1 Thessalonians 4,17: The Bringing in of the Lord or the Bringing in of the Faithful?
In 1 Thess 4,16-17 Paul states that at the Lord"s coming from heaven, the faithful
"will be caught up in the clouds ... to meet (ei)j
a)pa/nthsin) the Lord in the air". In 1930 E. Peterson
explained this as the "bringing in" (die Einholung) of the Lord: at the
coming of the Lord from heaven, the faithful go up to bring him into their earthly city1. Paul"s model here
is the Hellenistic parousia, where the citizens go out to greet the royal visitor and
joyfully bring him into the city2.
With this explanation Peterson changed the traditional interpretation, according to which
the believers go up to stay with the Lord in the heights or in heaven. Peterson"s
explanation, still followed by some exegetes today3, was challenged by J. Dupont4 and others. We shall here re-examine this issue in
the light of Pauline imagery in 1 Thess 4,13-18.
1. The Rise of the "Einholung" Idea
Peterson"s explanation rests on the
meaning of the phrase ei)j a)pa/nthsin used in 1 Thess 4,17 for the meeting between the faithful and the Lord.
According to G. Luedemann5,
it was K. Deissner6 who
first (1912) suggested that the purpose of the a)pa/nthsij is "to receive the Lord at his coming from heaven and return with him to
earth". The new element in this explanation is the return to earth, which is not
explicit in 1 Thess 4,17.
But Deissner was not the first to suggest
this interpretation. Thatyear J.E. Frame, independently of Deissner, wrote in this
connection about the "official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary"7. And both Deissner and
Frame cited earlier scholarly opinions anticipating this view; Frame referred to J.H.
Moulton (1906)8, and
Deissner to E. Teichmann (1896)9. Teichmann
in fact employed the verb einholen ("to bring in", "go to
meet", "go to get") which Peterson in 1929 used for the faithful"s
bringing of the Lord to their earthly abode10.
Teichmann noted that he thereby departed from the view held by O. Pfleiderer (1887)11, R. Kabisch (1893)12, and W. Beyschlag
(1895)13, according to
which the faithful go up to stay with the Lord for ever14.
Deissner"s explanation was taken up by
A. Deissmann and E. Peterson. Peterson adopted Deissner"s word Einholung. But
whereas Teichmann and Deissner still derived their interpretations from 1 Thess 4,16-17
and other Pauline texts, Deissmann and Peterson drew on the Hellenistic parousias.
According to them, the Einholung motif in 1 Thess 4,17 is a replica of Hellenistic
parousias. Recent discoveries of inscriptions, papyri, and ostraca from 200 B.C. to 150
A.D. prove that Hellenistic and Roman parousias were a well-known event in the world in
which the early Christians existed. In the fourth edition of his book Licht vom Osten
(1923), Deissmann suggested that the early Church borrowed the imagery of the Lord"s
coming from Hellenistic parousias. According to him, "The best interpretation of the
Primitive Christian hope of the Parousia is the old Advent text, "Behold, thy King
cometh unto thee""15.
Deissmann based his argument mainly on the
word parousi/a, which has a
Hellenistic overtone and does not appear in the Hebrew bible, the Septuagint or Jewish
apocalyptic writings. He took this word to be a technical term. According to him,
"from the Ptolemaic period down into the 2nd cent. A.D. we are able to trace the word
in the East as a technical expression for the arrival or the visit of the king or the
Deissmann also suggested a resemblance of imagery between Hellenistic parousias and
Paul"s descriptions of Christ"s coming. Describing the Flinders Petrie Papyrus,
This papyrus supplies an exceptionally fine background of contrast to the figurative
language of St. Paul, in which Parousia (or Epiphany, "appearing")
and "Crown" occur together. While the sovereigns of this world expect at
their parousia a costly crown for themselves, "at the parousia of our Lord
Jesus" the apostles will wear a crown the "crown of glory" (1 Thess
2,19) won by his work among the churches, or the "crown of righteousness" which
the Lord will give to him and to all that have loved His appearing (2 Tim 4,8)17.
According to this, the resemblance is not
perfect: there is a shift in imagery. In correspondence with the Hellenistic model, the
crown of Gold here should be a feature of Christ the Lord. But Paul speaks of himself: the
faithful are his "crown of glory". Deissmann can only establish a
"background of contrast". The uniform Hellenistic civilisation, according to
Deissmann, provided many examples of parousias, such as the coming of king Saitapharnes18, or of the healer god
Asclepius at Epidaurus19,
or of the visits of Roman emperors. When Nero visited Corinth and Patras, these cities
struck coins to commemorate the glorious event and indicate the beginning of a new era20. Similarly, the cities
visited by Hadrian minted coins in commemoration of that event.
The word parousi/a, Deissmann notes, had been employed in Egypt and
in Asia Minor, while in Greece the synonym e)pidhmi/a was preferred21.
This, however, weakens his argument that based the congruence of imagery solely on the
common word parousi/a. The
argument is further weakened by the fact that Paul employed the term parousi/a as often for his own visit or the
visit of his co-workers as for the coming of the Lord22. Besides, the term parousi/a was employed in Hellenistic and Roman23 sources for visits
other that the emperor"s. The term parousi/a was hence used in the technical sense neither by the apostle nor in Hellenistic
or Roman sources24.
In his article "Die Einholung des
Kyrios", Peterson marshalled additional evidence from Hellenistic and Roman antiquity that in 1 Thess 4,13-18 Paul
imagined the Lord"s coming along the model of a Hellenistic parousia25. According to
Peterson, 4,17 is to be understood as follows: "The Kyrios, i. e. Christ, is coming
down from heaven.... But while he is still on his way from heaven to earth, Christians,
those still alive as well as the deceased, go up on the clouds to receive him. They meet
him in the a)h/r, i. e. in the
layer of air which belongs to the earth"26.
Peterson focused on the encounter, referred
to here as the a)pa/nthsij,
which he understood to be a technical term in the parousia descriptions. Here the a)pa/nthsij does not indicate a casual
meeting, but rather "the legal, civic usage, according to which the people induct
high personages (especially kings and their representatives) at their parousi/a according to a prescribed
ceremony"27. The a)pa/nthsij here indicates an official
welcome or reception. According to Peterson, "The concept of Einholung implies
that one leaves one"s home city and meets the honored visitor some distance from the
city in order to accompany him into their city"28. The fact that Paul did not find it necessary to explain this welcoming reception (a)pa/nthsij) to his readers suggests that he presumed they knew its specific meaning29. Peterson concedes,
however, that this meaning of returning with the Lord is only weakly indicated in 1 Thess
4,18 with "and we will always be with the Lord", kai_ ou#twj pa/ntote su_n kuri/w| e)so/meqa. According to
him, the a)h/r, the air, where
the meeting occurs, was in antiquity thought to be within the sphere of the earth; hence
going up here does not mean leaving the earth. It is rather like going out of the city to
another place on earth. Hence the faithful really never leave the earth. Going up in
Paul"s presentation in 1 Thess 4,17 is like going out in Hellenistic parousias.
Peterson noted the occurrence in these
documents of the termssunanta=n, a)panta=n,
u(panta=n, u(pa/nthsij, and u(papa/nthsij. According to him, these are synonyms indicating that, in antiquity, the
induction was expressed in a variety of ways. In fact, the words a)pa/nthsij and u(pa/nthsij are often employed interchangeably, as the
textual vacillation in 1 Thess 4,17 indicates30.
In Hellenistic Parousias, only persons of
high standing, emperors or kings or their high representatives, were in this fashion
brought into the city. It was a strictly regulated ceremonial event: people, lined up
according to rank and occupation, processed out of their city toward the approaching
visitors and his retinue, greeted him, and then solemnly led him into their city. It was
customary for the people to wear on that occasion white robes and garlands. In addition,
the whole city was decorated for the event and festivities were scheduled: incense was
burned, sweet-smelling oil was poured, the temple was open, and an offering was made to
the gods. At his coming, the ruler would show himself magnanimous and bestow upon the
citizens certain privileges and liberties. The city would long after remember this
magnificent and splendid event and look on it as the beginning of a new epoch31. According to
Peterson, since both Paul and his audience in Thessalonica were familiar with this
ceremony, they naturally imagined the parousia of Christ to be like this. When Christ the
ruler will come from heaven and approach their "civitas terrena", the faithful
will go up on the clouds to meet him in the air and bring him joyfully into their earthly
The focus of Peterson"s depiction is
more on the faithful than on the Lord coming down from heaven. It is the faithful who are
active, in congruence with Hellenistic parousias. They seize the initiative and go forth
to meet the Lord. This, however, causes problems with the passive voice of a(rpa/zw, which Paul employs here. a(rpaghso/meqa means "we shall be taken
up". It is also doubtful that the faithful in Thessalonica regarded going up from the
earth to be like going out of the city. In addition, it poorly agrees with 1 Thess 4,14,
which states that God will through Jesus bring the deceased faithful with him (into his
Peterson"s explanation of the parousia
was enthusiastically received. In the wake of his article, other scholars began to
interpret the coming of Christ described in 1 Thess 4,13-18 as a replica of Hellenistic
2. The Influence of the Sinai Pericope, Exod 19,10-18, on 1Thess 4,16-17
Peterson"s interpretation was the
established view for over twenty years. But in 1952 J. Dupont34 challenged it. Dupont distinguished between the
text in 1 Thess 4,13-18 and the tradition behind it. He conceded that there may be some
Hellenistic influence on the tradition, but Paul"s own depiction in 1 Thess 4,13-18
no longer reflects it. In fact, the vocabulary and imagery in 4,16-17 bear striking
resemblance to the Sinai theophany described in Ex 19,10-18 and Deut 33,235. The phrase ei)j a)pa/nthsin, crucial to Peterson"s
interpretation, is in Dupont"s opinion no more a technical term than parousi/a. It is not a term specific to
imperial parousias, but a common expression occurring, together with its synonyms, 129
times in the LXX, where it usually translates the Hebrewt)rql. The Septuagint expressed this encounter with the
same accusative construction ei)j a)pa/nthsin, as did Paul in 1 Thess 4,17 and the secular accounts of Hellenistic parousias.
In some of these instances (cf. Gen 14,17; 2 Kgs 19,16.21) it corresponds closely to the
usage found in Hellenistic parousias. But, according to Dupont, this only means that the
Hebrews, as well, were aware of this custom: the citizens went out toward the approaching
potentate in order to greet him and accompany him joyfully to their dwelling place.
Although Dupont points out that the bringing in is not always implied in this expression,
he agrees with Peterson that 1 Thess 4,17 implies it36. In the New Testament, ei)j a)pa/nthsin is not reserved for the
parousia of the Lord, but is employed in a variety of circumstances and ways37. Dupont concluded that
ei)j a)pa/nthsin in 1 Thess
4,17 need not reflect the ceremonies of the Hellenistic parousias.
According to Dupont, the imagery in 1 Thess
4,16-17 is Jewish apocalyptic and scriptural rather than Hellenistic. It resembles the
depiction of the Sinai theophany of LXX Exod 19,10-18, which involves Yahweh"s coming
down from heaven on Mount Sinai and the people coming up the mountain to meet him. This
passage has the following motifs in common with 1 Thess 4,13-18: the trumpets, the cloud,
the descent of the Lord, and the approach of the people to the place of meeting (ei)j suna/nthsin) on the mountain. This
grandiose theophany was actively inspiring Jewish apocalyptic writings in the time of
Paul. The Sinai text, however, does not contain the Einholung notion essential to
Peterson"s explanation: the people do not go to bring the Lord to their place38.
After Dupont"s critique the arguments
of Deissmann and Peterson could no longer be maintained. While L. Cerfaux in his book Christ
in the Theology of Saint Paul (1959)39
still followed Peterson"s explanation, in his next book The Christian in the
Theology of St. Paul (1967)40
he no longer does it. In his commentary on the Thessalonian epistles, B. Rigaux mentions
the solutions of Peterson and Dupont, but leaves open the possibility of influences from
both Hellenistic parousias and the Sinai pericope41.
But Dupont"s dependence on the Sinai
pericope was strained. E. Best pointed out the different function of the motifs common to
the Sinai pericope and to 1 Thess 4,13-18. He stated: "But in this passage the clouds
are not a vehicle but a covering, the word for "meet" (at 19,7) is not the
simple form as in Paul but a compound, the people "ascend" and are not snatched
up, and in Paul there is nothing comparable to the giving of The Commandments to which
Exod 19,16-25 serves as an introduction; in addition clouds and trumpets are common
And, as Dupont himself has stated, in the
Sinai episode God is not brought by the people into their camp.
3. The Meaning in 1 Thess 4,13-18
According to Peterson, Hellenistic parousias
provided Paul with the image of bringing in (Einholung) which he employed in 1
Thess 4,16-18. As we have seen, his argument for it is weak, since the expression a)pa/nthsij or ei)j a)pa/nthsin is neither limited to Hellenistic
parousias nor does it always suggest the bringing in43. Moreover, the context and the imagery of 1 Thess
4,13-18 do not support this explanation. For instance, the being-snatched-up (a(rpaghso/meqa), and the cloud motif do not
easily fit into that scenery. In Peterson"s interpretation, the people"s going
up on a cloud is equivalent to the citizens" going out of their city, which is rather
Other theologically significant differences
exist between the two representations. While in Hellenistic parousias the focus is on the
ceremonial reception of the visitor by the people, in 1 Thess 4,13-18 the focus is on the Lord himself, on the power and the glory of his coming, and on the
effect of his coming on the dead and the living faithful. Here the Lord is active, while
the people are passive: the dead believers are raised, and then all the faithful are taken
up by a cloud. A. von Dobschütz has appropriately described this as the Abholung
of the faithful44: the
faithful are taken away.
In addition, Peterson"s explanation
does not agree with 4,14, which states that God will bring the faithful with Jesus, o( qeo_j tou_j koimhqe/ntaj dia_ tou= 'Ihsou= a!cei su_n au)tw|=. No matter how we interpret the phrase dia_
tou= 'Ihsou=, whether agreeing with koimhqe/ntaj or with a!cei, this sentence states that God will employ Christ to bring in the deceased. The
destination, of course, is not explicitly stated by the text, but the best guess would be
that the faithful are taken into God"s presence; 2 Cor 4,14, which offers the best
parallel to this text, suggests this. In this passage Paul, defending his own share in the
ultimate fulfilment, asserts to the Corinthians: "We know that the one who raised the
Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you (into his presence, parasth/sei su_n u(mi=n)". Here
everybody is brought near to God.
4. The Taking Up
The imagery of Hellenistic parousias does
not explain why in 1 Thess 4,16-17 Paul insists that the deceased faithful will be first
raised, then taken up. I have argued previously that Paul is here thinking in terms of an
assumption-exaltation. An indication of this is the function of the cloud in 1 Thess
4,16-17, the verb a(rpaghso/meqa45, and the destination
implied in v. 14 and in 2 Cor 4,14.
The cloud here is not the vehicle for the
Lord"s descent from heaven, as in the synoptic portrayals of the parousia, nor is it
the shroud of God, as in theophanies. It serves, rather, as a transport for the human
beings that are taken up from their place on earth to a place in the beyond, as is the
case in the portrayals of assumptions in both Jewish and pagan sources. The cloud motif is
employed when a living human being is taken up46. For that person, life on earth has thereby come
to an end, and a new and higher life has begun47. This is precisely the difficulty that the Thessalonians had: how can the dead be taken up48? Therefore Paul states in 1 Thess 4,16-17 that the dead are first brought to life, then they are taken up. That they are taken up is implied in the assertion that "those alive
will be taken up with them". This also explains the peculiar presentation of the
resurrection here as a restoration of life, which is in tension with 1 Cor 15,50-56.
The grief in the Thessalonian community,
Paul"s insistence that the dead are raised first, the presentation of the
"resurrection" as a restoration of life, and the taking up by a cloud can be
best explained on the supposition that the apostle had earlier depicted the parousia to
the Thessalonians in these terms. It was this presentation that had later on caused the
anxiety in the community, when some among them died. In his response, Paul shows how, in
that scenario, the deceased faithful will nevertheless share in the taking up: they will
first be restored to life.
This presentation thus differs from that of
1 Cor 15,50-56, where the apostle emphasizes that the deceased and the living will be
changed at the Lord"s coming. But the two are not incongruent. In 1 Cor 15,50-56 Paul
states: "We will not all die, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet ... the dead will be raised imperishable, and we
will be changed" (vv. 52-53). The emphasis here is on change. It has been customary
to read 1 Thess 4,13-18 in the light of 1 Cor 15,50-56 by disregarding the context and the
thrust of Paul"s arguments in these places. But in 1 Thess 4,13-18 Paul"s
presentation is centered on the parousia that involves the taking up49. It addresses the
grief in the community at the realization that the deceased faithful cannot participate in
the taking up. Having affirmed in v. 14 that the deceased will be taken up by the power of
God, Paul then in vv. 16-17 shows how this will happen: they will first be brought to
life, then they will be taken up.
In 1 Cor 15,50-56 Paul indicates that, at
the resurrection, they will not retain the present body: the deceased will be raised
imperishable, and the living will put on incorruptibility. Those entering the kingdom of
God (v. 50) must become like the heavenly man (v. 49), free of corruption and death. Paul
insists that the dead will be raised imperishable, and the living will be transformed.
But this is not irreconcilable with 1 Thess
4,13-18. The taking up, as employed in 1 Thess 4,17, implies that the believers thereby
leave the present mode of life on earth and are given the exalted Christ"s mode of
existence. This is a permanent change of life, not a mere change of location. It is an
In conclusion, we observe
that Peterson"s image of Einholung does not fit the imagery and the theology
of 1 Thess 4,13-18. A closer attention to the imagery and structure of 1 Thess 4,13-18
discloses that Paul"s source of inspiration was Jewish rather than Hellenistic. This
is also suggested by the expression "day of the Lord", used elsewhere by the
apostle for the coming of the Lord. Hellenistic parousias depict the citizens making the
royal visitor welcome in their city, whereas 1 Thess 4,13-18 depicts the
effect of the Lord"s coming on them. According to it, the deceased faithful are
raised from the dead so that they can be taken up. The living faithful will be then be
taken up with them.
The image of bringing in, which, in
dependence on Hellenistic parousia depictions, denotes the bringing in of the Lord at his
coming, does not fit the imagery and the theology of Paul in 1 Thess 4,13-18. Hellenistic
parousias depict the citizens making the royal visitor welcome in their city, whereas 1
Thess 4,13-18 depicts the effect of the Lord"s coming on them. The faithful are
raised; the faithful are taken up. 1 Thess 4,13-18 really depicts the bringing in of the
faithful, not of the Lord. The implication is that they do not return to the earth, but
stay with the Lord forever.
1 E. PETERSON, "Die
Einholung des Kyrios", ZST 7 (1929/30) 682-702.
"Einholung", 693 n. 3, stresses that this is a friendly visitation, not the
triumphal entry of a victorious ruler.
3 This view has been recently
expressed by T. HOLTZ, Der erste Brief an die Thessalonicher (EKKNT 13; Zürich
1986) 203; G. LUEDEMANN, Paul the Apostle. Studies in Chronology (Philadelphia
1984) 226 n. 123, and by H. MERKLEIN, "Der Theologe als Prophet. Zur Funktion
prophetischen Redens im theologischen Diskurs des Paulus", NTS 38 (1992)
402-429, esp. 412.
4 J. DUPONT, SUN XRISTWI. L"Union avec le Christ suivant saint Paul
(Louvain Paris 1952).
5 LUEDEMANN, Paul the
6 K. DEISSNER,
Auferstehungshoffnung und Pneumagedanke bei Paulus (Leipzig 1912) 15-16.
7 J.E. FRAME, The Epistles
of St. Paul to the Thessalonians (ICC; Edinburgh 1912) 177. Frame, however, did not
envision a return to the earth. According to him, after their encounter with the Lord in
the air, the faithful go to stay with Jesus in heaven (176).
8 J.H. MOULTON, A Grammar of
New Testament Greek (Edinburgh 1906) 14.
9 E. TEICHMANN, Die
paulinischen Vorstellungen von Auferstehung und Gericht (Freiburg Tübingen
10 TEICHMANN, Die
paulinischen Vorstellungen, 22, states: "All the faithful ... go to meet him, holen
ihn ein and escort him during the last leg of his journey" (my translation).
According to Teichmann (25), the cloud then brings the faithful to the earth.
11 O. PFLEIDERER, Primitive
Christianity. Its Writings and Teachings in their Historical Connections (London
1906-1911; reprint: Clifton, N. J. 1965) I, 130-131. German original: Das
Urchristentum, seine Schriften und Lehren (Berlin 1887). According to Pfleiderer,
"The essential point in these representations ... is, moreover, nothing else than the
simple certainty that we shall be constantly in the presence of the Lord".
12 R. KABISCH, Die
Eschatologie des Paulus in ihren Zusammenhängen mit dem Gesamtbegriff des Paulinismus
13 W. BEYSCHLAG, New
Testament Theology (Edinburgh 1895) II, 260. Commenting on 1 Thess 4,16-17, Beyschlag
observes: "He who comes from heaven does not seem to set His foot on earth; for if He
did so He would there gather His faithful around him. But the meaning cannot be that He
would come only half-way to meet them, in order to take them with Him into His heaven, for
then His "coming down from heaven" would be nothing more for the earth than a
14 BEYSCHLAG, Theology,
261, suggests that the Lord will from then on reign from his throne and subjugate the archai,
exousiai, and dynameis.
15 A. DEISSMANN, Licht vom
Osten. Das Neue Testament und die neuentdeckten Texte der hellenistisch-römischen
Welt (Tübingen 1923); ID., Light from the Ancient East. The New Testament
Illustrated by Recently Discovered Texts of the Graeco-Roman World (London 1927).
16 As evidence of this,
DEISSMANN, Light from the Ancient East, 368, refers to the Flinders Petrie Papyrus
II. 39e from the 3rd cent. B.C., to the Tebtunis Papyri from around 113 B.C., to a bill
from the 2nd c. B.C. dealing with the parousia of the king, and to an ostracon from
Thebes, also from the 2nd c. B.C.
17 DEISSMANN, Light from
the Ancient East, 369.
18 3rd c. B.C. at Olbia.
19 Polybius mentions the
parousia of King Antiochus the Great.
20 DEISSMANN, Light from
the Ancient East, 372.
22 Paul employs the
"parousia" for the Lord"s coming in: 1 Cor 15,23; 1 Thess 2,19; 3,13; 4,15;
5,23 (2 Thess 2,1.8). He uses the "parousia" for the advent of another person
in: 1 Cor 16,17; 2 Cor 7,6. 7; 10,10; Phil 1,26; 2,12 (2 Thess 2,9).
23 The Latin equivalent for
the parousi/a is adventus. On the Hellenistic usage of
parousia, see H. G. LIDDELL R. SCOTT, A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford 1966)
1343; A. OEPKE, "parousi/a", TDNT V, 857-871.
24 The crown motif in the
Flinders Petrie papyrus and in 1 Thess 2,19 has a different function, as Deissmann himself
"Einholung". See also E. PETERSON, "a)pa/nthsij",
TWNT I, 380 (TDNT I, 380-381). From the inscriptions, Peterson cites the
following: The Decree for Attalos from Pergamum, The Epheben Inscription from Attica
(c. 100/99), Res Gestae Divi Augusti, the Decree of Cyzicum, and The
Inscription from Marathon about Herod Atticus.
From the literary documents Peterson quotes
Polybius (5.26.8; 5.43.3; 5.63.7; 10.5.6; 16.25.3), Diodorus Siculus (17.59.3; 33.28a),
Dionysius Halicarnasus (Ant. Rom. 2.60; 9.58), Josephus (J. W. 7.68-71;
7.100-103; Ant. 11.327), Plutarch (Pomp. 40; Cic. 43), Herodian
(8.7), Dio Cassius (63.4; 74.1; 77.22), Philostratus (Vit. Apol. 5.27), Eusebius (Vita
Constantini 1.39), Gregory Nazianzen (In Laudem S. Athanasii 29), Alexander
Romanus (Historia Alexandri Magni), Marcus Diaconus (Vit. Porph. 58), the
Acts of the Council of Ephesus, and the ritual described by Constantinus Porphyrogensis (De
Cerimoniis 1.96) for the reception of a Church dignitary. From Latin sources he quotes
Livy (31.14), Cicero (Ep. ad Atticum 8.16.2), Ammianus Marcellinus (22.9) and Pliny
"Einholung", 682 (my translation).
27 Ibid., 682.
28 Ibid., 693-694.
29 Ibid., 682-683.
30 Ibid., 693.
32 Ibid., 698.
33 K. DEISSNER,
"parusie", RGG IV, 978-981; F. PRAT, The Theology of Saint Paul
(Westminster 1953) II, 370; B. RIGAUX, L"Antéchrist et l"opposition au
Royaume messianique dans l"Ancien et le Nouveau Testament (Universitas Catholica
Lovaniensis Diss. II, 24; Gembloux 1932) 263-264; J. CHAINE, "Parousie", DTC
II, 2044-2045; F. AMIOT, L"Enseignement de saint Paul (EBib 2; Paris 1938)
199; E. STAUFFER, New Testament Theology (London 1955) 216; L. CERFAUX, Christ
in the Theology of St. Paul (New York 1959) 32-44; M. MEINERTZ, Theologie des Neuen
Testamentes (Bonn 1950) 215; P. BENOIT, "L"Évangile selon Saint
Matthieu", La Sainte Bible traduite en français sous la direction de
l"École Biblique de Jérusalem (Paris 1961) 1321; M. DIBELIUS, An die
Thessalonicher I-II. An die Philipper (HNT 11; Tübingen 1937) 14-16. For further
literature, see DUPONT, L"Union, 48 n. 1.
Against this interpretation are: W. BOUSSET, Kyrios
Christos. Geschichte des Christusglaubens von den Anfängen des Christentums bis Irenaeus
(FRLANT 21; Göttingen 1913) 298; G. MILLIGAN, St. Paul"s Epistles to the
Thessalonians (London 1908) 61; DUPONT, L"Union, 73; F. AMIOT, Epître
aux Galates. Epîtres aux Thessaloniciens (VS 14; Paris 1946) 333; E.-B. ALLO, Première
Épître aux Corinthiens (Paris 1934) 451; C. A. WANAMAKER, Commentary on 1 & 2
Thessalonians (NIGTC; Grand Rapids 1990) 174; J. PLEVNIK, "The Taking Up of the
Faithful and the Resurrection of the Dead in 1 Thessalonians 4,13-18", CBQ 46
34 DUPONT, L"Union,
48 n. 1.
35 Ibid., 69, 97.
36 Ibid., 43.
37 It occurs in Matt 25,6,
Acts 28,15 and 1 Thess 4,17. The verb a)panta/w is found in
Mark 14,13 and Luke 17,12.
38 Dupont"s observations
concerning ei)j a)pa/nthsin were later confirmed by H.-A.
WILCKE, Das Problem eines Messianischen Zwischenreiches bei Paulus (ATANT 51;
Zürich 1967) 142-147, who adduced additional instances of the Septuagintal usage of this
phrase, and by P. SIBER, Mit Christus Leben. Eine Studie zur paulinischen
Auferstehungshoffnung (ATANT 61; Zürich 1971) 31.
39 L. CERFAUX, Christ in
the Theology of Saint Paul (New York 1959) 32-44.
40 L. CERFAUX, The
Christian in the Theology of St. Paul (New York 1967) 159-161.
41 B. RIGAUX, Saint Paul.
Les Epîtres aux Thessaloniciens (Paris Gembloux 1956) 547-548, suggests that
both sources could have influenced Paul. Peterson"s explanation has continued to
exert its influence to this day. The following commentaries agree more or less with
Peterson"s explanation: W. MUNDLE, The New International Dictionary of New
Testament Theology (ed. C. BROWN) (Grand Rapids 1975) 324-325; I.H. MARSHALL, 1 and
2 Thessalonians (NCB; Grand Rapids 1983) 131; HOLTZ, 1 Thessalonicher, 203. See
also the following articles: P. NEPPER-CHRISTENSEN, "Das verborgene Herrnwort", ST
19 (1965) 136-154; H. KOESTER, "From Paul"s Eschatology to the Apocalyptic
Schemata of 2 Thessalonians", The Thessalonian Correspondence (ed. R.F.
COLLINS) (BETL 87; Leuven 1990) 441-459, esp. 447; MERKLEIN, "Prophet", 412;
M.R. COSBY, "Hellenistic Formal Receptions and Paul"s Use of apanthsiS in 1 Thessalonians 4,17", Bulletin for Biblical
Research 4 (1994) 15-34.
42 E. BEST, A Commentary on
the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (London 1972) 199; but Best"s
objection that the Exodus text employs a compound form works also against Hellenistic
43 The verb a)panta/w in Mark 14,13 and Luke 17,12 does not mean this.
44 A. VON DOBSCHÜTZ, Die
Thessalonicher-Briefe (MeyerK; Göttingen 1909) 192.
45 The verb a(rpa/zw occurs in the NT 14 times, either in the sense of "to
snatch from", "to rob" (Matt 12,29), or "to take up". In the
latter sense it occurs in Acts 8,29; 2 Cor 12,2.4; 1 Thess 4,17 and Rev 12,5. In every
instance the person is taken into heaven.
46 When in the assumption
depictions the spirit alone is rapt, as in a trance, the cloud motif is not employed.
47 See on this G. LOHFINK, Die
Himmelfahrt Jesu. Untersuchungen zu den Himmelfahrts- und Erhöhungstexten bei Lukas
(SANT 26; Munich 1971) 32-78. Cf. PLEVNIK, "The Taking up", 280.
48 The tradition also states
that the one to be taken up may first be brought to life and then taken up (Rev 11,11-12).
49 The parousia is the main
referent in this epistle, as the numerous allusions to it indicate (1 Thess 1,3.10; 2,19;
3,13; 4,135,11; 5,23).