I have some more posts dealing with resurrection matters; but I thought maybe I should give it a break for a day or two, since the resurrection isn’t the most interesting thing for absolutely everyone. So here’s something else for today:

At one point in my bible introduction I talk about the persecution of the early Christians (specifically as mentioned in 1 Thessalonians) and point out that deep into the second century Christians had a very bad reputation. Here, without much comment, I indicate some of the charges sometimes leveled against them. It’s a pretty amazing text, taken from the apology of Minucius Felix, called Octavius.

There is no solid evidence to suggest that specific allegations of wrongdoing were being made against the church in Thessalonica at the time of Paul’s writing, but we do know that other secret societies were widely viewed with suspicion and that certain standard kinds of slander were leveled against them. The logic of these slanders is plain: if people meet together in secret or under the cloak of darkness, they must have something to hide.

It is possible that Paul was aware of such charges and wanted the Thessalonian Christians to go out of their way to avoid them. Such a concern would make sense of his injunctions to maintain pure sexual conduct and to keep a good reputation among outsiders.

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