1 Thessalonians: 4:7

1-thessaloniansPaul continues to address personal    holiness —

(1 Thess. 4:7-8 ESV)  7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.  8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

“Impurity” refers, of course, back to fornication or sexual immorality. What God wants is “holiness.” Well, what is that?

We tend to think of “holy” in terms of ritual. That is, because the auditorium is holy (or as we say in north Alabama, it’s not holy but it can be made unholy — at which point we imposed restrictions on the assumption that God requires ritualistic holiness), we must sing at 30 beats a minutes, since very slow is very reverent and so very holy. We must not talk to our brothers and sisters since holiness requires silence in God’s presence — not that God has any special presence in the auditorium but we’re supposed to act as though he is. Coats and ties are holy. Jeans are not. Dresses are holy. Pantsuits are not. And on it goes. Continue reading

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1 Thessalonians: 4:5


I want to go back over 4:5 in a little more detail.

Paul warns his readers against “the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.” Of course, many of the converts in Thessalonica were Gentiles, so why does Paul use “Gentiles” to refer to the damned? Most likely because the church saw themselves as establishing a single, third race that is neither Jewish nor Gentile.

(1 Thess. 4:3-5 ESV)  3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;  4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,  5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

“Gentiles” translates ethnos ἔθνος, from which we get “ethnic.” The meaning in Paul’s day was “nations.” For example, in the Septuagint (LXX), Psalm 2:1-3 says, Continue reading

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To Infinity … and Beyond!

infinite scrollOn an experimental basis, I’ve set the blog to “infinite” scroll — meaning that when you scroll to the bottom of the main page, the next 7 posts will appear without your having to click an arrow for older or newer posts. It will also load 7 at a time rather than 10, which should speed up loading the site.

This behavior will continue all the way back to 2007, which is not quite infinity, but it’s nearly five thousand posts.

It may not work on the mobile version, but should be no problem on a regular computer.

The idea is that if you remember something from a few days ago that you want to look at, you’ll be able to just scroll down until you find it. It’s the same as Facebook and Twitter, which are the cool kids on the block, and far be it from me not to be a cool kid.

While I was messing with the settings, I also shifted the RSS feed setting to send out 10 items at a time rather than 3. That is, if you subscribe to comments by RSS (such as through Feedly), you’ll be able to keep up with them through your reader, because most days, you’ll receive all comments fairly timely. Of course, some days have much higher comment traffic than other days, and so 10 may not always be enough. But for most days and most readers, this should work pretty well.

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1 Thessalonians: 4:1-6

1-thessaloniansI’ve been working on a series of posts dealing with the election and who to vote for. And no matter how I wrote and rewrote the series, it was boring.

I mean, we’re all pretty much ready for this thing to end — and I have little to say that others haven’t said many times already. And I remember all that — and so even my own writings about Trump and Clinton bore me  — and make me angry — which I really don’t need.

So I’m returning to Thessalonians. Maybe something in these two epistles will address who to vote for — if either.

(1 Thess. 4:1-6 ESV)  Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.  2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;  4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,  5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;  6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.

First, I learned many years ago that when a preacher says “finally,” that it’s not necessarily time to put my coat on and pick up my Bible. Just so, Paul writes two more chapters after his “finally” — and the “finally” part of the book is the most theologically substantive. Continue reading

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1 Thessalonians: A Look Back at Matthew 24, Part 3


At this point in Matt 24, it seems probable that Jesus begins to answer the second question posed by his disciples — what will be the signs of the end? Some argue that he is still speaking of the fall of Jerusalem, but Jesus seems pretty clear on when that will happen, whereas he insists that no one knows when “that day” will be —

36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

“That day” is often used by the prophets to refer to the Eschaton (end of time) —

(Isa 52:6-7)  Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.” 7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

(Jer 30:7-8)  How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it. 8 “‘ In that day,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them.

And while the elect will see the armies of Rome approaching, giving them plenty of warning that the Fall of Jerusalem is near, they’ll have no idea when “that day” is to come — Continue reading

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An Evening Conversation with NT Wright and Richard Hays (2/24/16)

Thanks to Ben Witherington for finding.

Introductions carry on until about 10:45. I’d skip to their, plug in headphones, and enjoy.

Wright describes the topic as “The Good News and the Good Life” or “Reading the News with Jesus” and begins with an explanation of the “good news” as understood by Jesus.

Timely and brilliant and helpful.

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1 Thessalonians: A Look Back at Matthew 24, Part 2

1-thessaloniansNow that we’ve considered some of the history and significance of the Fall of Jerusalem, let’s turn to the text of the chapter —

(Mat 24:1-2 NIV) Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Now, this truly happened. When Rome defeated the Jews in Jerusalem, they tore the buildings to the ground and destroyed the orchards and gardens. They utterly laid waste to the city — as a lesson to all who would rebel against Rome.

(Mat 24:3 NIV) As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

The disciples asked two questions — when will Jerusalem be destroyed and how will know that the end of the age has dawned. Continue reading

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