Lectionary Year A
November 17, 2002
I Thessalonians 5:1-11

Step V: Distillation

A. Summary of Salient Features

(JFC) The central theological figure in this lection is the Day of the Lord. The God whose Day is discussed here as coming is also described as One who "destines to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for us . . ." Another major concern is in the suddenness and likely surprise of that coming. Also, of significance is the final (verse 10) proclamation that Christ died for those awake and those asleep, alike and will be with both. Other important elements are the day and/or time of the Coming. Secondary factors consist of the thief, the destruction, the birth pains, the battle garb and the dichotomies of light and darkness, day and night, sleep and being awake and sober, etc

B. Smoother Translation

(JFC) 1 But about the times and the seasons, brothers, you do not need to be written concerning, 2 for you yourselves accurately have known that a day of (the) Lord like a thief in the night is to come. 3 When any might say, "Peace and security", then suddenly to them will appear destruction like birth-pains in a mother's womb, and not can they escape. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness, so that the day to you like a thief might/could overtake/surprise you; 5 for all of you are descendants of the light and descendants of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. 6 Therefore then we should not sleep like others but we should keep awake and be sober. 7 For the sleeping ones sleep at night and the ones having gotten drunk get drunk at night; 8 but we, being of the day should be sober and be dressed in a breastplate of faith and love and a helmet of hope for salvation; 9 God did not set/place/put us into anger but to obtaining salvation through our Lord of Jesus Christ 10 who died for us, so that whether we should keep awake or should die/sleep, we'll get together with Him and should remain alive. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as also you are doing.

C. Hermeneutical Bridge

(JFC) Can we find enough Good News, if not quite as much as Paul does, especially in the final assurance in verse 10, in the fascinating book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? If some of the characters can find redemption beyond their own conniving, then, possibly this modern (1981) story could be telling tales similar to what Paul could have anticipated if he could have known Savannah, Georgia, in this past century. The darknesses in these stories and the hints (at least, hints) of light just might begin to get at what some of the earliest Christians pictured when they contemplated the Parousia. Some of Savannah's relationships might begin to portray how Christians live with and cope with hopes for "peace and security" when sudden destruction realistically comes in their tradition which surely still prevailed in such meditations long ago. Of course, for Savannah's characters still asleep and/or in the dark, Christ still died for them bringing them salvation, too, Paul proclaims as part of the Gospel in the text at hand.

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