What to Expect When You’re Expecting (1 Thess 5:1-11)

Below is a short exegetical paper I wrote during my final semester at Emmanuel Christian Seminary.

The climax of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church (5:1-11) is a discourse in dialogue with the shared discourse(s) of the Thessalonian audience, and strikes harmonies on at least two levels of shared tradition: the religious and social-political. The former harmony echoes in Paul’s adoption of “day of the Lord” (ἡμέρα κυρίου) and “birth pains” (ἡ ὠδὶν), language from inherited prophetic traditions of the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple sources (5:2-3). The latter discursive harmony, echoes of the social-political milieu shared between author and audience, is found primarily in the strange appeal to the “peace and security” saying of an unnamed “they” in 5:3—an allusion, I argue, to Roman imperial propaganda.


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