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Posts Tagged ‘Thessalonians’

The sheer quantity of the prayers that find their way into the New Testament anthology—from Jesus’ expansive ‘high-priestly prayer’ in the gospel of John’s seventeenth chapter to the heavenward words that flow like the ink of Paul’s amanuensis—suggests that a world is being re-made against massive resistance.

The life of such pray-ers is seldom tranquil. ‘Sin, the flesh, and the devil’ are ever the wolves at the door. This does not incapacitate the New Testament writers, though it seems seldom far from view that it could. Instead, they pray constantly—’without ceasing’ in the familiar words of the apostolic exhortation—that the outbreak of a New Creation might not be stopped ahead of time and that the casualties not become more than can be borne:

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will go on doing the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

In this passing breath of reported prayer, Paul speaks fluidly of the need for rescue and protection if the ‘word of the Lord’ is not to see its expansion halted. The word ‘evil’ recurs, first with reference to people who have no faith and so resists Paul’s mission, secondly in his desire that ‘the evil one’ (the personal ‘the evil one’ rather than the impersonal ‘evil’ is likely the preferred translation) might not have his way. (more…)

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The apostle Paul is often taken for a fire-breathing apocalyptic with little time for this present world as it sulks and struts in its overwheening vanity. Such a view misses both his respect for our realia as the very texture of creation and his counsel to the Thessalonians to lead a respectably independent life:

Aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Paul is concerned here with the believing community’s integrity. Having just concluded some choice words about what integrity looks like on the sexual interior of the people’s house, he turns to the painting and trimming of its outside walls. Here the topic is largely a matter of practicing a proper work ethic. A community that views itself as the first fruits of a new humanity can hardly get away with the life of a couch potato. (more…)

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