chapter  2
29 Pages

Thessalonians 2: The body of the letter—the day of the Lord has not yet come

With the phrase ‘we beg you, brothers and sisters’ (2.1), ‘Paul’ marks the transition to the body of the letter. His request to the community concerns ‘the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and his gathering of us to himself ’, two topics that are very closely united (they have only one definite article in Greek). ‘Coming’ is here the translation of the Greek word parousia, a term that was in use in the Hellenistic world to designate ‘the visit of a human ruler or a high official to a city, with appropriate ceremonies being held and honors being bestowed, or of the visit of a god to an individual or to cultic followers’ (Wanamaker 1990: 125). Early Christians applied the word to Jesus’ eschatological coming in glory (see, e.g., Matt. 24.27, 37, 39; Jas. 5.7, 8). Paul too employs the word in this pregnant sense, especially in 1 Thessalonians (2.19; 3.13; 4.15; 5.23; further 1 Cor. 15.23), and our author borrows it from that letter.