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Theology of 1 Thessalonians–Christology

Let me say this up front.  I love writing all the different posts on this site.  It is a way for me to study and share with others.  But this post was even more exciting than usual.  Now for some of you what I’m about to say will not matter (feel free to forget it after you read it, or skip the italics part, and just move to the actually meat of the article), but for those who deal much with the world of religious scholarly opinion this might interest you like it does me.

In the world of scholarly opinion Christology (what does the Bible say about Christ?) is under attack.  Liberal Scholars want to claim that a high view of Christ developed over time. That Christians did not original see Christ as exalted as we do now.  Normally they argue that it was added later by the Gospels and especially by John in his writings.   Here is what I love about 1 Thessalonians, it is our oldest book and explains a very high view of Christ.  It teaches all the fundamentals of a Christian worldview concerning Jesus.  It teaches His deity.  It teaches His death on our behalf.  It teaches His resurrection. It teaches salvation is connected with Him and it teaches that He is going to return at the summation of history.  What is my point?  My point is that the high view of Christ that the church now holds did not develop, but rather was there from the very origins of the Christian faith!

Alright now back to what does 1 Thessalonians teach us about Christ:

1.  Jesus is addressed in 1 Thessalonians as Lord throughout the book.  This word has several implications.  First, it shows that our ultimate allegiance is to Jesus.  He is our master and has authority over our lives.  Second, this would have a special meaning to Gentiles in the Roman world, namely they would have heard it in terms of the common phrase “Caesar is Lord.”  In a society where kings became divine, Christians purposely claimed Lordship for Jesus, not Caesar (a source of their martyrdom).  Third, it speaks of his divinity.  One evidence is the way Lord was used to put the Roman Emperors into a divine category.  Another line of evidence is the phrase “word of the Lord” (also day of the Lord in chapter 5) in 1:8.  Lord, in my opinion is used exclusively of Christ, after He is raised. Therefore, the word of the Lord is the same as the word of Christ.  Now follow me here, this was the formula used by the prophets in the Old Testament whenever they received and spoke a message from God.  Thus the use of this phrase implies Jesus being equal with God.

2.  The basic tenets of the gospel are given.  The life of Jesus is confirmed. His death at the hands of his countrymen is given (i.e. certain Jewish people rejected Him and killed Him) (2:15).  And God raising Him from the dead is taught (1:10).

3. We learn that Christ’s death was for our salvation.  Paul uses a very simple phrase “whom died for us” to make this profound point (5:10).

4. A relationship with Christ is required for salvation.  Notice that it is through Christ that we are saved from God’s wrath (5:9).  Also notice that throughout the book the church and individuals in the church are connected with Christ normally through the preposition “in.”  The point is a relationship with Christ is needed to have the salvation God offers.

5. Human history culminates with Christ.  When Jesus Christ returns human history as we know it ends, and we go into eternity.  All of the cosmos waits for the “day of the Lord,” when we see Jesus in the sky.

What else does this book teach us about Christ?

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1 Comment

  1. Good insights brother, and very close to my heart. I am in my last year of graduate studies (Biblical Studies) and I share your frustration with the modern liberal paradigm. You should check out my blog … I think we have alot in common.

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