Original Research - Special Collection: Mission and Ethics

Ethics in Context: The Thessalonians and their neighbours

Abraham J. Malherbe
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 68, No 1 | a1214 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v68i1.1214 | © 2012 Abraham J. Malherbe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 January 2012 | Published: 29 June 2012

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Abraham J. Malherbe, New Testament Studies, Yale University, United States


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Abstract

First Thessalonians was written within a few months, following the conversion of Paul’s Greek readers, and reflects how his ethical teaching was part of his proclamation. Paul’s preaching of the gospel, intimately connected with the kind of person he was, brought about a close personal relationship between him and his converts. Whilst he stood as a moral model for them, he nevertheless spoke for God, and thus, his ethical instruction was grounded theologically. His converts would have understood how moral dicta, with which they were familiar, were derived from philosophy, but not from religion, as Jews and Christians held. In the overtly paraenetic sections of the letter (ch. 4 and 5), Paul was at great pains to underline this connection, which was the main point he was making.

 


Keywords

Thessalonians; ethics; mission

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