Bibles & BeerPodcasts

Bibles & Beer 02.10: Paul Takes It All Back


Evening, evening, evening, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us for Bibles and beer. Tonight, it is time yet again for an updated twist on the Wednesday night Bible study that you may have grown up with today. Reverend Dr. David Breeden will offer readings from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures that make up the Bible. We’ll cover some of the Christian basics, explore the Bible’s themes, contradictions and curiosities tonight. Grab your Bibles, bring them on up open to the New Testament, because tonight we’re going to go all exegesis on Paul and the Rapture. Something doesn’t make sense in the literary voice doesn’t match. So find a glass of wine or stout and let’s dig in a witch drink. Do you have on tap tonight, David?

I have a local beer barrel house. This is a particular one as a lager called Wonder Stuff because, hey, what more wonderful is there than raising from the dead? So let’s crack open a beer here and think about it. Yeah. All right. Absolutely. Well, let’s get right at. By the way, I do have to share your beer brewed by monks. So it’s related to holy water. And here we have a medieval illustration of of a nice monk having a good quaff of beer out of his bowl. And so. Yeah, oh, very nearly holy water. Tonight I want to talk about Paul takes it all back or does that is the question and central question theologically about two books, first and second Thessalonians, very short little books, but very important in Christian teachings. Now the first epistle to the Thessalonians, usually written as one Thessalonians, is considered an authentic letter by Paul to the Church of Thessalonika, probably written in fifty two of the common era. You can see the map here. Thessalonika is way up to the north up here, Macedonia on a map here. And Thessalonika was the capital of that particular area back in Roman days. So a very important church to have gotten started there. But a fair piece from Athens. So it appears that the situation was grief among those converts who had assumed the second coming would occur before loved ones died. They were asking, what now? Now what?

The trick here to remember is that Christianity from its very beginning was an apocalyptic faith. The end is always near and Paul was preaching that as well.

The end is near now. The people in Thessaloniki and the church thought the end is near. Therefore, my loved ones aren’t going to die. Right. And so we’re all going to be happily ever after here. And then time passed, as time passed, as time passes and the loved ones begin to die off problem. They are not happy with what Paul was preaching to them. So now what is going to happen? So First Thessalonians for 13, but we do not want you to be uninformed brothers and sisters, writes Paul, about those who have died so that you may not grieve as others do, who have no hope for, since we believe that Jesus died and rose again. Even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.

So by golly, when when Jesus comes again, God comes again. You see. Do you see the little jumble of that here too? Who’s coming back?

Christ, yeah. Don’t really know. But he’s going to bring the dead people back with him. So I guess he’s going to come back with their souls. And this is one of the things that’s been debatable through Christian theological time. Right. So and this is probably the most famous bit right here for this. We declare to you by the word of the Lord that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died, will by no means precede those who have died. Wait for it for the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the arch angels calling with the sound of God’s trumpet will descend from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise again as. You say in the King James version that dead in Christ shall rise. So there’s a situation living people on the earth. They’ve been talking about the souls of the dead going up to heaven, clearly, because now Paul is saying, wait a minute, what’s going to happen here is that somebody is coming back second coming and the dead souls are going to be coming back down and their bodies are going to go shooting up into the sky, be reunited with their souls. And they’re the first ones who are going to be raised when this thing happens. And then we the living and notice that he thinks that he’s going to be living, will then join Christ or in the second coming. So you see how this is working. This is has become very complex theological thought in Christian communities, because this is not the only place where this is described. So, you know, is this how it’s going to happen is a good question. But it is where we get flying people, which you will find in illustrations all over the Internet. All you got to do is type in the dead, in Christ shall rise. And you’ll see lots of floating people in the illustrations then.

Now, this is Paul going on First Thessalonians, then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

This is going to happen. Tell each other that this is going to happen and then you’re going to be happy people again. So Thessalonians are upset because the end of the world hasn’t come.

They say, hey, Paul, what’s happening to all of our dead relatives here? You said that God’s coming again any day they yasein. So we’re upset about this. And so Paul fixes the problem with this particular letter to his people. Now, the second epistle to the Thessalonians is of uncertain authorship. And if you look back in older biblical criticism or certainly if you look at evangelical biblical criticism today, you’re going to hear that the second Thessalonians is indeed Paul’s work.

But it doesn’t exactly add up. And you’ll see how the the two ideas are definitely not really the same when we go back into this. It purports to be second. Thessalonians purports to be a follow up and clarification of the passages quoted above, but it is totally different in tone.

I’ve got a picture here just to kind of think about a little bit. This is one of the lower creped areas in the the church building in the Thessalonica. It’s there today. The building itself is from above ground is from the fourth century of the common era. But there has been a building there of since the first century. And so part of this is probably the original church down there in underneath the what is now very much a Russian Orthodox, Greek looking church building there. So second Thessalonians and this is this is of Chapter two as to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

Wait a minute. What’s going on? The Day of the Lord. Don’t mistake it. It’s not already here now. What does that mean? What does it mean? It’s not coming tomorrow. Does that mean that somebody is going around saying it already happened? What does it mean? Very good question. And we’re not clear here.

Paul is often very evasive, shall we say, on tricky theological matters. So he’s having it both ways here. But if it is Paul writing. But we beg you not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here, it appears that the Thessalonians Church is getting other letters, which this letter writer is saying are forgeries, are not Paul’s.

Does that mean that this is Paul and the other one? Wasn’t and somehow things got messed up and wires got crossed over time. We don’t know, but there is something very suspicious going on here. Also, we have to look for a very serious heresy going on. Does that passage imply buy already here that the end time has passed, in which case in this book is out of Hindu tradition, very much more of a Hindu idea than it is a Christian idea.

But the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of Christ within you, which is very much a Gnostic idea, it was alive within certain heretical Christians at the time. But remember when Paul is actually alive in the 1st century of the common era, of course, there is no pope dead. Tell us what’s right and what’s wrong. So are we going to start taking the rising of Christ as metaphorical? That may be what was going on here, or it may be that the writer of Second Thessalonians is trying to put the calendar off a little bit because he’s already seen that, you know, this is not really adding up.

And I need to backtrack a little bit. Let’s take a break quickly, because that’s a little bit of a complicated issue. And I guess what it leaves me with the question is this.

You know, Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher. He says one stone will not be left on another. Weep for Jerusalem. It’s coming to an end as he predicts that the world will come to an end and he’s going to come back with the angels to to make things right on the earth. So apocalypticism, as I said earlier, is built into Christianity from the very beginning or before the beginning. Right. The minus years.

So Paul’s going to be preaching that. Why not, that’s part of the tradition already, but it doesn’t happen, so I have to wonder, I mean, yeah, I mean, Christian Orthodoxy would say that Paul is divinely inspired. He knows everything from top to bottom. But I have to wonder if he’s making it up as he goes along. And I think this disjunct in second, first and second Thessalonians really shows that if it is, Paul is making it up as he goes along. So, yeah, that that at least for me anyway, that is what first strikes me, is that he’s trying to make it up as he goes along. But yeah. OK, take a little break.

I need to pour my beer here so. Yeah.

Well why don’t you go ahead and pour your beer beer, because this definitely is a quite interesting and powerful set of information so many Christians hold very tightly to a tribulation. It is the concept of that, you know, we will enter this horrible, horrific period of time. They will be raptured up. And First Thessalonians four. And this whole passage that we’re dealing with tonight is much of the foundation behind that philosophy. There is supporting arguments and supporting scripture. But we take this as the the handling of it. So when we have that, then what’s the next conversation? What’s the next voice of that? You know, it puts the conversation about the rapture being a legitimate practice into question, right?

Yep. Yep, it sure does. I mean I mean, it’s a beautiful image, isn’t it?

I mean, the the dead in Christ shall rise. I mean, we hear that that’s an every Christian funeral, isn’t it? You know, I mean, that’s, you know, that that’s the deal. The dead in Christ shall rise. And that’s the big promise. And Paul says this is the whole people. This is the hope. Yeah. And if it’s not the hope, there’s a problem. There’s a problem here. Right. So you can see why he’s going to backtrack or try to try to fix the preaching anyway as he goes along.

But definitely when we understand, you know, when you deal with a lot of the cults, this type of mathematic methodology. Right. You’re trying to see what’s right now. Right. And there are time frames that are put in the Bible that says things that you with this generation shall not passed before I return that whole conversation. That becomes a part of that. Now, there’s all sorts of metaphorical analysis that people attempt to do with that. But as people look at that, they start to go, well, is it? Is it, is it? And so you hit on this, I think, a couple of weeks ago that it’s it’s you have to keep feeding the fires you up.

Yes, you do. Yeah. Well, and, you know, I mean, and he’s preaching something brand new.

He’s going around, you know, the Mediterranean here, opening up churches and people are kind of flocking to this new this new idea.

And in the end, it is a new idea. So, you know, whatever he pulls out of the out of the hat is true, right? I mean, because they haven’t heard it before. It’s not like, you know, it’s not like you have this vast dictionary of Christian theology in your head or you can look it up on the Internet. What Paul says has to be, yeah, it’s Christianity, he’s the dude.

And then to you know, and then to have him not be correct is a little bit upsetting. And, you know, and clearly, there are other preachings going on around there because he’s always talking about false teachers. So there are other Christians around all the time with very different ideas, apparently, because he calls them false. You know, I’m true. They’re false, you know. So, yeah. So and then, you know, there he is probably stuck either in Rome or Athens. We don’t really know. But or current. There’s there’s some debate about how many years take this takes. But here he is on, you know, days, months away from this church, you know, sending them a letter, you know, get into shape, you know, or remember me, get back, get back to work here.

So, yeah. Yeah.

Well, you know, as we think about the rapture, right. We have to say it in Austin. You know, John, John throws it out there in Austin. I saw a bumper sticker that said, in case of rapture, can I have your car?

Yes. That I definitely throw it back to the audience. Those of you who are listening, this isn’t just a one way street.

What are your understandings and your. Around the rapture, do you have any questions or conversations that we want to go into this while we go into this? Do you want to start moving into the next passage?

Yeah, yeah. Give folks a little to think about here and we’ll go on. So, yeah, we we have this idea of when does this resurrection happen? Maybe it is immediate. It’s going to happen really just like that today. Tomorrow. Many Christians still think that it’s going to happen someday. But there’s going to be a bunch of stuff that’s going to happen first. And this is all in prophecy. Wait for it. Wait for it. But it will happen. And then there’s this Gnostic idea that a metaphorical resurrection, which happens in a subjective consciousness, it’s in your own heart, in other words.

But let’s go on with what? With what either Paul or someone pretending to be. Paul says in second Thessalonians, let no one deceive you in any way for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first. Now, there’s no mention of rebellion in First Thessalonians. You know, Jesus is coming back, you know, and and all our dead relatives are going to go floating into the air. That’s that’s a beautiful, peaceful idea. But suddenly we’ve got the rebellion. Now, what the heck is that? He doesn’t say now. So unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one, that’s one translation. Another translation is man of sin. Now, later, Christian theology says that must be the Antichrist. But Paul doesn’t say that here. It would make sense if you want if you think that all of this makes sense in some kind of hole. But he doesn’t say it in. And does he even know that term is so? The law of the lawless one is going to come around. He’s going to be revealed is revealed the one destined for destruction. So whoever this man of sin is, he he is destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so called God or object of worship so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God.

So the lawless one, the Antichrist, somebody we’ve got to wait for the rebellion and we got to wait for this guy to appear, is going to do some pretty big stuff here. He’s going to move into the churches and and call himself God. So, no, that hasn’t happened. So I guess the end times are not coming tomorrow. Right? You know, because I haven’t seen that. Do you not remember that I told you it reminding people that I told you these things when I was still with you and you know, what is now restraining him so that he may be revealed when his time comes? They maybe knew what was restraining this man of whatever Antichrist maybe, but we don’t know what would be restraining him. And why do the Thessalonians know and why can’t we mention it again in the letter if we’re trying to make things clear? You remember my preaching back those months ago when I would stopped by. You knew about all this then, but. Yeah, kind of kind of strange, isn’t it, for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. But so there is something going on that is leading toward the end. But it’s so it’s already working, but it’s not yet. It’s already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed.

Yeah, so who was that again, and we don’t we don’t know, although it seems that Paul preached about it and then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. That did it as some kind of logo, some kind of word, be dead or whatever. And by golly, the lawless one will be dead. Right. Annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming manifested. Actually, it actually happening. OK, so this is this is new information that’s going on here. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan. This is how we know that Paul is not talking about Satan as the lawless one. That would be my first guess if I were reading it or hearing it for the first time, Satan. But no, that’s not it. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power signs, lying, wonderous and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

Oh, wait a minute.

Now, in the Hebrew scripture, God does send evil upon people of Pharaoh, gets all the curses and that kind of thing. But in Christian scripture in general, this doesn’t happen. But in this place, it goes back to the old way of doing things, old Hebrew teachings. For this reason, God sends them a powerful bujon. So God says be deluded. And suddenly the people are deluded. Now they’ve they’ve already been disobedient or refused to love the truth, but God sends them delusion. So kind of harkening back to a much more Old Testament way of thinking or seeing things. So, oh, my gosh, the rebellion.

Never heard of that before. The man of lawlessness. Who is that? The restrainer. Oh, my gosh. We have these new ideas that are nowhere else in Christian scripture.

All we can do is try to make it up out of our understandings from other places. But we have to flip to those other places. They these are mysteries that appear nowhere else. First Thessalonians claims that the second coming, the Perusia that’s the term in Greek is at hand. Right. It’s going to happen any day. Second, Thessalonians withdraws that claim and lays out some mysterious happenings that will occur before the second coming occurs. That’s the difference between the two books.

And here’s a clue, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here, it may be that this letter is saying the first Thessalonians is a forgery. It’s certainly saying some letters are forgeries and we don’t have any other letters. So that may be one clue as to what’s going on here. Lost in time, however. The man of lawlessness or man of sin is usually interpreted as the Antichrist, a term that appears only four times. Count them four times in Christian scripture in the first and second epistles of John, not in the Book of Revelation, which is also supposedly written by John Snow for mentions of the Antichrist, one of them, and plural, by the way, of those four antichrists that occur. But but we’re going to backtrack here and we’re going to put that into this other understanding. By golly, wouldn’t you like to go to this church in Macedonia where the Antichrist is up in the dome and we’ve got the deluded people worshiping him? He looks like a very happy kind of antichrist there. Yeah. Makes you want to go to Macedonian churches and see the very cool art on the ceiling there, so.

For mentions of Antichrist in two letters, epistles, both called John 1st and 2nd John, and no mention of that here. But wait, there’s more. Apparently, those who thought the world was ending stopped working. Oh, my gosh.

Because, I mean, we know from the Miller writes back in the 40s when this idea that the world was about to end. Lots of people sold all their possessions that gave their possessions away. They quit work and they just hung out and waited for the end to come.

Apparently, this was happening in Thessalonika to.

Now, this was certainly my parents and grandparents favorite of Bible verse, this from the King James version If a man will not work, neither shall he eat. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard that when I was a kid. If a man will not work, neither shall we eat. It’s a little different. And in the new revised standard version, the Paul is basically saying that.

So now we command you beloved in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers, believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they receive from us. These are apparently members of the Church of Thessalonica and they have just stopped. You know, the end is coming. The end is near. I’m just not going to bother anymore. Why buy life insurance? Why go to work for you yourselves? Know how you ought to imitate us, us being Paul and his companions? We were not idle when we were with you and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it. But with toil and labor, we worked night and day so that we might not burden any of you. The tradition there is that because Paul was a tent maker, he would set up shop and make tents while when he moved to a city and thereby make his own living so that he wasn’t living off the people in the church. This was not because we do not have that right, says Paul or Second Thessalonians guy. But in order to give you an example to imitate for even when we were with you, we gave you this command. Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies not doing any work.

Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Get up, pull your boots on and get to work. If they will not work, they shall not eat. Well, quite the story. I think it’s something to think about because we don’t know the answer to these mysteries.

Was those two books written by the same person it appears Paul wrote the first one and not the second one. Maybe, but in which case, why was the second person claiming to be Paul and saying that the first was a forgery, or is that what he was saying, et cetera, et cetera? But some people are living off the land. Maybe they even had themselves a Bible and the beer.

So something to think about. Something to think about. That’s what I’ve got for you this evening to think about.

Oh, that’s definitely a lot of coverage. When we when we think about it, we got some pretty interesting and pretty good comments kidding on this.

John was remarking earlier about in Texas specifically where he is. There are lots of bumper stickers that say in case of rapture, this car shall be unmanned.

The rapture is definitely something that I can say fascinates and takes over much of the mindset here in America. The amount of when I was working with as a as a pastor, that was a common way for doing revivals in towns. Yeah, we have several comments which hits on the whole, you know, oops moment saying, never mind, we not really get better.

We’re taking this back. We’re not exactly sure where we are at.

Paul has a little bit of explaining to do when it comes to something.

Yeah. Yes, he does. Yes, he did. Well, I you know, there was an atheist group that I thought was really smart. And, you know, maybe this needs to be a fundraiser among some atheist humanist groups. But they were selling insurance, pet insurance, because, you know, we’re atheists.

We’re not going to go we’re not going to go up in the rapture. So we’ll take care of your pet after you have been raptured, dear Christian, for X number of dollars. And we’ll write will even write you a contract for that.

So not nice. Not nice, but but taking people at their word.

Yeah, absolutely.

You know, we definitely also you know, we’ve gotten some comments.

And one of the things that I think that’s quite interesting in our discussion when we talk about the dinner conversation is how the man of sin becomes a focal and a central point as it becomes a political point scoring system of accusing the other side to be a part of Satan’s army.

Right? Right. Yes. Well, yes. And Paul already gets into that, that, you know, that there are these false teachers out there. They even do mirror. I mean, Paul says, you know, they they perform miracles, but you still can’t trust them, even though they’re doing this miraculous stuff because they haven’t got it right. And I do. And I do.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Well, I mean, it’s very sad when you talk about, like many of the fundamentalist religions, it was very common for me. I had heard from my pastor talking about Mormonism is a cult that is a part of Satan’s plan to prevent people from going to heaven. Hmm. Solecism is a cult, and you would almost get down to the place and depending on how tight or narrow they were having their conversation, of course. Right. Because, again, it’s about how you’re in group versus out group dynamics are you could even get down to the church across the street is. And how does it address these things? Because it becomes so easy to just to start to accuse and to use this. And I’ve seen both the Thessalonians passages first the first one that you read from First Thessalonians, four and four, Second Thessalonians two used in comparison to try Splinter’s. My father was an millennialist or post-millennial. Right. So here’s his thought, was that we were already in the millennium. Right. And so he would he would rely very heavily on Second Thessalonians two for much of his bearings right away. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Slow down, everyone. Slow down. Where then I’d go to some of my more evangelical groups with Child Evangelism Fellowship and their responses were very much we have to drive home the tribulation. So they focus their passages on First Thessalonians four.

Yup, yup, yup. Well, it is, as we discussed with you know, we’ve looked at revelations some the the thing about symbolic systems, when you get into it, you know, you know, the man of sin, you know the restrainer, you know, you know, I mean, you can you can fill in the blank pretty well, you know, with these. And that’s the thing. I mean, apparently, you know, whoever wrote that was talking about something that he had been preaching. But now we have no idea that that simply disappeared from from Christian memory. And so now you can plug it in, you know, who’s the restrainer? Well, the pope. No, no. You know, the Christian nationalists, you know, and, you know, it’s keeping the forces of of chaos away from us.

And, yeah, you can fill in the blank, but and then also saying, you know, which one is the true epistle and trying to tie the two together, which then, of course, creates so much more controversy between, you know, how do we tie those two together? We were talking about the political ramifications. Joyce brings up the part, the Romney. His problem was the strong feeling among evangelicals that Mormonism is a cult. And I could definitely understand and feel for that language coming from Utah.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, I mean, my thing about that is, you know, the Mormon Church is about as socialist as it gets, but just for its own members. Right. So, you know, you know, so I was if Romney had become president, you know that.

But, you know, it’s interesting how his fortunes changed among liberals over time if he becomes the sane one later. So. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, no, apparently the yes. People did buy the insurance. I mean, from the article that I was reading.

So yes, it’s a bust, but I would feel bad. I have to admit I would feel bad. Yeah.

Well and you know, my wife sent me an article today, Beth Moore, who I had never heard of, a popular evangelical Christian and Bible teacher, says she’s no longer a Southern Baptist. So that’s a CNN article. And I think a Washington Post article that she can read. She has a 16 million dollar Bible study group.

What’s wrong with you people? Right. Where’s my 16 million? And and but she’s has a problem. She she didn’t agree with Trump. And she and so she drove a wedge with that. And now the fact that women can’t preach and Southern Baptist Convention. So she has left. And that’s a very interesting development that for women in America’s most populous Protestant denomination.

So you’re not hitting on something that maybe sometime we will have to try, which is I would love. To hear a humanist half hour breaking down the current events and news of the week, I think that would be quite interesting to get a humorous take on some of the latest news and some of the stories. With that said, we are hitting 740, which is about the time that we like to bring us things all to a close. We’ve been having a pretty good time breaking into understanding letters from prison, the Reverend David Bredon and coffee and wisdom. What do you have on tap tomorrow morning?

Oh, well, we are going to talk tomorrow about probably we’ve been talking about a pistils episodes and prison writing.

Probably the most important in our own time prison writer is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, not as much known among humanists, but among liberal Christians. He’s a very, very important person and want to look a little bit of what he was writing from prison as he awaited execution by the Nazis.

So that’s tomorrow.

What do we have? What are we going to be talking about next Wednesday? What does everyone have to look forward to tomorrow?

Well, we got to go on into the Josef story, because that’s Joseph. He picks up that trickster gene from dad, Jacob, and he starts doing some very interesting things as he’s hanging around Egypt there. So, you know, we got to go and deeper into that plot of the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

So, oh, quite awesome that we’re kind of taking that through each of the patriarchs over the last week. So, you know, if you haven’t go back to last week’s to better understand Jacob and an introduction to Joseph and the week before for an introduction into Abraham, the after party has thrown the Lincoln in. I hope to see everyone there. We will bring this to a close. Thanks, everyone. And for those joining us in the after party, I look to see you very shortly. Thanks, everybody.

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