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1 Thessalonians

Pagan Ethics and the Rhetoric of Separation: A Sociological and Rhetorical Context for 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:11
by Michael Cranford

As a model of epideictic rhetoric and epistolary apocalyptic, 1 Thessalonians has enjoyed renewed attention in recent years.1 Malherbe further identifies 1 Thessalonians 4-5 as paraenetic, noting the similarities between Paul's style of moral exhortation and that of popular philosophical preachers of his day.2 The correspondence between rhetorical engagement, apocalyptic, and paraenesis remains obscure, however, and recent discussion has done little to explain Paul's use of these modes of discourse in light of a coherent sociological context. Even a cursory examination of the text raises a question regarding Paul's juxtaposition of apparently traditional ethical and apocalyptic material (4:1-10; 5:1-11) with examples of each that seem tied to concrete events in the Thessalonian assembly (4:11-12, 13-18). Some recent, colorful attempts to set portions of Paul's discussion in a proper cultural context only succeed at the expense of the coherence of the paraenesis as a whole.3 It is my contention that fragmenting Paul's discussion in chaps. 4-5 by reducing the points of his paraenesis to loosely related topoi does an injustice to both the linguistic clues and sociological evidences for a coherent rhetorical strategy. My objective will be to argue for a discernible sociological and rhetorical agenda in Paul's paraenesis, consistent with the trajectory of his thought expressed earlier in the communication (e.g., 3:6-13), which lends sensibility and coherence to the letter as a whole.

I. Cultural Separation and Kinship Honor: Social Boundaries and the Christian Ethic

The paraenetic section of 1 Thessalonians admits of a variety of topoi; there are injunctions to avoid sexual immorality (4:1-8), exhortation to excel in brotherly love (4:9-10), commands to live quietly and work diligently (4:11-12), and instruction regarding the fate of those who have died in light of the Lord's imminentparousia (4:13-5:11). A certain measure of coherence is often brought to these topoi by arguing that Paul is responding to a specific communication brought to him by Timothy. The occurrences of peri de in 4:9, 4:13 and 5:1, when viewed in light of 1 Cor. 7:1, 25, 8:1 and 12:1, suggest a characteristic formula of epistolary reply.4 Faw further argues that Paul's abrupt transition from immorality to love of the brethren, and then from living quietly to the new topic of those who are asleep in the Lord, constitute evidence that each new topic corresponds to a structure of inquiries in the letter Paul has before him.5 Similarly, Paul expresses a "seeming reluctance" to discuss the topics of brotherly love and times and seasons (4:9; 5:1). Faw asks, "Why would he bring up a subject and then state that they really did not need a discussion of it if he has not been requested to write upon it?"6 This thesis lends coherence to the paraenetic section on the sole basis of the Thessalonian inquiries, and not as a consequence of Paul's line of thought or rhetorical agenda, which are left hopelessly fragmented.

Faw's argument accurately points to a topical framework underlying Paul's paraenetic exposition, but in no way proves that a Thessalonian inquiry has set that agenda, and not Paul's own rhetorical concerns in light of Timothy's report (3:6).7 In addition, the phrase "You have no need of anything to be written to you" represents a use of paralipsis, a rhetorical device which permits Paul to mention something important that he pretends he is going to pass over.8 If Paul's rhetorical agenda in the paraenetic section of the epistle required him to restate (and thereby reemphasize) teaching he had left with them while in Thessalonica, we might reasonably expect him to preface such material with the statement, "You have no need of anything to be written to you," particularly if he does not want them to mistake his restatement for a correction (in light of other material in the near context which is corrective).

A second approach to finding a measure of coherence in Paul's organization of his paraenetic material is to argue that Paul's selection of topics follows standard categories of moralization evident in the philosophical discourse of his time. His application of these inherited themes is so general as to disallow the possibility that he is addressing a concrete historical situation rooted in the Thessalonian assembly.9 Bradley defines topoi as "self-contained, unitary teachings which have but a loose, and often even an arbitrary, connection with their context,"10 and then projects this on 1 Thess. 4:9-5:11 by showing that each of the distinctive topics treated can be excised from its context without doing violence to the flow of Paul's thought in the letter. Of course, this only constitutes proof if one already assumes that no such flow of thought exists in the paraenetic section; the presupposition that Paul's topoi are arbitrary naturally implies that one can remove them from the context without damage.

While I would allow that many of these themes are evident in Greek moral discourse, a fact essential to the intelligibility of Paul's moral instruction directed at a Greek audience, the selection and ordering of specific topics here cannot be determined by appeal to preexisting forms.11 Further, while portions of the paraenetic section could be taken as traditional (e.g., 4:1-8), other portions cannot be convincingly severed from actual conditions in Thessalonica (e.g., 4:9-10a, 10b-12, 13-18; 5:1-11).12 Koester attempts to rescue his thesis regarding the generality of the paraenetic section from the obviously concrete exhortation of 4:10b-12 and ends up affirming both: "Even the admonitions to lead a quiet life and work with one's own hands are general, albeit concrete, requests to insure the moral and economic independence of the church, not attacks upon some lazy church members."13

While warnings against reconstructing the congregational situation from the paraenetic material are well taken,14 there is at least some warrant for understanding the paraenetic material as a hortatory response to the crisis mentioned in earlier portions of the letter. If this is reasonable to assume, then it follows that Paul may select and order his topoi to address what he perceives to be the inherent (though not yet realized) danger in the Thessalonians' situation—and not principally as a response to their inquiries.

From almost the onset of writing Paul indicates that their suffering is directly connected to their receiving the word, and amounts to an imitation of both Paul and the Lord (1:6). Since Paul directly connects his own suffering to his mistreatment at the hands of his opponents (2:2, 15-16), we can infer that the Thessalonians' suffering is also at the hands of opponents. Paul then reveals the identity of their antagonists: it is their own countrymen who are responsible for their affliction (2:14). By "countrymen" (idioi sumphuletai) we understand not only fellow Thessalonians, but specifically those of narrower kinship and cultural association.15 By Paul's identification of the Thessalonian Christians as those who "turned to God from idols" (1:9), we may tentatively identify this narrower sphere of kinship and cultural association as cultic in nature. As Meeks suggests,

This hostility is understandable when we recognize that the good of the community was considered to be contingent on civic festivals, which occasioned the gods' blessings of civic peace, plentiful harvest, and protection from natural disaster—all of which would have been jeopardized, in the pagan mind, by the participatory withdrawal of the Thessalonian Christians.17 Similarly, Barclay notes that "the most plausible explanation of the harassment of Paul's converts is their offensive abandonment of common Greco-Roman religion."18 I would qualify this somewhat, and explain the harassment as a perceived withdrawal from participation in cultic and social activities more broadly, remembering that religious and civic practices were integrally related in first-century Greco-Roman culture.19

Paul's primary hortatory tack, before we reach the paraenetic section, is to validate the significance of the Thessalonians' suffering (2:14-16) and to urge them to "stand firm" in the face of all such harassment (3:8; cf. v. 5) by associating his own well being and comfort with their moral fortitude (3:7-8). While there is no indication that any of the converts had abandoned their new faith, Paul recognizes the danger of such a lapse—not as a return to paganism per se, but rather a return to its ethic, including a participation in those social and religious contexts which would be inherently deleterious to their nascent faith. Paul had originally set the boundaries for a distinctively Christian ethic during his first time with them (cf. 2:12), an ethic which Paul modeled himself (2:10) and for which he was consequently afflicted (3:3-4). His consequent prayer for them is that their hearts would remain "unblamable in holiness" (3:13) as they share in the thlipsis which is their common destiny (3:3).

It would be no surprise, then, if Paul's rhetorical agenda within the paraenetic section (4:1ff.) proved to be an amplification of this same point—an exhortation to persevere in a morally and culturally distinct ethic in the midst of pressure to reassimilate. His methodology, consistent with his earlier approach at Thessalonica and mirrored in his work with other Gentile converts from paganism, is to emphasize the boundary between the new community of faith and pagan society—adelphoi and philadelfia), Paul imputes this same "strong-group" sense to the Christian community. As Malina notes,

Prior to the paraenetic section Paul has already referred to the Thessalonians as adelphoi (1:4; 2:9, 17; 3:7), he has made mention of both his tender concern for them (2:7-8; 3:12) and their concern for him (3:6), he has referred to Timothy, his emissary, as "brother" (3:2), and has depicted his relationship to the new converts as essentially one of a father to his children (2:11). Such kinship terms "implicitly . . . contrast the group's life with that of ‘the world': the closely structured, hierarchical society of the Greco-Roman city."21 While fictive kinship terminology was not encountered frequently in ancient Greco-Roman society, it is interesting that it does occur in connection with pagan cultic associations22 and is a recurrent feature of patron-client relations23—which I will later argue are two of the strongest competing groupings for the Thessalonians' allegiance.

Kinship boundaries proved significant in Mediterranean cultures by their association with honor, which may be understood, in basic terms, as a claim to social status or worth predicated on an acknowledgment of that status by others.24 As Moxnes states, "If a person is not an isolated individual, but a member of a group, the family is the main source of honor. . . A person derives honor from the group, and conversely, this person's conduct also reflects upon the group and its honor."25 To the degree that Christianity was seen to disrupt natural and cultural associations, membership in this group would be considered shameful by pagan consensus. In adopting kinship terminology, Paul offers a new grouping with its own claim of honor, to supplant the perceived loss of status engendered by withdrawal from cultic and civil groupings. Such a perceived loss of status would naturally occur in connection with persecution and suffering, which would be understood as a tangible indicator of being put to shame.26 Paul responds to this challenge (and turns pagan norms on their head) by identifying suffering and persecution as a badge of status.27

The second phase in Paul's rhetoric of separation is to characterize those who are not members among God's "kin" in terms of dishonor. They are referred to as "those who are outside" (oi exw in 1 Cor. 5:12-13; 1 Thess. 4:12; Col. 4:5), "those who do not know God" (1 Thess. 4:5; Gal. 4:8; 2 Thess. 1:18), and in eschatological terms, those who are "prepared for destruction" (Rom. 9:22; 1 Thess. 5:3). The dishonor associated with those outside the soteriological community is emphasized by a list of characteristic vices with an accompanying note of separation: "And such were some of you" (1 Cor. 6:11).28 Those outside the soteriological community are further termed "the Gentiles" (1 Cor. 10:20; 1 Thess. 4:5), which might seem nonsensical if we consider that the Thessalonians themselves are predominantly non-Jews, but which is completely intelligible if Paul is again drawing on a typical synagogue polemic against pagan vice. In 2 Cor. 6:14-18 Paul's rhetoric of separation is even less disguised (and note that it closes with an expression of kinship in v. 18).

Meeks notes that this insider/outsider language implies a negative perception of society,29 but I would even more emphatically stress that it expresses a purity boundary which is associated by Paul with a Jewish conception of covenant honor. Those who lie outside the purity boundary of covenant membership (here concretely realized in the Thessalonian community) do not have the claim to status which is particular to God's family.

Paul emphasizes the idea of covenant honor, and delineates the boundaries of God's people even more emphatically, through the use of apocalyptic language.30 Apocalyptic picks up the insider/outsider dichotomy and associates those inside with eschatological glory and those outside (either explicitly or implicitly) with judgment (the same condition, incidentally, which the pagans would attribute to the Christian community as an explanation for its sufferings). The Christian group is attributed honor as a consequence of eschatological status (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17), in spite of its current affliction. Paul indicates that those who have detached from pagan culture, who have "turned to God from idols" (1:9), are the same as those who "await from the heavens his son" (v. 10). Barclay notes that this apocalyptic dualism

Even more critically, the use of apocalyptic reinforces morally distinct behavior by appealing to "a sense of absolute obligation to a sovereign who stands over against the prevailing human order."32 The only thing which could undermine this symbolic world depicting an honor eschatologically deferred is if some apparently contradictory evidence arose. I will argue that this is precisely what occurred when some members of the congregation died with no observable realization of the promised eschatological benefits.

In summary, then, Paul uses a twofold approach to promote separation from cultural and religious mores: the depiction of the Christian community (and its honor) using kinship terminology, and the separation of this community from the surrounding culture (and its dishonor) through apocalyptic language. This approach amounts to a rhetorical agenda which will insure, if effective, that the congregation in Thessalonica will resist reassimilation to pagan culture and the adoption of a pagan ethic.33 It is my contention that such an agenda underlies the paraenetic section which begins in 1 Thess. 4:1, and thereby lends coherence and integrity to the trajectory of Paul's thought in these verses.

II. Separation from Pagan Sexuality in 4:1-8

Paul begins the paraenetic section in 4:1 by expressing the rhetorical thrust of the whole; namely, that the Thessalonians might "excel still more" in light of the apostle's foregoing instruction to them as to how they "ought to walk and please God" (cf. 2:12). This exhortation to persist in distinctively Christian behavior goes beyond mere affirmation and congratulation and hedges against any tendency, however small, to adopt the dominant cultural norms. "Pleasing God" is given greater content in v. 3, where Paul expresses God's desire for the Thessalonian converts as their sanctification (agiasmos), a concept which Paul has borrowed from the Diaspora synagogue and which emphasizes not only holiness, but holiness in the face of pagan defilement (cf. Lev. 11:44-47; 18:24 in light of 19:2). Sanctification, as an expression of God's will, is given even more specific content: the Thessalonians are to abstain from sexual immorality (apechesthai umas apo tas porneias). The positioning of sexual immorality at this point emphasizes its priority,34 and I might further note that this is unsurprising for two reasons. First, Judaism in Paul's time associated porneia with Gentile idolatry (cf. Wis. 14:12-31; Jub. 25:1; and esp. Rom 1:24-27, which echoes a typical synagogue polemic against Gentile corruption). Adopting this same tack, Paul would naturally have associated the threat of an idolatrous cultural encroachment with a warning to abstain from porneia.35 But more importantly, the principal cults in Thessalonica incorporated sexual participation into their ritual.36 Having "turned to God from idols," this could be the most alluring aspect of reassimilation to a pagan ethic. Donfried notes that

That skenos ("vessel") in v. 4 should be understood as a euphemism for male genitalia, with ktasthai understood as "possess" or "take control of," is supported by most recent scholarship,38 since it would not only be intelligible to the readers as a recognized figure of speech, but also because the prevailing cultic ethos was centered on the phallus.39 The repetition of agiasmos again indicates the theme of separation from Gentile (pagan) practices, but here it is used in combination with time, denoting even more strongly that this ethic of sexual restraint is not only distinct from pagan practices, but is associated with honor. In contrast with "in holiness and honor" (en agiasmo kai time) is "in lustful passion" (en pathei epithumias), completing Paul's dichotomy. The Christian sexual ethic, one of purity and honor, is offset against a pagan ethic, characterized in terms of dishonor (cf. Rom. 1:24, where pagan lust is directly associated with dishonor). Paul's rhetoric of separation, and his indebtedness to Diaspora synagogue polemic, is further emphasized by characterizing the pagan Thessalonians as "the Gentiles who do not know God"—a standard Jewish depiction of Gentile dishonor (cf. 1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 4:8; Jer. 10:25). Paul hedges against any return to a pagan sexual ethic by associating such a move with a crossing of purity lines and a consequent loss of honor.

In v. 6, Paul expresses the impact of a compromise on this matter (en to pragmati) within the Christian community.40 Failure to "possess one's own skenos in holiness" in connection with a Christian female would amount to a challenge of honor against her husband, brother, or father41—here, a challenge expressed by the use of pleonekteon ("to gain the advantage over"42). While such challenges of honor are a regular feature in the ancient world (even the stuff of epics), the context of this exchange cannot occur within kinship boundaries, which have a shared honor.43 All that can be accomplished in such an exchange is to bring dishonor to the group as a whole.44 Paul's use of adelphos stresses the inappropriateness of this sort of behavior within the Christian kinship, and implied is a danger of fragmenting the community if such ethical compromise is permitted. Any such transgression of another's honor, Paul reminds them, will be satisfied by the Lord (v. 6b), who will avenge all cases of dishonor in his coming at the eschaton. Meeks notes that such "doomsday" language "reinforces the sense of uniqueness and cohesion of the community. And that in turn produces a disposition, if the admonitions are heeded, to act in a way appropriate to the community's well-being"45—and I would add, appropriate to the community's honor.

The trajectory of Paul's thought takes the issue of separation and expresses it in 1 Thess. 4:1-8 in the concrete area of sexual ethics, which offers the most ready point of cultural reassimilation to those who have "turned to God from idols." Paul's use of coercive language, unprecedented in his discussion of sexual ethics, suggests both the extremity of the pressure placed on the new converts to reassimilate to cultural norms and Paul's intense concern that they might stand firm against all such temptations.

III. Kinship and Political Quietism in 4:9-12

The peri de in 4:9 indicates a transition to a new subject,46 but not a new rhetorical agenda. Paul moves from emphasis on distinct sexual mores to encouraging increased love within the Christian community. That such love is described in kinship terms (philadelphia and eis to agapan allelous in v. 9, poieote auto eis pantas tous adelphous in v. 10) emphasizes a familial solidarity which even more poignantly emphasizes Paul's command in v. 6, and prepares the reader for the material which directly follows. The Christians are not only to adopt a sexual ethic distinct from the "Gentiles," but are to do so in the context of a kinship solidarity which militates against unnecessary civic and cultic attachments.

As mentioned, the use of kinship language was almost exclusively restricted to blood kinship in ancient Jewish and Greek writings.47 By applying such terminology to the Christian community, Paul forces his readers to conceive of their group with a sense of solidarity and honor unmatched in other cultural groupings—though as we will see, other associations made a bid for their own honor and attachment. With regard to their brotherly love, Paul states that they were "God-taught" (theodidaktoi) to love one another. This term, apparently coined by Paul, is probably an appeal to the readers' experience, a rhetorical tack that Paul makes use of elsewhere.48 As Wanamaker notes, this term fulfills a similar role to "the will of God" in v. 3,49 associating their new status and ethic with the one for whom they forsook idolatry (1:9). Their brotherly love demonstrates that the kinship which Paul has attributed to them is real and significant.

Kloppenborg infers from Paul's mention of philadelphia that a question had arisen in the assembly regarding the way such love should properly be expressed. He goes on to argue that Paul solves this problem by drawing on the cultic teaching of the Dioscuri—the divine twins Castor and Polydeuces—to provide an example of brotherly love appropriate to the conflict which had arisen in the Thessalonian assembly.50 Consequently, the term theodidaktos should be understood as "taught by pagan gods," or "divine instruction." Kloppenborg's argument is problematic on numerous accounts, and ultimately fails because it fails to take into account the trajectory of Paul's argument in the paraenetic section as a whole, which is undermined if Paul is drawing on pagan cultic imagery as a positive example for the Christian community to imitate. For Paul to treat pagan gods in this manner would not only be unprecedented for a Jew of Paul's training and demeanor, but would necessitate attributing them an essence and status which he elsewhere contradicts (1 Cor. 10:19-20). Kloppenborg's statement that "Paul's allusion to the Dioscuri is a rhetorical strategy rather than a theological inconsistency"51 fails to take into account that such an allusion would be a remarkably poor rhetorical strategy in light of 1 Thess. 4:1-8, which can hardly rest on cultic examples of love and remain cogent.

A more reasonable observation is that the Thessalonians' brotherly love makes reference to their hospitality to other Christians in Macedonia (v. 10), who would naturally have occasion to travel through this port city, which functioned as a nexus of commerce and activity in this region of the Roman empire (cf. 1:6-9).52 A critical question arises with regard to the connection between the Thessalonians' hospitality and Paul's exhortation that they lead quiet lives and work with their hands (v. 11). Many commentators have ignored this connection and argued that the imminence of the parousia has prompted members of the Thessalonian congregation to stop working.53 In a similar vein, Jewett argues that Paul's proclamation of the apocalyptic Christ was adapted by certain members of the congregation into a framework suggested by the Cabirus cult, and in the typical manner of millenarian movements advocated a cessation of economic activity and political nonparticipation. These individuals "refused to prepare for a future parousia of Christ because in principle they were experiencing and embodying it already in their ecstatic activities."54

Paul never makes explicit this connection between the apocalyptic material which follows in vv. 13ff. and the command to live quietly and work with their hands in v. 11, and the fact that these topics are in proximity does not in and of itself commend such a reading.55 Even more critically, the manner of Paul's apocalyptic instruction hardly addresses such a crisis. The death of some Christians would seem to contradict any thought of a realized or imminent eschatology (rather than exacerbate its ecstatic expression), and Paul's teaching in this regard (vv. 14-18) would only increase the readers' yearning for the parousia, not relieve their agitation over its nearness. Similarly, Paul teaching in chap. 5 is aimed to increase the readers' anticipation of the parousia's imminence, not make it less distant. If anything, Paul's teaching would incite the kind of behavior many commentators assume he is combating in v. 11. All of these points militate against the idea that Paul was addressing those who had given themselves over to eschatological fervor.

Even less likely is Barclay's suggestion that some of Paul's converts had abandoned their work and begun creating disturbances in their pagan culture by a disruptive and fanatical proclamation of the gospel.56 If this was the case, it is difficult to see how Paul could simply order them to quietly return to work without making any reference to the work of evangelism to which they over-zealously committed themselves—a work which Paul otherwise views positively (cf. 2:8-9). How would the readers be expected to know that they should simply tone it back a notch? In point of fact, Paul never advocates moderation with regard to the proclamation of the gospel, and has already expressed his own persecution for this very sort of fanaticism (2:16). Paul is hardly a model of conservatism on these matters, making it implausible that he would both validate their imitation of his persecution (2:6) and then require them to alleviate their own distress through increased moderation (4:11).

Closer to the mark is the contention that some members of the congregation have begun to rely on the benefaction of others rather than work, and Paul is concerned that this exploitation of hospitality might discredit the Christian assembly in the eyes of pagans.57 In light of v. 11, we may infer that Paul's Gentile readers may have largely been comprised of manual laborers. That Paul's missionary preaching would have logically occurred in the workshop and drawn such individuals is a point convincingly argued by Hock,58 suggesting that the social context engendering Paul's exhortation in vv. 11-12 should be seen as a dilemma confronting the urban poor, from which were drawn manual laborers. Russell proposes that Paul's converts

Winter picks up on Russell's suggestion that a patron-client relationship is the focal point of Paul's injunction in v. 11, and argues that Paul is not advocating a withdrawal from civic involvement per se, but rather a withdrawal from "the boisterous, political rabble-rousing behavior by clients on behalf of their patrons in politeia."60 Winter notes that "minding one's own affairs" (v. 11) is the natural counterpart to minding the affairs of one's patron, and suggests that the reliance of a client on a patron for material support (rather than working with one's own hands) would be a cause for public disgrace.61 Paul's exhortation in 1 Thess. 4:11 to "live quietly" and "work with one's own hands" is not directed at the congregation generally, but specifically at those who relied on a benefactor and took his part in political activism. Paul does not desire "quietism" or public withdrawal as a general rule, but "to wean such persons away from the welfare syndrome"62 so that they might become more involved in civic duties in their own right.

This view, while taking seriously the social conditions underpinning Paul's discussion in v.
11, nevertheless fails to account for a connection with the exhortation to excel in brotherly love (i.e., hospitality) in v. 10. Isn't a predilection to show hospitality to one another (which Paul commends in v. 10) functionally equivalent to the "welfare syndrome" Paul is allegedly trying to overturn in v. 11? And while Paul labored with his own hands so as not to burden the Thessalonians (2:9), he elsewhere indicates that he was simultaneously accepting financial support (Phil 4:15-16) in a way that could clearly be used against him if he was deprecating the practice of accepting material assistance out of hand. In 2 Cor. 11:8-9 Paul appeals to his having received financial assistance in defense of his character (with no qualification offered for why he wasn't working with his hands to provide for his own needs). That Paul deprecated a reliance on financial assistance before the Thessalonians is even less likely if "the brothers from Macedonia" who supplied Paul's need (2 Cor. 11:8-9) included the Thessalonians.

A final (and fatal) weakness of this position is that it relies on a purely negative assessment of client-patron relations. These relations, on the contrary, were considered a point of honor. Malina notes that

The client-patron relationship amounted to an interchange of honor,64 an exchange which "above all defined and enhanced status."65 A Christian laborer in dire straits who entered into a relationship with a wealthy patron would likely grow in the esteem of others, not be branded a "welfare case" or chided for not attending to manual labor—especially when manual labor was typically held in low esteem.66 In light of the aforementioned problems, the reasoning behind Paul's admonition in v. 11 must go beyond the points Winter has raised.

I would propose a nuanced version of this model—one which connects more directly to v. 10 and which represents Paul's rhetorical agenda in the paraenetic section as a whole. Paul stresses that they excel in showing brotherly love to one another (v. 10, with the implication that they provide material assistance to one another, if necessary) instead of relying on wealthy pagan patrons (v. 11). Paul prefers that the Thessalonian Christians work with their own hands, but they are in no case to rely on the benefactions of wealthy individuals beyond the bounds of the Christian community. Instead, they are to withdraw from the civic involvement that a patron would demand, and live a quiet life, attending to their own affairs. While Christian clients might rejoin that they are forsaking public honor in this manner and placing their livelihood in jeopardy, Paul counters (in a manner reminiscent of many Stoic moralists) that this will promote proper behavior toward outsiders, and will provide sufficient income to attend to their needs (v. 12).67

That the problem giving rise to Paul's admonition in v. 11 is a Christian reliance on patronage is indicated not only by the expressions "attend to your own business" and "work with your hands," but also because this institution would be a likely point of refuge for the urban poor who are struggling with persecution. In addition to providing material benefits, the patron's status, if a non-Christian, would tend to alleviate harassment. That Paul would single this out in his paraenesis makes complete sense when a number of other factors are considered. First, the client-patron relationship offered a point of solidarity close to kinship, and while the client never actually became a formal part of his patron's lineage, "fictive use of (quasi-) kinship terminology is a recurrent feature of patron-client relations and may have served to signal the dependent's deference and his ranking of the patron and his protective or gubernatorial role on a level comparable to that of a father."68 Patron-client relations were typically long-term, strongly binding, and linked to personal obligation.69 In light of their connection with shared honor, one can see how these sorts of relationships would stand in tension with the status Paul has attached to the Christian community, and make equally significant demands on the client's behavior. That Paul would perceive this as a threat is even more clear when we recognize that client-patron relationships were known to supersede the reciprocity of kinship groups.70

A second point leading Paul to single out client-patron relationships is that such agreements had moral and spiritual implications in additional to commercial and civic. Eisenstadt and Roniger observe that "the established relationship was considered to be a close one, based on a moral base: partners were assumed to be related morally (in fide esse, in fidem venire)."71 Gelzer describes patron-client reciprocity as arising out of officium, which can be rendered "reciprocal personal relationship." He notes that officium specifically denotes "the performance of an action arising from such a relationship, and as a social and ultimately moral duty."72 This same term, however, is used to reflect the contractual nature of Roman religion, expressing the close relationship between civic and cultic life.73 The gratia of a patron brought a corresponding sense of obligation that could transfer into spiritual matters. Saller notes that in cases where a client has received a benefaction from the emperor, "a need was felt to exceed the expressions of gratitude used for ordinary patrons, and so religion came to play a role in the exchange."74

In all cases of patron-client reciprocity, it should be noted, the relationship is controlled by the party in superior status, which opens up not only the possibility of exploitation and compulsion into obligatory service, but its inevitability.75 If such service included civic duties interconnected with the cultus, the Christian client would nonetheless be required to comply. If the benefaction relied on by members of the congregation came from outside the fellowship (likely, if the congregation was composed primarily of the urban poor), Paul would certainly discern an attachment to pagan society which would necessarily impinge on the community's ethical and cultural distinctiveness. Compromises would inevitably result from client obligations which would not only dishonor the individuals in question, but by extension of the kinship principle, the community as a whole. Paul therefore emphasizes brotherly love and hospitality in tension with, and to substantially offset, material reliance on pagan patronage.

Paul's solution to this tension is to advocate a withdrawal from civic life. His admonition in v. 11 to "live quietly" (esuchazein) and to "attend to one's own affairs" (prassein ta idia) draws on language which Hock calls "unmistakably political, as withdrawal from politics is often termed ‘quietism' (esuchia) and taking part in politics is often termed ‘attending to public affairs' (prassein ta koina)."76 Winters argues that Paul is only arguing for quietism on the part of clients,77 but while client-patron relations have certainly occasioned this topic in the paraenesis, Paul's point of application here is not so narrow. Paul's rhetoric of separation, directed first at the danger of lapse into a pagan sexual ethic, now finds its target in the cultural embeddedness typified by reliance on pagan patronage.

IV. Apocalyptic Imagery and Eschatological Honor in 4:13-5:11

While a careful examination of this section is beyond the scope of this present work, some remarks should be made in connection with what has gone before. Paul's transition in v. 13 to the topic of "those who are asleep" is frequently regarded the centerpoint of the entire paraenetic section, and perhaps the reason occasioning the entire epistle.78 As has been argued, however, the agenda which drives the paraenesis is not concern over eschatological misapprehension, but rather concern over ethical distinctiveness in light of a prevailing pagan ethos. The crisis which gives rise to 1 Thessalonians is primarily social, not eschatological. Nevertheless, Paul has interwoven the community's status with an honor deferred until the eschaton, and the death of a few members without a subsequent resurrection could appear to contradict or invalidate Paul's teaching (4:13-18). Paul must explain that death does not in any way impinge on these Christians' ability to realize the glory intended for all of God's family.

Commentators have generally recognized that the Thessalonians were operating under a misconception regarding the relationship between the resurrection and the parousia, with the greatest probability being that Paul had left their teaching in this matter incomplete (v. 13a).79 The question Paul addresses here pertains less to whether those who died were excluded or disadvantaged at the parousia,80 and more to what the deaths of some indicated about the honor and solidarity of the community as a whole. Paul has all along been concerned to indicate that their suffering is an indication of honor, not shame, as a result of eschatological status. The death of some converts could have been considered an even greater proof that God was not bestowing honor on the Christian kinship, and this particularly in light of the tradition regarding Jesus' death and corresponding resurrection, which might have emphasized the dissimilarities with their own situation (i.e., death without a corresponding vindication; cf. Phil. 2:8-11). The fact that a question might have been raised about the status to be conferred, if any, on deceased members would have weakened the kinship honor Paul has been so concerned to maintain as a basis for a distinctive Christian ethic.81 In response, Paul emphasizes not only the solidarity of the community in the eschatological scene, but also its unqualified vindication (1:10; 5:9-10). The present death of some Christians should therefore not be taken as an indication of dishonor. Paul turns this pagan characterization on its head and argues instead that those who have died will precede those who are living at the parousia, denoting that their honor is the greatest of all (v. 15; cf. Phil. 1:21).

The question is less why Paul writes what he does concerning the fate of those who have died—he is certainly replying to a real concern in the assembly—and more why he decides to answer the question here, in the middle of his paraenesis. Without revisiting the role of apocalyptic in Paul's rhetoric of separation, I would suggest that a transition to apocalyptic allows Paul to further his paraenesis at this stage by a focus on the imminence of the eschaton (5:2, emphasizing the need to stand firm on a Christian ethic) and the distinction between those within the Christian community (depicted as "brothers" in 5:1, "sons of day" in v. 5, and those who will obtain salvation in v. 9) and those without (depicted as the recipients of destruction in v. 3, those who are "of night" and "of darkness" in v. 5, and those "destined for wrath" in v. 9). Even more critical is the association between these categories and ethical behavior. Those not in the Christian community, who are "of darkness," are said to sleep and get drunk by night (v. 7). In contrast to this pronouncement of dishonor, those within the Christian community are "alert and sober" (v. 6), and they appropriate such accouterments as faith, hope, and love (v. 8). What becomes obvious is that Paul uses apocalyptic as an integral part of his moral discourse, to promote his own rhetorical agenda, and not to engage the readers in some sort of spontaneous apocalyptic instruction.82 Those who blame eschatological excitement on the moral problems covered earlier in the paraenesis back-load this discussion as the cause for the Thessalonian crisis, when in fact Paul draws it into his discussion here as the remedy (as in 4:6, where it clearly functions in support of his ethical injunctions).

 V. Conclusion

Paul's paraenesis in 1 Thess. 4:1-5:11 draws in a wide range of hortatory material, including ethical injunctions based on fictive kinship, affirmations to excel in hospitality and to avoid reliance on pagan benefactors, and apocalyptic instruction which exhorts the readers to moral sobriety on the basis of a status to be realized at the parousia. While the material is admittedly diverse, Paul's rhetorical agenda continues to affirm his basic desire to see the Thessalonians stand firm on a Christian ethic (3:8, 13) in the face of cultural pressure to compromise (2:14; 3:5). The congregation's present affliction therefore provides the letter's occasion, but Paul's program for engendering distinctive Christian behavior provides the structure for the paraenesis. In the case of each topos, Paul effects group solidarity through an appeal to kinship honor in the Christian community while at the same time promoting separation from a pagan ethic by associating those outside the fellowship with dishonor. Paul's use of apocalyptic provides the crucial support for his rhetorical strategy by detaching honor from ephemeral indicators, such as suffering and even death, and locating it instead in the eschaton.


1. E.g., Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990); Bruce C. Johanson, To All the Brethren: A Text-Linguistic and Rhetorical Approach to 1 Thessalonians (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1987); Robert Jewett, The Thessalonian Correspondence: Pauline Rhetoric and Millenarian Piety (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986).

2. Abraham J. Malherbe, "Exhortation in First Thessalonians," NovT 25 (1983) 238-9.

3. E.g., John S. Kloppenborg, "philadelphia, theodidaktos and the Dioscuri: Rhetorical Engagement in 1 Thessalonians 4.9-12," NTS 39 (1993) 265-89.

4. James E. Frame, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912) 140; Chalmer E. Faw, "On the Writing of First Thessalonians," JBL 71 (1952) 220-1.

5. Faw, "On the Writing of First Thessalonians," 221.

6. Faw further argues, "The impression one gets, then, is that Paul would not even have mentioned these subjects had they not been specifically asked in the letter that lay before him, but since they did ask him regarding these matters he attempted an answer which might be paraphrased as ‘just keep on doing as you have been—only more so'" ("On the Writing of First Thessalonians," 222). This impression is only intuitive if we already assume, along with Faw, that such a letter exists and accounts for Paul's selection (and ordering) of topoi. If one assumes that Paul's selection of topoi is a consequence of his own rhetorical agenda, then no such impression is forthcoming.

7. Faw himself admits that Timothy's oral report of conditions at Thessalonica forms at least one of the bases for Paul's response (along with an alleged letter from the Thessalonians), and that "to distinguish between his answers to each of these two kinds of communication is not always possible" ("On the Writing of First Thessalonians," 223). Moreover, the use of peri de is too general a textual phenomenon to count as evidence that Paul is answering specific questions when other indications of this are not present, as in 1 Cor. 7:1. See Ernest Best, A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (New York: Harper & Row, 1972) 15; Johanson, To All the Brethren, 116.

8. See BDF a 495; Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 159.

9. Thus, Helmut Koester argues that the instructions in 1 Thess. 4:1-12 "are not specific but general. They are not occasioned by the situation, rather they elaborate a tradition. . . The generalizing tendency of these instructions is even more patent in the positive admonitions (4:9-12); no specific advice is given" (Helmut Koester, "1 Thessalonians—Experiment in Christian Writing," Continuity and Discontinuity in Church History [ed. F. F. Church and T. George; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1979] 38-9).

10. David G. Bradley, "The Topos as a Form in the Pauline Paraenesis,"JBL 72 (1953) 243.

11. Malherbe's observation that Paul's style is indebted to popular philosophers is a far cry from Koester's unsupported claim that Paul's paraenesis is so beholding to them that no particular reference to a concrete situation can be asserted (see Abraham J. Malherbe, Social Aspects of Early Christianity [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983] 24). Malherbe himself notes that while general applicability is a consistent feature of paraenesis, this "does not mean, however, that paraenesis is not related or adapted to the settings in which it is given" (Abraham J. Malherbe, Moral Exhortation, A Greco-Roman Sourcebook [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986] 125). Examples of Greek moral exhortation closest in form and function to Paul's discourse in 1 Thessalonians 4 (e.g., Hierocles, On Duties 4.28.21; Musonius Rufus, Fragment 12; Pseudo-Isocrates, To Demonicus 9-15) correspond only marginally with the ordering and topoi used by Paul.

12. Cf. Hendrikus Boers, "The Form Critical Study of Paul's Letters: 1 Thessalonians as a Case Study," NTS 22 (1976) 154.

13. Koester, "1 Thessalonians—Experiment in Christian Writing," 39 n. 13.

14. Cf. Wanamaker,The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 61.

15. Ibid., 113.

16. Wayne A. Meeks, "Social Functions of Apocalyptic Language in Pauline Christianity,"Apocalypticism in the Mediterranean World and the Near East (ed. David Hellholm; Tobingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1983) 691. See also Kloppenborg, "philadelphia, theodidaktos and the Dioscuri," 275.

17. See John M. G. Barclay, "Conflict in Thessalonica," CBQ 55 (1993) 515, following G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, "Why were the early Christians persecuted?" Past and Present 26 (1963) 7-38, esp. 25-27.

18. Barclay, "Conflict in Thessalonica," 514.

19. See Karl P. Donfried, "The Cults of Thessalonica and the Thessalonian Correspondence,"NTS 31 (1985) 336.

20. Bruce J. Malina, "Dealing with Biblical (Mediterranean) Characters: A Guide for U.S. Consumers," BTB 19 (1989) 134.

21. Meeks, The First Urban Christians, 89.

22. See Meeks,The First Urban Christians, 87.

23. Andrew Drummond, "Early Roman Clientes," Patronage in Ancient Society (ed. A. Wallace-Hadrill; New York: Routledge, 1989) 102.

24. Bruce J. Malina and Jerome H. Neyrey, "Honor and Shame in Luke-Acts," The Social World of Luke-Acts (ed. J. H. Neyrey; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991) 26-28; J. Pitt-Rivers, "Honor," Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1968) 503-10.

25. Halvor Moxnes, "Honor and Shame," BTB 23 (1993) 172.

26. Barclay suggests that non-Christians might have mocked the Thessalonians' faith in a "savior" who failed to save them from death ("Conflict in Thessalonica," 516). In a contest of honor, however, with no superior claim to make in their own regard, this suggestion is unlikely. A better proof, mentioned above, is the dishonor connected with the Thessalonians' suffering, which would have been directly averted by a return to pagan associations.

27. See 2 Cor. 4:8-11, where suffering is a manifestation of "the life of Jesus," and such passages as Rom 8:18 and 2 Cor. 4:17, where affliction is counterbalanced by eschatological glory (thus, honor deferred). See also Gal. 6:17; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:17.

28. Consistent with this, the author of Ephesians ties together the theme of separation (with an accompanying rejection of a pagan sexual ethic) with that of kinship in a new soteriological community (Eph. 2:11-13, 18-19).

29. Meeks, The First Urban Christians, 95.

30. On the concept of apocalyptic as a means to social control, see Meeks, "Social Functions of Apocalyptic Language," 687-705.

31. Barclay, "Conflict in Thessalonica," 518. I will argue, in the following discussion, that such "affective bonds" did exist, particularly in the relation of pagan patrons to Christian clients, and that this competing association engendered Paul's remarks in 1 Thess. 4:11.

32. Wayne A. Meeks, The Moral World of the First Christians (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986) 128.

33. If this is correct, it follows that Jewett (The Thessalonian Correspondence, 71-2) and Wanamaker (The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 46-48) are wrong in identifying the rhetorical genre of 1 Thessalonians as epideictic, and Kennedy is correct in viewing it as deliberative rhetoric (George A. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism [Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1984] 142), though I would argue that there is no compelling reason for seeing any rhetorical genre as more than marginally guiding Paul's exposition, here or elsewhere (see Thomas H. Olbrecht, "An Aristotelian Rhetorical Analysis of 1 Thessalonians,"Greeks, Romans, and Christians [ed. D. L. Balch, E. Ferguson and W. A. Meeks; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990] 221). Malherbe's classification of 1 Thessalonians as paraenetic writing, while admittedly general, draws more useful and demonstrable parallels with non-biblical literature.

34. Thus Jewett,The Thessalonian Correspondence, 105. Wanamaker thinks that Timothy had probably brought word to Paul that a specific problem existed in regard to sexual mores, occasioning a quick response on this topic (The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 150). More likely, however, Paul anticipates that the pressure to regress to a pagan ethic will naturally and principally impact sexual mores, a point he would have had time to observe in person, having witnessed their conversion from a pagan ethic in the first place.

35. Lohrmann argues that while porneia is usually connected with warnings against idolatry in Paul, that is not explicitly the case here, where idolatry no longer poses a threat (Dieter Lohrmann, "The Beginnings of the Church at Thessalonica," Greeks, Romans, and Christians [ed. D. L. Balch, E. Ferguson and W. A. Meeks; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1990] 247). But its attendant sexual ethic does, and Paul anticipates (here, as in 1 Cor. 6:9) that sexual immorality will continue to make its appeal even after idolatry itself has been forsaken.

36. Some of the most striking examples of this include the cults of Dionysus and Cabirus, both of which promote fertility, sensuality, and phallic symbolism ("The Cults of Thessalonica," 337-41). Bruce notes that in pagan society "various forms of extramarital sexual union were tolerated and some were even encouraged. A man might have a mistress . . . who could provide him also with intellectual companionship; the institution of slavery made it easy for him to have a concubine . . . while casual gratification was readily available from a harlot . . . Certain forms of public religion, indeed, involved ritual porneia" (F. F. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians [WBC; Waco: Word Books, 1982] 82). Pace Meeks, who argues that pagan moralists habitually denounce this sort of sexual promiscuity and that pagan society would have broadly affirmed the Christians' values regarding sexual purity (The First Urban Christians, 101). Meeks overlooks the fact that a society which approves ritual porneia in its dominant cults could not possibly embrace anything close to a Judeo-Christian sexual ethic. Moreover, Meeks incorrectly extrapolates from the fragmentary writings of a few Stoic moralists to the values of pagan society in general. These writings were urgently offered for the very reason that they, too, were in tension with the prevailing mores of society. Paul does not ignore the fact that moral standards of purity existed even among pagans; in fact, since he does not pause to give OT support to the demand for sexual purity (e.g., Exod. 20:14; Lev. 20:10-23, 26), he obviously assumes that his instruction is already intelligible to his readers—a situation he can assume for the very reason that high moral standards were not unknown among pagans, even if exceptional (cf. Malherbe, "Exhortation in First Thessalonians," 250).

37. Karl P. Donfried and I. Howard Marshall, The Theology of the Shorter Pauline Letters (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) 49. Similarly, Moxnes states, "That Paul accepts the system of honor operating in the public arena of Hellenistic society but rejects this society as shameful in the area of sex roles and sexual life may reflect the position of Christians as an ‘outside group'" (Halvor Moxnes, "Honor, Shame, and the Outside World in Paul's Letter to the Romans," The Social World of Formative Christianity and Judaism [ed. J. Neusner, E. S. Frerichs, P. Borgen and R. Horsley; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988] 215).

38. I. Howard Marshall, 1 and 2 Thessalonians (NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983) 108-9; Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 83; Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 152-3; J. Whitton, "A Neglected Meaning forSkeuos in 1 Thessalonians 4.4," NTS 28 (1982) 142-3.Contra Collins (Raymond F. Collins, "The Unity of Paul's Paraenesis in 1 Thess. 4.3-8, 1 Cor. 7.1-7, a Significant Parallel,"NTS 29 [1983] 425, following Maurer, TDNT 7:362), who argues that skenos as "woman" would be consistent with the "Jewish coloration" of Paul's exhortation, but overlooks the fact that without an explanation in this regard, Paul's usage would be unintelligible to the Gentile readers, a point Paul would have to be dense not to realize.

39. Donfried, "The Cults of Thessalonica," 337-41.

40. With Wanamaker (The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 154-55) and Marshall (1 and 2 Thessalonians, 111), I am assuming that v. 6 should not be understood as a new topos relating to business ethics, but should be seen as the very same discussion brought into the context of the Christian kinship. Nothing about the use of pleonekteon or pragma necessitates a commercial context for Paul's discussion, and the occurrence of akatharsia in v. 7, framing this point, suggests that the subject throughout remains sexual ethics (cf. Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 85).

41. Thus, Malina and Neyrey note that "the honor of the male is involved in the sexual purity of his mother (although his father has the main obligation in this regard), wife, daughters, and sisters, but not in his own sexual purity. . . The male is responsible for the maintenance of sexual exclusiveness. . . Hence the woman courts disaster by stepping out of socially acceptable boundaries" ("Honor and Shame in Luke-Acts," 44). They further note that any explicit dishonor, ranging from seduction of another man's unmarried daughter to adultery, must allow for "satisfaction" commensurate with the degree of dishonor present (39). Frame understands Paul to simply be saying that while wronging a non-Christian is not permissible, wronging a Christian brother is "unspeakable" (The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, 153)—and is clearly oblivious to the critical tension that would occur by interjecting a challenge of honor within a group which Paul has characterized in terms of kinship. The result is not only "unspeakable," but potentially disastrous.

42. LSJ, 1416.

43. Malina and Neyrey, "Honor and Shame in Luke-Acts," 32.

44. Particular attention should be given to Musonius (Fragment 12), where sexual immorality is directly connected with dishonor, and adultery with wronging the woman's husband, even in a strict pagan ethic: "‘That's all very well,' you say, ‘but unlike the adulterer who wrongs the husband of the woman he corrupts, the man who has relations with a courtesan or a woman who has no husband wrongs no one for he does not destroy anyone's hope of children.' I continue to maintain that everyone who sins and does wrong, even if it affects none of the people about him, yet immediately reveals himself as a worse and less honorable person" (cited in Malherbe,Moral Exhortation, 153).

45. Meeks, The First Urban Christians, 175.

46. Wanamaker,The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 159.

47. Kloppenborg, "philadelphia, theodidaktos and the Dioscuri," 272-3; Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 160.

48. I.e., Gal. 3:2-5, where the Galatians' experience of the Holy Spirit is used as tangible evidence that righteousness is not a function of circumcision. See Michael Cranford, "The Possibility of Perfect Obedience: Paul and an Implied Premise in Galatians 3:10 and 5:3," NovT 36 (1994) 250 n. 26.

49. Wanamaker,The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 160-1. Kloppenborg disagrees, claiming that the deliberate coinage of this term is difficult to explain if it merely serves as a motivation for Christian ethics ("philadelphia, theodidaktos and the Dioscuri," 281). His point is overstated, in my opinion. Even Kloppenborg admits that Paul's use of a neologism could be spontaneous or unconscious (282), and I can discern no compelling evidence in the context for thinking otherwise.

50. Kloppenborg, "philadelphia, theodidaktos and the Dioscuri," 274, 285-9.

51. Ibid., 289. Another problem with this view is that the readers would be unlikely to recognize the allusion supposed here without some direct reference to the Dioscuri. The Thessalonians would be much more likely to understand this word in light of vv. 2 and 8 rather than a cultic source which is not mentioned in this context (or any Pauline context, for that matter).

52. Ibid., 273; Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 161.

53. Frame, The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, 159-60; Bruce, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 90-1; Best, Thessalonians, 175-6; Willi Marxsen,Der erste Brief an die Thessalonicher (Zurich: Theologischer Verlag, 1979) 71.

54. Jewett,The Thessalonian Correspondence, 176, though see pp. 161-78. I have to wonder, if Paul is combating a millenarism engendered by the Cabirus cult, why he doesn't make his rhetoric more effective by simply stating so, and why he deals with what would amount to symptoms of the problem (a relaxed sexual ethic, abandonment of a work ethic, etc.) and not the root deception.

55. Noted by Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 162; Ronald F. Hock,The Social Context of Paul's Ministry (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980) 43.

56. Barclay,Conflict in Thessalonica, 522-25.

57. Thus Wanamaker,The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 163.

58. Ronald F. Hock, "The Workshop as a Social Setting for Paul's Missionary Preaching," CBQ 41 (1979) 438-50; The Social Context of Paul's Ministry, 37-42.

59. R. Russell, "The Idle in 2 Thess 3.6-12:
An Eschatological or a Social Problem?"NTS 34 (1988) 113.

60. Bruce W. Winter, Seek the Welfare of the City: Christians as Benefactors and Citizens (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994) 48.

61. Ibid., 49-51.

62. On the former point see ibid., 51, on the latter, 53.

63. Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Atlanta: John Knox, 1981) 85-6.

64. See Halvor Moxnes, "Patron-Client Relations and the New Community in Luke-Acts,"The Social World of Luke-Acts (ed. J. H. Neyrey; Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991) 248; "Honor and Shame," 174.

65. Drummond, "Early Roman Clientes," 105.

66. Abraham J. Malherbe, Paul and the Thessalonians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987) 98; Hock, The Social Context of Paul's Ministry, 35-6.

67. E.g., Hierocles,On Duties 4.28.21 states, "Though there is not much luxury and idleness in life today, it is nevertheless rare to find a man who is not willing and eager to participate in the work of sowing and planting" (cited in Malherbe, Moral Exhortation, 98). See also Musonious Rufus, Fragment 3; Dio Chrysostom, Orat. 7.124. It is important to note that while this Stoic sentiment would likely prepare the readers for Paul's point, the reason why Paul urges manual labor (i.e., to separate themselves from reliance on pagans) is different than the reason why the Stoics did.

68. Drummond, "Early Roman Clientes," 102. Cicero juxtaposed both friendship and kinship with the giving of money in Phil. 5.6, in a way that Gelzer states "is characteristic of the age" (Matthias Gelzer,The Roman Nobility [New York: Barnes and Noble, 1969] 110).

69. Moxnes, "Patron-Client Relations and the New Community in Luke-Acts," 248.

70. Peter Garnsey and Greg Woolf, "Patronage of the Rural Poor in the Roman World,"Patronage in Ancient Society (ed. A. Wallace-Hadrill; New York: Routledge, 1989) 157. See also Drummond, "Early Roman Clientes," 104.

71. S. N. Eisenstadt and L. Roniger, Patrons, Clients and Friends (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1984) 58.

72. Gelzer,The Roman Nobility, 67.

73. Richard P. Saller, Personal Patronage under the Early Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1982) 23. Saller also mentions "the artificiality of separating economic and social exchange" in ancient Rome (126).

74. Ibid., 71.

75. See Paul Millet, "Patronage and Its Avoidance in Classical Athens," Patronage in Ancient Society (ed. A. Wallace-Hadrill; New York: Routledge, 1989) 16.

76. Hock, The Social Context of Paul's Ministry, 46.

77. Winter,Seek the Welfare of the City, 51. I should point out that, if I am correct, the thesis driving Winter's book (i.e., that Christians are to involve themselves as citizens and public benefactors in the polis) is undermined as a categorical proposal.

78. See for example, Johanson (To All the Brethren, 58), who argues that "it was the deaths of fellow Christians before the parousia that constitutes the primary exigence to which the various persuasive strategies of the letter as a whole are directed." Similarly, Koester, "1 Thessalonians," 33-44.

79. See, e.g., Marxsen, Der erste Brief an die Thessalonicher, 65. Wanamaker dissents, arguing that the converts would have at least had knowledge of Jesus' resurrection as a critical component in the tradition given to them (The Epistles to the Thessalonians, 165), with the implication that Jesus' example would have proved sufficient instruction with regard to their own resurrection. Tradition linked Jesus' resurrection with his crucifixion, however; the death of some Thessalonians without a corresponding resurrection would undermine an analogical parallel. Jewett's suggestion that the congregation had fallen into despair because they had believed death was already abolished (The Thessalonian Correspondence, 94-5) posits not only an ignorance to be corrected, but also a false belief that, were it operative, Paul would certainly address explicitly.

80. Though commentators inevitably frame the issue this way (e.g., Marshall, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 118).

81. The thought that Paul might be relying on an allusion to the Dioscuri as support for the immortality of the deceased Christians (Kloppenborg, "philadelphia, theodidaktos and the Dioscuri," 288) would not only undermine his rhetorical agenda in regard to Christian ethics, but would contradict his own statement that the Thessalonians are not to grieve"as do the rest who have no hope" (v. 13b), a reference to a typical pagan conception which may have formed the basis for the present misapprehension.

82. Malherbe notes that even the eschatological statements in 1 Thessalonians have a decidedly paraenetic function ("Exhortation in First Thessalonians," 254-56), though my point goes beyond this, to argue that they provide a critical support for Paul's paraenetic agenda.

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Cranford, Michael. "Pagan Ethics and the Rhetoric of Separation: A Sociological and Rhetorical Context for 1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:11." Early Christian Writings. <>.