Mixed signals? Tuesday, 22nd week in ordinary time – I Thessalonians 5: 1-6, 9-11
Kim Jong-un’s testing of the hydrogen bomb, believed to be five times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb, might ironically be happy days for ‘dooms day cults’ who get as much mileage from news such as this as they do with their version of the misinterpreted ‘good news’ they propagate
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 50 AD, he was abundantly clear that the core of his message was to explain eschatological (end times) hope and he did this by using apocalyptic language. Such language is symbolic; for it points to a greater reality. To give you an example, a stop sign is indicative of possible danger and hence the need to stop. There is no danger in the red light itself, it is merely a light which is red in colour; the danger lies in not keeping it. The red light only points to a greater reality. So stop analysing the red light for it has fulfilled its purpose and already turned green.
Similarly, Paul is not describing how the end times will take place but what the implications of the end times for those who are alive. These scripture lines are not to be read as ‘future revelations but divine revelation that our future is secure because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.’ This is what Paul sets out to make clear in this pericope.
Paul has already commended the fate of those who have died in the hands of God ( 1 Thes 4: 13-18)and now when he speaks of the eschaton (how everything will happen at the end of time) he does so in order to bring comfort to the Thessalonians and not to frighten them. However this message is also laced with caution.
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