I am curious about this verse:
They accepted the Word.
In much affliction.
With joy of the Holy Spirit.
In all or perhaps only in some of these respects, they became imitators "of the Lord." What Christology is at work here? What is Paul saying about the Lord?
1) Assuming the authenticity of 2:14b-16, Paul is saying that because they suffered a local persecution by their "countrymen," they suffered just as the Lord Jesus was killed by Jews. The comparison has entirely to do with suffering persecution.
2) Whether or not the Thessalonians suffered a local persecution, Paul knew of Jesus as a recent historical man who did all three of these things: accept God's Word, with affliction, and with joy of the Holy Spirit. He is alluding to these human characteristics of the Lord Jesus.
3) Paul means that the Lord was working through him and Silvanus and Timothy when they preached the gospel, and in becoming imitators of Paul, the Thessalonians also became imitators of the Lord working through Paul. Therefore, it is a charismatic or mystical Lord Jesus that Paul has in mind in 1:6. Paul and his co-workers/apostles made the Lord Jesus present in such a way that the Thessalonians became imitators of him.
This interpretation has some support from the preceding verse (1:5):
Many translations interpret οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν as signifying the apostles' moral character witness, but it could mean something else entirely. It could have to do with ecstatic worship practices or states of mind.
Since I take it that 2:14b-16 is an interpolation, and furthermore since I don't think Paul cared about experiences of a recently historical human Lord Jesus on earth and in the flesh, even if he had knowledge of them, I prefer interpretation (3).
Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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