Friday, July 31, 2009

St. Paul and the Parousia

“Two further matters need discussion, since a good deal of misunderstanding has had its day here. First, Paul is not stating that he expects to be alive at the Parousia. Rather, he was simply currently among ‘the living’ who are set out in contrast to ‘the sleeping.’ His concerning fact has nothing to do with who will be living, but with the simple fact that they have no advantage over the dead regarding the Parousia. Or to put it another way: to be alive or dead is of no consequence at all regarding the coming of Christ. In other places, including later in this letter ([1 Thes]5:10), Paul reckons with either possibility. Similarly, a few years later he can reflect on ‘whether we are “at home” [in the body] or “away from home”’ (2 Cor 5:6-9) with regard to being alive or dead at the coming of Christ. In any case, Paul’s (and ‘their’ or ‘our’) being among the living or the dead at the coming of Christ is ultimately an irrelevancy; that, after all, is quite the point made in the passage as a whole,” G. Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians (Eerdmans 2009), 175.

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