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II.  St Paul's Letters during 2nd missionary Journey:
 Second  Period
Acts Ist Period III - IV to conclusion

2nd mission
Acts 2nd Period  2nd Journey
Galaatians Acts  Romans
Acts St Paul Arrest Trial

From St Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians
1 Prologue 2 Ascension
of Jesus
3 Matthias
elected  Apostle
4 Pentecost
5 Peter's speech 6 First Christian community
7 The cure of a cripple 8 Peter's speech
in the Temple
9 Peter and John at the Sanhedrim
10  prayer of the persecuted community 11 Brotherly love of the first Christians 12  Ananias and Sapphira deceit
13 Growth of the Christian community
14 The Apostles are arrested and brought before the Sanhedrim
15 Intervention by Gamaliel
16 Election of the seven deacons 17 Stephen on trial before the Sanhedri 18 Stephen's speech
19 Martyrdom of Stephen
III. Philip and Peter in Judea / Samaria  20 Jerusalem Churchpersecutio 21 Philip's Samaria mission
22 Simon Magus 23 Baptism of the Ethiopian
24 Conversion of Saul
25 Saul'sDamascus preaching  26 Saul's visit to Jerusalem 27 Peter's Lydda/Joppa 28 calling of Cornelius Centurion  29 Interlude: Peter's vision 30Peterbaptizes Cornelius
31  Peter justifies Cornelius' baptism 32 Church In Antioch help for  Jerusalem 33 JamesMartyed of  Peter's release 34 Death of
Herod Agrippa
35 BarnabasSaul again at Antioch 36 Paul and Barnabas receive their commission
37 Barnabas and Saul  at Cyprus 38 Antioch in Pisidia
39 Iconium, Lystra and Derbe
40 Return
to Antioch
41 Difficulties raised Judaizing Christians
42 The Council of Jerusalem
43 The Apostolic Decree 44 Paul's second mission
45 Visit to the Churches of Asia Minor
46 Paul's arrival in Europe:Philippi
47 Paul at Thessalonica
48 Beroea
49 Paul reaches Athens
50 The Speech on the Areopagus
51 Paul at Corinth
52 The Proconsul
refuses to judge Pa

53 150 Return to Antioch
54 Introduction 55 Paul wishes to see  Thessalonians again 56 Timothy's Mission
57 The lot of departed Christians  

58 The Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly
59 The coming of the Lord is not imminent
60 The warning to the disorderly

Disciples 1st called
 Christians when? answer
Answer Who  was  Tabitha
 and where?
'To an unknown god.'
The word 'simony'  answer
Aquila and Priscilla
who wrote the 1st Gospel
who wrote the
3rd Gospel  and Acts  Answer
When was  Acts
written Answer

Symeon who
was called?  Answer
passage of Christianity from Asia into
 Europe Answer
Symeon related
how God first
 visited Who?
How many letters
  of  St Paul
important event
 early Church!
3 special friends
Crispus believes
who drove Jews
 from Rome when and why? Answer

When and where did Paul write his first letter? Answer
What is the Parousia St Paul talks of Answer Why will Christ not 'return' Answer

     Paul's second journey begins in the light of the Council of Jerusalem, which, with its decision by the college of Apostles, has cleared up doctrinally all the uncertainties about the conversion of pagans.
     This journey presents two special features.  First, under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit that St Luke explicitly emphasizes (see No. 45) Christianity enters Europe.  Secondly, Paul mindful of Christ's command the Gospel must be taken to the ends of the earth, feels the need to remain in close contact with his first churches, 'to strengthen' the first communities already founded.  For the same reason Paul began to write his first Letters - from Corinth to the Thessalonians (see No. 54) during this journey.
     This is one of the busiest periods of his missionary life.  It was just at this time that the most important Christian communities were formed.
Saint Paul's second journey leaving Antioch accompanied by Silas he went through Tarsus  and the 'gates of Cilicia' whence he reached Derbe and Lystra where he took with him the faithful Timothy.  Paul then visited Antioch in Pisidia and reached Troas where Luke joined the party.Thence he went to Europe disembarking at Neapolis in Macedonia whence, following the 'via Egnatia' he evangelized Phillipi, Amphibolis, Apollonia, and Thessalonica.  Thence he had to flee to Beroea and then to Athens and then to Corinth where he spent a year and a half as guest of Aquilla and Priscilla.  Then having called at Ephesus, Caesearea, and Jerusalem he returned to Antioch (in Syria). 

44 Paul's second mission
    (Acts 15, 36-40)
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    36 And after some days Paul said to Barnabas, "Come, let us return and visit the brethren in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 And Barnabas wanted to take with them John called Mark. 38 But Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there arose a sharp contention, so that they separated from each other; Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed, being commended by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.

The gates of Cilicia This gorge in the Tarus mountain range, a few kilometres from Tarus, was the only practicable pass leading to the Anatolian plateau. 
Paul passed this was several times on his missionary journys.

45 Visit to the Churches of Asia Minor
    (Acts 15, 41; 16, 1-10)
   15 41 And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
   16 1 And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and they increased in numbers daily.
    6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; 8 so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing beseeching him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help " 10 And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought us to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (1)
(1)    From v. 10 to v. 17 of the following number is a passage called a 'we-section'.  It does in fact change without warning from the third person to 'we'. This gives rise to the opinion that in these events the author, St Luke, was himself present (see Introduction on page 31). This passage is also important because it marks the passage of Christianity from Asia into Europe.
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46 Paul's arrival in Europe: Philippi
    (Acts 16, 11-40)
   11 Setting sail therefore from Troas we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony.  We remained in this city some days; 13 and on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshipper of God.  The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay."  And she prevailed upon us.
   16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by soothsaying. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." 18 And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, "I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.
     19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the rulers; 20 and when they had brought them to the magistrates they said, "These men are Jews and they are disturbing our city.
21 They advocate customs, which it is not lawful for us Romans to accept or practice."  22 The crowd joined in attacking them; and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely.
24 Having received this charge, he put them into the inner Prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one's fetters were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.
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28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and brought them out and said, "Men, what must I do to be saved?" 31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God.
     35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, "Let those men go."  36 And the jailer reported the words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go; now therefore come, out and go in peace." 37 But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, (1) and have thrown us into prison; and do they now cast us out secretly?  No! Let them come themselves and take us out." 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens; so they came and apologized to them.  39 And they took them out and asked them to leave the city.  40 So they went out of the prison, and visited Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they exhorted them and departed.
(1)    The Roman citizen enjoyed a privileged position as compared with the other subjects of the empire with regard to the penal law. The Lex Portia of 248 B.C. had absolutely forbidden the beating with rods of a Roman citizen before a formal death sentence. That law was later on brought up to date in favour of the Roman citizen.  In Paul's day it gave him the further right to appeal to the Imperial Tribunal during any stage of a lawsuit, and so to withdraw himself from any local tribunal (see also Nos. 104-109).

47 Paul at Thessalonica
     (Acts 17, 1-9)
      1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apolionia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ."  4 And some of them were persuaded, and joined Paul and Silas; as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
5 But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked fellows of the rabble, they gathered a crowd, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brethren before the city authorities, crying, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, 7 and Jason has received them; and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." 8 And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard this. 9 And when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go.

48 Beroea
   (Acts 17, 10-15)
      10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea; and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica learned that Paul at Beroea proclaimed the word of God also, they came there too, stirring up and inciting the crowds. 14 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

49 Paul reaches Athens
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      16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there. 18 Some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers met him. And some said, "What would this babbler say?" Others said, "He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities because he preached Jesus and the resurrection." 19 And they took hold of him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is which you present? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears; we wish to know therefore what these things mean."  21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

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50 The Speech on the Areopagus
    (Acts 17, 22-34)
     22 So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God, who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything.  26 And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, 28 for
   'in him we live and move and have our being;'
as even some of your poets have said,

       'For we are indeed his offspring.' (1)
     29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead."
      32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, "We will hear you again about this."
33 So Paul went out from among them. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
(1)    The quotation is from the Greek poet Aratos (Phenomena 5). In Chreon's Hymn to Zeus also there is a similar expression, which incidentally was quite usual in popular poetry.
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51 Paul at Corinth
       (Acts 18, 1-11)
     1 After this he left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.(1) He went to see them; 3 and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them, and they worked, for by trade they were tentmakers. 4 And he argued in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks.
5 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with preaching, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. 6 And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, "Your blood be upon your heads!  I am innocent.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles." 7 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshipper of God;
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His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 Crispus, ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household; and many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized.{2} 9 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man shall attack you to harm you; for I have many people in this city." 11 And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
(1)    In his life of the Emperor Claudius the Roman historian Suetonius writes in Chapter 25: 'He drove the Jews from Rome because they were continually rioting at the behest of Crestus' (he means Christ). This happened between 48 and 50 A.D.
{2 author insert -- St Crispin, martyr, headed the local Jewish synagogue served as the bishop of the Aegean Islands feast day Oct 4.}

52 The Proconsul refuses to judge Paul
   (Acts 18, 12,17)
     12 But when Gallio (1) was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack upon Paul and brought him before the tribunal, 13saying, "This man is persuading men to worship God contrary to the law." 14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, "If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, I should have reason to bear with you, Jews; 15 but since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves; I refuse to be a judge of these things." 16 And he drove them from the tribunal. 17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to this.

(1)    Gallio, proconsul of Achaia in the years 51-52, was the brother of the Roman philosopher Seneca.

53 150 Return to Antioch
       (Acts 18, 18-22)
    18 After this Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brethren and sailed for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae (2) he cut his hair, for he had a vow.(1)19 And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there; but he himself went into the synagogue and argued with the Jews.  20 When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined; 21 but on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills," and he set sail from Ephesus.
22 When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch.
23 After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phryg'ia, strengthening all the disciples. 24Now a Jew named Apol'los, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. 25He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aq'uila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. 27And when he wished to cross to Acha'ia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, 28for he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

(1)    We know neither when nor why Paul had taken the vow, which is referred to.  The vow was that of a Nazirite (see Numbers 6,1-21) which involved abstention from alcoholic drinks and from cutting the hair for the whole of its duration.
(2)    Cenchreae was Corinth’s port located about 6.5mi. [9 km.] East on the Saronic Gulf.  It was Corinth lifeline to Athens, to Asia Minor, and additional ports in the eastern Mediterranean. Having stayed at Corinth for 18 months, Paul set sail for Jerusalem (via Ephesus and Caesarea) from here at the end of his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18).  Just prior to his departure he cut his hair in Cenchreae—in fulfillment of a vow (18:18) Later, writing to the church at Rome while staying at Corinth on his third journey, Paul commends Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae to the church at Rome (Romans 16:1-2).

II.  St Paul's Letters written during the second missionary journey
From St Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians
     The first Letter to the Christians in Thessalonica is probably the first New Testament writing. The Gospel was still being preached verbally without anyone having thought of writing it in literary form, when St Paul, for a particular reason, started to communicate by letter with the Christians he had converted, who needed his intervention in disputes which had arisen since he saw them. The system of completing his preaching by means of letters proved effective and St Paul made use of it till the end of his life.  When St Paul wrote this, which was his first Letter, he was at Corinth at the beginning of the evangelization of that great city (see No. 51) towards the end of the year 51 or the beginning of 52.
     Thessalonica, which in more modern times is called Saloniki, already in ancient times a commercial city, because of its position the sea and the Via Egnatia which from Durazzo, almost opposite Brindisi, crossing Macedonia reached the Bosphorus, thus connecting Italy with the East.  Thessalonica was the seat of the proconsul of the Roman Province of Macedonia.  St Paul had evangelized it for some months during his second missionary journey towards the end of the year 50 (see No. 47).  As he had to leave this Christian community in haste, several things remained to be confirmed or clarified. St Paul was concerned about them and, when he received from Timothy news that he was hoping for, he wrote to the Thessalonians exhorting them to persevere, and completing his teaching on the second coming of Christ and on the resurrection of the dead. His disciples and fellow-workers Silvanus (or Silas, see No. 44) and the young Timothy (see No. 45) were associated with St Paul in the Letter.
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54 Introduction
     1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy
     2 To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
     2 We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; 5 for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
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8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but also your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.
55 Paul wishes to see the Thessalonians again
    (2, 17-20)
   17 But since we were bereft of you, brethren, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face; 18 because we wanted to come to you - I Paul, again and again but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming?  Is it not you?  20 For you are our glory and joy.

   The Apostle continues his letter by referring to the circumstances of his preaching at Thessalonica: “We worked night and day that we might not burden any of you,” and to the sufferings which the young Christian community has had to endure at the hands of certain Jews, jealous of the results which Paul had achieved in conversions of the pagans. Then, in the lines quoted here, he expresses the liveliest desire to return to these faithful converts of his. Two things are noticeable: use of the first person plural ('we' instead of 'I') which was often adopted by ancient writers as a sign of humility and modesty, and in the second place, the reference to the second coming of Jesus which is the keynote of all - the Christian hope. The fruits of good works alone will avail at that moment. Then for Paul also the conversion and holy life of the faithful of Thessalonica will be his 'joy' and 'glory'.
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56 Timothy's Mission
    (3, 1-13)
     Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's servant in the gospel of Christ, to establish you in your faith and to exhort you, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. You yourselves know that this is to be our lot. 4 For when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction; just as it has come to pass, and as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent that I might know your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor would be in vain.
   6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you-7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith; 8 for now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we render to God for you, for all the joy, which we feel for your sake before our God, 10  praying earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
      11  Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you; 12  and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you, 13  so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

     St Paul arrived at Athens from Macedonia after the enforced interruption of evangelization at Thessalonica and later at Beroea (see No. 48); from Athens he betook himself to Corinth whence he sent this letter. The loneliness of Athens must have weighed heavily on his heart. The apostle found himself in the midst of an environment completely foreign to his mentality; even his ingenious attempt to meet the Athenians by adapting himself to the religious language of Greek philosophers, had been fruitless (see No. 50).

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     We note how again in this section of the letter he returns to the thought of the second coming of Christ as the source of hope and perseverance.
     In the part that follows (here omitted) the Apostle exhorts the new converts to practice purity in their lives, to grow in brotherly love and to live worthily by their own labor.  So the love of work is presented by the Apostle as a Christian virtue (see No. 60).

57 The lot of departed Christians
   (4, 13-18)
    13  But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep that you may not grieve, as others do who have no hope. 14  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15  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, shall not Precede those who have fallen asleep. 16  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first; 17  then we who are alive who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

      This is the most important passage of the Letter, in which St Paul finishes his teaching on the 'Parousia'. This Greek word, which means 'Presence' or 'Arrival' in state of the Sovereign, had become the popular term to mean the second coming of Christ in glory. Note that Holy Scripture makes use of the word 'coming and 'come', and never of 'return'. Christ 'will come' or 'Comes', he will not 'return' for he has never 'gone away' but is always invisibly present in his Church. For this reason St. Paul also uses the expression manifestation or appearance in glory; Christ, risen, has entered into glory, that is into the inaccessible world of God which, although invisible to our senses, is not 'far away'. To this invisible world we ourselves belong by baptism and divine grace that unites us to Jesus, but it does not yet appear what we are.
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When Christ 'comes' then will be manifested his glorious presence and at the same time our sharing in his glory (see the Letter to the Colossians No. 122). In that same moment the resurrection of the dead will also take place.
      St Paul had told the Thessalonians repeatedly of our life in expectation of the 'Parousia', but these new Christians had not understood everything and were concerned about the fate of their dear ones who had died in the meantime. “What will become of them?” they asked, “when the Lord comes (i.e. Jesus in glory), shall we meet him before our dead and without them?”
     St Paul replies by dissipating their ignorance and consoling us with the Christian hope. Our dead are in Christ, and by virtue of Christ's redemption will arise to be with the risen Christ when he 'comes'. Thus those who are alive at the time of the coming of Christ 'will not arrive first' or 'will not precede' those who are already dead, for the general resurrection will immediately precede the final reunion of all, living and risen, with Christ in glory.
    The mention of the rising of the elect to meet Christ 'in the clouds, in the air' implies that the dead will arise in an entirely new state and even that the living will be radically transformed in their material form. On this point St Paul will insist at greater length when writing to the Christians at Corinth (see-No. 80).
     The Thessalonian Christians hoped still to be alive at the time of the 'Parousia'. St Paul does not take away this hope from them, for in truth no one can know whether the 'day of the Lord' will arrive soon or late (see No. 58 which follows). However the imminence of the Parousia will be ruled out in the second Letter to the Thessalonians (see No. 59).

58 The Day of the Lord will come unexpectedly
    (5, 1-6)
      1 But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When people say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
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5 For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.  6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.
     The 'day of the Lord' is the last intervention of God in human history that will then be at its end. Then God will display the glory of Christ as universal judge. 'Lord' in this phrase, expresses the divinity and kingship of Christ glorified.
     The 'day of the Lord' therefore coincides with the second coming of Christ, with the resurrection of the dead, the universal judgment and the beginning of the reign of God with the elect, unopposed and without end. St Paul had already instructed the faithful of Thessalonica on this matter, which was fundamental to the apostolic preaching, and went back to the words of Christ himself.  Now, one of the characteristics of this 'day' is the impossibility of knowing its date beforehand.  Jesus refused to reveal this secret (Mt. 24, 36) and desired his disciples and the Church always to be vigilant, adorned with good works and spiritually ready to go to meet Christ when he comes.  This is exactly the teaching, which St. Paul wishes to give in this passage from his Letter. The expression 'sons of the light and sons of the day' refers to Christians who, enlightened by Christ's revelation, know where they are going and how they ought to behave, while the wiles of Satan are compared to the night, a time of confusion, bewilderment and licentiousness.
     We may notice that ignorance about the Parousia, so heavily stressed in this passage, ought to have saved the Thessalonians from all worry about its date: but it was not so: they considered themselves authorized to retain 'belief in the imminent coming of Jesus, to such an extent that they lived in anxious expectation and neglected the duties of everyday life. Because of this St. Paul had to intervene with a second Letter (see Introduction, No. 59).
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From St Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians

     Some months after the first Letter St Paul was still at Athens when he heard that serious trouble had broken out in the young Church of Thessalonica: certain excited souls had begun to spread alarm among the faithful as though, from some revelation of the Holy Spirit (see No. 78) or from some other sure sign, it followed that now they were to expect the Parousia or coming of Christ as Judge from one day to the next. St Paul then intervened with a second Letter, in which, after an introduction of thanksgiving to God for the faithful life of the Thessalonians, he went on to an exposition of its chief subject: the Parousia cannot be so imminent.
     The Apostle does not deny the fact that its time is unknown and cannot be known, but he points out that before the Parousia certain things must happen that have not happened, and cannot take place in a short time. The order of events may be clearly summarized thus:
     (1) At the present time the hidden power of evil (the mystery of iniquity) is working against the forces of salvation in action in the Church and in the world. But there exists an obstacle (person or institution), which prevents the manifestation of this hostile power.
     (2) The moment will come when this obstacle will be 'eliminated' and then the 'man of iniquity' will be manifested.
     (3) This person (or institution) will have his own 'Parousia' which will imitate the Parousia of Christ, with miracles true or false but ostentatious, which will seduce those who have hearts prepared to betray their own faith in Christ.
     (4) Thus there will arise a great 'apostasy' (defection): Christians who are indifferent or wavering will abandon the faith in large numbers and will follow the teacher (or teachers) of error.
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     (5) The man of iniquity whom, with St John, we may call Antichrist (see No. 164) will show himself also as Anti-God; he will fight not only against Christ's faithful, but also against every idea of God, putting himself in God's place.  The forces of Satan and the power of the world that is at his disposal would give him the victory, if Christ did not intervene in person.
     (6)    Then, when all seems lost for Christ's faithful, the 'Parousia’ will take place and Antichrist will be overthrown in a flash of lightning. 
      Two things remain obscure in this prophetic vision: who is Antichrist? And what is the obstacle that prevents his manifestation?
     (a)  Antichrist is the human instrument used by Satan to make his plan of perdition triumph. He may be a single person, or a group of persons or an institution.  In fact Jesus prophesied that in the last times 'false prophets and false Christ’s' would arise (Mt. 24,11-24), and on the other hand St Paul writes that the 'mystery of iniquity' is already in action in his day though in a hidden manner.
     (b)  The obstacle must be known to the Thessalonians for St Paul had spoken of it previously.  For us the problem is insoluble. Perhaps it is the preaching and witness of the Apostles and their successors to whom Christ has given the task of guarding and proclaiming the word of salvation. Perhaps it is the evangelization itself which at a certain point will come to an end, according to Jesus' saying: 'This gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come'. (Mt. 24,14)

59 The coming of the Lord is not imminent
      (2, 1-12)
      1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him, we beg you, brethren, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? 
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And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming.  9 The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 
11 Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, 12 so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
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60 The warning to the disorderly
     6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, 8 we did not eat any one's bread without paying, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you. 9 It was not because we have not that right, but to give you in our conduct an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: If any one will not work, let him not eat. 12 For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. 13 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work in quietness and to earn their own living. 14 Brethren, do not be weary in well doing.
14 If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.  15 Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
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      16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.  The Lord be with you all.
    17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the mark in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.  18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

     St Paul continues his letter by congratulating the faithful who show all the signs of being numbered among the elect, called to share in the glory of Christ. But he has to reprove some of them who with the excuse of the immediate expectation of the coming of Jesus, neglect their duties and are no longer working. In paganism work was not honored, slaves were saddled with it.
     The new converts must instead understand, from the example of St Paul himself that true dignity means to earn one's living with one's own hands.   The Letter ends with a greeting written personally by St Paul (the rest was dictated to a scribe) to avoid the propagation of false letters, as had in fact happened at Thessalonica.
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