who worshipped the God of Israel and in many cases kept the Law of Moses, but did nottake the final step of circumcision necessary to become
© 2011, Mike Parker http://bit.ly/ldsarc For personal use only. Not a Church publication.

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