Lectionary Year A
November 3, 2002
I Thessalonians 2:9-13

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) Work appears in the first (9th) and last (13th) verses of our Epistle lection this week. Therefore, it merits designation as a major element here. "The theological 'center of gravity' in this text" is God's Gospel, God's witnessing to Paul's and friends' devoted work there, God's calling people into His Kingdom and glory and God's Word which works in the believers receiving this Epistle. Another major element in this pericope is that the Thessalonians accepted God's Word as from God as well, and/or more than through human channels. These observations leave as minor concerns Paul's assessment of his labors there, what he did and how he reports to have done it (like a parent deals with his/her children).

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 9 For you remember, brothers, our work/labor and the work/hardship; night and day we were being worked so as not to burden anyone of you as we preached the Gospel/good news of God. 10 You and God observed how in a manner pleasing to God we worked justly and blamelessly to you the ones having been brought to believe, 11 for/just as you know, how anyone like a father deals with his own a child 12 we are urging/encouraging you and we are comforted/consoled and we are urging you into the walk/manner of behavior so you will do in a manner pleasing to God, the One calling you into His Kingdom and glory. 13 And through this all we give thanks to God constantly, and we commend you that you received (the) word of God and you received/accepted the word not only as from men but as it is truly (the) word of God, which (is) also at work in you the ones believing.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) Beverly Sills took retirement recently because "she wanted to go and smell the flowers". Then, we hear that, "She must have 'smelled the roses' and gotten an allergic reaction, because she returned to work as Director of the Metropolitan Opera, having missed working more than she anticipated." So, that account reminded me of a theory that says humans need to work. And, Matthew 11:28-30 might seem to say that humans working in tandem with Christ as a vocation loses its troublesomeness when it is a response to God's grace. Perhaps Paul's emphasis on work in this week's Epistle Lesson fulfills his needs to help others, positively. Furthermore, a "Young Artist-in-Residence" for NPR's "Performance Today", October 14-18, 2002, Orli Shaham, recounted how an early teacher taught readers to read carefully the first sentences of novels because they frequently held clues for the progress of the story. And, as recalled in these pages some time ago, a professor of exegesis in the 1960's suggested that the last sentence, phrase, clause or word in a paragraph of Scripture might hold a major point for the entire passage. Remember, Paul cites work in both the opening and concluding verses here.

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