restricted access 7. The Deutero-Pauline Texts
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214 Chapter 7 The Deutero-Pauline Texts The Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the two Epistles to Timothy, and the Epistle to Titus are generally considered to be pseudepigraphic.1 Although bearing Paul’s name—signed by him, if you will—they were probably not written by the apostle. Seeking neutrality on a matter that has now been discussed for more than two centuries, some scholars prefer to call these texts the disputed letters. I, however, have come to the conclusion that none of the six were written by Paul and so do not hesitate to call them pseudepigraphic, or deutero -Pauline, that is, Pauline in a secondary sense. I also call them epistles, to distinguish these six from the undisputed Pauline letters: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.2 It can generally be said that the common purpose of these epistles is to continue the legacy of Paul in circumstances that arose after the apostle’s death. The circumstances of the texts vary from one epistle to another. Consequently, it will be necessary for me to say something about the circumstances of composition of each text before I examine what the epistle has to say about wealth, wages, or 1 Cf. Raymond F. Collins, Letters That Paul Did Not Write: The Epistle to the Hebrews and the Pauline Pseudepigrapha, GNS 28 (Wilmington, DE: Glazier, 1988). 2 What the seven letters tell us about the believing Paul’s appreciation of wealth, wages, and the wealthy was the subject of the second chapter of this study.  The Deutero-Pauline Texts 215 the wealthy. These circumstances are complex and are the subject of scholarly debate. In the present work, I will provide only a few words to situate the text in a plausible context before moving to an examination of the respective epistle from the angle that is of interest to the present study. Before proceeding further, it is necessary for me to state that all six epistles belong to the Canon of the New Testament recognized by the Christian churches. What they have to say remains authoritative for the believer, notwithstanding the fact that they do not represent the work of the apostle himself. For the believer, the six epistles are authoritative and inspired. Second Thessalonians Although there are serious problems with attributing 2 Thessalonians to Paul, there remains a good number of authors who think the epistle is authentically his.3 Whether written by Paul or by a second -generation disciple of the apostle, the epistle seems to have been written in order to refocus the eschatology of 1 Thessalonians. This letter seems to imply that the Parousia of the Lord Jesus would occur relatively soon, even during the apostle’s life. Second Thessalonians reworks the eschatology. Instead of assuming that the Parousia would take place while the author was still alive, 2 Thessalonians postulates a series of occurrences that must take place before the Parousia occurs . The scenario that is presented employs a rich and sometimes mysterious symbolism that is characteristic of apocalyptic literature. Following the model of the outline of 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians concludes with a hortatory section in which we read: Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you and we did not eat any one’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked day and night, so that we might not burden 3 Among them, Fee, Green, Malherbe, and Weima, in their respective commentaries. 216 Wealth, Wages, and the Wealthy any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.4 Of itself, this passage, the only one in 2 Thessalonians that speaks of financial matters, should...