APA format 175 word count per question, 3 scholarly sources to include the bible and the book and in text citations. Each question must have references and a cited page number from the book. 1. When Paul advises believers about choosing between marriage and the single life, how much do you think his expectations that the parousia might be near affected his advice? Explain why/why not. 2. How does Paul link Jesus? resurrection to the Christian hope of an afterlife?
3. In 2 Corinthians chapters 10-13, what arguments do Paul?s opponents at the church in Corinth use against him? How does Paul use his mystical experiences to counter these arguments?
4. Define what Paul means by righteousness, justification and faith. Why does Paul tell the Galatians especially (although he says the same thing in Romans) that circumcision is no longer necessary?
5. In Romans ch. 1 Paul speaks of humanity?s guilt and of its turning away from God in favor of mere idols. What is humanity?s responsibility in this? What are the consequences of this idolatry?
6. What issue does Paul have to address in Philippians 3 that he already was forced to address in his letter to the Galatians? What is Paul?s mood during this part of his letter and what language does he use to indicate how he feels?
7. What do we suspect that Onesimus did to get him in to trouble and why do we think that he finally ended up with Paul?
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Unity, Freedom, and Christ?s Return
Paul?s Letters to Thessalonica and Corinth
The time we live in will not last
I long. . . . For the whole frame
of this world is passing away. 1 Corinthians 7:29, 31
Key Topics/Themes The dominant theme of
Paul?s letters to Thessalonica and Corinth is that
the eschaton is near: Paul expects to witness
Jesus? return and the resurrection of the dead in
his lifetime (1 Thess. 4:13?18). However, believers
must not waste time speculating about the
projected date of the Parousia (1 Thess. 5:1?3).
Paul?s letters to Corinth are aimed at
healing serious divisions in the newly founded
church there. Paul urges members to give up
their destructive competitiveness and work
toward unity of belief and purpose. Their
cooperation is essential because the remaining
Paul?s early letters are dominated by his eschatology. Convinced that the Messiah?s death and 9
resurrection have inaugurated End time, Paul B
strives to achieve several related goals. Traveling U
from city to city, he establishes small cells of believers whom he calls to a ?new life in Christ.? He
argues that Jesus? crucifixion has brought freedom from both Torah observance and the power
of sin, and he emphasizes the necessity of
leading an ethically pure life while awaiting
Christ?s return. In his letters to the young Greek
churches at Thessalonica and Corinth, Paul underscores the nearness of the Parousia?the
time is so short. His most important topics
include (1) differences between human and
divinely revealed wisdom (1:10?3:23), (2)
Christian ethics and responsibilities (5:1?11:1),
(3) behavior at the communion meal (11:17?34),
valuing gifts of the Spirit (chs. 12?14), and
(4) the resurrection of the dead (ch. 15).
A composite work composed of several
letters or letter fragments, 2 Corinthians
shows Paul defending his apostolic authority
(2 Cor. 10?13); chapters 1?9, apparently written
after chapters 10?13, describe his reconciliation
with the church at Corinth.
Second Coming?an event that he believes to
be imminent. Much of Paul?s advice to these
congregations is based on his desire that they
achieve unity and purity before Christ reappears.
While he is attempting to keep believers
faithful to the high ideals of Christian practice,
Paul also finds himself battling opponents who
question the correctness of his teaching and/or
his apostolic authority. According to Luke, an
apostle was one whom Jesus had personally
called to follow him and who had witnessed the
Resurrection (Acts 1:21?22). Not only had Paul
not known the earthly Jesus; he had cruelly
p a r t f i v e p a u l a n d t he p a u l i n e trad i ti o n
persecuted the disciples. Paul?s sole claim to apostolic status was his private revelation of the
risen Lord, a claim others repeatedly challenged.
To achieve the goal of guiding his flock through
End time, Paul must ensure that his apostolic
credentials are fully recognized (1 Cor. 15:9?10;
2 Cor. 11:1?13:10).
To appreciate the urgency of Paul?s first
letters, we must approach them from the writer?s historical perspective: The Messiah?s coming spelled an end to the old world. The New
Age?entailing the Final Judgment on all nations, a universal resurrection of the dead, and
the ultimate fulfillment of God?s purpose?was
then in the process of materializing. Paul writes
as a parent anxious that those in his care survive
the apocalyptic ordeal just ahead and attain the
saints? reward of eternal life.
First Letter to the
The oldest surviving Christian document, 1
Thessalonians preserves our earliest glimpse
of how the new religion was established in
Gentile territory. Capital of the Roman province of Macedonia, Thessalonica (now called
Thessaloniki) (see Figure 14.1) was a bustling
port city located on the Via Egnatia, the major
highway linking Rome with the East. According
to the Book of Acts, Paul spent only three weeks
there, preaching mainly in the local synagogue
to generally unreceptive Jews, who soon drove
him out of town (17:1?18:5).
Paul?s letter to the newly founded Thessalonian congregation, however, paints a different
picture, making no reference to a synagogue
ministry and implying that his converts were
largely Gentile (1 Thess. 1:9). Probably written
in Corinth about 50 ce, a scant twenty years after
the Crucifixion, 1 Thessalonians is remarkable
in showing how quickly essential Christian ideas
had developed and how thoroughly apocalyptic
Paul?s message was. Referring to the Parousia in
no fewer than six different passages, at least
once in each of the letter?s five brief chapters,
Author: Paul, missionary Apostle to the Gentiles.
Date: About 50 ce.
Place of composition: Probably Corinth.
Audience: Mostly Gentile members of a newly
founded congregation in Thessalonica, Greece.
Paul makes the imminence of Jesus? return his
central message (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13?18; 5:1?11).
The Thessalonians, he says, have become
example to other Greek churches
because they have
from idols to be servants of the true and
living God, . . . to wait expectantly for his Son
D from heaven, whom he raised from the dead,
L Jesus our deliverer from the retribution to come.
E (1 Thess. 1:10)
YThis passage may, in fact, epitomize the principal themes of Paul?s oral gospel, the kerygma he
, preached in urban marketplaces, shops, and pri-
vate homes. In general content, it resembles the
Smore elaborate proclamation that Luke placed
Paul?s lips when he spoke to the Athenians
(Acts 17: 22?31). Urging the Greeks to forsake
Rlifeless idols for the ?living God? of Judaism, Paul
Apresents Jesus? resurrection from the dead as introducing history?s climactic moment: his impending descent from heaven to rescue his
5followers from catastrophic divine judgment.
3 For Paul, the implications of the coming
1apocalypse are clear: The Thessalonians must
reform their typically lenient Gentile attitudes
9toward sexual activity. They have already made
Bprogress in living ?to please God,? but they can
Udo better, abstaining from ?fornication,? becoming ?holy,? living ?quietly,? and showing
love to all (4:1?12).
Although the Thessalonians do not exhibit
the kind of opposition Paul describes in letters
to the Corinthians and Galatians, he devotes
considerable space to self-justification, emphasizing how nurturing, altruistic, and hardworking he was when in their company (2:1?12).
In particular, he emphasizes the fact that he remained financially independent of the people
c h a p te r 14 u n i ty, f re e d o m , an d ch ri s t? s re tu rn
B L A CK
f i g u r e 1 4 . 1 Paul?s churches. Paul established largely Gentile churches in the northeastern
Mediterranean region at Philippi, Thessalonica, Beroea, and Corinth. Paul?s teaching was also influential in the
Asia Minor city of Ephesus, where he lived for at least two years.
AThe sites of some other Christian centers are also given.
he taught, working ?night and day? to be self-sup- A less than ?the breath of life? to him, Paul offers a
porting (2:9). Some commentators have suggested that Paul set up a leather goods shop,
where he preached to customers and passersby. 5
The passage in which he suddenly departs from 3
praising his healthy relationship with the 1
Thessalonians to castigate his fellow Jews, referring to the ?retribution? inflicted on them, may 9
have been inserted by a later copyist after Rome?s B
destruction of Jerusalem in 70 ce (2:13?16).
Chapter 2 concludes with an insight into the
source of Paul?s concern for the Thessalonians?
good behavior: Their ethical purity will provide
validation for him when ?we stand before our
Lord Jesus at his coming.? If they maintain their
righteous conduct until the Parousia, their loyalty
to his teaching will be a ?crown of pride? for him,
showing that Paul has properly discharged his obligation to God, his patron and divine benefactor
(2:19?20). Declaring that their faithfulness is no
fervent prayer that the Thessalonians remain
?holy and faultless,? acceptable to ?our God and
Father? at Jesus? return (3:7?13).
The Parousia and the Resurrection
Having demonstrated the importance?to both
the congregation collectively and the apostle
individually?of their leading ethically unblemished lives until the Parousia, Paul then previews
events that will take place when Jesus reappears
in glory. Apparently, some Thessalonians believed that Jesus? return would occur so swiftly
that all persons converted to Christianity would
live to see the Second Coming. That belief was
shaken when some believers died before Jesus
had reappeared. What would become of them?
Had the dead missed their opportunity to join
Christ in ruling over the world?
p a r t f i v e p a u l a n d t he p a u l i n e trad i ti o n
Paul explains that the recently dead are
not lost but will share in the glory of Christ?s
return. To denote the exalted Jesus? arrival
from heaven, Paul uses the term Parousia, a
Greek word meaning ?presence? or ?coming?
(the same word that the authors of the Synoptic
Gospels later adopt to designate Jesus? return
to earth [see Chapters 7?9]). In employing this
word, Paul refers to an impressive public ceremony with which his audience in Thessalonica
would have been familiar?the actions accompanying the formal entrance of a Roman
emperor or other high official into some
provincial city. As the visiting dignitary
approached the city gates, a trumpet blast
announced his appearance, at which sound the
inhabitants were expected to drop everything
they were doing and rush outside the city walls
to greet the important visitor. Gathering along
the main roadway, the crowds then followed the
official as he moved into the city. Paul?s vision of
Jesus? imminent Parousia, his coming in supernatural glory, not only draws on this common
Roman political spectacle but also shows that he
fully expects to be alive when Jesus reappears:
[W]e who are left alive until the Lord comes
shall not forestall those who have died;
because at the word of command, at the sound
of the archangel?s voice and God?s trumpet
call, the Lord himself will descend from
heaven; first the Christian dead will rise, then
we who are left alive shall join them, caught
up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
(1 Thess. 4:15?17)
Jesus? followers, in joyous acclamation, will
then accompany their Master?humanity?s true
king?as he revisits the earth to begin his active
rule as Israel?s Messiah. After his Parousia, Jesus
at last will reign, not only over a redeemed
Israel but over the entire cosmos. In thus likening Jesus? Parousia to an emperor?s display of
power, Paul implies that Christ is clearly superior to an earthly sovereign (see Malina and
Pilch in ?Recommended Reading?).
Although he depicts Jesus? triumphant return by analogy to a Roman imperial custom,
Paul?s allusion to a ?trumpet? (Greek, salpinx)
sounding probably also refers to trumpets used
in Jewish worship, such as the playing of a ?ram?s
horn? (Hebrew, shophar) announcing the Day of
Atonement (Lev. 25:9; cf. Num. 10:2, 10). (In his
description of the Parousia, Matthew mentions a
similar eschatological trumpet call [Matt.
24:31].) Paul?s immediate purpose, however,
is to assure his Thessalonian friends that in
both life and death the believer remains with
Jesus (4:13?18). (Compare 1 Thessalonians with
Paul?s more elaborate discussion of the resurrecin 1 Corinthians 15, a passage in which he
reaffirms his hope to be alive at Jesus? Parousia.)
NOn Not Calculating ?Dates and Times?
Although he eagerly expects Jesus? reappearLance ?soon,? Paul has no patience with those
Ewho try to predict the exact date of the Parousia.
YHe discourages speculation and notes that calculating ?dates and times? is futile because the
, world?s final day will come as quietly as a thief
at midnight. Emphasizing the unexpectedness
Sof the Parousia, Paul declares that it will occur
men proclaim ?peace and security? (a
common political theme in Roman times, as
Rwell as today). Disaster will strike the nations
Asuddenly, as labor pains strike a woman without
In the Hebrew Bible, the ?Day of the Lord?
5was the time of Yahweh?s intervention into hu3man history, his visitation of earth to judge all
1nations and to impose his universal rule (Amos
5:18; Joel 2:14?15). In Paul?s apocalyptic vi9sion, Jesus is the divinely appointed agent of
Beschaton. As the eschatological Judge, Jesus
Userves a double function: He brings punishment to the disobedient (?the terrors of judgment?) but vindication and deliverance to the
faithful. Paul?s cosmic Jesus is paradoxical: He
dies to save believers from the negative judgment that his return imposes on unregenerate
humanity. Returning to his main theme, Paul
concludes that ?we, awake [living] or asleep
[dead]? live in permanent association with
c h a p te r 14 u n i ty, f re e d o m , an d ch ri s t? s re tu rn
The Role of the Spirit
With anticipation of Jesus? speedy return a living
reality, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that the
Holy Spirit?s visible activity among them is also evidence of the world?s impending transformation.
As noted in Acts, the Spirit motivating believers to
prophesy, heal, or speak in tongues was taken as
evidence of God?s active presence. Thus, Paul tells
his readers not to ?stifle inspiration? or otherwise
discourage believers from prophesying. Christian
prophets, inspired by the Spirit, play a major role
in Pauline churches, but Paul is aware that enthusiastic visionaries can cause trouble. Believers are F
to distinguish between ?good? and ?bad? inspira- I
tions, avoiding the latter, but they are not to inN
hibit charismatic behavior. Besides providing
evidence that the End is near, the Spirit?s pres- D
ence also validates the Christian message (Joel L
2:28?32; Acts 2:1?21; 1 Cor. 2:9?16; 12?14).
(A disputed letter, 2 Thessalonians is disY
cussed in Chapter 17.)
Date: Early 50s ce.
Place of composition: Ephesus.
Audience: Members of the newly established
church at Corinth, Greece.
First Letter to the Corinthians 3
According to Acts (17:1?18:17), after establish- 9
ing churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, and B
Beroea (all in northern Greece), Paul briefly U
visited Athens and then journeyed to Corinth,
where he remained for a year and a half (c. 50?
52 ce). Accompanied by Prisca (Priscilla) and
Aquila, Jewish Christians exiled from Rome, he
subsequently sailed to Ephesus, from which city
he addressed several letters to the Corinthians.
The first letter has been lost (1 Cor. 5:9), but the
books presently numbered 1 and 2 Corinthians
embody the most voluminous correspondence
with any single church group in the New
Testament. Whereas 1 Corinthians is a single document, scholars believe that 2 Corinthians is a
patchwork of several Pauline letters or parts of
letters written at different times that an editor
Paul?s correspondence with the Corinthian
church was not a one-way affair, for the
Corinthians also wrote to the apostle (1 Cor. 7:1).
Delegations from Corinth also kept Paul in touch
with the group (1:11; 16:15?18; 2 Cor. 7:5?7, 13).
Preserving a comprehensive picture of the diversity of ideas and behavior of a youthful Jewish and
Gentile church, the Corinthian letters give us an
unrivaled sociological study of early Christianity.
The City and Its People
The emperor Augustus made Corinth, the richest
and most populous city in Greece, the Greek capital in 27 bce (see Figure 14.2). In Paul?s day,
Corinth was famous for its prosperity, trade, and
materialism. As a busy seaport, it was also notorious for its legions of prostitutes, who entertained
sailors from every part of the Greco-Roman world.
With Aphrodite?supreme goddess of love and
fertility?as its patron deity, Corinth enjoyed a
reputation for luxury and licentiousness remarkable even in pagan society. Given this libertine
environment, it is not surprising that Paul devotes
more space to setting forth principles of sexual
ethics to the Corinthians than he does in letters to
any other churches (1 Cor. 5:1?13; 7:1?40).
Recent sociological studies of early Christianity indicate that the Corinthian group may
have been typical of Gentile churches in many
parts of the Roman Empire. In the past, many
historians thought that the first Christians
largely belonged to the lower socioeconomic
ranks of Greco-Roman society. Recent analyses
of Paul?s letters to Rome and Corinth, however,
suggest that early Christians came from many
different social classes and represented a veritable cross section of the Hellenistic world.
Paul?s statement that ?few? members of the
Corinthian congregation were highborn, wealthy,
or politically influential (1 Cor. 1:26?28) implies
p a r t f i v e p a u l a n d t he p a u l i n e trad i ti o n
f i g u r e 1 4 . 2 View of Corinth. Once a prosperous commercial center, Corinth was dominated
YAfter the Romans destroyed the original
by the Acrocorinth, the steep hill in the background.
Greek city, it was refounded in 44 bce as a Roman colony. As Paul?s letters to the Corinthians
demonstrate, however, it soon became a Greek-speaking urban center, of which Aphrodite, goddess
of love, was the divine patron.
that some were. This inference is borne out by the
fact that some Corinthian believers apparently
held important positions in the city (see Figure
14.3). Acts identifies the Crispus whom Paul baptized (1 Cor. 1:14) as the leader of a local synagogue, a function ordinarily given to persons rich
enough to maintain the building. Erastus, who
also seems to have belonged to the Corinthian
church, was the civic treasurer (Rom. 16:23).
A diverse assortment of Jews and Gentiles,
slaves and landowners, rich and poor, educated
and unlettered, the Corinthian group was apparently divided by class distinctions and educational differences, as well as by varieties of
religious belief. Even in observing the communion ritual, members? consciousness of differences in wealth and social status threatened to
splinter the membership (1 Cor. 11:17?34).
From Paul?s responses to their attitudes and
conduct, readers learn that the Corinthians individually promoted a wide range of ideas. Some
Aadvocated a spiritual marriage in which sexual
Runion played no part; others visited prostitutes.
ASome defrauded their fellow believers, causing
victims to seek restitution in the public courts.
Some, convinced of their Christian ?freedom,?
5not exist, dined at banquets in Greco-Roman
3temples and attended religious ceremonies
1there. Still others claimed a superior understanding of spiritual matters, viewed themselves
9as already living in the kingdom, denied the
Bnecessity of a bodily resurrection, or questioned
UPaul?s right to dictate their behavior.
As the Corinthian correspondence shows,
Paul faced the almost impossible challenge of
bringing this divisive and quarrelsome group
into a working harmony of belief and purpose.
In reading Paul?s letters to Corinth, remember
that he is struggling to communicate his vision
of union with Christ to an infant church that
has apparently only …
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