Paul and Jesus: The True Story

By David Wenham | Go to book overview

10 What does I Thessalonians tell us
about Paul and Jesus?

We have looked at what is going on in 1 Thessalonians. But now is the time to return to our detective work, and to try to work out, as we did earlier with Galatians, something of what lies behind Paul's teaching in the letter. Where do the ideas that he expresses in the letter come from? Clearly a lot of what he says is his immediate response to recent events: Paul is expressing his feelings of anxiety and then joy. But are there clues as to what he had taught the Thessalonians before? And, in particular, can we detect knowledge of Jesus and of his teaching?


The Lord's future coming

The most concentrated teaching in 1 Thessalonians is to do with the future and Jesus' return. We have already seen that the church members were anxious about their loved ones who had died: this anxiety probably reflects the fact that they were looking forward not to life after death in heaven, but to Jesus coming back before they died and establishing the kingdom of God. Where did they get their ideas from?

The answer must be that they got their ideas from Paul and his team (even if they did not entirely get Paul's meaning, as it turns out). Paul had taught them about the returning Lord; that was part of the gospel he preached to them (1.10, 5.1–11).

But where did Paul get his beliefs about Jesus' return from? He would not obviously or necessarily have learned this aspect of his faith through his Damascus Road experience 'by revelation'. More likely he learned it from the Church which regularly prayed 'Maranatha'; in particular there is reason to think that he knew Jesus' teaching on the matter.

There is a large amount of teaching of Jesus in the gospels on the subject of the future. For example, there is the long 'eschatological

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Paul and Jesus: The True Story
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Part 1: Beginnings 1
  • 1: Before Paul Met Jesus 3
  • 2: The Big Bang! 9
  • 3: New Directions 19
  • 4: Antioch 26
  • Part 2 - Missionary Journeys and Letters 37
  • 5: Travels in and around Calaíta 39
  • 6: What Is Going on in Galatians? 49
  • 7: What Does Galatians Tell Us about Paul and Jesus? 60
  • 8: Travelling in Greece 77
  • 9: What Is Going on in 1 Thessalonians? 91
  • 10: What Does Thessalonians Tell Us about Paul and Jesus? 96
  • 11: A Look at 2 Thessalonians 111
  • 12: Travelling on to Ephesus 121
  • 13: What Is Going on in 7 Corinthians? 127
  • 14: What Does 1 Corinthians Tell Us about Paul and Jesus? 143
  • Part 3 - Finishing the Story 169
  • 15: And So on 171
  • 16: The True Story 179
  • Index of Biblical References 189
  • Index of Subjects 193
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