In this commentary Gordon Fee aims first and foremost to offer a fresh exposition of the text of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. He shows the reader what is in the biblical text, what the text meant in the first century, and what it means now. Fee reveals the logic of each argument or narrative before moving on to the details of each verse, and he concludes each section with a theological-practical reflection on the meaning of the text today. Among other things, Fee explores the occasion for writing for each epistle, restoring 2 Thessalonians to the place it deserves as a full companion to the first letter, rather than merely a tag along to 1 Thessalonians.
“Rather, his point is that believers who have hope in the resurrection do not sorrow in the same way as others, people who lack that hope.” (Pages 168–169)
“Continual prayer is the ongoing reminder that God’s children are always and wholly dependent on their heavenly Father for all things. It is also in this context that they are ‘in all circumstances’ to ‘give thanks’—including those of their present lot. It is especially important to note that the modifier in this case does not say ‘for all things,’ but ‘in all circumstances.’ It is neither reasonable nor biblical piety to imagine that God wishes his children to be thankful for all things that befall them, good or ill. Rather, a thankful heart should simply be a way of life for those whom God has redeemed through Christ.” (Page 215)
“The point is that Paul, in a thoroughgoing way, understood joy, prayer, and praise (thanksgiving) as both the result and the evidence of the Spirit’s presence.” (Page 214)
“Thus, it is especially important in the context of the more saccharine Christianity of a later time to note that Paul’s emphasis here is not so much on the experience of joy,35 but on the active expression of it. They are to ‘rejoice always,’ which, as Philippians 4:4 bears out, means not simply to express joy in general, but specifically to ‘rejoice in the Lord.’ This is not a sugar-coated call for putting on a happy face in the midst of difficulties. Here is a church that is undergoing severe hardship because of its faith in Christ. God’s will for such a community, both as individuals and as they gather for worship, is that as a matter of first importance they continue to exalt Christ by rejoicing, with him as the focus.” (Pages 214–215)
Fee could not be boring even if he tried. The zest of his prose makes him exciting to read, and his scholarship is always rigorous.
—D. A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Gordon Fee brings his exceptional skill as an exegete together with his pastor’s heart in this very helpful commentary on Paul’s two Thessalonian letters. Fee delivers his depth of insight into the text in prose that is a model of clarity and readability. Everyone will appreciate his concise and challenging applications at the end of each section.
—Clinton E. Arnold, dean, Talbot School of Theology
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