1 Thessalonians 1:1-3 – Opening Greetings

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POSTED 09 FEBRUARY, 2018

reproduced from Salvation on the Line, Volume II

“Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the [assembly] of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah: Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah in the presence of our God and Father.”

The Apostle Paul’s opening greetings to the Thessalonicans in 1 Thessalonians do more than just inform these ancient Believers how appreciative and thankful that Paul and his ministry associates are for their steadfast faith and ongoing labor in the gospel.[1] There is an assertion made about the nature of the Supreme Being that they serve. The ekklēsia or assembly of the Thessalonicans was one found “in God the Father and the Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (1 Thessalonians 1:1). While this established its origins in a King other than Caesar, a single preposition, en, is used here to denote the relationship of the Father and Son:[2] en Theō Patri kai Kuriō Iēsou Christō, “in God [the] father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ” (Brown and Comfort).[3]

As is typical to the opening of much of the Pauline Epistles (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; Colossians 1:3; Philemon 3), the Father is represented with the title “God” (theos) and Yeshua the Messiah is represented with the title “Lord” (kurios). Here, it needs to be recognized that with Yeshua taking the title Kurios, He is given the very title that rendered the Divine Name YHWH throughout the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Tanach. We should each be reminded of how Paul reworks the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 in 1 Corinthians 8:6, where he says, “for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.” The relationship, that the Father and Son have together, places them both as members of the Godhead. It is difficult to maneuver around the fact that titles which would normally be served for God proper in the Tanach, are applied in a balanced manner to both the Father and the Son in 1 Thessalonians 1:1. Yeshua could have just been titled with “King” or basileus, the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew melekh, and a more distant relationship between the Father and the Son would be seen.

Noting the presence of the preposition en, Fee observes how “This is…[one] of many instances where one preposition controls the twofold object of God and Christ, where the two…are seen to be in the closest union regarding divine activities,”[4] as the Thessalonicans are “‘in’ both the Father and the Son simultaneously.”[5] Morris also concludes, “throughout these two Epistles [Paul] constantly associates the Father and the Son in the closest of fashions (cf. v. 3; 3:11-13; 5:18; II Thess. 1:1, 2, 8, 12; 2:16 f.; 3:5…). No higher view could possibly be taken of the Person of Christ.”[6]

Per the close association of the Father and the Son, which opens 1 Thessalonians, commendatory remarks are issued further on by Paul, specifically in how, “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:8-9). There are two references here witnessed to to euangelion tou Theou (1 Thessalonians 2:8) and to euangelion tou Theou (1 Thessalonians 2:9), “the gospel of God” (NASU) or “the Good News of God” (TLV). But in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, Paul writes about how “we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Messiah, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith.” Here, the reference is made to tō euangeliō tou Christou, “the gospel of Christ” (NASU) or “the Good News of Messiah” (TLV). Surely, in the close identification of the Father and the Son in the saving action of the gospel or the good news, some ancillary indications about the Son’s integration into the Divine Identity, are indeed detected.


NOTES

[1] This entry has been adapted from the author’s commentary 1&2 Thessalonians for the Practical Messianic.

[2] F.F. Bruce, Word Biblical Commentary: 1&2 Thessalonians, Vol 45 (Waco TX: Word Books, 1982), 7.

[3] Brown and Comfort, 709.

[4] Gordon D. Fee, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 16.

[5] Ibid., 17.

[6] Leon Morris, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), 48.