Daily Devotion for October 24, 2014
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer of Praise
Blessed are You, Lord our God and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob, the great, mighty and awesome God, exalted God, who bestows bountiful kindness, who creates all things, who remembers the piety of the Saints, and who, in love, has brought a Redeemer to us, our forefathers and our children, for the sake of His Name.
O Mighty King, You are a helper, a savior and a shield. You resurrect the dead; You are powerful to save us in forgiveness of our sins.
You cause the dew to descend. You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall.
You sustain the living with loving kindness, support the falling, heal the sick, release the slave; You fulfill Your trust to those who sleep in the dust. Who is like You, mighty Father? And who can be compared to You, King of Peace, who defeats death and restores life, and causes deliverance to spring forth! Who is your equal, Great Comforter, who brings holiness to all who call upon You?
You are holy and Your Name is holy; the angels and all the creatures of heaven and earth praise You for all eternity. Blessed are You Lord, the holy God.
For God’s Holy Church
Father of mercy, your love embraces everyone, and through the Resurrection of your Son you call me and all the members of your church into your wonderful light. Dispel our darkness and make us a people with one heart and one voice, forever singing your praise, in Jesus, the Christ, our Lord.
[Make us a people with one heart and one voice.]
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)
Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
1 Thessalonians 1:1 (DP)
Greeting (1)To the Church of Thessalonica:
Grace to you, and peace, in the name God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, from Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.
1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in god father and lord Jesus Christ; grace to you and peace.
Notes on the Scripture
First, a note about the versions of Scripture we will be using in Paul's Epistles. We will have two versions of the same verses. The first, “DP” (Daily Prayer Bible), is a “paraphrase” translation intended to be both enjoyable to read and to convey the message in understandable English. A paraphrase translation is especially good for Paul, whose primary message is sometimes difficult to glean. Like any paraphrase translation, it will take liberties with the actual language of the Greek text in the interest of conveying the meaning.
The second version is the exact opposite: it is as close to a literal, word-for-word translation as possible. Greek syntax and word order is retained (except in the most extreme circumstances). There is no Bible like it in print. This version will allow the reader to see the actual Word of God. It will allow you to gauge for yourself whether you agree or disagree with other translations (including the DP Bible). It is “what the Bible actually says.” It is not intended for quick reading, but as a safeguard against the editorial or theological bias that colors every translation.
We will be experimenting with the format. Your comments and criticisms are encouraged. For now, we are trying out a three-column parallel version (with an idiomatic English translation, similar to the NASB, in the middle) for your reference. You may read more about the translations in today's Daily Prayer Community column.
Salutations in Paul's Epistles
The salutation of 1 Thess. is typical of the Pauline Epistles. The format is almost standardized: The names of the author(s), the name or names of the intended recipient(s), and the blessing “grace to you and peace”. Usually both the author and recipient are modified by a parenthetical clause, identifying their status: the recipients as faithful Christians, the writer as a person with authority to teach. As Paul grows older these become increasingly elaborate; by the time he wrote Romans, he followed the word “Paul” with a seventy-word parenthetical description of himself! (Romans 1:1-6)
Here, however, he is restrained; there is only the expression “in god father and lord Jesus Christ”. Whether this describes the Thessalonians, or Paul and his two disciples, or characterizes the spirit of the letter itself, is ambiguous. As we will see time and again in Paul, such ambiguities are often best resolved by considering the ambiguity intentional; which is to say, Paul intended that the reader understand all three meanings. It is not really ambiguous, but states a unity of multiple meanings. Paul, the Thessalonian church, and the letter between them are unified by their new existence in God the Father and Jesus Christ.
The inclusion of Silvanus and Timothy in the “from” clause might look innocent enough, but it is Exhibit #1 in one of the great debates about the Bible: Who wrote Paul's epistles, and which of them are authentic to Paul? It is natural for Paul to include Timothy and Silvanus, whether or not they had any part in writing the letter, since they were co-founders of the church in Thessalonica, and Timothy (as we will see) had returned there after they had been driven out.
We do know that Paul's eyesight became poor quite early, requiring that he dictate his letters to a scribe (See Galatians 6:11), but we don't know when this began, nor the degree of editorial freedom that the scribe might have had. On the other hand, Paul may be the only apostleLuke wrote the most educated and elegant Greek of any New Testament author, but he is not considered an apostle; he was a Gentile convert after Jesus' ascension. whom we are certain could read and write Greek. But we do not know anything about the educational level of Timothy and Silvanus. Timothy certainly spoke Greek fluently, because he was Greek by birth; it was his native language.
The problem is compounded by Paul's frequent use of “we”, raising the question: Does this mean more than one person is participating in writing the letter? This is not a great issue in 1 Thess., where he has included Timothy and Silvanus as senders of the letter — we could decide that Paul is simply writing the letter on behalf of himself and the other two. It will become a more difficult issue in later epistles, where only Paul himself is named.
The phrase “grace to you and peace” is practically boilerplate for Paul. “Grace” is actually an Hellenistic concept; the term was widely used in Classical Greece over a wide range of meanings, including the favor of a god. Paul might have actually picked the term up as a greeting from pagan Greeks. But certainly, he includes it for its specific appeal to Greek converts. “Peace”, on the other hand, is typically Hebrew; even today, Israelis greet one another with “ShalomSimilarly, the typical greeting in Arabic, a Semitic language related to Hebrew, is salaam, “peace”.”.