Lectionary Commentaries for November 17, 2019
Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Luke 21:5-19

Emerson Powery

Apocalyptic language challenges the status quo.

Recognizing its rhetorical effect is much easier than understanding its real intent. But this type of biblical language is also most difficult to translate into the contemporary scene of Christian life, especially during the season of “ordinary time.” What is the goal in offering a lesson on the “end-of-the-world”? What does the preacher hope an audience will hear? Will do? Will be?

Within Luke’s narrative, the Temple is generally a positive religious space, so little prepares the reader for Jesus’s prediction in chapter 21:

  • Simeon enters the Temple “guided by the Spirit” (2:27);
  • It is a place of “fasting and prayer” (2:37; 18:10; 19:45);
  • The boy Jesus was discovered there learning (2:46);
  • Jesus attempts to protect the space as a “house of prayer” (19:45).

Whatever his teaching about the Temple’s destruction might have implied, Jesus continued to teach there even following this teaching (21:37; see also 19:47; 20:1; 22:53). And, the final verse of the story of Luke’s Gospel reports not only the disciples worship of Jesus (in itself quite shocking for first-century Jews!) but also how they remained “continually in the Temple blessing God” (24:53).

The positive portrayal of the temple continues into Luke’s sequel, the Acts of the Apostles:

  • Peter and John attend the “hour of prayer” at Temple (3:1-3) and heal a crippled man who “entered the Temple with them” (3:8-10);
  • The apostles teach in the Temple area regularly (5:20-25); in fact, “every day in the Temple” they taught Jesus as Messiah (5:42!);
  • Paul claims to have caused no “against the temple” (25:8);
  • Paul even received his “revelation” (of Jesus’s Gospel) in the Temple (22:17).

So, why should this sacred site be destroyed in the future, if not for some presumed theological tradition (see Micah 3:9-12; Daniel 9:26-29). Within the immediate narrative context, however, there may be clues: widows who give much (Luke 21:1-4); scribes who should not be trusted (20:45-47); Jesus’s symbolic action there (19:45-46). As revolutionary as his actions may have appeared, Jesus continues to go to the Temple daily to teach. His action was clearly meant to be more symbolic than revolutionary. Perhaps, his content here (in Luke 21) is also meant to be more symbolic. Some scholars claim that Jesus advocated for a restored temple during the time of the eschaton.

In some ways, this selection is less about the Temple’s destruction and more about how Jesus’s followers should react to persecution;

  • Be prepared to “testify” (Luke 21:13);
  • But do not prepare to testify in advance (21:14);
  • Depend on Jesus’s “wisdom” (21:15);
  • Family breakups will be part of this time (21:16);
  • But persevere (21:19).

Jesus expresses concern about the safety of his followers during the (predicted) time of persecution. His message, however, is one of hope: “not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:18). Yet, it would not have been easy to hear that their religious commitment to Jesus might require the breakup of families during the time of persecution. In the communal society of the first-century, the loss of one’s family would be central to one’s identity. 

More importantly (since it will happen first; 21:12), the persecution that will come—even from family members (verse 16)—will become an opportunity to “witness.” That is key! But, they should not make no preparations for this time because Jesus will grant the necessary “wisdom” (verse 15) for those moments. In Luke’s Gospel, the word “wisdom” occurs more than in the other three Gospels altogether.

Luke’s primary distinction (from the other Gospels)—in the second half of the story—occurs in verse 15 (“I will give you a mouth and wisdom” unable to be contradicted). As in Israel’s tradition, Wisdom has her “children” (Luke 7:35), an allusion to John the Baptist and Jesus, the latter of which was, as a child, one who “grew in wisdom” and “divine favor” (2:40, 52). Only within the Gospel of Luke is the “Wisdom of God” a speaking agent (11:49) and, so, in this way, God’s “wisdom” will allow the persecuted followers of Jesus to speak when the time comes (21:15). Jesus says that he will provide that wisdom during that time, a wisdom—in the Lukan tradition—that is even greater than Solomon’s (11:31).

We find more evidence of Wisdom’s role in Luke’s sequel (Acts), an important “commentary” (so to speak) on Luke’s Gospel. In Acts, Stephen is one who spoke with “wisdom and spirit” and he remained unchallenged by representatives from the Synagogue of the Formerly Enslaved (see Acts 6:10). Furthermore, Stephen’s speech provides additional examples—Joseph and Moses—of those who expressed God’s “wisdom” and received favor from rulers (like Pharaoh; Acts 7:10) and the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). Wisdom, indeed, has her children.

Jesus’ apocalyptic teaching is odd in light of the rest of the Gospel narrative. If historical, it highlights a side of Jesus’s theological concerns less advertised in mainline Christianity today. Such teaching, however, survives on the fringes of American Christianity. For good or for naught, American preachers who regularly pick up apocalyptic themes in their sermons tend to develop believers who become less interested in the everyday affairs of citizens. Too “heavenly minded to be any earthly good” is a phrase that is occasionally associated with these groups. But I wonder if that description is too kind. It seems that sermons that disregard a bodily-lived faith, in the present order, is not really the Gospel at all. Jesus’s apocalyptic teaching must be viewed in light of the rest of his lived experience. It is that lived experience—which makes up the heart of Luke’s story—that makes Jesus one of Wisdom’s children.

In the ancient world, apocalyptic language generally appealed to those on the margins of society. Those lives disrupted by the Empire’s mechanisms desired language and ideas that suggested that the Empire might not last forever. And, so may we also be Wisdom’s children!

First Reading

Commentary on Malachi 4:1-2a

Jin H. Han

The Hebrew Bible regards these verses as the continuation of Malachi 3, so that the audience may learn all about what happens on the great day of the Lord to “the righteous and the wicked” and “one who serves God and one who does not” (Malachi 3:18).

A day of reckoning is coming, when the people of God, who fear the Lord, will receive healing from above (verse 20 in the Hebrew Bible; 4:2 in English Bibles). The Old Testament in the Christian tradition presents the passage as the beginning of a new chapter. The prophet has something new to say.

Some English Bibles signal this new beginning with an unassuming word like “See” (NRSV) or “Surely” (NIV). The Hebrew text prefaces it with two little words commonly known as particles. These grammatical bits, tiny in size, perform a remarkable feat that grabs and directs attention to their surroundings. Some scholars construe the first Hebrew particle ki in verse 1 as a “causative” that announces the reason for the prophet’s conviction about God’s justice that punishes the wicked and saves the righteous. Others find a case of an “asseverative” ki, which signals that the prophet underscores the point he is about to make. The second particle—the “presentative” hinneh—is designed to call attention to what follows. The prophet refreshes the attention of the audience.

With this stimulating introduction, the prophet (re)introduces the majestic topic of the day of the Lord. It is already on the way (see Malachi 3:2, 17). The day of the Lord, a theme that Malachi inherits from earlier prophets including Amos and Zephaniah, will make all the difference in the world. It will reveal the hidden and take the complacent by surprise.

The prophet’s vision has to do with the future, for neither past disappointments nor present difficulties will determine what is to come. Malachi’s mode resonates with the prophet of Isaiah 43, who says, “Do not remember the former things …” (Malachi 3:18-19). Unmoored from the strain of what has been, Malachi charts the path of hope.

Most translations of Malachi 4:1 use the progressive tense to depict something imminent. It is not yet here; however, one can already feel the heat or warmth of the day that is approaching. The prophet poetically juxtaposes the growing glow of the sun with the blazing kiln. The latter turns into ashes “all the arrogant and all evildoers,” whom the Hebrew text depicts with an image of a tumultuous horde engaged in many forms of depravities. They serve as “stubble” that fuels the burning. The accompanying modifier, “all,” leaves none out in this process of purification.

The furnace implements such a thorough cleansing that it leaves neither root nor branch (Malachi 4:1b). Elsewhere in the Bible, these essential parts, when left behind, inspire the prospect of a plant returning to life after disasters (see Isaiah 11:1; Job 14:7). The burning in Malachi 4:1 has a remarkably different outcome. One may compare it with the image of the refining fire that purifies the Levites, for those charged with worship will be restored to serve in their role properly (3:2b-3). By contrast, none of the wicked elements in 4:1 will survive the coming of the day of the Lord.

The great day of the Lord spells good news for those who “revere” God’s name (Malachi 4:2; see also Malachi 3:16). The NRSV’s choice of word “revere” for the fear of God’s name is an insightful one. It translates a common Hebrew lexical item that means “fear.” In the English language, the word can have a negatively debilitating implication. There is another kind of fear, which arises out of utmost care. Children may fear their parents, not out of horror of punishment but out of respect. Spouses may fear one another out of love. Those who honor God fear out of reverence for the divine name.

A name has a mysterious quality, as Shakespeare famously observed and said, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, / By any other word would smell as sweet” (Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2). Fortuitous as it may seem, the name represents the very being of the person along with everything associated with it. God’s name is how one experiences a tangible representation of the ineffable God, whose identity always eludes human comprehension.

For those who hold God in reverence, a new world is in store; the prophet portrays it in the image of the rising sun (Malachi 4:2a). In Malachi’s vision, the sun—all life forms yearn its life-giving force—comes with a modifier and becomes the sun of righteousness. The specifying note of righteousness recalls Proverbs 4:18, which compares the sun to the life of the righteous. Just as the sun starts with a dim light of the dawn and grows brighter and brighter, so the righteous do. In Malachi 4:2a, the sun of righteousness spreads its blessings on everyone whom its light rises and touches. The Talmudic sage beautifully imagines that this sun of righteousness grants warmth to the poor on Sabbath (Taanith 8b).

The sun of righteousness is further compared to a bird that bears “healing in its wings” (Malachi 4:2a). The promise of healing hints at a world that is wounded. God will provide the needed cure, achieving what the ancient rabbis called tiqqun ha-olam (“repair of the world”). The image of the wings signals that airborne amelioration will be available abroad. All who honor God’s name will benefit from it.

The absolute certainty of the prophecy is sponsored by the word of “the LORD of hosts” (Yahweh Sabaoth), the divine appellative that signifies the God who reigns. Malachi uses it more often than any other Minor Prophet except Zechariah. The construction of the new world of righteousness and healing will not come true by human endeavors. Such an idea of the kingdom of God that humans are to build is alien to the Bible, which knows only the kingdom that God brings in God’s time (as also mentioned in the gospel lesson of Luke 21:5-19). Standing on the divine message, God’s messenger, Malachi (whose name means “my messenger”), is on the lookout for God’s action (see also Malachi 3:17).

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Isaiah 65:17-25

Carolyn J. Sharp

Isaiah invites us into a theological vision of what life can be for God’s faithful people.1

In the Isaiah traditions are interwoven memories of ancient truth and promises of a radiant future for Israel. In this lection come to magnificent expression three Isaianic motifs: the motif of former and latter things, the motif of the glorification of Zion, and the motif of the shalom (peace, well-being, prosperity) of God’s holy mountain.

Deutero-Isaiah proclaims a Creator who has always been in control of history. God has spoken about things before they came to pass, demonstrating both omniscience and the power to effect the divine purpose over eons (Isaiah 44:6-8). Other gods are mere illusion. “Tell us the former things, what they are…declare to us the things to come,” sneers the God of Israel in a sarcastic challenge directed at other deities, who of course cannot answer because they have no substance (41:22-24). God alone foretold the coming of Cyrus of Persia as deliverer for Judeans in Diaspora (41:25-29); God alone has the power to speak new things into being (42:9). Post-exilic Judah—traumatized by exile, fractured by internecine strife—may dare hope for healing only because of the power and compassion of their mighty God.

The LORD reassures this devastated people, “the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17). All that recent history had held for Judah—the terror of the Babylonian invasion, the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, the forcible dislocation and abjection of Judean leaders, perhaps even Judah’s own sinfulness (65:1-7)—will no longer be considered, for God is creating “new heavens and a new earth.” This promise reconfigures everything that Judah had known about its life and its identity. Judah had been under threat from the very earliest cultural memories preserved in biblical tradition. Enslavement in Egypt, living under the shadow of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires according to its formative narratives, Judah had often struggled on the brink of extinction.

Preachers will need to take account, of course, of the imperialistic and xenophobic strands within Scripture as well, evident in those texts in which God commands the genocide of indigenous Canaanites (for example, Exodus 23:23-24; Deuteronomy 20:16-18; Joshua 6:21, 8:21-26) and the obliteration of Israel’s and Judah’s enemies. But it is a central part of biblical testimony that Israel itself has been regularly oppressed and hounded. In that context, our hearts may thrill to hear the promise of Deutero-Isaiah that there will be a new exodus, this time from Babylon (Isaiah 35:1-10; 48:20-21; 52:7-12). Endless rejoicing will be the portion of the faithful!

The second Isaianic motif given expression here is the glorification of Zion, the personified Jerusalem. Earlier passages promised that Zion will be vindicated, bejeweled, made dazzling as an enduring sign of God’s faithfulness (see Isaiah 60:8-22, 61:10-62:12). In our passage, the focus highlights the city’s inhabitants. They are gems in Zion’s crown; they will be living proof that God loves God’s chosen city.

Verses 17-19 are absolutely luminous with language of creating and delighting. “I am about to create,” God sings. “I am creating … I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight” (Isaiah 65:18). Peace and righteousness will oversee the life teeming within Zion’s gates (60:17); violence, predation, and fear will be no more. The idyllic picture that unfolds in Isaiah 65:20-25 constitutes one of the most beautiful oracles in all of Scripture.

Preachers may want to dwell on these promises of our God concerning abundant life, for in this oracle we may hear deep resonances with incarnational theology. God’s people will know no more weeping or cries of distress, no more premature loss of life; homes will be built and inhabited; vineyards will be planted and their fruit enjoyed (implicitly contrasted here is the ancient terror of being dispossessed by an enemy; see, for example, Jeremiah 6:12, Zephaniah 1:13). “Like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be” (Isaiah 65:22) we imagine a mature olive tree, gnarled and green and leafy, being a metaphor for spiritual serenity and fruitfulness. (Compare “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God,” Psalm 52:8; “your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table,” Psalm 128:3; “[Israel] shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon. His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive tree,” Hosea 14:5-6).

Labor will never again be in vain. No minor promise, this may reverse the threat in Leviticus 26:16 of toil bearing fruit only for enemies when God’s people do not obey the Torah. Childbirth will yield generation upon generation of blessed offspring. There is a poignant divine word for a traumatized community that felt God’s absence keenly during the exile: “before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24). Never again will God hide God’s face.

In Isaiah 65:25, a utopian vision articulated in the earlier part of Isaiah is reasserted. Wolf, lamb, lion, and ox appear again, a collocation of creatures evoking the peaceable kingdom in Isaiah 11. A heightened emphasis on erstwhile predators and prey feeding together sets up a contrast at the end of the verse: “but the serpent—its food shall be dust!” That line, three simple but devastating words in Hebrew, brings the Garden of Eden fully into focus. God’s curses on the serpent and Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-19) are referenced: in these latter days, the primeval ancestors’ sorrows will be transformed into the joy of blessed offspring and enduring enjoyment of the fruit of human labor, but the curse on the serpent is reaffirmed. The serpent in future will remain subjugated, so this blessedness will never again face threat.

Thus Israel’s glorious restoration will be of Edenic proportions and cosmic significance. The “new heavens and new earth” that God is creating will have Zion at their center. A healed Israel will be cherished within the very heart of God’s delight. Good news indeed: “They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the LORD.” The believer is left longing for that place of unending reconciliation and joy.


  1. Commentary first published on this site on Nov. 14, 2010.


Commentary on Psalm 98

Walter C. Bouzard

Psalm 98 is said to belong to a small collection of so-called “enthronement psalms” (Psalms 47; 93; 95-99).

Presumably, these songs were sung during festivals that celebrated the LORD as a king (see Psalms 93:1; 95:3; 96:10; 97:1; 99:1). In the present psalm, the affirmation of the LORD’s regency appears in verse 6: “make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD.”

Such rituals were not unique to ancient Israel. Indeed, records of the first millennium Babylonian Akitu festival provide a possible parallel.1 Ancient Israelites likely had similar rites during which priest carried the Ark of the Covenant around Jerusalem before returning it—and thus the invisible LORD!—to the Holy of Holies.2

On the other hand, Longman expresses skepticism about the existence of an enthronement festival in Jerusalem.3 He maintains instead that the psalm is a “Divine Warrior victory song celebrating the return of Yahweh the commander of the heavenly hosts who is leading the Israelite army back home after waging victorious holy war.”4

Naturally, the preacher need not settle the scholarly squabbles about literary genre nor its Sitz im Leben (that is, its setting in life). It is, however, constructive to note that with either hypothesis, the psalm affirms Yahweh’s defeat of God’s enemies, on the one hand and, on the other hand, the promise of the righteous judgment that Yahweh’s victory portends.

In the first stanza of Psalm 98:1-3 the psalmist summons worshippers to sing a new song on grounds of what the LORD has done in the past: the LORD’s marvelous deeds and victory include the revelation of his “vindication” to the nations, and the remembrance of the LORD’s steadfast love and faithfulness to Israel. The NRSV’s translation of ?edaqa as “vindication” attempts to convey the LORD’s saving righteousness, directed at Israel, but which is ultimately intended for the benefit of all the nations (verse 9).

The second stanza, Psalm 98:4-6, summons the earth and the congregation to break into song and praises with every manner of musical instruments. Verse 4a and 6b form an inclusio. Both imperatives that summon all to make a “joyful noise” derive from the verb rua‘ (shout) and appear in both martial5 and worship contexts.6 The appropriate response to the LORD’s activity is ebullient song and noise.

A third stanza, Psalm 98:7-9, point toward the arrival of the LORD. The roaring sea—that ancient symbol of chaos—is called to praise, as are all its creatures. Likewise, the mainland (world) and its inhabitants are summoned to praise. Why? All of creation should praise because of the impending presence of Yahweh who comes to judge the earth. Such judgment is good news for a world that will be judged with righteousness (?edeq) and with equity (verse 9).

On the surface of it, the message of this psalm is simple: a victorious Yahweh draws near. This warrior king, who has proven faithful in the past, comes to set the world and its inhabitants straight. The psalm affirms the eternal sovereignty of God and thus, it might also appropriately be employed a week hence, on November 24, Christ the King Sunday.

Nevertheless, there is more to this psalm than a claim of Yahweh’s triumph. Scholars have long noted the parallels between this psalm and the message of Deutero-Isaiah:7

Psalm 98:1  |  Isaiah 42:10; 52:10; 59:16; 63:5

Psalm 98:3  |  Isaiah 40:5; 52:10; 66:18

Psalm 98:4  |  Isaiah 52:9

Psalm 98:5  |  Isaiah 51:3

Psalm 98:7  |  Isaiah 55:12


The parallels are interpretively significant. The prophet, like the psalmist, articulated a hope on the near horizon, but a hope that was not yet fully realized. Cyrus was on the scene and, perhaps, that regent had already disseminated his edict of liberation. Nevertheless, the challenges of an exiled people, far removed from home and sans security, remained their reality. They were distant from a space or a time when the regency of Yahweh was palpable. This psalm proclaims that, the “facts on the ground” notwithstanding, the LORD would come—was coming!—to “judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.”

Obviously, the “facts on the ground” for contemporary believers differ in details from ancient worshippers. Nevertheless, the preacher will have no trouble discerning loci of injustice and inequity, many of which impinge directly on the lives of her listeners. Political rhetoric aside, we obviously continue to live with racism, with an environmental crisis, with problems accessing health care, the greed of many in the pharmaceutical industry, and more. We long for the roaring seas of our lives and, indeed, for the entire tumultuous world to be brought to heel and turned over to songs of joy. We yearn for the presence of the LORD, for blameless judgment, and for verdicts that create righteousness and equity.

The LORD who has acted marvelously in our past will arrive once again. That is the gospel promise of this psalm.

Meanwhile, the Church is summoned to shout and to sing. The heart of this psalm (Psalm 98:4-6) describes believers who grab every musical instrument available and “make a joyful noise” to the LORD, the king. Such music is not phony triumphalism. Nor are the festal shouts proverbial whistling in the dark. The current disjunctions in our lives and world cannot be dismissed lightly; they must be faced, named, and lamented. The work of faith, however, is this: worshipfully shouting and singing to one another that “nevertheless” the LORD is coming. Nevertheless, judgment is just around the corner. Nevertheless, righteousness and equity will surround us, even if we cannot yet quite see it. That promise gives all who shout and sing a motive to live with righteousness, equity, and—most of all—eager hope.


1 The particulars of the Akitu festival are known only in part owing to missing or damaged parts. Nevertheless, the general outline of the festival and some surprising details appear certain. See Uri Gabbay, “Babylonian Rosh Hashanah,” TheTorah.com (https://thetorah.com/babylonian-rosh-hashanah/), accessed 3/10/19.

2 See Hans Joakim Kraus, Psalms 60 – 150, trans. by Hilton C. Oswald (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1989), 263, and the bibliography cited there.

3 Tremper Longman, III, “Psalm 98: A Divine Warrior Victory Song, “Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 27 (1984), 270.

4 Tremper, 267-8.

5 For example, Joshua 6:10, 16, 20; 1 Samuel 17:52; Isaiah 43:13; Hosea 5:8, etc.

6 For example, Psalms 47:2; 66:1; 81:2; 95:11; 100:1.

7 Kraus, Psalms 60-150, 263.

Second Reading

Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Edward Pillar

There is a very practical exhortation in the passage today—the call to work and not to be idle, or a busybody.

There are a number of possibilities as to who these idlers might be.

First, it may be that the idlers are those who claim to believe that Christ is coming soon (2 Thessalonians 2:1) and they therefore conclude, “Why bother working, it’ll all be over soon?”

This is easy to dismiss as nonsense, but there is a version of this that may be seen to be prevalent today. There are those who are particularly committed to the belief that Christ will return soon, and there will be some version of Armageddon, and judgement for the wicked. As a result of what can be this very blinkered commitment, such people ignore that call to work for justice, and truth, mercy and compassion in the world. They ignore the weak and the lowly, they disdain the challenge to reflect the life of Jesus in their lives and prefer instead to allow wickedness and malevolence to increase in their misguided and deviant idea that this will all hasten the coming of Christ.

Second, it may be that there are those who have become part of the community of believers because there it exhibits and models a level of care, kindness, and generosity. However, once some folk have joined this generous community they then themselves take advantage and become a drain on the community. We might think here about the generous and gracious community of believers that is pictured in Acts 4 who shared everything that they had, ensuring that no one went without, and then reflect how easy it might be for someone to take advantage of others’ generosity.

Third, we might suggest that the lazy idlers are those who are wealthy and think therefore that they have no need to work. After all, why would they want to dirty their hands, when others will do it for them? We know of course that within the body of Christ there is no such thing as privilege, nor status based on wealth or background, or social position, but it may be that this passage is a challenge to those who hold to the lie of privilege that they should humble themselves, and work righteousness and justice, mercy, compassion, and generosity.

This exhortation to work and challenge that if you do not work you shall not eat, has been taken by people both of the left and right wings of the political spectrum (examples such as Lenin’s principle of socialism in the early communist era and Michele Bachmann articulating doctrine of the political right-wing in the United States) and used in various malicious and unkind ways to deny the needy and struggling in our society.

However, the key to how we can interpret and apply this passage today is to be found in the very last phrase: “Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

The challenge and exhortation are ultimately in doing what is right in and through our work. Taking this approach, we can now see that there will be those who confess faith in Jesus Christ, say the creeds, join the church and so on, but are idle and neglectful when it comes to “doing what is right.”

The writer of this passage has spoken earlier not just about what is right, but also about the traditions that have been painstakingly and repetitively passed on to each new generation of believers. There is an expectation that new believers, as they enter and become part of the community of disciples, will accept these traditions and will work hard to follow them. Those who do not adhere to these traditions of righteousness, justice, truth, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness are the idlers.

If we were to trace the tradition that has been passed on by the apostles and lived out among the Thessalonians then what would we find? Limiting our search solely to 2 Thessalonians we see that this tradition includes:

  • There is an emphasis on grace, and peace (2 Thessalonians 1:2, 12; 2:16, 3:16).
  • There is the reminder that the revelation of Jesus Christ is rooted in his relation with God the Father (1:1).
  • The relationship between the Lord Jesus and his disciples is one of devoted love (1:13, 16; 2:5).
  • The faithfulness of Jesus if doing the work that his Father called him to (3:5).
  • The otherworldly power of the Lord. He will destroy the “lawless one” with the “breath of his mouth” (2:8). The “lawless one” has built his life and reputation upon lies and fake news and the Lord Jesus will simply speak the truth and the words (breath) of his mouth will annihilate him.

There is then a call to work, but to work for righteousness. To work hard so that the traditions passed on by the apostles, based on the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, might become a reality within our communities and society.