ABIDE IN CHRIST
The Thessalonians seem to have heard Paul loudly and clearly that his gospel was a summons to exclusive allegiance to the one God and his Son Jesus, and that such an exclusive kind of faith/faithfulness might have serious consequences-a kind of imitation of, or even participation in, the sufferings of Jesus. We cannot of course be sure of this-perhaps Paul is just interpreting their suffering after the fact-but the : “we” in the following text seems to include the Thessalonians.
And we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for. In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know.
(1 Thess. 3:2-4)
It is difficult to imagine that Paul would have predicted and experienced suffering for himself and, it appears, for the Thessalonian believers without interpreting it, and interpreting it specifically as a consequence of his and their own Christlike devotion to the true God, the true Lord. The story of Jesus is, in part, a story of persecution, and the good news cannot avoid that part of the story. Thus when Paul told the story of Jesus’ death, it seems, he did not fail to communicate its causes-and its likely consequences for those associated with Jesus.
Title: Becoming the Gospel
Author: Michael J. Gorman