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 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