Confession time, guys. The final third of yesterday’s chapter gets into some end-timesy stuff that I declined even to touch with a ten-foot pole. But, knowing that Paul continues his discussion of what he terms “The Day of the Lord” in this final chapter of his first letter to the Thessalonians, I was only postponing the inevitable. If nothing else, I am an inveterate procrastinator, and as regards his return, some would charge Jesus Christ with inveterate procrastination too.
You guys remember the Strong Bad Email episode “Dragon,” right? Where Strong Bad, when asked to draw a dragon, invents one of the most iconic characters of the Homestar Runner universe, Trogdor the Burninator? In the middle segment, Strong Bad runs a dragon-drawing class, and as he checks up on his students, he finds Strong Mad carving the word “DAGRON” into the table. Strong Mad’s attempt is so off-base that Strong Bad simply responds: “You just…keep doin’ your thing, man.”
This is a pretty straightforward chapter. In a sentence: Paul is glad to hear from Timothy that the Thessalonians have stood by their faith even under trial and tribulation. Once again, he thanks God for the joy he receives from hearing the good report about the Thessalonian church, and he looks forward to seeing them in person today. But I wanted to zero in on one particular verse, and one particular verb, because once again Paul is reminding us: you’re gonna have to suffer.
Paul spends today’s chapter recapitulating his history and relationship with the church at Thessalonica, from its inception to the present. When Paul and his missionary crew first arrived, there was no Christian movement at Thessalonica, and when they left, there was. Paul cares for the church there like a mom cares for her kids, and he wants to visit them in person as soon as he can. They matter to him.
1 Thessalonians 1, let’s do it. I just spilled an entire cup of tea over the kitchen counter, and I have no idea what I’m going to say about this chapter. It’s pure introduction: Paul greets the church at Thessalonica with his usual gratitude, talking about the work that God is doing among them and through them. There are just ten verses here, so it’s time to find something to say about them. This should be fun.