Written sometime around A.D. 50 or 51, 1 Thessalonians may be the earliest of Paul’s letters (with the possible exception of Galatians), and it’s always interesting to see what someone’s theology (or, in this case, christology) consists of early on.
Paul writes, “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
My interest is specifically verse 10, which is in bold. What kind of truths are present there, either explicitly or implicitly, about Jesus?
- Jesus died (“from the dead”). The very word “dead” is present.
- Jesus rose (“whom he raised from the dead”). Bodily resurrection ended his death.
- Jesus ascended (“from heaven”). At some point between his bodily resurrection and his current location in heaven, there was an ascension to get him there.
- Jesus remains in heaven (“from heaven”). After his ascension, Jesus has not dwelt elsewhere. The God-Man remains in heaven.
- Jesus will return (“to wait for his Son from heaven”). He will return from where he presently dwells. This refers to his Second Coming, which is the bodily return of the bodily risen and bodily ascended Jesus.
#’s 1, 2, and 5 are explicit in the verse, and #’s 3 and 4 are implicit. Paul affirms–all in one verse–the death, resurrection, ascension, session, and return of the Lord Jesus Christ.