Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Religion, New Testament PhD

First Advisor

Jon K. Paulien

Second Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Third Advisor

Raoul Dederen


The purpose of the dissertation is to develop a deeper understanding of Paul's earliest statement concerning the Christian Church as expressed in the context of 1 Thessalonians. This understanding is gained through a review and evaluation of research into Paul's association of the term ἐκκλησία to the ἐν Χριστῷ motif in the context of 1 Thessalonians.

Chapter 1 reviews literature on the topic and introduces the study. Chapter 2 examines introductory issues of 1 Thessalonians such as authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, general situation, and purpose. Chapter 3 deals with the authenticity of 1 Thess 2:13-16, aliterary question of Paul's relating of the terms. The study reviews and evaluates historical, theological, and form-critical arguments raised on this issue. Chapter 4, after a concise overview of scholarly research regarding the ἐν Χριστῷ motif, explores Paul's earliest statement concerning the Christian church as expressed in the term ἐκκλησία in connection to ἐν Χριστῷ in the context of 1 Thess 1:1; 2:14. Chapter 5 summarizes the findings of the study and suggests implications for further research.

The main thesis of the dissertation is that, in the context of 1 Thessalonians, Paul is redefining the term ἐκκλησία by a theological and christological hermeneutic. Particularly in 1 Thessalonians, the phrase (ἐν) κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ--ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ is not found to be an expression of mystical or individual piety, nor just a statement to designate any Christian community, to express ownership and spiritual union with Christ, to differentiate the Christian assemblies from other ones, or to emphasize the unity of Christians everywhere. Rather, it is an ecclesiological formula that confirms God's saving work through Jesus and recognizes the significance of Jesus' messiahship as the Christ of the OT predictions.

Subject Area

Ekklesia (The Greek word), Church--Biblical teaching, Bible. Thessalonians, 1st -- Criticism, interpretation, etc

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