Lectionary Year A
October 20, 2002
I Thessalonians 1:1-10

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) "The theological 'center of gravity' in the text" is in the first 5 verses. They name all three facets of the Triune God and describe some of what Paul believes they have done for, to and with the Thessalonians. Other major concerns include the witnessing of Paul's entourage and that of the recipients of this Epistle and the deliverance Jesus offers. These observations leave the minor elements to include faith, hope and love, the Gospel, the thanksgivings, the extensive exemplary following Paul's teachings, the turning from idolatry to monotheism and waiting for Christ's return.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of Thessalonica in God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace. 2 We give thanks to God always for all of you in remembrance making in our prayers, constantly/always 3 remembering your work of faith and the labor of love and the patient endurance/steadfastness/perseverance of the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ before God and our Father, 4 knowing, beloved brothers by (the) God, who has chosen you, 5 that/for the good news/Gospel of ours not came to you in word only but also in power/ability/miracle also in the Holy Spirit and in assurance/certainty/conviction more so, because/in as much as you are knowing what kind of servants we were when we came to you. 6 And you have become imitators of us and of the Lord, you received the Word in much affliction/trouble/distress/suffering yet with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believing ones in Macedonia and in the Achaia. 8 For from you goes sounding forth/ringing out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and also in the Achaia but also in all places your faith in God is sounding forth, so that no longer is it necessary to have us preach/proclaim/speak it. 9 For they tell/inform us of your faith what a welcome/reception we had by you, and how you returned to God from the idols to serve God living and true/genuine/real/dependable one 10 and to wait for His Son from the heavens, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus the one who delivers/saves us from the anger/wrath which is coming.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) John Zech, on "Composers' Date Book" on NPR, told of the recently (2000) premiered, "Dead Man Walking", . . . "an opera in two acts was based on a 1993 book by Sister Helen Prejean." He then remarked, "You might also remember the movie version with Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. . . You might think it's too far-fetched," he said, "to base an opera on eye-witnessed accounts of American prisoners on death row, but Sister Prejean didn't think so. She said, 'I love the way the opera captures the central human conflicts love or hate, compassion or vengeance, redemption or condemnation. From the beginning I told (the composers) that I trusted them to compose the opera if they wove into its center the quest for redemption, they got it. And, I could tell by the stillness of the auditorium and the tumultuous applause at the end that audience also really gets it." Is Paul writing similarly to the young church in Thessalonica? Did they get it? We might surmise that they must have 'gotten it' because of the further history of the Church. Now, friends on line, do we get it? Do we preach Redemption as 'gettable'?

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