Friday, June 3, 2016

Patristic Wisdom: Looking to Sunday

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.  For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.  For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins.  But wrath has come upon them at last!  (1 Thess 2:13-16)

Do you see how he introduces this as containing great consolation? And constantly he refers to it.  And upon a close examination one may find it in nearly all his epistles, how variously, upon all occasions of temptation, he brings forward Christ.  Observe accordingly, that here also, when accusing the Jews, he puts them in mind of the Lord, and of the sufferings of the Lord; so well does he know that this is a matter of the greatest consolation.

John Chrysostom, Homilies on First Thessalonians

Then he brings out the manner of the hostility.  The example suffices for encouragement: the similarity of the suffering provides adequate consolation.  The text teaches us that the believers in Thessalonica were ravaged by the non-believers and deprived of their possessions; and those who accepted the saving message in Judea suffered the same fate.  He also prophesied the destruction of the Jews, Wrath has come upon them at last: there will be no revoking the sentence for them.  Blessed David spoke in similar terms, "O God, why do You cast us off forever?"  Now the phrase oppose all mankind should be taken this way: We were bidden to offer the saving message to everyone, but they resisted us; so they are in opposition to everyone.

Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on 1 Thessalonians

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