Paul's letter to the Thessalonians in the first century
Writter: Evangelos D. Kepenes (April 13, 2022, 13:17)
The authoritative Jewish Apostles wrote in the first century AD to modern-day Judeo-Christians to warn, to exhort, to comfort, and to inform them about God's impending actions to the opposers from the Jews and deniers of Christ. Those actions of God would set an end to their trials of faith caused by the threats of the Jews. The letters refer to a specific readership and outline the political, social, and religious trends of the first century, in the territorial sovereignty of the Roman Empire.
The prevailing religious view that the letters were written in the first century for future "Christians", e.g. of the twentieth (20th) century, is heterogeneous and completely weakens the dynamic that they had in the original recipients. At the same time, it obscures the minds of today's so-called "Christians", transforming the faith which "once surrendered to the saints" into utopia and the letters of the Apostles into paraphilology.
Let's study an excerpt from the letter to the Thessalonians
“For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus, because you suffered the same things from your fellow countrymen, just as they [did] from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and [are] hostile to all men, forbidding us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved, so as always to fill up [the measure of] their sins; but the wrath [of God] has come upon them to the uttermost.” (I Thes. 2:14-16, EMTV)
A brief reference to Thessaloniki
“The city of Thessaloniki, at the time of Paul's arrival there, was not a Roman military colony such as Corinth and Philippi, but enjoyed the rights of a free city, governed by seven city officials (politarches) (Acts 17:6-8) who were elected by the citizens and were accountable to the Roman proconsul (Acts 17:7-8). Most of its inhabitants were Greeks, as well as several Romans and numerous Jews, who had a congregation and exercised considerable influence on the population and proselytism among the gentiles. Along with the mixed population, Thessaloniki was also distinguished for the diversity of religions. Archaeologists assert cults of the Roman pantheon and the emperor as well as other deities of the East such as Cabirus, Isis, Serapis and Osiris. Thessalonian coins with Julius Caesar's head as a god were also found.” (Introduction to the New Testament, Christos Sp. Voulgaris, Vol. A, pp. 575-7)
Τhe birth of the church of Τhessaloniki by Paul and Silas is mentioned by luke in Acts in chapter seventeen (17)
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in to them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” (Acts 17:1-4, Webster)
So Luke says that some of the Jews were persuaded, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. So the church of Christ in Thessaloniki was multi-ethnic and became a model "to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia." (I Thes. 1:7)
Who troubled the Thessalonian believers
“Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;” (II Thes. 1:6, Haweis)
The fellow citizens / compatriots who troubled them were the Thessalonian Jews with a Rome-friendly attitude, and they prevented Paul and Silas from speaking to the gentiles to save themselves.
“But the Jews having been stirred up to jealousy, and taken to [themselves] certain wicked men of the lowest rabble, and having got a crowd together, set the city in confusion; and having beset the house of Jason sought to bring them out to the people; and not having found them, dragged Jason and certain brethren before the politarchs, crying out, These [men] that have set the world in tumult, are come here also, whom Jason has received; and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying, that there is another king, Jesus. And they troubled the crowd and the politarchs when they heard these things. And having taken security of Jason and the rest, they let them go.” (Acts 17:5-9, Darby)
The same Thessalonian Jews took hostile action against Paul and Silas in Veria.
“But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people.” (Acts 17:13, Webster)
So Paul rightly and truthfully said: “Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come on them to the uttermost.” (I Thes. 2:16, Webster)
Jesus targets the tenants of the vineyard as the recipients of His wrath
The parable of the vineyard and the tenants
“Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, who planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dig a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to farmers, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the farmers, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the farmers took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise. But last of all he sent to them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. WHEN THE LORD therefore of the vineyard COMES, what will he do to those farmers?” (Mat. 21:33-40, Wesley)
"They say to him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other farmers, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.” (Mat. 21:40-41, Asv)
“And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke of them. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.” (Mat. 21:45-46, Webster)
Isaiah said the same
“The LORD will enter into judgment with the elders of his people, and with their princes: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor [is] in your houses.” (Is. 3:14, AKJV)
And indeed the Lord CAME and destroyed the wicked farmers of His vineyard, the murderers and transgressors of the law and the negators of His love, and overthrew their earthly Temple, completing the aion of the Mosaic Law and the dead letter with His executed written judgments.
“But Jesus turning to them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” (Luk. 23:28-31, ERV)
“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev. 6:15-17, see also Luke 21:36, ESV2011)
The wrath of God on the recipients and transgressors of the Law was fulfilled, as the Bible teaches us.
When unaffected by human dogmatic traditions and myths we recognize the historicity of biblical events that took place in the first century, we gain a better understanding of what is written which positively affects our faith in Christ and our confession to our fellow human beings.
Christ our life
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