Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
Thesis: Our grasp of the significance of Jesus as "Lord" needs to be informed so that we do not undercut it by thinking in terms of Jesus as "Savior".
Introduction: In our last study we considered that Paul was writing about "retribution" (as his "big subject") and specifically about "retribution" as it applies to those who reject the Gospel. This evening we are going to look into his specific terminology regarding how that retribution is going to be handled.
September 20, 2015
- I. Paul's "Point" Is That "Retribution" Has a Specific Context.
- A. The larger context is the problem human beings have with the jarring dissonance between the concepts of God as "Love" and God as "Just".
- 1. On the "love" side of the issue is the deliberate divine insistence that His Son be called "Jesus" and that His herald be called "John".
- a. On this side of the issue is "grace" and "love" as potent aspects of the character of the Father.
- b. There are four problems associated with the abrupt introduction of "grace" and "love" in the first century.
- 1) In respect to "grace", men are pointedly declared to be so greatly removed from true godliness as to make them absolutely incapable of actually "living".
- a) This, on one hand, raised the possibility of a genuine solution to sin and its power for those who had no significant quarrel with the underlying thesis of severe depravity.
- b) But, on the other hand, this raised a significant backlash among those men who had invested their lives in the attempt to prove that, though most (lest we say "all") of humanity was indeed corrupt, "they" were not.
- 2) In respect to "love", men are significantly raised to an extreme position of value in the eyes of God as to compel the God of "love" to choose them over Himself, a concept that had never really settled into the legal theology of the theologians of Israel.
- a) And again, on one hand, this raised the possibility of the existence of a God Whose commitment was to "men" rather than "holiness".
- b) But, on the other hand, this was considered a heresy so great that it was to be met by the active pursuit of the death of anyone who championed it.
- 3) Then, in respect to "grace", there was a pernicious possibility that men would push "justice" completely out of the picture so that it was no longer "legitimate" for God to exercise punitive retribution.
- 4) And, finally, in respect to "love", there was an equally pernicious possibility that men would only consider that "love" with them at its center so that "the love of God" only really means He takes my issues to be His highest priority and ignores the issues of others.
- 2. On the "justice" side of the issue is Paul's clear and emphatic declaration that "retribution" is still a legitimate activity on God's part.
- B. The more immediate context is Paul's choice of terms for the context of retribution as "the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven".
- 1. As a "revelation", the event is a significant unveiling of truth not yet grasped by men.
- a. The word translated "shall be revealed" by both the Authorized Version and the NASB is not a verb, but a noun, as the old ASV correctly renders it.
- b. As a noun the word introduces a major implication into the thinking of the Thessalonians: that they (and everyone else on the planet) are yet ignorant to a large degree of what it means for Jesus to be Lord in the context of "legitimate retribution".
- 1) When John, who used this noun as the title of his written work to be sent to the seven churches, saw "the Lord Jesus" in symbolic vision he fainted dead away.
- 2) When the Thessalonians began to "wait for the Son of God from heaven" (1 Thessalonians 1:10), they did so as new believers with a limited grasp of what would happen when the waiting was over.
- 2. As a "revelation of the Lord Jesus", the event signals a resolution to the age old problems of relating to Jesus and then realizing that He is "Lord".
- a. "Jesus" is the name that reveals God's intention to provide a perfect and efficient redemption for significantly broken people.
- b. "Lord" is the title that reveals that God's intentions have never included the release of His own dominion over all things so that men could be "free to do whatever they please with impunity" (Lord means accountability).
- 3. As a "revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven", the event signals an extremely powerful invasion of earth from heaven by the Creator Himself.
- a. "Heaven" is consistently used in the Bible as the "locational tabernacle of the Most High God, King of kings and Lord of lords".
- b. For anyone to enter into the affairs of men directly from heaven means that some really radical, not yet "revealed", truths are going to surface.
- 1) This means for those who are waiting for Him, that "Life" is going to be explosively enlarged as an experience.
- 2) But this also means for those who despise Him that what they have called "life" is going to be explosively degraded as an experience.