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

1-thessalonians

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

1-thessaloniansAs we sort through the apocalyptic language of 1 & 2 Thess, inevitably, we’ll need to address the question of when the Parousia (coming) of Jesus has occurred/will occur.

Those of us raised in the Churches of Christ are generally very poorly equipped to read this sort of language, largely because we’re a denomination that has chosen to deal with the Revelation by ignoring nearly all of it and to deal with the OT prophets by ignoring them, too.

Now, as bad as that is — and it’s bad — it’s not nearly as bad as some of the extreme interpretations of the Revelation that are popular, such as the Left Behind point of view and Preterism. By “Preterism” I mean the view that the entirety of the Revelation was fulfilled when Jerusalem was defeated and the Temple destroyed by the Roman armies under their general Titus.

On the other hand, it’s a fact that some passages in the NT look ahead to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Jesus prophesied this event and it’s obviously hugely important even though not recorded in the NT. I mean, when God had the Babylonians destroy the Temple centuries earlier, that destruction was clear evidence of God’s unhappiness with the Jews — and they understood it that way. And when God allowed the Romans to destroy the Temple yet again, the Jews saw a similar judgment — but most continued to reject Jesus as Messiah.

So it’s important to avoid either of two extremes — that everything prophesied in the NT happens thousands of years in the future (at the Second Coming) or that everything prophesied in the NT happened in the First Century (with the destruction of Jerusalem being a “coming” of Jesus in judgment). In fact, I believe the scriptures speak both to the destruction of Jerusalem (as a “coming” of Jesus in judgment, even) and of the Second Coming. Continue reading

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1 Thessalonians: 3:8-13

1-thessaloniansPaul continues to express his concerns for the church —

(1 Thess. 3:8-13 ESV)  8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.  9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,  10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?  11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you,  12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,  13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.  

V. 8 is a little perplexing. What does he mean by “For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord”? It has to be something like “the news of your faith is the very breath of life to us.” Continue reading

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1 Thessalonians: 3:1-7

1-thessalonians

So we’ve made it all the way to chapter 3, and Paul hasn’t yet gotten to the “good stuff.” That is, he’s not yet doing theology or talking about the rules we must live by. Rather, he remains focused on the relational stuff — his relationship with the people of that church.

Indeed, far more so than we find in Paul’s other epistles, Paul seems to see the salvation of the Thessalonian church as very closely tied to their perceptions of him.

And in the mission field, this is hardly surprising. The believers at Thessalonica did not inherit their faith from the parents. Their culture certainly didn’t point them toward Jesus. They were persuaded out of paganism by Paul and by the power of the gospel. It was very personal indeed. Continue reading

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U2: Grace

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