This author said blessed be God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. They had received a new birth with living hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They now had an imperishable inheritance waiting in heaven for them. They had the protection of this powerful God. Salvation had been revealed to them. Thus, they should rejoice now even if they had to suffer various ordeals and trials. They had a genuine faith that was more precious than gold. Although they had not seen Jesus Christ, they still loved him. They believed in him and rejoiced. They were going to receive the outcome of their faith, the salvation of their souls. Do you believe that you have an eternal inheritance waiting for you in heaven?
“God has not destined us
But for obtaining
Through our Lord
ὅτι οὐκ ἔθετο ἡμᾶς ὁ Θεὸς εἰς ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ εἰς περιποίησιν σωτηρίας διὰ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ,
Paul said, “God (ὁ Θεὸς) has not destined us (ὅτι οὐκ ἔθετο ἡμᾶς) for wrath (εἰς ὀργὴν), but for obtaining (ἀλλὰ εἰς περιποίησιν) salvation (σωτηρίας) through our Lord (διὰ τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν) Jesus Christ (Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ).” Only the Pauline letters used this word περιποίησιν, that means preservation, acquisition, obtaining, or possessing. Paul indicated to the Christian Thessalonians that God had not destined them to his wrath. Rather, they were destined to possess or obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. There was no bad news for the followers of Jesus Christ at Thessalonica. The day of the Lord, the end times, would bring them salvation through Jesus Christ, not the wrath or the anger of God. Jesus Christ had saved them. Do you believe that Jesus Christ has saved you?
“Not that I accept
Such human testimony.
But I say these things
So that you may be saved.”
ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου τὴν μαρτυρίαν λαμβάνω, ἀλλὰ ταῦτα λέγω ἵνα ὑμεῖς σωθῆτε.
John uniquely indicated that Jesus continued with his theological monologue. Jesus said that he did not accept (ἐγὼ δὲ οὐ…λαμβάνω) mere human testimony (παρὰ ἀνθρώπου τὴν μαρτυρίαν). However, he was saying these things (ἀλλὰ ταῦτα λέγω), so that they might be saved (ἵνα ὑμεῖς σωθῆτε). There is something similar to this in the First Letter of John, chapter 5:9, about the difference between human testimony and divine testimony. It is not clear how these sayings saved people. Can humans help you to be saved?
“Someone asked him.
‘Will only a few
Εἶπεν δέ τις αὐτῷ Κύριε, εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σῳζόμενοι;
Luke uniquely indicated that someone along the way asked Jesus (Εἶπεν δέ τις αὐτῷ), as he traveled, addressing him as the “Lord (Κύριε).” They wanted to know if only a few people would be saved (εἰ ὀλίγοι οἱ σῳζόμενοι)? This was a main concern among apocalyptic people who were concerned about the end times. Will they be left behind? Was salvation for many or just a few? This has been a continuing question among Christians since the very beginning, but emphasized with John Calvin (1509-1564) and around millennium moments. Do you think that many or few people will be saved?
That you have prepared
In the presence
Of all people.
He is a light
To the Gentiles,
And for glory
To your people
ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου τὸ σωτήριόν σου,
ὃ ἡτοίμασας κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντων τῶν λαῶν,
φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν καὶ δόξαν λαοῦ σου Ἰσραήλ.
Luke indicated the words of the canticle of Simeon said that his eyes had seen the salvation (ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου τὸ σωτήριόν σου) that was prepared in the presence of all the people (ὃ ἡτοίμασας κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντων τῶν λαῶν). This child was to be a light of revelation to the gentile nations (φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν). He would bring glory to the people of Israel (καὶ δόξαν λαοῦ σου Ἰσραήλ). This child was going to be the source of revelation and salvation to the gentiles and the Israelites. He would fulfill the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah, chapters 40:5, 46:13, and 56:10, about the glory of God and the salvation of Israel. Deutero-Isaiah, chapters 42:6 and 49:6, also spoke about how Israel would be a light to all the gentile nations. There was a slight shift in the original prophecies where Israel was the source of the light for the other countries to that of the child here, as the light to all the non-Jewish countries.
“You will give
To his people,
By the forgiveness
Of their sins.”
τοῦ δοῦναι γνῶσιν σωτηρίας τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀφέσει ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν
Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle about the future of John. Zechariah said that his new born son, John, would give knowledge of salvation (τοῦ δοῦναι γνῶσιν σωτηρίας) to his people (τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ) by the forgiveness of their sins (ἐν ἀφέσει ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν). Zechariah predicted the kind of preaching that John would later give about salvation coming from repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
“We would be saved
From our enemies.
We would be saved
From the hand
Of all who hate us.”
σωτηρίαν ἐξ ἐχθρῶν ἡμῶν καὶ ἐκ χειρὸς πάντων τῶν μισούντων ἡμᾶς,
Luke continued Zechariah’s canticle with an instance on being saved from enemies, another common theme of the Davidic psalms. Zechariah said that they would be saved or have salvation (σωτηρίαν) from their enemies (ἐξ ἐχθρῶν ἡμῶν), from the hand (καὶ ἐκ χειρὸς) of all those who hated them (πάντων τῶν μισούντων ἡμᾶς). This was not about his newly born son, but the Israelites, the sons of David being safe from all their enemies.
Over a thousand years later, Martin Luther, a German Augustinian religious monk and Roman Catholic priest at Wittenberg appeared. He was a bible scholar, so that biblical influences dominated him and his followers. The epistles of Paul showed that righteousness was a gift that was not earned. Faith alone, not works or even indulgences to be used in purgatory, was necessary for salvation. In 1517, he posted his printed objections, since half a century earlier the printing press had been invented. He translated and published the New Testament in German, so that people could read the Bible themselves. This led to the Protestant Reformation, which actually maintained many of the medieval Catholic practices. The Counter Reformation resulted in the Roman Catholic Council of Trent. Instead of just accepting being excommunicated, these protesters formed their own community in northern Germany and Scandinavia. Other groups also broke off from the Roman Catholic Church.
The inclusive model holds that Jesus Christ is the normative expression of God’s will for all people. The problem is that many people have never known Christ. What role has the God of love for them? Is Christian faith offered to everyone? Some Christians believe in predestination so that only a few are chosen. Christianity has always been missionary, sometimes overly zealous, as in the Crusades and the Inquisition. What about those who have never heard of Jesus Christ? The Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) in the 16th century talked about a baptism of desire. You will be saved by Jesus without knowing him. Salvation is fully found in Jesus, but offered to everyone in all genuine religions who live the good life, who sincerely seek God, moved by grace, and strive by their deeds to do his will as they know it. Sometimes we call them like Karl Rahner (1904-1984) “anonymous Christians.”
Cry to God!
You will be remembered
By the one
Who brought this
Just as you purposed
To go astray
With tenfold zeal
To seek him!
The one who brought
Will bring you
With your salvation.”
This is almost a repeat of what was said earlier in this chapter about courage. These exiled children of Jerusalem should have courage. They should cry to God. Then God would remember them, since he brought these calamites on them because they went astray from him. Thus they should return to God with a tenfold zeal, so that he would bring them everlasting joy and salvation.