Monday, November 25, 2013

Apanthsis and 1 Thessalonians 4:17

Here is a little more information about 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and what it potentially teaches us about life in the heavens for all eternity.

C.A. Wannamaker remarks concerning this significant textual unit:

"Since they are to be taken up into the air to meet Jesus this can only refer to their being led to heaven with Jesus"(The Epistles to the Thessalonians: a commentary on the Greek text. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Exeter: Paternoster Press, 1990. Page 176).

(1) As I pointed out in an earlier post, there is no apodictic (or even compelling) evidence that demonstrates APANTHSIS is a terminus technicus used to delineate the action of meeting and subsequently accompanying a dignitary. There was once a custom of engaging in such actions; however, proof for the custom being practiced is not necessarily evidence for a terminus technicus. Notice that the LXX (Exod 19:17) applies APANTHSIS to the Israelites 'meeting' with God at Sinai.

(2) The GNT use of APANTAW/APANTHSIS could have been influenced by LXX usage more so than Hellenistic lingual employment. We simply do not know with any degree of certainty. Joseph Plevnik writes: "The term PAROUSIA was hence used in the technical sense neither by the apostle nor in Hellenistic or Roman sources" ("1 Thessalonians 4,17: The Bringing in of the Lord or the Bringing in of the Faithful?", Vol. 80 1999: 537-546).

(3) We are told that the virgins in a Matthean parable 'go out to meet'(EXHLQON EIS hUPANTHSIN TOU NUMFIOU) the bridegroom. See Matt 25:1. Matt 25:7 even adds: IDOU hO NUMFIOS EXERXESQE EIS APANTHSIN. Later Matthew writes that the bridegroom arrives (HLQEN) and the discreet or wise virgins go in with him to the marriage feast (KAI hAI hETOIMOI EISHLQON MET' AUTOU EIS TOUS GAMOUS KAI EKLEISQH hH QURA). See Matt 25:10.

We must remember that Jesus is relating a parable and some of the details cannot be pressed too far. Therefore, while Matthew does say that the bridegroom arrives and that the imprudent virgins seek to get in the door of the wedding feast after it has been shut, we have no reason to believe that the wedding feast is celebrated on the earth. One piece of information that is withheld from the reader is the general setting of this parable. Where is the wedding feast celebrated? Is it at the bridegroom's house or at the house of Christ's bride? Do the virgins accompany the bridegroom back to his residence or does he feast at the bride's house? See John 14:1-3.

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