Lectionary Year A
November 10, 2002
I Thessalonians 4:13-18

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) "The theological 'center of gravity' in this text is the God who "will bring with Him those who have died" and who "will descend from heaven". The next most significant elements here include the Christ through whom "God will bring with Him . . ." and in whom the dead "will rise first." Next most important matters are believing in the Christ who died and was raised and encouraging each other with the truths of this passage. The final call to encourage others with these hopes seems quite major for today's people as it seems also for when it was first written. These observations leave as secondarily notable, the dead people and those still living when the Parousia occurs.

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 13 But we do not want you uninformed, brothers, about the ones having died, so that you should not grieve like those others, the ones having no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so also will God bring with Himself the ones having died through Jesus He will do this great feat. 15 For this to you we declaring in (the) Word of the Lord, that we, the living who are (still) remaining, in the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who have died; 16 for the Lord Himself in a shout resounding, in a cry of an archangel and in a trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will be raised first, 17 then we, the living ones, the ones remaining, together with them will be carried off/up into heaven in a cloud to a meeting with the Lord in (the) air; and in this way always with the Lord shall we be. 18 Accordingly encourage one another in the words these.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge
(JFC) Joseph Plevnik, SJ, Regis College, Toronto, in Biblica 80 (1999) say of this text, "The image of bringing in, which, in dependence on Hellenistic parousia depictions, denotes the bringing in of the Lord at his coming, does not fit the imagery and the theology of Paul in 1 Thess 4,13-18. Hellenistic parousias depict the citizens making the royal visitor welcome in their city, whereas 1 Thess 4,13-18 depicts the effect of the Lord's coming on them. The faithful are raised; the faithful are taken up. 1 Thess 4,13-18 really depicts the bringing in of the faithful, not of the Lord. The implication is that they do not return to the earth, but stay with the Lord forever." Could be.

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