1:1 The rescript for the letter.
Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη.
Next to the Letter to the Galatians, this may be the earliest letter that includes Paul’s hand and that has survived, being composed during his second journey when he, along with Silas and Timothy, travelled through Macedonia and Achaia c. 49-51 CE. Claudius was emperor. This makes it one of the earliest Christian documents that we possess, written less than twenty years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. As far as we know, this is Paul’s first experience in these Roman provinces.
The first sentence in this letter is a verbless clause. We have to supply a verb, perhaps “sent” or something similar. The nominative proper names Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος identify those sending the correspondence. Whether all had a hand in composing, we cannot tell. Although I assume that Paul is the primary author, I will reflect in this commentary the text’s use of the first person plural when mentioning the correspondents. Παῦλος is a Graecized form of a Latin name. Uncharacteristically, the salutation does not refer to him as apostle (cf. 1 Cor. 1:1 and 2 Cor. 1:1). The Aramaic שאילא may be transliterated as Σιλουανός, but Σιλουανός may also reflect a Latin name, if he was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37)). Σιλᾶς may reflect a Greek name or an abbreviated form of Σιλουανός. Τιμόθεος is a common Greek name. In a letter’s rescript the dative case, probably a dative of recipient as Wallace names it (Greek Grammar, 148), identifies the recipients (τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων). ἐκκλησία describes any kind of assembly, but often refers to civic assemblies. In the Septuagint, some translators use this term to describe the covenant-defined people of Israel assembled for specific, often religious purposes. If Matt 16.18 does reflect Jesus’ statement, then he employs this term (or its Aramaic equivalent) to describe μου τὴν ἐκκλησίαν that he is inaugurating. If he is reflecting Septuagint terminology then this usage has considerable significance. Why Paul adopted this term to describe the Christian communities he establishes is a matter for speculation, but it is not unreasonable to assume that Jesus’ usage was known and circulated within the leadership of the early church. The genitive Θεσσαλονικέων describes the constituents of this assembly.
What ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ modifies is open to debate. Given the word order, it seems to define the sponsors of this assembly of Thessalonians, i.e., those responsible for its organization. This distinguishes this assembly from the assembly of citizens that constitute this city’s citizenry. The phrase ἐν θεῷ…καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ connects God and Jesus Christ together in this action, reflecting correspondents’ perception of the risen Christ’s current position and authority. We are used to reading formulations such as ἐν Χριστῷ in Paul’s letters, but this is the only time ἐν θεῷ occurs in such an expression. It could express a sense of instrumentality meaning “brought into being by God…and the Lord Jesus Christ.” However, the inclusion of κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ in this construction probably indicates an “incorporative” sense, indicating that they form this assembly by virtue of their participation with God and Christ through the gospel. See the construction in 2:14. God is defined as πατρί, an appositional noun characterizing the kind of relationship that the deity has with those in this assembly. Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ similarly is appositional to κυρίῳ identifying who this κύριος is. Again one has to determine what significance Χριστῳ might have in this expression. Are the writers referring to Jesus’ messianic status?
The correspondents conclude this rescript (similar to other Pauline letters) with a second verbless clause expressing a wish or prayer for the recipients to enjoy or experience χάρις…καὶ εἰρήνη. These terms reflect ideas core related to Jewish theology. χάρις probably mimics the common χαίρειν “greetings” that occurs in Hellenistic letters. εἰρήνη may express the common Jewish greeting שלום. Presumably the source of such blessing would be God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The dative ὑμῖν may be a dative of advantage or possession. This is the shortest rescript among all of the letters associated with Paul.
1:2-10. The writers express thanksgiving for the audience and their faith before they focus upon the message that they desire to communicate. The thanksgiving section seems to continue through to the end of chapter three in some fashion and this is unusual in other Pauline letters.
2Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν μνείαν ποιούμενοι ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν, ἀδιαλείπτως 3μνημονεύοντες ὑμῶν τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, 4εἰδότες, ἀδελφοὶ ἠγαπημένοι ὑπὸ [τοῦ] θεοῦ, τὴν ἐκλογὴν ὑμῶν, 5ὅτι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν λόγῳ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ [ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ, καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν δι’ ὑμᾶς.
The writers begin with a long, extended sentence, but expresses their basic sentiment in the main clause: Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ πάντοτε περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν. As the first paragraph in the letter, there is no connecting particle with prior discourse segments. Given the information that three people produce this letter collectively in some fashion (v. 1), the initial verb is a first person plural form (εὐχαριστοῦμεν). The present active tense form indicates that their thanks to God is an incompleted action. This verb marks its object with the dative case (τῷ θεῷ). The adverb πάντοτε (“continuously”) gives prominence to the continuing offerings of thanks expressed by the present tense of the verb it modifies. The adverbial prepositional phrase περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν defines the reason for the thankfulness. πάντων is inclusive of everyone in this ἐκκλησία. Note the alliteration of the π-sound.
They continue with three adverbial participles, all of them nominative masculine plural indicating that they given additional information about the subjects of the main verb. The first μνείαν ποιούμενοι ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν incorporates a present middle participle (ποιέω). The middle form indicates that the subject is affecting or being affected in some way through this action. The writers place the object first (μνείαν), giving it some prominence. This combination of terms means “mention” by way of “producing a remembrance/memory” (cf. Rom. 1:9; Phlm. 4). An adverbial prepositional phrase ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν ἡμῶν modifies the participle, indicating a temporal idea, i.e., “when we pray; in the time of our prayers.” ἡμῶν is a subjective genitive. The participle could indicate the means by which thanks is being offered or could express a contemporary action, i.e., “as we make mention….”
The second adverbial present participle μνημονεύοντες is an active form. It takes a genitive complement formed of three connected noun phrases τοῦ ἔργου τῆς πίστεως καὶ τοῦ κόπου τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ τῆς ὑπομονῆς τῆς ἐλπίδος. The objects are the first nouns in each formation. ἔργον probably refers to “acts,” but could mean the result of their work. κόπος implies difficulties associated with work and thus “hard work, toil” (Louw and Nida, 512-15). ὑπομονή describes the “capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, patience, endurance” (BDAG, 1039). The three terms together graphically describe the challenges these new believers encountered and why the writers were anxious for them (2:14-15; 3:1-3). Each of these nouns in turn has a genitive modifier that probably indicates source, i.e., “acts that have their source in faith,” hard work that has its source in love,” and “endurance that has its source in hope.” They also might function as subjective genitives or as attributive genitives. The distinction in meaning would be slim. These three modifiers are the foundational virtues that define Christianity (1 Cor. 13:13). The correspondents place ὑμῶν at the beginning of this series of phrases, indicating that it applies to all three and functions as a subjective genitive modifying the head noun in each phrase.
The writers qualify these three phrases by the genitive collocation τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, reflecting the title used in the rescript (v.1). I would suggest that this is an objective genitive, indicating the trust, love, and hope that these believers have in the Lord Jesus Christ. It would sound strange to talk about “the hope in them that the Lord Jesus Christ possesses,” that a subjective genitive would imply. If ἡμῶν primarily qualifies κύριος, then it would be a genitive of subordination. Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ would be appositional to κυρίου. It is possible that this genitive phrase only qualifies ἐλπίδος and thus refers eschatologically to the return of the Messiah (cf. vv. 9-10). ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν is an adverbial prepositional phrase that might qualify the initial participle μνημονεύοντες and indicate that the writers are “remembering” the loyalty of these believers in their prayers “before our God and father” (cf. a similar construction in 3:9). Alternatively, it might define some of the believers’ motives in their actions, toil, and endurance, namely that they realize that they live for God’s praise and in accountability “before our God and father” (cf. the usage in 3.13). It is also possible that the writers intended it to modify ἐλπίδος (cf. usage in 2:19 and 2 Cor. 5:10). ἡμῶν in this second phrase would also probably indicate subordination, but its position after πατρὸς might indicate a genitive of relationship. Note the rhetorical impact of the triple phrase that is qualified by the reference to the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father, in reverse order to their usage in v. 1.
A third adverbial participial construction completes this complex sentence. The writers use the perfect participle εἰδότες (οἶδα). The nominative plural case indicates that the referent is the subject of εὐχαριστοῦμεν. It is qualified both by the accusative object τὴν ἐκλογήν “selection, choice,” and the indirect discourse clause marked by ὅτι, defining the nature of this “selection, choice.” ὑμῶν is an objective genitive, presuming the agent doing the selecting is God, implied by the preceding vocative construction. The writers express something of their emotional connection with the audience, using a vocative construction and addressing them as ἀδελφοὶ. They qualify the noun with an attributive perfect passive participle ἠγαπημένοι, that expresses something of their status or condition. It is modified by an adverbial phrase ὑπὸ [τοῦ] θεοῦ that identifies the agent whose love applies to them. The relationship between divine choice and divine love frequently occurs in the OT in application to Israel as God’s covenant people (e.g., Isa. 43:1-4; Deut. 7:6-11). The writers apply this theologically-loaded terminology to these new Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Jesus Messiah in Thessalonika.
As previously indicated, the ὅτι clause probably marks indirect discourse, a content clause, functioning substantively, that defines the sense of ἐκλόγη. However, ὅτι could also mark this as a causal clause, explaining why the writer knows they are beloved by the deity who has selected or chosen them. Within this clause, the subject τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν is in the first position, giving it prominence. τὸ εὐαγγέλιον probably means literally “good news” that the writers had shared with these people. ἡμῶν would be a subjective genitive indicating that they deliver this good news. The writers construct two independent clauses that work together as a negative statement (marked by οὐκ…μόνον) and then a contrasting/ intensifying statement marked by ἀλλἀ καί (but also). The main verb ἐγενήθη indicates that something “has happened or occurred.” They deny that this good news was merely the delivery of some human message (ἐν λόγῳ, indicating means or manner), although it was that. They insist that, in addition, its delivery had divine enhancements — ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ [ἐν] πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ. Note the triple construction again. Each of these phrases again expresses means and/or manner. πληροφορία according to BDAG (827) means “state of complete certainty, full assurance, certainty.” Spicq (Vol. 3, 121) argues that this triple phrase construction means “with power, with the Holy Spirit and every kind of richness.” However, πληροφορία probably refers to the depth of conviction with which the Spirit enabled Paul to present this good news.” The cognate verb, as well as the noun, appear primarily in the NT writings (the verb occurs once in OG Eccl. 8:11). For expressions of divine power in Paul’s ministry see Gal. 3:5; Rom. 15:18f. δύναμις probably refers to miraculous actions. The notation [ἐν] indicates that the editors of NA28 are uncertain as to its originality. If it is not original then the writer includes πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ together with the single ἐν, perhaps suggesting that the Holy Spirit is somewhat responsible for this “deep conviction.” F.F. Bruce (Word Commentary, 14-15) interprets this as a description of the conviction about the truth of the gospel message that the Spirit instigated within the audience. [See Larry Perkins, blog article 41 Internet Moments for more information about πληροφορία.]
Within the ὅτι clause the writers include a clause of comparison or similarity marked by καθὼς οἵδατε. The object of οἴδατε is the relative clause οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν [ἐν] ὑμῖν δι’ ὑμᾶς. The relative adjective οἷος means “what sort of” and it qualifies the 1st person plural subject of the verb ἐγενήθημεν. The meaning of the verb might be “proved to be, turned out to be” (BDAG, 199.7; cf. 1 Thess. 2:8). ὑμῖν, if a simple dative, would be a dative of reference or advantage. If ἐν is original, it might have a locative sense, i.e., “among you.” δι’ ὑμᾶς has a causal sense, with the accusative case. This clause points forward to the apologetic that the writers express in chapter 2.
6Καὶ ὑμεῖς μιμηταὶ ἡμῶν ἐγενήθητε καὶ τοῦ κυρίου, δεξάμενοι τὸν λόγον ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ μετὰ χαρᾶς πνεύματος ἁγίου, 7ὥστε γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς τύπον πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ. 8ἀφ’ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ, ἀλλ’ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν, ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι.
The writers describe the change that has occurred since they communicated the gospel. καί may have a resultative nuance here (“and so….”). They give prominence to the subject ὑμεῖς by making it explicit and also placing it first in the clause. μιμηταὶ “imitators” (BDAG, 652) functions as the predicate nominative. It occurs most frequently in the NT within Paul’s letters (2:14; 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Eph. 5:1; cf. Heb. 6:12; cognate verb μιμέομαι 2 Thess. 3:7, 9; Heb. 13:7; 3 Jo 11). It Graeco-Roman documents it is used in ethical contexts, particularly with students imitating their teachers. The genitives ἡμῶν…καὶ τοὐ κυρίου are probably objective, defining who is being imitated. The placement of the verb between the two genitives is probably a case of hyperbaton. τοῦ κυρίου refers to Jesus Christ. ἐγενήθητε indicates a change, i.e., “you became,” and the aorist tense form expresses a completed action. The gospel enables this transformation, as the adverbial aorist middle participle δεξάμενοι, modified by the object τὸν λόγον, indicates. The participle could have a causal or temporal sense. The bitter-sweet consequences of this imitation find expression in the two adverbial prepositional phrases ἐν θλίψει πολλῇ μετὰ χαρᾶς that modify the participle. ἐν + dative might indicate a state or condition (cf. 2:2 ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι; BDAG, 327.2.b). The placement of πολλῇ after the noun might give it some emphasis. μετά + genitive can mark attendant circumstances, particularly emotions, as here (χαρᾶς). The genitive πνεύματος ἁγίου may indicate source or agency.
This transformation has consequences that the writers express in the ὥστε clause. Such a clause commonly takes an infinitive. In this case, they repeat the initial verb using the aorist infinitive γενέσθαι. The accusative ὑμᾶς marks the subject of the infinitive. Note that in this instance it follows the verb form. τύπον (“model, pattern”) is the predicate nominative and is accusative because the subject of the infinitive is in the accusative. πᾶσιν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν is a substantival participle that functions as a dative of reference or advantage. The present active participle indicates that this action is incomplete. The adverbial prepositional phrases ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ have a locative function, indicating where those believing or trusting reside. The gospel message has a ripple effect from Paul and his companions, to those who imitate them, who in turn become models for other believers.
Verse 8 is marked by γάρ as an explanation for what is stated in verse 7. The writers compare this sequence of imitation and modelling to sounds that echo. ἀφ’ ὑμῶν is given prominence by its position in the clause and may indicate separation (from you) or may suggest cause (because of you). ἐξήχηται is a perfect passive indicative form of ἐξηχέω “be caused to sound forth, ring out” (BDAG, 350). [See Larry Perkins, blog article Internet Moments #47.] This is its only occurrence in the NT. ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου functions as the subject. The genitive modifier may be subjective or objective, or perhaps the writers intend it to express both ideas. This phrase might be considered a definition of τὸ εὐαγγέλιον. τοῦ κυρίου again refers to Jesus Christ. The repeated locative phrases modify the main verb. οὐ μόνον…ἀλλ’ expresses an intensification but also a progression, in a slightly different manner than in v. 5. Note that it is just ἀλλά, not ἀλλὰ καί, and this is followed by a clause that has new subject, namely, ἡ πίστις. The contrast is between ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ and ἐν παντἰ τόπῳ, that is a more inclusive expression of place, i.e., “in every place.” ὑμῶν is a subjective genitive. πίστις is modified by the articulated prepositional phrase ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν. The preposition probably has a directional sense, indicating the person in whom trust is being placed by these believers. The writers use a second perfect indicative tense form ἐξελήλυθεν to indicate that this action has become a state or condition. This sentence concludes with a subordinate clause of result marked by ὥστε + ἔχειν, present active infinitive. The negative adverb μή normally qualifies infinitives. ἡμᾶς is the accusative subject of the infinitive. The combination χρείαν ἔχειν is a standard Greek idiom meaning “have need, be required.” It often takes a complementary infinitive. In this case it is λαλεῖν, present active infinitive, modified by the object τι, neuter singular indefinite pronoun.
9αὐτοὶ γὰρ περὶ ἡμῶν ἀπαγγέλλουσιν ὁποίαν εἴσοδον ἔσχομεν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, καὶ πῶς ἐπεστρέψατε πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων δουλεύειν θεῷ ζῶντι καὶ ἀληθινῷ 10καὶ ἀναμένειν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν, ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦν τὸν ῥυόμενον ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης.
Verses 9-10 form a single sentence that gives additional explanation (γάρ) for the writers’ description of the impact of these believers’ example (v.8). The main clause is αὐτοὶ…ἀπαγγέλλουσιν and the subject receives prominence by position and explicitness. αὐτοί is the self-identifying function of αὐτός (and refers to the people in Macedonia and Achaia), usually expressed by “themselves.” The present indicative tense form of the verb indicates an incomplete action. It is modified by the pre-posed adverbial prepositional phrase that defines whom this message is about—in this case “about us.” The objects of the verb are the two subordinate, indirect questions marked by ὁποίαν and πῶς. ὁποῖος is a correlative pronoun often used to mark indirect questions (“of what sort”). In this case it qualifies εἴσοδον (“act of entering; acceptance, welcome, visit”) and this noun phrase functions as the object of ἔσχομεν (perfect active indicative). The perfect tense form might suggest that this welcome continues. If εἴσοδον implies movement, then πρὸς ὑμᾶς might mean “to you,” but more probably εἴσοδον indicates a welcoming response, in which case πρὸς ὑμᾶς would signify relationship, i.e., “with you.” Defining this εἴσοδος becomes the focus of chapter two.
The second indirect interrogative describes the conversion of the Thessalonian believers, the details of which find expression in the two infinitives (δουλεύειν…ἀναμένειν). πὠς is an interrogative adverb meaning “how” (cf. 4:1). In other NT contexts, ἐπιστρέφω describes turning to or away from God (e.g., Gal. 4:9 and 2 Cor. 3:16 (cf. Acts 9:35; 11:24, etc.)). In the Septuagint, ἐπιστρέφω reflects a common use of the Hebrew verb שׁוב to describe various responses to the deity. The aorist tense form describes a completed action. The verb has two adverbial prepositional phrases that define the nature of the “turning,” namely πρὸς τὸν θεόν (directional, indicating a positive response) and ἀπὸ τῶν εἰδώλων (separation, indicating a negative response). Note the use of singular θεόν and plural εἰδώλων, probably reflecting a monotheistic frame of reference. The first infinitive of purpose modifying ἐπεστρέψατε is the present active infinitive δουλεύειν, that may have an inceptive sense, i.e., “begin serving.” The object of this infinitive usually is marked by the dative case (θεῷ). Note that it is anarthrous, perhaps suggesting the sense “to serve a living and true god.” ζῶντι is a present active attributive participle and ἀληθινῷ is a three-termination adjective (perhaps with the sense “genuine, real”). The phrase θεὸς ζῶν occurs a number of times in the Pauline writings (e.g., Rom. 9:26 where he quotes Hos. 2:1 אל־חי; cf. 2 Cor. 3:3; 6:16; 1 Tim. 3:5; 4:10; also 1 Pet. 1:23; 2:4). These adjectives describe two characteristics of Yahweh that make him incomparable with idols.
The second present active infinitive ἀναμένειν is joined with the first by καί. ἀναμένω means “to wait for, expect” and this is its only occurrence in the NT, but it is a common Koine verb with the sense of wait for a person or some event. The object in this context is τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, as reference to the Lord Jesus, who is defined as this deity’s ‘son.’ Perhaps the use of υἱός relates to the earlier descriptions of θεός as πατήρ (1:1, 3). This phrase defines Jesus’ unique relationship with the deity. The adverbial prepositional phrase ἐκ τῶν οὐρανῶν describes the place from which this υἱός will come. ἐκ indicates separation (out of). οὐρανός is frequently plural in the NT when it refers to the abode of the deity.
The writers complete this sentence with an extensive description of Jesus. First, using a relative clause, they define this υἱόν as the person ὃν ἤγειρεν ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν. The relative pronoun is the object of ἤγειρεν and the third person singular subject of this aorist verb is θεός. The aorist tense form indicates a completed action. The adverbial prepositional phrase ἐκ [τῶν] νεκρῶν indicates that Jesus truly died and when he rose, he came “from the dead ones.” This phrase explains what ἤγειρεν refers to. Because the deity is ζῶντι, he has the capacity to raise the dead to life. Because Jesus arose “from the dead,” he is able to come “from heaven.” The writers identify this υἱός through the appositional Ἱησοῦν, the name applied to the human person Jesus. They use this name probably because they have noted his death, something that humans experience. The attributive, present middle participle τὸν ῥυόμενον characterizes Jesus as “the one who rescues or saves” (cf. 2 Cor. 1:10; Col. 1:13; 2 Thess. 3:22 Tim. 4:17-18; note its use in Rom. 11:26 where it translates גואל (Isa. 59:20)). The present tense form suggests a current reality. ἡμᾶς is the object of the participle and includes both those writing and intended audience. The participle is qualified by the adverbial prepositional phrase ἐκ τῆς ὀργῆς τῆς ἐρχομένης. Again, the idea expressed by ἐκ is separation. ὀργή refers to the divine wrath that accompanies God’s judgment (cf. 2 Thess. 1). The attributive present middle participle τῆς ἐρχομένης indicates that this wrath is “on its way.” The writers do not articulate the relationship between waiting for the son from heaven and this wrath that is on its way. Somehow, Jesus as Son of God is involved with both realities. This extended description of the audience’s conversion experience is one of the clearest expressions in the NT of the transformation promised in the gospel. That these people “turned from idols” suggests that many were converts from paganism, if this noun refers to temple idols, and not just idols of the mind.