by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6 January 26, 2014 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(013)Thesis:The character of the Persons with whom we relate is crucial to our own participation with them in Life.
Introduction:Paul obviously wrote the letters to the Thessalonians because he was deeply concerned about the quality of their experience of the Joy of the Life of God (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3). In 1:6 he said that a major aspect of their experience was "the joy of the Holy Spirit". It was for this cause that he told them about his prayers for them in this opening paragraph; prayers that were rooted in what he had seen and heard of them in regard to the trilogy of the Big Three: Faith, Love, and Hope. We have considered at least some of the issues involved in that trilogy.
This evening we are going to look into the first part of the way he winds up his record regarding his prayers. This aspect of his conclusion has to do with the two "qualifiers" that he attached to his prayers. The first of these qualifiers is contained in what our translators give us in the words "in our Lord Jesus Christ"; the second is contained in what the translators give us in the words "in the presence of our God and Father". What are we supposed to learn from these phrases?
I. The Overall Point.
A. Paul did not add qualifiers just to do it.
B. The qualifiers are deliberate characterizations of two of the three Persons Who have the most to do with the quality of our lives in respect to "the joy of the Holy Spirit" (1:6).
1. "Joy" is the theological "be all end all".
a. It is the reason God sent His Son to be the Redeemer of sinful people whose lives were cut off from any abiding sense of the Joy of Life.
1) He did not send His Son to "glorify Himself" (in the terms of John 17:4) as the "be all, end all" ("glorifying" is not in any sense able to stand as an "ultimate" objective for one simple reason: "glorifying someone has as its only rationale a greater end than itself").
a) This statement is not designed to mitigate the place that "glorifying" has in the processes of God's Plan; it is only to argue that it is not the "end" God has in mind.
b) This statement is not designed to mitigate Paul's exhortation to "do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
2) He did send His Son because both angels and human beings stood in jeopardy of a real and serious mitigation of the available experience of the Joy of the Life of God.
b. Anyone who does not see God's intention of producing the Joy of Life in those who are involved in "the work of the faith, the labor of the love, and the endurance of the hope" has already lost one of the most significant elements of that Joy and cannot regain it without a major "T"heological shift in understanding.
2. Thus, it is Paul's intention to reveal certain truths about the Son and the Father so that the Spirit can take what is revealed and produce Joy in us (this is "glorifying God" in its truest setting -- revealing what is true about God so that Joy might flow).
II. The Specific Content of the Qualifiers.
A. First, the Son.
1. When running out the words that define his memories of the Thessalonians, Paul "qualified" their "work" as the outcome of "the faith"; he "qualified" their "labor" as the outcome of "the love"; and he "qualified" their "endurance" as the outcome of "the hope".
2. But, when he came to the end of his description of his memories, his focus was upon "the hope" that provided them with the ability to "hang in there" with their work and labor in the face of some pretty significant obstacles.
3. Knowing that this "hope" business was the critical element, he decided to further "qualify" by adding the phrase that the translators give us in their words "in our Lord Jesus Christ".
a. This phrase is linked only to the "hope"; it does not reach back all the way to the "faith" and carry forward through the "love".
b. This phrase is mistranslated by the translators of the AV, the ASV, the NASB, the NIV, the RSV, and the Phillips; it is, however, properly translated by the translators of the NEB.
1) The reason for this claim is linguistic.
a) There is a perfectly good and simple Greek case-form for words that are to be taken in a "locative" sense as in "hope in our Lord Jesus Christ".
b) Variations from the good and simple need some thought for an easy reason: they point elsewhere.
2) The NEB translates the phrase "your hope of our Lord Jesus Christ" and does so because the words in Greek "hope of our Lord Jesus Christ" are all in what is called the Genitive case which Robertson says is "simple" as the "specifying case": it identifies "kind".
a) As a genitive, the words identify not where ('in') the hope exists, but what kind of hope is existing.
b) Paul's point is that the "hope" that provides the fortitude to keep on keeping on in the face of even extreme opposition is of a certain "kind".
c) We could, actually, translate the phrase "the of-our-Lord-Jesus-Christ kind of hope".
c. What this means is that our hope has three characteristics that define it.
1) First, it is a "hope" that has the Lordship issues firmly settled so that there is no reason to question what, or why, any given circumstance develops as it does.
a) A "hope" of the "Lordship" kind is one that firmly settles upon the absolute good outcome of any and every situation that one who possesses it faces [Romans 8:28].
b) A "hope" of the "Lordship" kind is one that has put away complaints, period.
2) Second, it is a "hope" that has the "Jesus" issues firmly settled so that there is no reason to doubt that the "lordship" overtones are specifically "redemptive" so that those whose hope is of the "Jesus" kind are comfortable with the fact that the "lordship" issues are not negative ("Lordship" is with our "freedom" in the bulls eye).
3) Third, it is a "hope" that has the "Christ" issues firmly settled so that there is no reason to question whether our circumstances are going to show up in the outworking of the Kingdom that is, without a doubt, coming.
d. Thus, our hope is not "in" our Lord Jesus Christ, but, rather, "of the kind" which our Lord Jesus Christ sets before us as we face our experiences in this world.
B. Then, the Father.
1. Paul's characterization of the Second Significant Person with whom we have to do is tied to his "prayers" (they are pursued "before the God and Father of us").
2. This characterization is two-fold.
a. It is "articular" so that polytheism and all of its "hopelessness" is felled in one word: "the".
1) The polytheism of the Thessalonian culture was directly responsible for the hopelessness of everyone who bought into it to any degree because its essence was a concept of dueling deities with no sure outcomes (a situation in which hope cannot exist).
2) There is only one "living" and "true" God (1:9) so that there can only be one final outcome in His creation: His Plan established.
3) "The God" means absolute "hope" for those who "hope" and absolute despair for those who reject that "hope".
b. It is "familial" so that the "fatherhood" of God defines the relationship in terms that are both anti-legal and anti-human-fatherhood.
1) The "family" relationship does not have any place in it for "law".
2) The "family" relationship does not have any place in it for "fallen fathers" and their example and impact upon those who are related to "the Father".
3. This characterization boils down to the Object of our prayers being a "Perfect Father" whose willingness to provide is infinite, loving, merciful, powerful, and wise (among other things).
III. A Conclusion: "the hope" is rooted in the Fatherhood of the only living and true God and is expressed in a settled confidence that the Lordship of the Redeemer in light of His coming Kingdom is an irresistible force that cannot be denied for those who are "believers".