For brothers [and sisters], you have now lined up with the church of Christ Jesus back in Judaea, because what they are suffering from their fellow-countrymen is [similar to] what you have suffered from yours, from those who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and they who, in putting us to flight [in persecution], and in displeasing the Lord [forsaking His ways] are [in truth] the enemies of all mankind, hindering us from proclaiming to the peoples so that they may be saved, ever filling up the sum total of their sins. And upon them the wrath is coming.
     But we brothers [and sisters], though we had to forego face-to-face contact with you for a time, are even more eager to be in your presence. And that is why we have looked forward to coming [again] to you.
     It is me, Paul, and I have time and again been hindered from doing so by the Adversary. For what is our hope and joy and crown to make us so exultant? Is it not you yourselves? Is it not that in the presence of Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and delight! - I Thessalonians 2: 14-20/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Cross at dusk

ONE BODY: The Thessalonian church was part of the bigger community dedicated to Christ and shared in their suffering, says Paul. PICTURE: Jussara Romao/Unsplash

 

"[H]aving encouraged the church of Thessalonian believers about their membership in Christ’s world-wide body – a community also suffering similar hardships and conflicts – Paul emphasises his deep personal desire, his need for ongoing face-to-face contact with those who, with him, share in this same community, the People of God, the Body of Christ."

In becoming a congregation committed to Messiah Jesus, the Thessalonian believers were now part of the Anointing of the Lord of the Harvest, the work of the God of heaven and earth. By Jesus’ resurrection, God had utterly routed the opposition mounted from among His own specially chosen people.

Those who resist Israel’s Messiah, whether they come from within Israel or from among the Gentiles, may not realise it but they have put themselves on a path where, to remain on it, is to become the enemy of humankind to whom God’s amnesty is now being declared. These are those who, in this new era brought about by the coming of God’s Son, so stoutly resist the teaching of the love, mercy and grace of God.

Paul therefore writes that this can only mean one thing: they are rushing headlong into judgement. Their defiance can mean only one thing. Their anger at the Good News is but a pale imitation of the anger of the Lord that is surely coming (Isaiah 59).

And having put it that way, having encouraged the church of Thessalonian believers about their membership in Christ’s world-wide body – a community also suffering similar hardships and conflicts – Paul emphasises his deep personal desire, his need for ongoing face-to-face contact with those who, with him, share in this same community, the People of God, the Body of Christ.