Lectionary Commentaries for October 19, 2014
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

from WorkingPreacher.org


Commentary on Matthew 22:15-22

Lance Pape

Politically, just about the only thing Pharisees and Herodians have in common is that they don’t like Jesus.

So they hold their noses, put aside their many differences for a moment, and come together to pose Jesus a question that they hope will put him between a rock and a hard place: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” (verse 17)

If he answers that the taxes are lawful, he will give offense to the Pharisees and the many in the crowds who hate the empire’s constant meddling — not to mention the poor who are especially burdened by this particular “flat tax.”1 On the other hand, if he speaks out against the tax, it won’t take long for the Herodians, who are loyalists to Rome, to take news of such seditious talk back to the powers that be. It is a well-laid trap, and all the more so because it is prefaced by a flattering reminder that Jesus has a reputation for fearless truth-telling, not political maneuvering (verse 16).

Jesus is not fooled by the flattery, but he does agree to answer the question. But first, he reframes the issue subtly by asking to see the coin used to pay the tax. This is a clever move because it allows all onlookers, including the reader, to see for themselves what Jesus already knows: Jesus is the one being put on the spot, but it is his questioners who are more deeply entangled with, and complicit in, the exploitative economics of empire. Jesus’ pockets are empty, but his opponents have no trouble supplying a denarius on demand.

When they produce the coin of the realm, Jesus puts off his answer another moment in order to make one more thing clear: “‘Whose head is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘The emperor’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s’” (verses 20-21).

The consensus at the time seems to have been that Jesus managed to wiggle out of the trap (verse 22), but it’s not clear that anyone yet has figured out precisely what he was getting at. Some people point to this passage as proof that God and politics should be kept separate — that things like taxes have absolutely nothing to do with one’s theological commitments. Others say that this story proves that religion is a matter of the heart, and that Jesus doesn’t really care about mundane things like what you do with your money. And some have cited this passage as proof that Jesus taught that the law is the law, and our duty as Christians is to support the government no matter what. All three of these interpretations are dubious.

Like a lot of things Jesus said, these words are hard to pin down to just one meaning; they seem to blossom upon reflection into a surplus of significance. The more we think about this enigmatic saying, the more it shows us. The richness and subtlety of the answer is further enhanced when we remember that Matthew’s Jesus has already spoken on the subject of money and divided loyalties: “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (6:24). Whatever Jesus is getting at here, he must not be describing a compromise that divides human loyalties neatly between YHWH and the emperor.

By highlighting the physical features of the denarius used to pay the tax, Jesus gives us a number of things to think about. In the first place, the image of the emperor stamped into the coin’s surface, along with the blasphemous inscription with its claim to divinity2, call to mind the prohibition against images in the Decalogue (Exodus 20:4). By pointing out that his opponents possess and display such an object within the Temple grounds (21:23), Jesus seems to raise, not lower, the stakes of the conversation about money and human loyalty. The issue at stake here is nothing less than idolatry. (And this is not a problem that we can solve simply by printing different words on our currency — even words that confess our trust in God.)

Furthermore, when we think about Jesus highlighting the physicality of that denarius — the coin stamped out by human hands for human purposes, and the image of Caesar imprinted on it — it’s hard to ignore the connection to those words from the beginning of Genesis about what God said the first time God stamped out a human being: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).

Confronted with the question of human loyalty and the coin bearing the image of the earthly emperor, it’s easy to picture Jesus flipping that coin in his hand a few times, and then tossing it casually aside. In my imagination I see his eyes rising to meet those of his opponents, confronting each of them with an unspoken question hanging in the air: “And you, my friend: Whose image do you bear?”

One thing, at least, seems clear: Jesus is not solving the dilemma by carving out separate domains of human loyalty. For every character in the story, and for each of us who still bother to read and ponder it, one absolute commitment subsumes and relativizes all other commitments.

Whatever we render unto Caesar, or to the retirement fund, or to the offering basket at church, we can never afford to forget this: we belong entirely to God. We may divide our budget, but we must never divide our allegiance. The coin of our realm bears the image of dead presidents, but each of us bears another. Our Emperor said: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” We must never forget to render unto God the things that are God’s.


1 The tax in question is the Roman “census,” instituted in 6 CE.

2 The inscription on the coin required for the tax reads: Augusti Filius August Pontifex Maximus (“Tiberius Caesar, august son of the divine Augustus, high priest”). Boring, Eugene, Matthew – Mark, The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes, volume 8 (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1995), 420.

First Reading

Commentary on Isaiah 45:1-7

Patricia Tull

This passage stands in the center of the first half of Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55), which was composed in the middle of the sixth century B.C.E. to encourage Judeans scattered by the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E. to return and rebuild their city and temple.

After a double introduction in Isaiah 40:1-11 and 40:12-31, chapters 41 to 47 unfold through repetition of several themes concerning God’s uniqueness (see verses 5-6), God’s creative power (see verse 7), and God’s plans in history (see especially verses 1-3), as well as Israel’s standing as God’s chosen servant (see v. 4). All of these motifs have occurred already in previous chapters, but here they united to make utterly explicit what the prophet believes God is doing.

The themes of God’s uniqueness and creative power were especially prominent in 40:12-31, which began with the question, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span?” The issue of the existence and power of other gods continued in several passages regarding idols and idol makers (40:19-20; 41:6-7; 42:17; and especially the extended satirical piece in 44:9-20).

God’s unanswered challenge to other gods to speak up for themselves is voiced in 41:21-24, 28-29. Although God’s uniqueness is remembered again in Isaiah 42:8; 43:10-11; 44:6-8, it is especially prominent throughout chapter 45 (see verses 5, 6, 14, 18, 21, 22; and 46:9). God’s creative power is reiterated in 40:20; 42:5; 43:1, 7, 21; 44:2, 21, 24. Israel’s standing as God’s chosen servant began to emerge with the questions in 40:27, but is announced fully in 41:8-10 (see also 41:14; 43:1-7; 44:1-2).

Especially prominent in the first verse of this chapter is the name of the Persian conqueror credited with taking over Babylon in the 540s and allowing exiles to return home. Foreshadowings of this announcement appear first in Isaiah 40, where verse 3 says, “Prepare the way of the Lord,” and verse 10 announces, “See, the Lord God comes with might.” Chapter 41 builds on this expectation by referring to “a victor from the east” (verse 1), whom God has summoned, along with his sword and drawn bow.

This vision is reinforced in 41:25 with, “I stirred up one from the north, and he has come.” God’s own military might reappears in 42:14-15 and 43:14-17. In the last verse of chapter 44, just before this passage begins, the prophet names Cyrus for the first time, portraying the Persian conqueror as God’s obedient agent who “shall carry out all my purpose” (44:28).

All these themes converge explicitly in Isaiah 45:1-7, as the writer imagines Cyrus as God’s anointed (a term formerly reserved for Israelite rulers and priests), a victor subduing nations with God’s guiding. God calls Cyrus by name, even though this king does not know who God is. Thus an event dawning on Babylon’s and Israel’s political horizon, an event begging for interpretation, is credited to God who, as the prophet claims, is in charge of all things in creation and history, who forms light and creates darkness, who makes both weal and woe.

Creation themes from Genesis 1 are both recollected and disputed here, since Genesis 1:3 credited God with calling light into being, but not darkness, and the creation story reiterated seven times God’s characterization of the emerging world not as woeful but only good, even very good.

Continuing past the lectionary passage, Isaiah 45 goes on to argue against anyone who might critique the notion that God could use Cyrus in this way. Verses 12 and 13 specifically set Cyrus’s divine calling in parallel to God’s act of creating earth, heavens, and humankind (see also the reiteration in v. 18). He will once again be mentioned in 46:11 as “a bird of prey from the east, the man for my purpose from a far country.” After the elaborate announcements of God’s plans that reach their crescendo in chapter 45, the Babylonian gods Bel and Nebo (46:1-7), and “virgin daughter Babylon” herself (47:1-15), are described as humiliated, defeated, and exiled.

The Persian conqueror Cyrus, founder of the Achaemenid Empire, ultimately created the largest empire the ancient Near Eastern world had yet witnessed. He is also known from other historical sources. Not only is he mentioned approvingly in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and thirteen times in Ezra 1-6, as well as in the later book of Daniel, but he is remembered in monuments such as his magnificent tomb and the column that depicts and names him in his capital Pasargadae, now in Iran.

The cuneiform Nabonidus Chronicle, which relates Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon and his reign, is a copy of a text thought to have been composed within a generation or two of Cyrus’s life. The Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century B.C.E. also wrote extensively about him, as did other Greek and later Roman historians.

But the most famous ancient text concerning Cyrus outside the Bible is the Cyrus cylinder. This writing, like Scripture, depicts the king as a liberator of conquered peoples and a supporter of diverse temples. Unlike the expectations expressed in Isaiah, his conquest of Babylon is described in the cylinder as peaceful, and welcomed by the people and priests of Babylon, who had been neglected by Nabonidus, the final Babylonian king. The cylinder does not mention the Jewish people in Babylon specifically, but its ideology stands consistent with depictions of Cyrus’s policies in the Bible. In 1971 the Cyrus cylinder was declared by the United Nations to be an early declaration of human rights.

The pro-Persian stance of this passage contrasts with biblical views of other empires, including Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome. Thus it stands in some tension with Matthew 22:15-22, which depicts the debate between some Pharisees and Jesus over paying taxes to Caesar, in which Jesus suggests indifference to both pro- and anti-Roman sentiments, saying instead “give to God the things that are God’s” (verse 22). It also appears at least at first to stand in tension with Psalm 96, which depicts God alone as sovereign. But in its suggestion that even world emperors, however unknowingly, are subject to divine decree, this passage reconciles political rule with divine reign.

Alternate First Reading

Commentary on Exodus 33:12-23

Eric Mathis

Exodus 33 shows Israel in a state of panic. Plain and simple, God’s people were in triage management following the fiasco with the golden calf (Exodus 32).

Like any individual, community, state, or nation who has fallen asunder, the Israelites realized the severity of their actions. They had broken the covenant with YHWH, and their leaders were paralyzed with questions, not answers, about how to move forward in the days ahead.

Brueggemann claims that Israel is really experiencing a “crisis of presence.” In other words, the nation and its leaders were haunted by two significant questions: 1) Would they be able to exist as a nation after breaking the covenant with YHWH? and 2) Would YHWH remain with them on their pilgrimage to the land flowing with milk and honey? These questions are answered in the second half of Exodus 33, a narrative that may well be “the most thorough and sustained struggle with the problem of presence in the entire Old Testament.”1

The struggle for presence in Exodus 33 is two-fold. First, it is a struggle for confirmation that Israel will maintain its presence as a nation. Second, it is a struggle to confirm that YHWH will continue to be with them on their journey. As the Israelite leader, Moses was acutely aware of this struggle. It became the impetus for him to approach YHWH with an uncanny boldness.

To risk being crass, in verses 12-16, Moses is a brawler. He dominates the conversation with YHWH, leaves little time for YHWH to respond, and demands that YHWH give the Israelites and him security of presence. He makes a personal request for the certainty that he does, in fact, have the support and favor of YHWH as Israel’s leader (verses 12-13). He also demands confirmation that YHWH will continue to bear responsibility for the community of Israel (verses 15-16). YHWH interrupts Moses briefly with the assurance of presence and rest (verse 14), but YHWH’s response just isn’t enough for Moses.

After all, Moses knew what the Old Testament prophets knew: the Israelites were not a people without the presence of God (e.g.: Hosea 1:9). Or, put differently, “only upon the condition of God’s presence [was] Israel’s existence viable.”2 Moses had no confidence in “going up” without YHWH (verse 15), and he knew that Israel was not unique among other nations unless it could center its identity in YHWH (verse 16).

The second half of this passage answers the dominant questions raised in the struggle for presence. YHWH dominates this half of the conversation, assuring Moses that he has found favor, that he is known, and that his petitions will be granted (verse 17). Not to be confusing with generalities, God makes specific promises: to show goodness, to proclaim YHWH’s name, to be gracious, and to show mercy (verse 19). These four promises assure Moses that Israel will continue to exist as a nation, and they offer hope that YHWH will continue with Israel on the journey.

But, these promises just weren’t enough for Moses. In this passage, Moses always wants YHWH to give more. And, what Moses receives in presence is never enough.3 In the midst of YHWH’s response to Moses, Moses fervently interjects another request — to see the glory of YHWH (verse 14). This request was akin to asking for privileged access to YHWH. It should come as no surprise, then, that YHWH provided a resolutely negative statement: that Moses could not see the face of YHWH and live (verse 20). Yet, YHWH did not stop there. YHWH gave Moses a glimpse of glory through YHWH’s back side. One might conclude that the only thing Moses didn’t receive is the one thing he didn’t specifically request: permission to see YHWH’s face.

The good news of this passage is that life keeps going after the calf. God stays with God’s people, and God propels them forward on a journey that is to be characterized by faithful obedience. However, that wasn’t readily apparent to Moses or the Israelites. Their temptation was to resort to fear: fear that God would abandon them, and fear that they would cease to exist as a nation.

As their leader, Moses knew that their survival depended on presence: the presence of YHWH and the identity the Israelite community found in YHWH. Bruggemann suggests that this survival “means exactly the durability of a cultural system that can provide a ‘home’ for individual persons.” And, presence is “the holy source of covenantal life in our very midst.” The combination of survival and presence hints that “the survival of a durable cultural system depends on the known, acknowledged power of holiness in its midst.”4

That survival depended on presence prompted Moses to approach YHWH with an unreserved freedom in prayer. This approach is something that Christians today can learn from. It might be said that we are often too passive or too submissive to God in our prayers, yet Moses provides an alternative example for us. He approaches God with all of his might, yet he also shows restraint; he knows when to stop and listen for YHWH’s response.

And, as is no surprise, YHWH responds in a selfless way. YHWH extends grace, mercy, and assures the promise of a holy presence and a communal presence. YHWH also sets up a tension that is at the heart of our own relationship with God. God gives of Godself, but in God’s infinite holiness, God also places limits on accessibility. In this sense, the episode with Moses and YHWH points to 1 Corinthians 13: “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face.” Moses sees the glory of God, but only partially. However, that was enough to assure Moses of YHWH’s presence. And in the end, for Moses and perhaps for all of us, seeing through the mirror “dimly” might just be enough.


1 Walter Brueggemann, “The Book of Exodus: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections,” in The New Interpreter’s Bible: Volume I, ed. Leander E. Keck, Thomas G. Long, David L. Petersen, et al, The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1994), 937.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., 939.

4 Ibid., 941.


Commentary on Psalm 96:1-9 [10-13]

Nancy Koester

Psalm 96 is for royalty. It should start with timpani and end with a trumpet. (If you don’t have a drummer or trumpeter handy, read on.)

This enthronement psalms (93; 95-99) calls the people to praise God (verses 1-3, 7-10a, 11-12a) and gives reasons why God is worthy of praise (verses 4-6, 10b, 12b-13). Taken together these moves “describe the nature and consequences of God’s rule.”1

God’s reign gets spectators involved and awakens sleepers. No wonder the Psalm brims with imperatives: three times we are told to sing, and after that to bless, tell, declare, ascribe and worship. This Psalm is motivational. It moves people to proclaim God’s mercy and might.

In Part 1 (verses 1-3) God’s people get their marching orders. First we are to “sing a new song” (verse 1). But what exactly is that new song? The preacher can well ask what song his or her congregation is given to sing. The Psalm leaves that pretty open ended. It could be Psalm 96 itself, or some brand new composition. It might be a response to some event in the story of God’s people, such as “the return of the exiles from Babylonian captivity” or something that has happened in your congregation or community. It could be a song looking toward the future, or one that combines past, present and future.2

After three calls to sing, the Psalm moves to another imperative: the call to bless God’s name (verse 2). Of course God does not need our blessing. But in worship, to bless God is to tell of God’s saving deeds…to extol God’s mercy, might and compassion. Ancient worshippers in the Temple used Psalm 96 (and others like it) to bless God, and they may also have knelt and lifted up their hands. Worship is between the worshipper and God, yet it moves outward with another imperative: we are to tell others of God’s salvation. This is not just preaching to the choir, but to all the world. The Psalmist says we are to declare God’s glory “among the nations” God’s marvelous works “to all the people.” So Psalm 96 has been called a “missionary psalm.”

Part 2 (verses 4-6) tells why God is to be praised. God is great above the heavens. But down here on earth where there are many gods, the one true God outshines them all. The Psalmist dismisses those other gods-with-a-small-‘g’- as mere idols. They are things we made up, in contrast to the creator who made us, and the heavens (verse 5). We praise God as Creator, and we also praise God’s character.

Perhaps the most famous description of God’s character appears in Psalm 103:8 (and elsewhere): God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” The description of God’s character found in Psalm 96: 6 has a different emphasis: God’s “honor and majesty are before him, his strength and beauty fill the sanctuary.” This points to God’s sovereignty and holiness, an important theme in scripture though often neglected today.

Part 3 (verses 7-10) returns to the imperative mood once more, in a worship setting. Three times we are told to ascribe to glory to God. To “ascribe” is to name a quality that belongs to a person or thing. To a deer we ascribe speed and grace and to an artist or composer we ascribe creative genius. To God we ascribe glory and strength — especially when looking at creation. To express our gratitude and dependence on God, we are told to bring an offering, come into God’s courts (verse 8) worship the Lord, and tremble before God (verse 9). In verse 10 (not included in the lectionary) we are to say to the nations that the Lord is King.

Part 4 (verses 11-13) is not included in the lectionary, perhaps because of the judgment theme. These verses proclaim that God comes to judge the nations in righteousness. Yet this judgment evokes more joy than dread, for the whole world, both nations and nature, will rejoice — even the trees will sing.

The other texts appointed for this day emphasize God’s power among the nations. The first lesson (Isaiah 45:1-7) is a hymn to the Persian King Cyrus who sent the exiles back to their homeland; yet Cyrus, however great, was only a man. To God alone, the return of the people from their exile is ascribed.

In the second lesson, from 1 Thessalonians, Paul gives thanks for Christian believers who spread the Gospel message to all nations (Psalm 96:3,7 and 10 tell us proclaim God’s reign to all peoples and nations). And in today’s Gospel, Jesus makes a clear distinction between what we owe to Caesar, the human king, and we owe to God. We have to pay taxes to Caesar, but only God is to be worshipped. This is reminiscent of Psalm 96 with its clear distinction between the gods humans make and the one true God, who alone is to be worshipped.

Psalm 96 presents an excellent opportunity to preach a sermon on worship, especially when used together with 1 Thessalonians 1. In a time when worship attendance is falling off in a great many churches, it is a good thing to work with the congregation on why and how we worship. The church is more than a social network or a cultural artifact. So why worship? Because we are created to be in relationship with God. And because God calls us to worship.

To preach on this Psalm, you can ask and answer three basic questions: First, whom we do worship? (see 1 Thessalonians 1: 3,10 and Psalm 96: 4-6). Second, why do we worship? (Because God our creator calls us to be in relationship. That is what Psalm 96 does.) And finally how we do we worship (Psalm 96: 1-3 and 7-9). There is great variety in how we worship, but proclamation is at the heart of it.

Hymn: ELW 731 Earth and All Stars


1 New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. IV (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 1064.

2 New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. IV (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996), 1065.

Second Reading

Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

Michael Joseph Brown

If anything, this letter is about relationship and imitation. Paul makes this clear from the beginning.

He says, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” (1:6). The apostle reminds us indirectly that human beings can only experience the fullness of their humanity when they are in deep, trusting relationship with one another. Even more, this relationship has more depth when it is experienced along with God. In addition, imitation becomes an outgrowth of this strong relationship.

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,” signals to use that this relationship engenders a strong resemblance. How do the Thessalonians know (and how does the apostle know) that they have become imitators of the Lord? They were persecuted, yet they “received the word with joy.” In short, their experience of persecution resembles that of Jesus’ crucifixion. Later, the apostle elaborates on this imitation.

He says, “For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots, as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; for they displease God and oppose everyone by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved” (2:14-16a). (Cautionary Note: We are not certain where this idea that the Jews killed the prophets actually comes from, but it is sprinkled through several New Testament documents.

Some scholars believe that this idea derives from the extra-biblical work called the Martyrdom of Isaiah, which narrates the death of several prophets. I would caution, however, that there is no real historical evidence for this conclusion. This volatile statement must be treated with care.) The apostle never goes into great detail about what these “same things” (auta in Greek) are, but we can conclude that they are death-like experiences considering his invocation of the experiences of himself, the churches of Judea, Jesus Christ, and the prophets. In short, entering into this special relationship with God and the church involves death-like experiences on the part of believers.

Persecution and death are not the only way we, as believers, imitate Paul, the other churches, and the Lord. Consequent to these crucifixion-like experiences are resurrection-like experiences. Paul indicates this when he notes that the Thessalonians “received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” (emphasis mine). The inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is an indication that she has transcended persecution, just like Jesus’ resurrection transcended death (i.e., “whom [God] raised from the dead;” 1:10).

This experience of the Holy Spirit is important to Paul. It is the prime indicator — the down payment — God makes in our lives to let us know that we are in this remarkable relationship with the Almighty. Living in the Spirit, in fact, is the main rule of conduct the apostle outlines throughout his letters: “But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9). Thus, this relationship is one in which we experience the fullness of our lives by imitating the life experiences of our fellow believers and of the Lord.

Far too often we find ourselves, because of our own hardness of heart, seeking to find excuses — seeking to find loopholes — to avoid the vulnerability that such a relationship demands. We far too often are looking for ways to be offended so that we can justify the severing of a relationship, or at the very least distance ourselves from other believers. Maybe we do not want to do the work — desiring to avoid particularly these death-like experiences. Maybe we are tired of doing the work, but each of us has experienced — probably more often than we care to admit — that we look for ways to get out when we find a relationship too burdensome.

The apostle alludes to this possibility when he says he cared for the Thessalonians “like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children” and that he “worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, 9). In fact, the emphasis the apostle places upon his own behavior is so vigorous that it raises the question of how fragile this relationship can be. Again, Paul highlights God’s success among the Thessalonians by saying, “[W]hen you received the word of God you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers” (2:13).

In other words, when it comes to human-human and human-divine relationships, which are already so fragile, we are misdirected when we pour our energies into figuring out how to justify ending them. The Thessalonians could have attributed the persecution they experienced to entering into a bad relationship with God through the apostle, but because they were open to the Holy Spirit, they realized that the persecution was not a sign of a bad relationship. It was a sign of an imitative relationship.

This imitative relationship is important in the advancement of the gospel. Paul says, “[Y]ou became an example [typon] to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (2:7). The use of the adjectival form of typos indicates that the Thessalonians were a “type” or “paradigm” for other believers to understand and imitate. In other words, the experience of the Thessalonians further progresses the line of imitation this relationship engenders stretching back to that of the Lord. The Thessalonians have entered in a imitative pattern — a history of gospel reception and advancement — that solidifies their place in the salvation history of the entire world.