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1 Thessalonians Ch 4 1-8

1Λοιπὸν οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἐρωτῶμεν ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλοῦμεν ἐν κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ, ἵνα καθὼς παρελάβετε παρ’ ἡμῶν τὸ πῶς δεῖ ὑμᾶς περιπατεῖν καὶ ἀρέσκειν θεῷ, καθὼς καὶ περιπατεῖτε, ἵνα περισσεύητε μᾶλλον.

So, for the rest, brothers, we ask you and pray in the Lord Jesus, that as you accepted from us as to how you must go about and please God, (which is)  how in the way you go about so that you be more fulfilled.

For the rest, brothers, we ask you and pray in the Lord Jesus  Christ, so that accordingly you accept from us how it is necessary to walk and please Go, and (that you) walk accordingly so that you become more superabundant (more fulfilled = more pleasing to God).

περιπατεῖτε: this is literally, to walk about. Generally, in the sense of ‘going about one’s business’. 

 Of course, pleasing God implies a moral code, but this is nothing new for Judaism.  Vs 4-13 are really an extended description of how to live life.

 1 De cetero ergo, fratres, rogamus vos et obsecramus in Domino Iesu, ut — quemadmodum accepistis a nobis quomodo vos oporteat ambulare et placere Deo, sicut et ambulatis — ut abundetis magis.

2οἴδατε γὰρ τίνας παραγγελίας ἐδώκαμεν ὑμῖν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ.

For you know we have given you instructions from the lord Jesus

Direct from Jesus—he is pulling rank.  This would put him on par with the original Apostles, which would likely have been an issue.  “Why listen to this guy?  He never met Jesus.”

 This is, in effect, a very bold claim, one that is likely intended to put Paul’s teaching above suspicion and/or reproach.  This is not the first time in this letter Paul has made this claim.

2 Scitis enim, quae praecepta dederimus vobis per Dominum Iesum.

3τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ ἁγιασμὸς ὑμῶν, ἀπέχεσθαι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς πορνείας,

for your being made holy is the will of God, that you be moved from debauchery

Here we go with the debauchery theme.  Throughout his letters, Paul spends a lot of time warning about ‘pornes’.  This word can have a lot of different nuances, but, generally for Paul, it suffices to note that this is the root of ‘pornography.’ It’s heavily sexual, although it can be (and is) used more generically as ‘corruption’ in Mark.

 Here the thing to note is that Paul is equating being holy with refraining from debauchery.  One secondary source states that the belief in celibacy was not wholly a Christian invention.  There are indications that some practitioners of Judaism felt that celibacy was a positive virtue. The thing to note is that Judaism, at root, was the religion of desert nomadic herders who reacted to the fertility cults of the settled cities of the Philistines.

 A good reference for this (& lots of others) topic is Robin Lane Fox’s “Pagans and Christians”.  The book is an excellent and very thorough source for the religious ideas of pagans, Christians, and Jews in the first centuries after the execution of Jesus. He suggests that certain strains of Judaism had come to perceive celibacy as a preferred state.  The anti-debauchery theme is picked up again in V-4 & V-7

 Note that ἁγιασμὸς = sanctificatio in Latin.  The quirk with this is, we are used to it as the root of “saint”, which has a lot of connotations for us.  It is more accurate to think of this word as ‘holy.’  For example, the great church of Constantine in Istanbul is properly “Hagia Sophia”.  “Holy Wisdom.”  It is often rendered as “Saint Sophia”, and this changes the implications, making us think in terms of a person, rather than a condition.  In fact, this carries into Latin, and a lot of the Romance languages; what should be rendered as ‘holy’ is often translated as ‘saint.’

 In any case, this is a very early moral code for those who wish to follow Jesus.  Also, note that it is “God’s Will” that we be holy.

 3 Haec est enim voluntas Dei, sanctificatio vestra,

4εἰδέναι ἕκαστον ὑμῶν τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος κτᾶσθαι ἐν ἁγιασμῷ καὶ τιμῇ,

(in order) that each of you know you are vessels in holiness and honour, [literal]

So that each of you know how to get for yourself your own vessel (=body) in holiness and honour. [easier to read]

 Interesting Greek here—the ‘en’ corresponds to ‘in’ pretty much exactly, which is a tad unusual; not exactly standard Greek. One would almost expect Genitive of Material.  And here, the infinitive is used to express the sense of “in order to,” just as we would say, “To get better, practice.”  Not sure if there is some nuance to this, but I suspect not. Instead, it’s just the versatility of Greek.

 Also!! The Vulgate adds an entire phrase: ut abstineatis a fornicatione “so that you abstain from fornication”.  Assuming this is the actual Vulgate of St Jerome, this emphasis is entirely understandable.  He has been called “The Patron Saint of Misogyny.”  This reputation comes from his inability not to be tempted by the guiles of women.  IOW, it’s the woman’s fault that he’s so weak-willed that resisting the temptation they provoke is very difficult for him.  IIRC, this is, more or less, the thought process behind the burqa: how can men be expected to keep it in their pants when women are so alluring?

 4 ut abstineatis a fornicatione; ut sciat unusquisque vestrum suum vas possidere in sanctificatione et honore,

5μὴ ἐν πάθει ἐπιθυμίας καθάπερ καὶ τὰ ἔθνη τὰ μὴ εἰδότα τὸν θεόν,

 ta…ta; the gentiles (and) those not having known (perfect participle) God.

 He continues the theme of debauchery.  Note that his audience is converted Gentiles, yet he accuses the Gentiles of being especially debauched.  And note the excuse he provides them “they do not know God.”  The idea of equating the knowledge of what is right with doing what is right is, ultimately, from Plato.  (If only that connection were true!)

5 non in passione desiderii, sicut et gentes, quae ignorant Deum;

6τὸ μὴ ὑπερβαίνειν καὶ πλεονεκτεῖν ἐν τῷ πράγματι τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ, διότι ἔκδικος κύριος περὶ πάντων τούτων, καθὼς καὶ προείπαμεν ὑμῖν καὶ διεμαρτυράμεθα.

Not the overstepping and (‘and’ = nor, or ‘and not’) to defraud in your affairs your brother, because the lord over all these things is the avenger about all such things, accordingly and we have warned you and we have given testimony.

ἐν τῷ πράγματι = ‘within your affairs’

περὶ πάντων τούτων = ‘concerning all things’; ‘around all things’ would be accusative

Defrauding: this is directly from Judaism, which talks a lot about the ideas of social justice, and social equity. Not egalitarianism; wealth was considered a sign of God’s favour—think Job—but equity. The rich can be rich, but don’t cheat people to get more. Be rich, but be equitable. Be fair.

 Note that “the lord” will be an avenger.  The concept of divine retribution for evil acts is very ancient, both for Jews and pagans.

6 ut ne quis supergrediatur neque circumveniat in negotio fratrem suum, quoniam vindex est Dominus de his omnibus, sicut et praediximus vobis et testificati sumus.

7οὐ γὰρ ἐκάλεσεν ἡμᾶς ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ ἀκαθαρσίᾳ ἀλλ’ ἐν ἁγιασμῷ.

for God did not call you into impurity, but into holiness.

 Did John the Baptist preach about impurity? He was an ascetic, but even in Matthew, he doesn’t really go there; we are not told John’s message was about sexual morality.  The “brood of vipers” is more about social justice than personal purity.  Maybe we can infer personal purity from being a hermit in the desert, but it’s not explicit.  And Jesus doesn’t dwell on it all that much, either, nor do other epistles by writers other than Paul.  The lack of teaching on sexual impurity would indicate that this is Paul’s particular theme.  As we shall see later, Paul was all for elimination of Jewish purity / kosher laws, but the whole immorality thing isn’t something that got a lot of stress?  Jesus certainly didn’t emphasize it in the gospels.

 Regardless, the implication is of a moral code, but this is hardly alien to Jewish teaching and practice.

7 Non enim vocavit nos Deus in immunditiam sed in sanctificationem.

8τοιγαροῦν ὁ ἀθετῶν οὐκ ἄνθρωπον ἀθετεῖ ἀλλὰ τὸν θεὸν τὸν [καὶ] διδόντα τὸ πνεῦμα αὐτοῦ τὸ ἅγιον εἰς ὑμᾶς.

For which reason the one[ is] setting aside not man, but God, the one giving his spirit, the holy [ i.e., his holy spirit ] to you.

Paul is teaching God’s law, not man’s—presumably someone else is teaching that.  This echoes his claim in 4:2 that he got his instructions directly from Jesus.  And again with the holy spirit.  But there is no sense in this that the holy spirit is anything but the spirit of god, in the sense that humans also have a spirit.  Of course, these sorts of passages were cited to prove the “Holy Spirit.”

8 Itaque, qui spernit, non hominem spernit sed Deum, qui etiam dat Spiritum suum Sanctum in vos.

Summary 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2

Sorry!

This is out of order.  Should have gone before the post of Chapter 3.

To summarize Chapter 2:

The bulk of this chapter is actually Paul feeling the need to either justify or explain himself.  He comes across as maybe more than a bit unsure of himself,  maybe a bit defensive, maybe that he feels the need to flatter the Thessalonian community for whatever reason.

Here I should note that some of this may be rhetorical, a point I did not make in the individual notes because, IMO, it seems a bit more important to take things at face value rather than to look at the overall.  However, some of his defensiveness–defending himself against being greedy, as in 2:7–seems a little too specific to be anything but a legitimate defense against a charge that was directed at him.

In short, verses 1-10, and a large portion of 11-20 would best be considered as pastoral. Paul is building relationships, communicating his concern, rejoicing in their successes, defending himself when he feels the need. We have to remember this was probably one of the earliest letters he wrote.

Verses 11-20 also have some key doctrinal issues, such as:

  • the kingdom of God; as yet unexplained
  • Paul’s gospel is the true word of God
  • persecutions
  • the pre-existing communities in Judea, exact location unspecified
  • the idea that the behavior of the Judean community should be imitated; implies something at least approaching a moral code of conduct
  • Christ killers (I’m a bit uncomfortable even writing that, but there it is)
  • who was persecuting/opposing Paul for preaching to Gentiles?
  • salvation, through fulfillment of  sins
  • the wrath at the end–unspecified
  • the Parousia–presumably at the end
  • Satan

1 Thessalonians Chapter 3 and Summary

Summary Ch 3: 

This chapter is largely related to pastoral concerns.  Paul is solicitous about the well-being of the Thessalonians as an assembly of God.  Since Paul couldn’t go back himelf, he sent Timothy, and Timothy has since returned with good news about the state of the Thessalonians.

 Trials are mentioned.  Presumably, this refers to some sort of persecution by…whomever.  Paul had predicted this.  However, it’s not at all clear just how serious these ‘trials’ are.  Would we call them persecution? Or perhaps harassment?  Were people imprisoned—Paul was treated badly in Philippi, and he would eventually be imprisoned and sent to Rome, but how about these earlier days?

 “The tempter” is mentioned, presumably a reference to Satan.

 Finally, in the last verse, we get another reference to the Parousia, the return of Jesus.

 And I don’t mean to be dismissive of the pastoral elements.  Reading this chapter, I believe one comes away with a sense that Paul is sincerely concerned for this assembly—can we call it a flock?—of his.  The analogy to a nurse we saw in 2:7 is, perhaps, not completely hyperbole.  It may not  be far from wrong.

1Διὸ μηκέτι στέγοντες εὐδοκήσαμεν καταλειφθῆναι ἐν Ἀθήναις μόνοι,

 On which account/because of no longer bearing (being able to bear), we were pleased to be left in Athens alone

Note that he’s in Athens.  This will seem, possibly, relevant when we get to Galatians.

1 Propter quod non sustinentes amplius, placuit nobis, ut relin queremur Athenis soli,

2καὶ ἐπέμψαμεν Τιμόθεον, τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ συνεργὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλέσαι ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν

 And we sent Timothy, our brother and fellow-worker of God in the good news of Christ, to(for) you to be set firm and to encourage over your faith.

2 et misimus Timotheum, fratrem nostrum et cooperatorem Dei in evangelio Christi, ad confirmandos vos et exhortandos pro fide vestra,

3τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις. αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε ὅτι εἰς τοῦτο κείμεθα:

So that (to) no one is disturbed in these trials, for they know that we are laid in it:

Again, the trials.

3 ut nemo turbetur in tribulationibus istis. Ipsi enim scitis quod in hoc positi sumus;

4καὶ γὰρ ὅτε πρὸς ὑμᾶς ἦμεν, προελέγομεν ὑμῖν ὅτι μέλλομεν θλίβεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ ἐγένετο καὶ οἴδατε.

For when we were among you, we predicted to you that we shall be tested/persecuted and it was and you know (it occurred, as you know)

Trials. At some point, we need to ask exactly what this means.  Once again, we have been influenced bu 2,000 years of Christian propaganda that the church was (and still is, according to some) under constant persecution. However, even ‘persecution’ meant very different things at different times.

4 nam et cum apud vos essemus, praedicebamus vobis passuros nos tribulationes, sicut et factum est et scitis.

5διὰ τοῦτο κἀγὼ μηκέτι στέγων ἔπεμψα εἰς τὸ γνῶναι τὴν πίστιν ὑμῶν, μή πως ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς ὁ πειράζων καὶ εἰς κενὸν γένηται ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν.

because I and no other bear this, I sent to recognize your faith, lest not the tempter tempt you so that our labor should be in vain

The tempter.  Presumably this refers back to Satan at the end of chapter 2.  We don’t know that for sure, but it seems likely.  Again, this theme is picked up in the gospels, so we can, most likely, be reasonably certain of the reference.

5 Propterea et ego amplius non sustinens, misi ad cognoscendam fidem vestram, ne forte tentaverit vos is qui tentat, et inanis fiat labor noster.

6Ἄρτι δὲ ἐλθόντος Τιμοθέου πρὸς ἡμᾶς ἀφ’ ὑμῶν καὶ εὐαγγελισαμένου ἡμῖν τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην ὑμῶν, καὶ ὅτι ἔχετε μνείαν ἡμῶν ἀγαθὴν πάντοτε, ἐπιποθοῦντες ἡμᾶς ἰδεῖν καθάπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς ὑμᾶς,

But now with Timothy having come to us from you and bearing the good news to us (of) your faith and your love, and that you have a good memory of us

6 Nunc autem, veniente Timotheo ad nos a vobis et annuntiante nobis fidem et caritatem vestram, et quia memoriam nostri habetis bonam semper, desiderantes nos videre, sicut nos quoque vos;

7διὰ τοῦτο παρεκλήθημεν, ἀδελφοί, ἐφ’ ὑμῖν ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ ἀνάγκῃ καὶ θλίψει ἡμῶν διὰ τῆς ὑμῶν πίστεως,

Because of this we are encouraged (middle/psv), brothers, over you over all the necessities and tribulations of ours because of your faith

7 ideo consolati sumus, fratres, propter vos in omni necessitate et tribulatione nostra per vestram fidem;

8ὅτι νῦν ζῶμεν ἐὰν ὑμεῖς στήκετε ἐν κυρίῳ.

that now we live as if you stand in the lord.

8 quoniam nunc vivimus, si vos statis in Domino.

9τίνα γὰρ εὐχαριστίαν δυνάμεθα τῷ θεῷ ἀνταποδοῦναι περὶ ὑμῶν ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ χαρᾷ ἧ χαίρομεν δι’ ὑμᾶς ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν,

For what (tina) thanks are we able to give to god to give back for you about all the joy which we rejoice because of you before our God

9 Quam enim gratiarum actionem possumus Deo retribuere pro vobis in omni gaudio, quo gaudemus propter vos ante Deum nostrum,

10νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ δεόμενοι εἰς τὸ ἰδεῖν ὑμῶν τὸ πρόσωπον καὶ καταρτίσαι τὰ ὑστερήματα τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν;

Night and day, praying superabundantly so that (to) see the face of you and to make whole  your lack of your faith

10 nocte et die abundantius orantes, ut videamus faciem vestram et compleamus ea, quae desunt fidei vestrae?

11Αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ ἡμῶν καὶ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς κατευθύναι τὴν ὁδὸν ἡμῶν πρὸς ὑμᾶς:

For God himself and our father and our Lord Jesus may make straight the road of us to you

11 Ipse autem Deus et Pater noster et Dominus noster Iesus dirigat viam nostram ad vos;

12ὑμᾶς δὲ ὁ κύριος πλεονάσαι καὶ περισσεύσαι τῇ ἀγάπῃ εἰς ἀλλήλους καὶ εἰς πάντας, καθάπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς ὑμᾶς,

for the lord may fill you and make your love abundant towards each other and towards all, as it is between us and you

12 vos autem Dominus abundare et superabundare faciat caritate in invicem et in omnes, quemadmodum et nos in vos;

13εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμῶν τὰς καρδίας ἀμέμπτους ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν ἐν τῇ παρουσίᾳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ μετὰ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ. [ἀμήν.]

towards the setting firmly your blameless hearts in holiness before god and our father, in the returning of our lord Jesus with all his saints.  Amen

13 ad confirmanda corda vestra sine querela in sanctitate ante Deum et Patrem nostrum, in adventu Domini nostri Iesu cum omnibus sanctis eius. Amen.

1 Thessalonians Ch 2: 11-20

Chapter 2, continued

11 καθάπερ οἴδατε ὡς ἕνα ἕκαστον ὑμῶν ὡς πατὴρ τέκνα ἑαυτοῦ

(ch 10: You and God are witnesses as to how worthy and just and without quarrel we were to you believers) (11) as you know, so that each one of you (was cared for) as by a father for his own children

Again with the endearments. I think this is important, because, IMO, this provides a certain amount of insight into Paul’s character. Remember, this is the guy who wrote “love is patient, love is kind’, so we should ask ourselves if he is sincerely a person who is this loving, this concerned for his flock.  Or, does it strike you as hollow?  Is he sincere, or rhetorical?  Or, and I being overly cynical even to ask that question?

11 sicut scitis qualiter unumquemque vestrum, tamquam pater filios suos,

12 παρακαλοῦντες ὑμᾶς καὶ παραμυθούμενοι καὶ μαρτυρόμενοι εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς ἀξίως τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ καλοῦντος ὑμᾶς εἰς  τὴν ἑαυτοῦ βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν παραμυθούμενοι

beseeching you and speaking persuasively and tenderly, and witnessing to you walking worthily with God who calls you to his kingdom and glory

Here we get some reference to beliefs. God calls you to his kingdom. This obviously echoes the gospels and their talk of ‘the kingdom of God.’ Now, this should not be taken as an automatic thing, to assume that Paul and Mark will be working from the same set of talking points. They are writing from a separation of at least 15 years, and possibly a lot of miles. They did not get their messages from the same sources.

In fact, it’s just this sort of comparison of beliefs between the various authors that we’re examining here. So the overlap (the concept is the same, more or less, even if the wording is different) is significant.

12 deprecantes vos et consolantes testificati sumus, ut ambularetis digne Deo, qui vocat vos in suum regnum et gloriam.

13 Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ’ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.

And because of this, we give thanks to God without ceasing that, taking the word of God (you) heard from us,
you accepted (it) not as the word of men but instead, as it truly is, the word of god, which operates in you as believers.

The important thing here, I believe, is the continued insistence that Paul’s gospel is the true word of God, and that the Thessalonians accept it as such.  The reason for this insistence, and why it was so important will become clear later, in Ch 3, when we are made aware that there are ‘other’ gospels floating around.

13 Ideo et nos gratias agimus Deo sine intermissione, quoniam cum accepissetis a nobis verbum auditus Dei, accepistis non ut verbum hominum sed, sicut est vere, verbum Dei, quod et operatur in vobis, qui creditis.

14 ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων συμφυλετῶν καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων,

For you are become, brothers, imitators of the assembly of God being in Christ Jesus in Judea, so that you suffered these (same) things also, you from your own countrymen according as they also (suffered) from the Jews,

Here we get the introduction to persecution. This theme will pop up again in 3:4. Also, the word ‘ekklesia’ is what comes to be translated as ‘church’ in later Christian writings.  The problem is that, for us, “church” has perhaps way too many overtones, to the point that using it to describe the Thessalonians probably distorts our perception.  First, there was no church building; followers of Jesus did not start worshiping in specialized buildings until well into the 2nd or even 3rd century CE. Second, to think of an institutional church is probably wrong, too. There were likely elders, leaders, persons of stature, but there was nothing like official roles.

Beyond that, however, we have the implication that there were assemblies of Jesus in Judea; this does not surprise us, but it is confirmation that there was a prior group, as we would expect, in Judea. This does not specify Jerusalem, and this might be curious, especially in light of what we will be told in Galatians. There, he specifically states he went to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and James, the brother of Jesus. I may be making too much of this, but this is the sort of detail that has to be looked and and considered.  

Aside from the fact that these existed, there is the idea of imitating them. Imitating in what way? Do we have some sort of lifestyle developing? There is no answer to this; not yet, anyway. 

Finally, there is the issue of persecution. Again, in Galatians, Paul will tell us that he was a Jew that persecuted followers of Jesus.  This, of course, does not surprise us, familiar as we are with the story of Saul’s conversion on the Road to Damascus. But, as with the assembly in Judea, it is confirmation that the basic story has some deep roots of truth. The curious thing, though, is why the Thessalonians were persecuted by their countrymen. The latter, presumably, were pagan Greeks; why did they care that a sect had broken off from the mainstream of Judaism? And Paul will tell us shortly that the Thessalonians converted to following  Jesus directly from the worship of idols. So who felt threatened enough to persecute them? Jews living in Thessalonika? Without the baggage of the person of Jesus, would they really be concerned about this?

14 Vos enim imitatores facti estis, fratres, ecclesiarum Dei, quae sunt in Iudaea in Christo Iesu; quia eadem passi estis et vos a contribulibus vestris, sicut et ipsi a Iudaeis,

15  τῶν καὶ τὸν κύριον ἀποκτεινάντων Ἰησοῦν καὶ τοὺς προφήτας, καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐκδιωξάντων, καὶ θεῷ μὴ ἀρεσκόντων, καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων,

who (the Jews) killing both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecute us, and do not please God and oppose all men

And here we go: Christ killers. The first time (but, unfortunately, we still haven’t seen the last) time this slur is put into print. At least, the first to survive. 

This is not a very pleasant sentiment Paul puts out: they killed Jesus and the prophets. Now, granted, this is the sort of thing that had been said by any number of previous Jewish figures, generally the later prophets, but, even so, it’s ugly.

Beyond the disregard for God, however, is the comment about opposing all men. It would be interesting to have some additional explanation about this from Paul.  All men? Exactly to whom is he referring? Himself? The followers of Jesus? The Thessalonians?

15 qui et Dominum occiderunt Iesum et prophetas et nos persecuti sunt et Deo non placent et omnibus hominibus adversantur,

16 κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἔθνεσιν λαλῆσαι ἵνα σωθῶσιν, εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε. ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος.

prohibiting us speaking to the peoples so that they may be saved, to the satisfying of all their sins. Then (de) the wrath (of God) came upon them in the end.

We’re still talking about the nasty actions of the Jews here; it’s not an example, perhaps, of how they opposed ‘all men’ as in V 14, but we can get a sense of why Paul is angry with them. The Jews did not want him to work with Gentiles. (Note: the Greek is “ethnesin”, which means ‘the peoples,’ or perhaps ‘the tribes.’  It’s a generic term that really is not at all replicated in our term ‘gentiles’. It has the same impact, but it really just means ‘everyone else.’)

Now, why are the Jews concerned with Paul preaching to Gentiles? This is, really, and important question. At this time, Judaism was sort of enjoying a measure of popularity with a lot of non-Jewish peoples, pagans generally. Judaism was one more of the ‘eastern mystery religions’ that had become so popular in the Greco-Roman world since the time of Alexander the Great, 300 years before Jesus. Non-Jews were impressed by its antiquity and by its moral/ethical code. So, Judaism had been attracting at least what Luke calls ‘God-Fearers’ in Acts: non-Jews who participated in some of the rituals and practices of Judaism, without becoming full converts.

Is this what “the Jews” were doing here? For the most part, Jews didn’t directly proselytize, so was Paul crossing a line by doing this? Or, were “the Jews” he’s talking about other followers of Jesus? Followers, perhaps, who were not happy with the idea of Gentiles becoming followers of Jesus? Followers of Jesus who felt that following Jesus was only for Jews? We will come across this again in Galatians.

What is,perhaps, even more interesting, are the points at the very end: he is preaching to the Gentiles for their salvation, which will occur as the result of their sins being ‘fulfilled. Finally, to those opposing Paul in this effort will come the wrath at the end. 

This is all tossed off very casually, without explanation. This gives the impression that those hearing the words will get the point without further explanation. As such, we have to assume that these were fairly basic, fundamental aspects of Paul’s teaching. This will be worth following.

And the last issue is that the wrath will come at the end.  At the end of what? The end of the world? Have we stepped into an apocalyptic world view without any warning?

16 prohibentes nos gentibus loqui, ut salvae fiant, ut impleant peccata sua semper. Pervenit autem ira Dei super illos usque in finem.

17  Ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἀπορφανισθέντες ἀφ’ ὑμῶν πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας, προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ, περισσοτέρως ἐσπουδάσαμεν τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ.

We however (de), brothers, being bereaved of you to the due measure of the hours,  from sight but not from (our) heart, we will be abundantly diligent to see your faces in much desire.

The (de) refers to the second word of the Greek sentence. In Greek, men/de has the sense of “on the one hand…on the other…” But ‘de’ is much more often used by itself, more akin to the English ‘however,’ which is how I’ve translated it here.

Other than that, we’re back to protestations of affection, the pastoral aspect of the letter.

17 Nos autem, fratres, desolati a vobis ad tempus horae, facie non corde, abundantius festinavimus faciem vestram videre cum multo desiderio.

18 διότι ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἐγὼ μὲν Παῦλος καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς, καὶ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Σατανᾶς.

Because of this, we desired to come to you,  I myself Paul (wanted to come) a first and second time, and Satan prevented us.

Really, more of the same, with the very interesting insertion of Satan. As with the possible apocalyptic worldview in the previous verse, this sort of comes out of nowhere, It is very interesting in the sense that this is whatt Paul, apparently, felt that he was up against: the very Legions of Darkness. Kind of seems a bit grandiose?

Or, is “the devil” used with no more thought than us calling a kid a ‘little devil’?

18 Propter quod voluimus venire ad vos, ego quidem Paulus et semel et iterum; et impedivit nos Satanas.

19 τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ;

For what is our hope and joy and the crown of glory –if not you–before the Lord Jesus Christ in his return?

παρουσίᾳ. This is, perhaps, the answer to our question: the end of what? Parousia means return, so we already have the idea of the second coming pretty much entrenched in the thought. The fact that, again, this is tossed off without explanation or qualification would, to me, indicate that this was so basic and so non-controversial that Paul felt no need to go into it. He could mention it in passing and expect that his audience would understand.

19 Quae est enim nostra spes aut gaudium aut corona gloriae — nonne et vos — ante Dominum nostrum Iesum in adventu eius?

20 ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά.

For you are the glory and the joy of us.

Flattery.  I point this out at the risk of being obnoxious, because, IMO, the flattery seems a bit overdone. Why the insecurity?  Because he’s fairly new at this? Or have I just spent too many years in corporate meetings that I automatically find this suspect?

20 Vos enim estis gloria nostra et gaudium.

1 Thessalonians Chapter 2:1-10

Chapter 2

1 Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε, ἀδελφοί, τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὅτι οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν,

For you know, brothers, that our entry among you was not vain,

 Here, it seems, Paul is being personal, and, perhaps, a little defensive. He is making sure that his readers are aware that things worked out, after all.     
1 Nam ipsi scitis, fratres, introi tum nostrum ad vos, quia non inanis fuit;

2 ἀλλὰ προπαθόντες καὶ ὑβρισθέντες καθὼς οἴδατε ἐν Φιλίπποις ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν
λαλῆσαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι.

but we suffered being slandered as you know among the Phillipians, [but] we were bold in our God to speak before you the good news of God in great conflict

 And this, it seems, is why he needs to reinforce the outcome as he did in V1.  Not only was he ‘slandered’ in Philippi, but there was, apparently, conflict in Thessalonika.  This would most likely be the ‘great conflict’ he mentions. Again, the self-affirmation: despite the conflict, he was ‘bold’.
2 sed ante passi et contumeliis affecti, sicut scitis, in Philippis, fiduciam habuimus in Deo nostro loqui ad vos evangelium Dei in multa sollicitudine.

3 ἡ γὰρ παράκλησις ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐκ πλάνης οὐδὲ ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας οὐδὲ ἐν δόλῳ,

for our exhortation was not from error, or from impurity or in sorrow,

 Here we get back to the idea in 1:5, that he’s speaking with some sort of divine authority.

3 Exhortatio enim nostra non ex errore neque ex immunditia neque in dolo,

4 ἀλλὰ καθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον οὕτως λαλοῦμεν, οὐχ ὡς ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκοντες ἀλλὰ θεῷ τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν.

but (rather) against (us) having been tested by god in believing the good news as preached, not pleasing men but god, (we) being tested in our hearts.

 Again, the idea in 1:5.  He apparently really wants to stress this. He seems to be displaying the all-too-human trait of lacking self-assurance.

As a side note, the Latin is slightly different from the Greek.  The Latin refers to it as “our gospel” (ev-angelizing). It is my opinion that the Latin translator, presumably St Jerome, likely forgot more about Greek that I could ever hope to know. Thus, I will be commenting on the Latin from time to time.  For example, the Greek for ‘testing’ is a participle, but in Latin, it’s a standard verb. Greek is very fond of participles, and has participles in a number of different tenses.  This one is Aorist, which is more or less the ‘standard’ past tense for literary purposes.

4 sed sicut probati sumus a Deo, ut crederetur nobis evangelium, ita loquimur non quasi hominibus placentes, sed Deo, qui probat corda nostra.

5  οὔτε γάρ ποτε ἐν λόγῳ κολακείας ἐγενήθημεν, καθὼς οἴδατε, οὔτε ἐν προφάσει πλεονεξίας, θεὸς μάρτυς,

For it was neither flattery in speech, as you know, nor in a cloak of covetousness, God (is a) witness,

 Feels the need to call God as a witness. Also, under the concept of ‘methinks he doth protest too much’, why the need to disavow any motives of self interest? He, apparently, feels the need to deny specifically that he was motivated by greed.  Had he been accused of this? By whom? Why? There are references to divisions within the Christian community in other places, and in other letters, did this happen here, too?  Is this the ‘conflict’ he referred to in 2:2?

5 Neque enim aliquando fuimus in sermone adulationis, sicut scitis, neque sub praetextu avaritiae, Deus testis,

6 οὔτε ζητοῦντες ἐξ ἀνθρώπων δόξαν, οὔτε ἀφ’ ὑμῶν οὔτε ἀπ’ ἄλλων,

nor seeking renown from men, neither from you nor from others

 Again, the distinction of human and divine authority.  He is working only from the latter.  But whom is he trying to convince–the Thessalonians, or himself?

6 nec quaerentes ab hominibus gloriam, neque a vobis neque ab aliis;

7 δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι, ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν. ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα,

we being able to be a weight as the apostles of Christ, but we were gentle in the midst of you, as if a nurse cherishing her own child,

 Interesting analogy of the nurse and child. But the first part carries the implication that an apostle of  Christ had the right to claim a level of support from the Christian community: hence, the ‘weight,’ as in burden.  Paul did not do this, and he stresses this point. He is very concerned to demonstrate the purity of his motives. Why does he feel this need?

7  cum possemus oneri esse ut Christi apostoli, sed facti sumus parvuli in medio vestrum, tamquam si nutrix foveat filios suos;

8 οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν οὐ μόνον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς, διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε.

thus we were longing for you, we seemed good to give you not only the good news of God, but also our souls, because we came to love you.

 Another expression of his pure motives. Given the continued repetition, it would seem we have to ask if this is a rhetorical device, or if this is something he feels the need to do. If the latter, is the pressure to do so internal? Does he put the pressure on himself? Or does he feel the pressure from others, perhaps from detractors?

8 ita desiderantes vos, cupide volebamus tradere vobis non solum evangelium Dei sed etiam animas nostras, quoniam carissimi nobis facti estis.

9 μνημονεύετε γάρ, ἀδελφοί, τὸν κόπον ἡμῶν καὶ τὸν μόχθον: νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας ἐργαζόμενοι
πρὸς τὸ μὴ ἐπιβαρῆσαί τινα ὑμῶν ἐκηρύξαμεν εἰς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ.

For remember, brothers, our hard work and our hardships: night and day we worked not to weigh down something of yours, we preached the good news of God.

 Here he refers back to 2:7, and the idea of being a burden (weight).  We know that Paul was a tent maker; some have seen this expression of hard work–laboring night and day–as literal. That he was making tents to contribute to the financial security of the community, thereby not being a burden.  All this while preaching the good news.  

9 Memores enim estis, fratres, laboris nostri et fatigationis; nocte et die operantes, ne quem vestrum gravaremus, praedicavimus in vobis evangelium Dei.

10 ὑμεῖς μάρτυρες καὶ ὁ θεός, ὡς ὁσίως καὶ δικαίως καὶ ἀμέμπτως ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐγενήθημεν,

You and god are witnesses, how worthy and just and without quarrel we were to you the believers.

 Here he calls on God–again–to be a witness. Is he under some stress on this?

10 Vos testes estis et Deus, quam sancte et iuste et sine querela vobis, qui credidistis, fuimus;

A large part of this chapter seems to be Paul feeling the need to justify himself.  Why?  Who was pressing him? Other members of the Thessalonian community? Or outsiders?   Looking ahead, there may be a hint in 2:14.

Summary: 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 1

To sum up:

Paul has introduced a number of concepts:

  • Jesus was/is the Christ, which is a translation of ‘messiah’.
  • He is referred to as ‘lord,’ which, given the history of ‘adonnai’ in Hebrew literature,  likely elevates him to divine status.
  • Paul talks about a ‘spirit’, In fact, some of the manuscripts refer to this as a/the ‘holy spirit’, while others omit ‘holy.’
  • Therefore, we cannot conclude he is talking about The Holy Spirit, a separate ‘person’ as the later Trinitarian doctrine will stipulate. Despite this, many translations do indeed use “The Holy Spirit.” This is likely to be an anachronism, reading back into Paul a meaning that simply was not intended.
  • Paul believes he preaches the Good News with power, source unspecified.
  • Jesus is called the son of God.
  • The son of God will return from the sky, imagery that will be repeated in Revelations.
  • Paul refers to the living and true god, which continues on a Jewish tradition.

From a pastoral point of view:

  • This is a congregation that Paul nurtured, even if he didn’t start it from the beginning.
  • The Thessalonians converted directly from paganism. They were not Jews, as were most of the followers of Jesus in Judea.
  • The Thessalonians are noted for works of faith.
  • We are told God is a ‘loving’ God.

Perhaps some could be switched between categories, but that is, I believe, a minor quibble.

1 Thessalonians Chapter 1

Hello. Until I get this figured out more effectively, you may want to read the first few posts in which I talk about aims, what I’m doing, etc.

Here is where I start my first actual post on biblical text.  The previous posts will clarify a bit more on the context of my purpose, etc.

To oversimplify a bit, Paul’s letters tend towards two main themes.

The first is pastoral.  Pastoral letters, or sections of letters, generally deal with the sort of practical matters of running a church, a community.

The second theme would be, doctrinal.   Doctrinal letters, or sections thereof, deal with matters of faith.  In these sections, Paul tells his congregations what Christians should believe, or do believe.  He explains the fundamentals of the faith.  These are the sections that will particularly concern us.  My primary interest is to discover what the earliest Christian communities knew about Jesus, what they believed about Jesus, and what they thought it meant to be a follower of Jesus.  Bear in mind, that, in Paul’s day, the term “Christian” hadn’t been invented.

1 Thessalonians is, primarily, a pastoral letter.  It does not specifically deal with articles of faith.  The primary focus is to remind the Thessalonians, the residents of the Greek city of Thessalonika–which still exists, now simply called “Salonika”–that they are followers of Jesus, and to fortify them in their faith.  However, despite the primary emphasis, the letter contains a certain amount of incidental doctrine, things that the followers of Jesus believed.

Remember: this is probably the earliest piece of Christian writing in existence (“extant”, in the language of historians).

1 Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ: χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη.

Paul, Silvanus, & Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians, in the name of God the father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, we [wish] you grace & peace.

Again, bear in mind that this is probably the earliest extant piece of Christian writing.  Already, Jesus is a) our lord; and b) the Christ.

Here we have our first bit of doctrine.  He specifically calls Jesus the “Christ”.  In Greek, this literally means ‘anointed one’, which is more or less the translation of  “messiah” in Hebrew or Aramaic, whichever it is.  Already, apparently, the idea of Jesus the Christ had become a foundation stone of Christian belief.

2 Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν, μνείαν ποιούμενοι ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν, ἀδιαλείπτως

We give thanks to God for all of you(r activities), ceaselessly making mention of your deeds in our prayers.

Here is where we get to the pastoral theme.  This is a congregation that Paul organized, if he didn’t exactly start it from scratch.  He is grateful to them for remaining true to the word, and he is proud of them, as we shall see more explicitly.  

2 Gratias agimus Deo semper pro omnibus vobis, memoriam facientes in orationibus nostris, sine intermissione;

3 μνημονεύοντες ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος
τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν,

Remembering your works of faith, and your labors of love and your patience of hope in our lord Jesus Christ before God our father, 

Works of faith. This is a interesting concept, one that foreshadows themes to come. Our Lord Jesus Christ is repeated, and God the Father has been used.  God as the father is an extremely widespread notion among a lot of pagan religions. However, I believe that this was something rather new in Judaism, which is why the prayer “Our Father” as taught by Jesus in the gospels was somehow startling, or at least a bit new. But, since this use predates the gospels by at least a decade, we have to ask if it was actually Jesus’ idea.  

Remember, by his own testimony in Galatians, Paul never met Jesus.  As such, Paul did not get this concept directly from Jesus.  So we have to conclude, I believe, that Paul’s usage indicates that it was fairly common among at least some Jews at the time.

And the phrase “patience of hope” in Jesus is interesting.  What are they hoping for? We do not know yet.  This phrase speaks to assumptions, but we, hearing these first words of Christianity, do not know what the hope is.

3 memores operis fidei vestrae et laboris caritatis et sustinentiae spei Domini nostri Iesu Christi ante Deum et Patrem nostrum;

4 εἰδότες, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ [τοῦ] θεοῦ, τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν,

knowing, brothers, that you are loved by God, (knowing of his) selection of you

 Here we get the idea of a loving god. Not altogether something common from the Hebrew Scripture.  The term “chosen” will have significant implications later, especially in Romans.  But what is notable is that God has chosen the Thessalonians, and, by extension, all Christians.  That is, the initiative belongs to God.  The Thessalonians/we as Christians did not choose God.

But at this point, ‘chosen’ is still a fairly neutral term.     

4 scientes, fratres, dilecti a Deo, electionem vestram,

5 ὅτι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν λόγῳ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ
καὶ [ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ, καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν δι’ ὑμᾶς.

His selection of you that [my] evangelizing of you [lit: toward you] was not in words only, but also in power and in the holy spirit and in the great full-bearing, just as you know how we were {[ἐν] ὑμῖν δι’ ὑμᾶς} among you, and with you. [how we behaved when we were with you and among you]

Here, the Greek is a bit awkward, especially in the final clause. So I’ve given the literal, and then smoothed it out at the end.

The important part of this is the idea that Paul claims to have preached both in power, and in the holy spirit. I have deliberately left this lower case, because capitalizing has the force of making this into a concept that truly did not develop until later.  Greek did not use Capital Letters to denote Proper Nouns as we do in English. Thus, it is difficult to know what he meant by the idea of a holy spirit. Did he mean the third person of the Trinity? Almost certainly not. The idea of the Trinity as we understand it was not fully developed for another 200 years or so. This is a classic example of how we read back into a text ideas that were not fully (or even partially) articulated until later–sometimes much later.

And this is interesting. The text I used includes the word ἁγίῳ as an adjective for “spirit.”  This is the standard word for “holy.”  However, is omitted from some of the textual traditions, which reinforces the idea that ‘the spirit’ does not necessarily, or even possibly, imply The Holy Spirit, as something somehow apart from God. (Standard Trinitarian definition is three separate Persons in One God. So there is a degree of distinction in ‘Holy Spirit’ that we cannot simply assume from ‘spirit.’

Aside from any theological implications, the fact is that Paul delivered the Good News (ev-angelon) with power.  It may be me, but there is a certain level of self-importance to this.  It may be justified, but Paul is a bit proud of his accomplishment here. Moreover, I would infer from this that he truly and deeply believes what he is saying. This s a sentiment from a person convinced s/he is speaking Truth.

5 quia evangelium nostrum non fuit ad vos in sermone tantum sed et in virtute et in Spiritu Sancto
et in plenitudine multa, sicut scitis quales fuerimus vobis propter vos.

6 καὶ ὑμεῖς μιμηταὶ ἡμῶν ἐγενήθητε καὶ τοῦ κυρίου, δεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύματος ἁγίου,

And you were imitators of us and the Lord, showing the Word in many troubles with great joy in the Holy Spirit,

 The idea of imitating the behavior of others who are already initiates and followers is interesting. It would seem to imply a code of conduct, something like a moral code perhaps? Or at least a lifestyle.  And again, we have the holy spirit.  And note that this way of life brings joy even during troubles.

 θλίψει is an interesting word. It can be a generic ‘troubles’; it can also mean persecution.   

6 Et vos imitatores nostri facti estis et Domini, excipientes verbum in tribulatione multa cum gaudio Spiritus Sancti,

7 ὥστε γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς τύπον πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ.

so that you became a role-model to believers [both] in Macedonia and in Achaia.

More of the idea of imitation of, presumably, a way of life?  However, I am not set on this concept, but it seems most logical to me.     

7 ita ut facti sitis forma omnibus credentibus in Macedonia et in Achaia.

8 ἀφ’ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ, ἀλλ’ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν, ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι:

For from you the Word of the Lord came not only to Macedonia and Achaia, but to all places the faith of you to God has come, so that it is not necssary to have us say anything (regarding it).

 My translation here is a bit rough in English, but it pretty much catches the Greek exactly.  The last clause, “so that it is not…” is a bit difficult to get to work idiomatically. Greek (and Latin) have the capability of leaving out words that we would regard as necessary. This seems to be an instance where it is necessary rather to ‘fill out’ the Greek to render a complete concept in English. In this case, it’s reasonably harmless; in other instances, however, it can be more problematic. Especially when discussing doctrinal issues, the need to fill out the Greek can result in a seriously altered meaning from what the bare Greek actually says.      

8 A vobis enim diffamatus est sermo Domini non solum in Macedonia et in Achaia, sed in omni loco fides vestra, quae est ad Deum, profecta est, ita ut non sit nobis necesse quidquam loqui;

9 αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν
ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ,

For they reported among us our welcome among you, and how you were turned towards God and away from idols, to serve the God living and true,

  Taking the last part first: the living and true God is a very old idea in Judaism. It carries forward into Christianity.

What’ s interesting is that the Thessalonians converted directly from idols to Christianity; that is, they were pagans, and not Jews. So, right from the start, we see Paul preaching to and converting Gentiles.  

9 ipsi enim de nobis annuntiant qualem introitum habuerimus ad vos, et quomodo conversi estis ad Deum a simulacris, servire Deo vivo et vero

10 0καὶ ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν, Iησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης.

and you await the Son of Him (to come) from the heavens, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, him pulling us away from the coming wrath.

 All sorts of things here. First, the son of him, referring back to the living and true god. Again, Jesus being the son of God shows up, early, in the oldest piece of extant Christian writing. Second, he is coming from the heavens; so not only is the son returning, but from the sky, imagery that will be repeated in Revelations, largely because it’s a standard part of Jewish apocalyptic literature of the time.  It has links to the book of Daniel. Again, Paul refers to the one “raised from the dead.”  Not the one who rose, but the one who was raised, another usage of the accusative case indicating a direct object that received the action, not one who performed the action. To underscore, the son was raised, with the verb in the passive tense.

Finally, the last expression: the coming wrath. This reminds us of John the Baptist in asking who warned the Pharisees to flee from the coming wrath.

Perhaps this is another example of the Jewish apocalyptic literature that was fairly common at the time.  If anyone can verify this, please do so. 

10 et exspectare Filium eius de caelis, quem suscitavit ex mortuis, Iesum, qui eripit nos ab ira ventura.