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Nihil Obstat
Feb 6th 2011, 04:18 PM
While reading through First Thessalonians, I noticed that 4:1-8 and 4:9-18 had the exact same outline:

1. how you ought to walk and please God (v. 1)
1'. as to the love of the brethren (v. 9)

2. excel still more (v. 1)
2'. excel still more (v. 10)

3. commands by the Lord Jesus (v. 2)
3'. you yourselves are taught by God (v. 9)

4. know how to possess your own vessel / wife (v. 4)
4'. behave properly toward outsiders and not be in need (v. 12)

5. abstain from sexual immorality, do not transgress and defraud your brother in this (vv. 4, 6)
5'. lead a quiet life, attend to your business, work with your hands (v. 11)

6. do not give way to lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God (v. 5)
6'. do not grieve as those who have no hope (v. 13)

7. the Lord is the avenger in all these things (v. 6)
7'. the Lord Himself will descend (v. 16)

8. this is a solemn warning (v. 6)
8'. this is for comfort / encouragement (v. 18)

I take this to mean that the passage on the resurrection from the dead (vv. 13-18) actually begins at v. 9, making vv. 9-18 one thought unit, and correlating with vv. 1-8, both units being developments of Paul's prayer in 3:11-13.

So, my question from all that is this: How does experimenting still more and more with practically loving the brethren seamlessly lead into being comforted about the brethren who have passed away? The train of thought in the first unit is straight forward, but the line of thinking in this second unit is, for me, hard to keep my finger on. I can see the connection between a. the parousia (as those within the Roman Empire would understand it) and b. Paul expanding this second unit from spouses and neighbors to "all Macedonia", and c. his exhortation in v. 11 (which sounds like something a Caesar might demand of a vassal state), but I'd like a bit more clarity. Anyone have some insight into this? Why does Paul come across as saying that God informs them how to love one another, but feels the need to inform them of the resurrection from the dead, as if God has not taught them that doctrine? Or is he saying that the teaching of love naturally leads to that of resurrection? (Sorry for treating this as an open journal while I work through this, but I really think you guys can help close the connection for me.) Blessings!

markedward
Feb 6th 2011, 04:48 PM
Your epiphany here is astounding, in my opinion. Sometimes it's hard for me to follow the train of thought of an Apostle, but once it's made known, it becomes so bright to me.

Going through the two halves of chapter 4 as you have, I do also see the connection between them (as in your outline above). Going back to 3.11-13, yes, each half of chapter 4 seems to specifically come out of that. The first half of 4 points back to 3.12, while the second half of 4 points to 3.13, I think. Is it that Paul's words of comfort regarding those who have died, in the second half of 4, is meant to show those still living that, since they behaved in the way of 3.12 (and the first half of 4), that they are to be included in 3.13 (and the second half of 4)?

Nihil Obstat
Feb 6th 2011, 05:37 PM
Hey, that's some sweet input Mark - thanks!

Firstfruits
Feb 6th 2011, 06:23 PM
While reading through First Thessalonians, I noticed that 4:1-8 and 4:9-18 had the exact same outline:

1. how you ought to walk and please God (v. 1)
1'. as to the love of the brethren (v. 9)

2. excel still more (v. 1)
2'. excel still more (v. 10)

3. commands by the Lord Jesus (v. 2)
3'. you yourselves are taught by God (v. 9)

4. know how to possess your own vessel / wife (v. 4)
4'. behave properly toward outsiders and not be in need (v. 12)

5. abstain from sexual immorality, do not transgress and defraud your brother in this (vv. 4, 6)
5'. lead a quiet life, attend to your business, work with your hands (v. 11)

6. do not give way to lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God (v. 5)
6'. do not grieve as those who have no hope (v. 13)

7. the Lord is the avenger in all these things (v. 6)
7'. the Lord Himself will descend (v. 16)

8. this is a solemn warning (v. 6)
8'. this is for comfort / encouragement (v. 18)

I take this to mean that the passage on the resurrection from the dead (vv. 13-18) actually begins at v. 9, making vv. 9-18 one thought unit, and correlating with vv. 1-8, both units being developments of Paul's prayer in 3:11-13.

So, my question from all that is this: How does experimenting still more and more with practically loving the brethren seamlessly lead into being comforted about the brethren who have passed away? The train of thought in the first unit is straight forward, but the line of thinking in this second unit is, for me, hard to keep my finger on. I can see the connection between a. the parousia (as those within the Roman Empire would understand it) and b. Paul expanding this second unit from spouses and neighbors to "all Macedonia", and c. his exhortation in v. 11 (which sounds like something a Caesar might demand of a vassal state), but I'd like a bit more clarity. Anyone have some insight into this? Why does Paul come across as saying that God informs them how to love one another, but feels the need to inform them of the resurrection from the dead, as if God has not taught them that doctrine? Or is he saying that the teaching of love naturally leads to that of resurrection? (Sorry for treating this as an open journal while I work through this, but I really think you guys can help close the connection for me.) Blessings!

If we know that we and our brothers are walking according to what has been taught then we are comforted.

God bless you!

Firstfruits

RogerW
Feb 6th 2011, 07:03 PM
So, my question from all that is this: How does experimenting still more and more with practically loving the brethren seamlessly lead into being comforted about the brethren who have passed away? The train of thought in the first unit is straight forward, but the line of thinking in this second unit is, for me, hard to keep my finger on. I can see the connection between a. the parousia (as those within the Roman Empire would understand it) and b. Paul expanding this second unit from spouses and neighbors to "all Macedonia", and c. his exhortation in v. 11 (which sounds like something a Caesar might demand of a vassal state), but I'd like a bit more clarity. Anyone have some insight into this? Why does Paul come across as saying that God informs them how to love one another, but feels the need to inform them of the resurrection from the dead, as if God has not taught them that doctrine? Or is he saying that the teaching of love naturally leads to that of resurrection? (Sorry for treating this as an open journal while I work through this, but I really think you guys can help close the connection for me.) Blessings!

If our daily walk and conduct in faith seeks to please and glorify the Lord, we should not have excessive grief because of the death of friends and relatives who have already died in faith. The believer will have grief over their loss, but as believer's we should also find comfort regarding death of the faithful.

After exhorting Christians to live in a manner that pleases God, Paul then shifts to the subject of death. Apparently the wrong understanding of the death of loved ones has caused excessive (unholy) sorrow among the Thessalonians. This is unbecoming for a believer! Paul's aim is to assure them of the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of believers and to comfort them with these words of promise and instruction.

BroRog
Feb 6th 2011, 07:40 PM
Laying underneath the phrases, "lead a quiet life", "attend to your own business", and "work with your hands" are hidden assumptions that don't come across in English very well.

Let's take the first phrase, "lead a quite life". How would the Greek speakers of the first century have heard this phrase, which in Greek is actually one word?

In a paper written by Jack Crabtree, "The Miracle of Sophrosune" (http://www.mckenziestudycenter.org/theology/articles/sophro.html) he compares Plato's early dialogue "Charmides", with the New Testament understanding of "sophrosune". In that paper he will argue that sophrosune "is the state of mind wherein one experiences a settled, self-aware self-contentment-a kind of enlightened self-acceptance." He will note that in Plato's "Charmides" one aspect of this "sophrosune" is "hesuchia" or "quietness of soul". This quietness is a state of being at peace with oneself. If one practices "hesuchia" he (or she) accepts who he is; he accepts his life as God gave it to him; he accepts that his past circumstances, or his apparent and real disadvantages of being among the downcast class is part of God's plan for him and he has come to terms with it. When he practices "hesuchia" he stops blaming his parents, or his race, or his ethnicity, or his economic status, or bad breaks in his past for who he is, and he begins to see that all these things were somehow instruments of God's creative power to mold him into the person he is today. To live a quiet life is to love yourself, accept who you are, thank God for your life, and be comfortable in where God has placed you. The opposite of "hesuchia" is to hate your life, resent your parents, or your teachers, or your government, or whoever you blame for your current condition and to ambitiously strive to gain power.

Anyway, Paul brought the gospel to the Thessalonian church "amid much opposition" he says. It would be easy to blame the opposition for the difficulties and hardships that he experienced, resent them, and attempt to manipulate circumstances against them. But since Paul practices "hesuchia", he didn't allow such opposition or circumstances to affect his attitude or his behavior toward the Thessalonians, especially those who opposed him. Those who have already answered the questions, "who am I?", and "what is my purpose in life?", can have a quietness of spirit even in the face of opposition. After all, the Thessalonian believers started out as "outsiders" before Paul preached the gospel to them.

Also, since humility is another aspect of "sophrosune", Paul decided to approach them, not with the authority of an Apostle, but with the gentleness of a nursing mother. He modeled for them the gentleness and humility he expected of them.

Now, in order to understand how Paul's train of thought goes from "leading a quiet life" to "do not grieve over those who are asleep" we need to imagine that we are simply not that important or significant in life. We all naturally aspire to significance. We naturally want to be substantial and people of substance. But how does a significant person of substance manifest this while living a life of quietness and humility? And more to our situation, how do those of us who have no significance bring ourselves to accept our fate? And if we do live out the rest of our short lives in humble quietness, it would seem that we will never reach the level of substance and significance we desire.

It's easy for us to misunderstand the NT teaching on this subject, because we are trained by our culture and society to think that the humble and quiet are insignificant. And even as Christians, we tend to pride ourselves in not seeking significance as we believe that seeking significance is antithetical to being a holy and good person. But we are misguided in this view and if we gave it a second thought we would realize that the people we admire the most: Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others are the most significant people in our faith, even as they walked the earth in humility. The world seeks significance through power and influence, but the New Testament gives us the true picture, that true substance and significance is found in moral goodness and how one is situated with respect to God.

Just guessing, but I think Paul's thoughts immediately move to those who have already died in Christ after having recommended a quiet and humble life because both things are related to the worldly conception of significance. One might say to themselves, I have a short life to live and so I had better hurry to make a name for myself. If I am going to find substance and significance in this world, I need to work at making a name for myself, I need to push, and strive, and make myself known. I need to kiss the rings of power, I need to kiss the butts of power, I need to manipulate circumstances, and I need to lie, cheat, and step on people on my way up. I need to go out in the world and make a significant, substantial impact so as to gain importance and to never be underestimated. Those who accept a humble, quiet life, doing one's own business are not important, powerful, movers and shakers.

But Christians are asked to believe Jesus who said that the exalted will be humbled and the humble will be exalted. Paul is asking the Thessalonians to accept the premise that those who have passed away, have not lost importance or significance to God. Those in Christ are so significant and important, Jesus is going to come back, raise them from the dead, and take them with him. Is he going to do this for the selfishly ambitious? I don't think so. Whereas the world considers the selfishly ambitious to be important and significant now, when Jesus returns the important ones of substance are those who followed Jesus, lived a humble life of quietness and service to others. For only those with a humble, honest and good heart, willing to act in righteousness, goodness and wisdom are those of significance and importance to God. Living a humble life of quietness, supporting yourself with your hands, does not make you unimportant or insignificant. And death will not rob you of that importance and significance.

The poor, the young, the children, the needy have no power, but they have significance to God.