Monday, August 6, 2012

2 Thesssalonians thoughts

In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17, Paul reframes the early church as the restored people of God. Having been called by Paul's gospel, they are now loved by the Lord, chosen as a firstfruits of salvation (I'm going with NA27 on this one), sanctified by God's Spirit, and going to share in his glory. These are wonderful things to meditate upon in themselves, but there is something else going on here. All of these terms have been used to describe Israel and the Temple in the Old Testament. Israel is loved by the Lord, has been sanctified to him, and chosen to be delivered, (Deuteronomy 7:6-10) This is all due to God's faithfulness (2 Thess 3:3)for those who obey his commands. Which Paul reframes as obeys his (Paul's) commands (2 Thess 3:4). Interesting also in the Deuteronomy passage is that God will repay those who disobey him, a prominent theme of 2 Thess 1. Paul places his gospel on par with the commandments of God in marking out who will be accepted by God and who will be punished. It is through faith in the gospel of Jesus that the thessalonians have been marked out as the people of God. All this is in contrast to those who 'did not believe the truth, but delighted in wickedness'. I can only assume that 'the truth' in verse 12, is the same as 'the truth' in verse 13. That is, the gospel that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 17:3). Paul has already hinted at who these rejecters of truth might be in 1 Thess 2:14. Those of Judeea who reject their messiah, reject the messiah's people, hinder that message going to the gentiles and so pile up wrath for themselves. These are those who have both rebelled against their God 2:3 (and so will be repayed), and will rebel against the message of their Christ to pursue peace and to love their enemies, and so will rebel against Rome in AD66. Their rebellion will co-incide with the revelation of a man of lawlessness, who like the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, like the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14, like Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel 11, will consider himself a God, above all Gods, will attack God's temple, but be destroyed in the process. As Paul writes, the current Emperor is Claudius, who has a fairly restrained policy towards christians. (He may have even protected them by kicking the jews out of Rome, but this is hard to tell). Nevertheless, he is, contemporary to Paul's writing, restraining his adopted Son, Nero, who turns out to be quite lawless. A murderer of all sorts of people, but particularly christians. Having taken his father Cladius out of the way, Nero become Ceaser and is gradually revelaed for who he is. When Judea revolts, Nero attacks. Yet Paul says that this man of lawlessness will be destroyed by the breath of Jesus' mouth and by the splendour of his parousia (2 Thess 2:8) Jesus had wept over Jerusalem, and her coming destruction. And yet he described this event as the coming of the Son of man in glory (Luke 21:27, and every other mention in Mark and Matthew. If you are concerned about the cosmic language about this event, go and look again at Isaiah 14 and the 'day of the Lord' destruction of Babylon by the Medes. Same language). This event is also connected with the gathering (or synagogui-ing) of the elect from all the nations, as is prophecied in Isaiah 43. Half way through the war on Jerusalem, Nero kills himself in suburban squalor. Jerusalem and the Temple are flattened in 70AD. From this point christians are no longer welcome in Jewish synagogues They are synagogued (gathered together) only around Jesus Christ. Paul takes the fundamental reality, that those who accept the gospel are the new people of God, and applies the prophets to that new situation, where the gospel people are opposed by both Rome and Jerusalem (sometimes together, and sometimes seperately), and predicts the destruction of both oppressors. He isn't talking about some far distant future end of the world, but events close to the Thessalonians.


Mike Bull said...

All good, except the "Adam" of sin is the Herodian High Priesthood, representing all men in the sanctuary, the "Eden." The architecture set up in Genesis runs all the way through the Bible.

Judgment of the nations always begins at the house of God. The four Gentile empires were four "cherubim" around the Adamic throne, guarding the priestly people of God. As each one turned bad, God replaced it overnight with the next. Romans guarded the Jews, and then guarded the Christians - until the final "guard dog" turned bad. That was under Nero. In Revelation it is when Satan calls up the beast from the Gentile Sea. Jewish persecution (Acts) and false Judaizing doctrine (epistles / poison water from the serpent's mouth) had only purified the Church. The Church was a new Jew-Gentile body, forged miraculously by the Spirit. What was his next tactic? A Jew-Gentile conspiracy against the Church. Nero torched Rome and Herod's Temple completed in AD64. Christians blamed + Jesus was a false prophet. Jewish and Gentile powers turned on the Church - the "tribulation."

The Jewish rulers were the "Land Beast" and the Roman empire became a "Sea Beast." The "image of the beast" was a new golden calf, Herod's Temple, covered in gold and white stone, manufactured under the supervision of a hapless Aaronic priesthood. The idolaters were made to drink it (also see Numbers 5 - the jealous inspection) and slain by the rider on the green horse (the emerald stone was Levi). Jesus as Moses called "who is on the Lord's side" and the saints called down the Mosaic curses upon Judaism.

So the man of sin is a corrupted Adam in the Garden, a false prophet. His Church is a deceived Eve, the harlot (the elect were not deceived because they had a better Adam), and the serpent inspired the empire to become a dragon, instead of being converted. The sin of the individual "heads" in Genesis 3 had become full-grown and taken on "bodies" - become corporate, institutionalized.

So AD70 wasn't the end of Rome, but the end of Rome's role as a guardian. This period in history was Israel's "Day 6." The dominion of the land animals (Daniel 7) was given to the True Adam. Any idols we now have are not animals but human - false Messiahs: Allah, humanism, statism, etc.

This might interest you:


Mike Bull said...

One more thought (sorry) - the reason for the cosmic language used in the prophetic judgments: Israel's tent/temple was a substitute cosmos, to avoid another flood.