Re: 1 Thess 5 (was Re: [asa] A theology question (imminent return of Christ))

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Wed Oct 15 2008 - 23:06:24 EDT

Richard Baukham, BTW, who is a relatively conservative scholar, argues in
his commentary in favor of the critical conclusion that 2 Peter is late and
pseudepigraphical. He takes 2 Peter as an encouragement to a community that
was expecting Christ to return in their generation. It seems to me that a
main theme in epistolary literature concerning the return of Christ, as well
as in John's Apocalypse, is one of endurance and perseverance. It is not
"sell all your possessions and withdraw from society"; to the contrary, it
is "do not be weary in doing good, do not be idle, live in peace with others
insofar as possible, work hard, run the race, finish the course, support
those in need, respect the civil government, submit to and love your spouse,
put on the full armor of God, be confident that God will finish the work he
has begun in you" and so on. It's just ludicrous to suggest that all of
these exhortations merely reflect a "mistake" by Jesus and the
Apostolic authors (or the pseudepigraphic authors writing with their
authority) about when Christ would return. "Not knowing" is not a
"mistake." And their advice applies directly to us today: endure the
difficulties of this "not yet" time with hope and patience, because the
Kingdom is already here and Christ *will* return in the fullness of time to
consummate it. Maranatha!

On Wed, Oct 15, 2008 at 10:33 PM, Murray Hogg <>wrote:

> Hi Moorad,
> Yes, it's all part of the "data set"!
> It's interesting to note the way Paul utilizes eschatology in 1
> Thessalonians given that it's recognized as written pretty early - off the
> top of my head I think critical scholars would place it as the earliest NT
> document, about 50ish AD???
> In that respect 1 Thess raises a couple of interesting issues;
> First, the question of whether the "we who are alive" of 4:15 is to be
> restricted in meaning to the Christians of Paul's time. Bernie (and Ed?)
> would, I think, take it in this sense. But I'd urge the consideration that a
> broader referent might well be understood - particularly if invokes the idea
> of sensus plenior (i.e. that under the influence of the Holy Spirit the
> writers of Scripture said more than they knew). On such a view, "We" would
> then include everyone who ever has, or will, read the text, making
> interpretation of the claims regarding a return in "our" lifetime
> problematic in extremis!
> Second, Paul clearly moves from the return of Jesus to the behaviour of
> Christians but how he does this is interesting. He doesn't (as I think
> Bernie's position would require of early Christian theology) argue directly
> from eschatology to ethics. Rather he points out that those who believe in
> the return of Christ are "children of light" (5:5) and ought to live
> accordingly (5:6-8). The ethical imperative, in other words, arises out of
> the status of believers as children of God, not on a belief in the impending
> return of Christ. Sure, the return of Christ draws the issue into stark
> relief - but, as I've argued previously, there is a whole lot more
> motivating the disciples ethical choices than ONLY the (perceived) nearness
> of Christ's return.
> If one wants to see a quite "tight" connection between eschatology and
> Christian ethics, one needs to go to a passage like 2 Peter 3:10-13 where
> the connection is, I think, inescapable. Ironically, however, critical
> scholars take 2 Peter as a quite late (second century) and
> pseudepigraphical (i.e. not written by Peter as claimed). Which only goes to
> show that speculation about a return of Christ "in our lifetime" lingered
> even after the obvious failure of such claims by the first believers (a
> point one could make from the church fathers even IF the critical view of 2
> Peter's authorship is rejected).
> It's all quite bewildering!
> Blessings,
> Murray Hogg
> Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
> Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology
> Alexanian, Moorad wrote:
>> Does the following verse have any significance in your discussion? 1
>> Thessalonians 5:2 "For you yourselves know full well that the day of the
>> Lord will come just like a thief in the night."
>> Moorad
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David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Wed Oct 15 23:07:18 2008

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