St. Irenaeus Ministries
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St. Irenaeus Ministries - a center of orthodox Catholic mission and renewal in Rochester, NY

Moses asks Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go to sacrifice to God, but Pharaoh instead makes their work harder, as slaves are not to petition Pharaoh. The overseers see that the workload is too much but Pharaoh calls the workers idle, as they are asking for time to spend worshipping God.

When Pharaoh refuses, God hardens Pharaoh's heart initially to show His great power, but soon Pharaoh hardens his own heart. God provides the sign of a rod that turns into a snake, similar to a trick that the Egyptian magicians would do, but God's miracle proves that it is no trick. When Pharaoh is not moved, God turns the river red, and then sends a plague of frogs and then gnats. Even the magicians are convinced that this is not a trick at this point, but Pharaoh is unmoved. After a plague of flies, Pharaoh offers to allow the Hebrews to worship in Egypt, but Moses knows that this will merely anger the Egyptians. Pharaoh then allows Moses to sacrifice outside of Egypt, but would not let the Hebrews go.

Direct download: Exodus3.mp3
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Moses sees a bush that is burning but not consumed. He hears a voice telling him to take off his shoes because it is a holy place. This is not because it is inherently holy, but because God is in this place. God tells Moses that He has seen His people's suffering and that He will uses Moses to deliver them from Egypt.

Moses protests, asking why God has chosen him. God explains that He will give Moses the words to say. God also gives Moses the name YHWH, meaning "I am who I am," to give to the Hebrews as the name of the God of their ancestors.  This name was already given in Genesis, but it may have fallen into disuse while in Egypt. This name tells us something about who God is. He is eternal, is self-existent, and the source and sustainer of all that exists.

God turns Moses' rod into a snake and back into a rod, and shows him other signs that show that He is the Lord of over life and death, and over sickness and healing. He is the Lord of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which indicates that He continues to be their god, implying that there is life after death.

Moses protests that he is not eloquent, but God will use Aaron to speak for Moses. God will harden Pharaoh's heart, though there are many times when Pharaoh will harden his own heart, and Moses tells Pharaoh that if he does not let the Hebrews go, He will take Pharaoh's firstborn.

Upon returning, God tries to kill Moses for not circumcising his sons, but Moses' wife Zipporah circumcises their children and saves his life.

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Exodus is named after the Greek phrase for the road out, which is an appropriate term for the events of the book. Ex 12:40 states that the time in Egypt was 430 years, but the precise dating of the events lends to two possibilities. The events can be dated in 1 Kings 6:1 to 480 years before the fourth year of the reign of Solomon, which suggests the 15th century BC. Ex 1:11 suggests that the Exodus occurred during the reign of Rameses II in the 13th century.

In Gen 17:7-8, God makes a covenant to be Abraham's god, and it is through Moses in Exodus that there is a mediator to this old covenant. Ex 19:6 describes the people of God to be a kingdom of priests and to mediate God's grace to the world, a fact that 1 Peter reminds us of.

The family of Jacob remained in Egypt, but a new regime comes to power and agitates against the Hebrews, saying that there are too many of them. The Hebrews were put to hard labor, and midwives were told to kill the male children, but the midwives feared God and did not kill them. Pharaoh demanded that the boys be cast in the Nile. Possibly for this reason, pharaoh's name is not mentioned in Exodus but the midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, are.

Moses is born to a Hebrew woman, who hides him and places him in a basket in the reeds beside the river. Pharaoh's daughter draws Moses out and names him for the word for drawing out, a Hebrew word, but one that sounds like an Egyptian name.

When Moses sees an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew, he kills the Egyptian, but this is discovered, and Moses flees, and helps a Midianite family. For this kindness, the father gives Moses his daughter Zipporah.

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Pope Benedict, in The Door of Faith, gives several practical methods for growing in faith, which can be summarized by cultivating, professing, intensifying celebration of, living, and rediscovering the faith. Benedict asks us to profess our faith publicly during the year of faith.

The year of faith also provides an opportunity for love, as faith requires charity.

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Porta Fidei - Introduction

The study of the Bible is part of the faith that we are asked to cultivate in the year of faith that the Pope has asked us to celebrate
in the letter titled The Door of Faith. It is through this faith that we are brought into life, and through the proclamation of the word of God that we discover this faith. This must be faith in the God of Love, as Galatians 5:6 describes Faith working through Love.

Paul VI also published a letter, The Credo of the People of God, that complements the letter The Door of Faith.

Direct download: PortaFidei1.mp3
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Jacob dies and Joseph embalms him and buries him in Caanan. Joseph's brothers beg him to forgive them, stating that they are the servants of God, and Joseph forgives them. Joseph dies and is embalmed and buried in Egypt. During the Exodus, his body will be returned to the land of Israel.

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Jacob, nearing his death, begins to bless his sons. Jacob claims Joseph's Egyptian-born sons as his own, incorporating them into his heritage. This doubles Joseph's tribal allotment. Jacob also blesses Ephraim, the secondborn, more than Manasseh, the firstborn. Jacob also gives Joseph a mountain slope, and all the blessings on Joseph's children will be remembered in Heb 11:21.

Jacob remembers Reuben as powerful and unruly, and because he took up with Bilhah, he is no longer given preeminence. Simeon and Levi are divided, and their tribes will be scattered, because they are weapons of violence. Levi is not given a region in the tribal allotment, and Simeon is given a region entirely surrounded by Judah.

Judah will be praised, and rulers will come from him, and we look to the eventual coming of Christ through this. Zebulun is given the crossroads from the trade coming over the sea. Issachar is also given an area of trade, but will have to labor for it. Dan is given his portion, but will eventually be dispossessed from it. Joseph is given many blessings.

After all of this, Jacob dies.

Direct download: Genesis21.mp3
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Israel goes to Egypt and sees Joseph, his son once again. When he meets with phararoh, Israel identifies himself as a shepherd, which means that the Egyptians will set them apart in the land. Joseph buys all the land in Egypt for pharaoh in exchange for feeding the people, and the people are grateful.

Israel begins to prepare for his death and makes Joseph promise to bury him outside of Egypt and in the land of his forefathers.

Direct download: Genesis20.mp3
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Jacob sends his sons (except Benjamin) to Egypt to buy grain during the famine. Joseph is shocked to see his brothers and accuses them of being spies as part of a plan to test them. Joseph consents to give his brothers grain, but keeps Simeon to ensure that they prove that they are not spies.  Joseph gives them their grain but secrets the money that they paid into the sacks of grain.


When they return to Jacob, they discover the money and fear the retribution of Joseph for the appearance of theft. Reuben rashly promises to return Simeon over the lives of his own sons, but Judah takes the lead and convinces them to return together, with Benjamin.

Joseph contrives to implicate Benjamin in a theft, this time of his silver cup. When he threatens to carry Benjamin off to slavery, Judah and his brothers do not abandon Benjamin, as they did with Joseph. When Joseph sees this, he reveals himself and together the brothers make plans for the family's future.

Direct download: Genesis19.mp3
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Joseph was purchased by Potipher, but God was with Joseph. Joseph was entrusted with the matters of Potipher's house, and Potipher's wife attempts to seduce Joseph, but he refuses because it is wicked. When he refuses, she falsely accuses him and Potipher throws him into prison.

When he is in prison, Pharaoh's butler comes to Joseph and asks him to interpret a dream. Joseph tells the butler that interpretation of dreams come from God, and gives him a very positive interpretation, asking the butler to remember him when he comes into power. When the baker hears this, the baker asks him to interpret a dream, but this is a dream that foretells that baker's death.

These things come to pass, but the baker does not remember Joseph to Pharaoh until Pharaoh has a dream, and then Joseph tells Pharaoh that his dream indicates years of prosperity followed by years of famine and that they should take from their prosperity to prepare for the years of famine.

For this, Pharaoh sets Joseph over his house and all of Egypt. Joseph assimilates into the culture, takes a wife, Asenath, and has the children Manasseh, for forgetting his hardships in his father's house, and Ephraim, for the fruitfulness that God has given Joseph.


Direct download: Genesis18.mp3
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Joseph's brothers did not take kindly to him, but even more so after he has a dream in which they bow down to him. The brothers conspire againt Joseph, but Reuben convinces them not to kill Joseph, but rather to trap Joseph in a well, and sell him to Ishmaelites, who sell Joseph to Potipher, a functionary of the pharaoh. The brothers convince Jacob that Joseph had been killed by an animal.

Judah marries a Canaanite woman and has three sons. The first, Er, marries Tamar, but the Lord puts him to death because he is wicked. Judah instructs his next son, Onan, to take Tamar as his wife, but he refuses to consummate the marriage, and leaves Tamar in a precarious state in relation to the family as a childless daughter-in-law. God also kills Onan for this act. Judah promises Tamar Shelah when he grows up, but when this does not happen, she pretends to be a prostitute and conceives twins by Shelah. Tamar will be one of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ.

Direct download: Genesis17.mp3
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Dinah is raped by Shechem, who seeks to make her his wife. When his father, Hamor, pleads on his behalf, the sons of Jacob convinced Shechem's family to be circumcised so that they could slay all of them while they were laid up after the surgery. When Jacob discovers this, he rebukes them but says nothing more until he is on his deathbed. Similarly, when Reuben takes up with Bilhah, his father's concubine, Jacob says nothing at the time.

God tells Jacob to go to Bethel and make an altar there, and so he tells his family to put away their idols, purify themselves and change their clothes (similar to Ex 19:10-11). After this, God tells Jacob that his name is now Israel and promises him the land.

Rachel has her second son, whom she names Ben-oni, which could mean the son of her sorrow or the son of her strength, but Jacob calls him Benjamin, son of my right hand. Rachel dies, with her eyes toward Bethlehem. Jer 31:15 refers to this in a prophecy that would be fulfilled with the slaughter of the innocents.

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Jacob returns home, knowing that this means that he will need to confront Esau. On the way, he is met by angels of the Lord, who are described the same way as the angels at Bethel. In the end, Jacob sends a series of gifts in an effort to appease Esau.

Jacob wrestles with a man, begging for a blessing, but discovers that this is actually an angel. The angel blesses him and changes Jacob's name to Israel for one who wrestles with God.

When Jacob meets with Esau, Esau embraces him.

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After Jacob has Joseph, he prepares to leave Laban. He offers to take as his wages all speckled and spotted lambs. Laban sent all speckled and spotted lambs away so that they could not breed, but Jacob places spotted rods in front of the lambs, and they all produce speckled and spotted offspring.

When Jacob leaves Laban, Rachel steals Laban's household gods, and when confronted, places them under a saddle claiming that she was having her period and avoids being searched. Jacob agrees not to mistreat Laban's daughters and they both agree not to return to the other's territory.

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As Isaac nears death, he prepares to give Esau a blessing, but Rebekah conspires with Jacob to take this blessing by dressing him in Esau's clothes. Jacob gives Isaac food and wine, and Isaac blesses him. When he learns of the deception, he will not take back his blessing, as it has already been spoken, and he tells Esau that he will serve his brother, but that eventually he will break free.

Jacob flees from Esau up to Haran and Esau takes Mahalath, Ishmael's daughter, as a wife. While Jacob is traveling, he has a vision of angels going up and down a ladder from Heaven to earth. In this place, Jacob promises to give God a tenth of everything if God will watch over him.

Jacob travels to Laban, and serves him, and when Laban offers him payment, he asks for Laban's daughter, Rachel in marriage, but Laban gives him his other daughter, Leah, and Jacob is convinced to work longer for Laban for Rachel. Seeing that Jacob preferred Rachel, God opened Leah's womb and she gave Jacob many children, but Jacob still preferred Rachel, and both wives try to give Jacob more children.

Direct download: Genesis13.mp3
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Isaac prayed that his wife Rebekah have a child, and she had twins, Esau and Jacob. Jacob was born grasping Esau's heel, which is prophetic given how he would later contend with God, and references to this can be seen in Hosea 12 and Micah 1. Jacob convinces Esau to give away his birthright in a moment of hunger.

When a famine fell upon the land, Jacob went to Gerar, and Abimelech, the king. God told Isaac not to journey to Egypt, so he remained in Gerar. Isaac became rich, and Abimelech sent him away.

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Sarah dies and Abraham makes a contract with the Hittites to purchase a plot of land to bury Sarah. Nearing the end of his life, Abraham instructs his servant that Isaac must not take a Canaanite wife, but rather a wife from Abraham's country. When he has done this, Isaac must settle in the land of Canaan, which God has promised for him.

The servant prays that God might give a sign identifying the woman to choose for Isaac's wife, that she might offer water to both him and his camels. This woman is Rebekah, and she hastens to Isaac in the Canaan land, and they are married.

Abraham marries Keturah after Sarah's death, and has more children, but his heir remains Isaac.

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Lot leaves Zoar, and his daughters wanted to have children, so they got Lot drunk so that they might get pregnant by him, and through Lot they bear Moab and Ben-ammi, the origin of the Moabites and Ammonites.

Abraham goes to Gerar, where he encounters Abimelech. Abimelech, not knowing that Sarah is married, wants to add her to his harem, but God, wishing to preserve the lineage of Isaac, tells Abimelech in a dream that she is married and he confronts Abraham and Sarah and sends them away with gifts. Abimelech later comes to Abraham and asks that Abraham might remember his kindness with his descendants when Abraham comes into power.

Sarah names her son Isaac, for laughter, and when she sees Isaac with Ishmael, his older half-brother, she sends Ishmael and Hagar away, but an angel of the lord tells Hagar that Ishmael will also be a great nation.

God tests Abraham and asks him to sacrifice his son, but before he can do it, an angel stops Abraham, and God blesses him for not holding anything back. Gal 3:15ff points out that the promises to Abraham were made to him and his offspring, singular, meaning Christ. The sacrifice of Isaac also is a precursor of the willing sacrifice of Christ, and of the resurrection (for if Isaac had died, God would have to have raised him to fulfill his promises).

Direct download: Genesis10.mp3
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God promises Abram that he will be the father of a multitude of nations, and thus names him Abraham, which is a name that bears similarity to other words that mean father of a multitude. The covenant comes with a command to be circumcised. God promises that Abraham will have a child from Sarah, who laughs when she hears it, because she had been infertile and now she was much older.

Abraham shows the Lord tremendous hospitality, and God tells him that He will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleads with God to spare the righteous, knowing that Lot and his family are there. God declares that He will not destroy the city if even 10 righteous people are there.

Angels of God come to Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot invites them to come to his home to keep them from the people of the city, as the people there were notorious for their wicked treatment of men, a sentiment that you can also find in verses Isaiah 1:10ff, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:49-50, and Jude 1:6-7.

The people in the town threaten to rape the angels of God. Lot, in desperation, offers the men his daughters to protect the angels, but the angels protect Lot. In the morning, the angels tell Lot to take his family and leave the city so that they may destroy it, and Lot begs that he be allowed to settle in a nearby city, which he is allowed to do. Lot is pressed to leave but his wife looks back and is turned to a pillar of salt.

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After rescuing Lot, a priest named Melchizedek blesses Abram with a sacrifice of bread and wine, and Abram gives him a tenth of everything. Heb 7:9ff says that Levi, who receives tithes, tithes through Abraham, and that if Christ is a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (as Ps 110 says), He would have to have an indestructible life.

Abram knows that his descendents will be numerous, but he does not know that they will be his children, but God makes a covenant that Abram's children will have the land, with Abram, in the middle of animals cut into portions, essentially declaring that if the covenant be broken, the same death will fall upon the person who breaks the covenant.

After this, Sarai, who was barren, suggests that Abram should try to have a child with her maid, Hagar. Sarai than demands that Abram choose between her and Hagar, and Abram tells Sarai that she may do with her maid as she chooses. Sarai deals harshly with Hagar, and Hagar flees, but an angel convinces Hagar to come back and submit, telling her that God will multiply her children as well.

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Abram's family comes from Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram's father, Terah, meant to move to Canaan, but only came as far as Haran. God calls Abram to Canaan. There is some confusion over some of the dating in the text, but we know that from Acts 7, Abram did not move until after his father died. God promises the land to Abram's children, and Abram builds an altar there. This is the first of several times that Abram is described as building altars.

When a famine came into the land, he left to Egypt with his wife, Sarai, Lot, and his people, but when asked who Sarai is, Abram responds that she was his sister (in reality, his half-sister). This causes a dispute with the pharaoh, who attempts to take Sarai as his wife.

When they return to Canaan, Abram lets Lot his portion, and Lot chooses the more prosperous land of Sodom and Gomorrah. When Lot is captured during a rebellion in the land, Abram seeks him out and routs the army.

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After the flood, God gives Noah and his family the land to populate, but instructs them that they are not to eat animals with their blood, as life is in the blood. This is one of the laws that the Council of Jerusalem stated apply to Gentiles.

Noah grows a vineyard, and becomes drunk and naked. His son Ham sees him in his vulnerable state and does nothing to help, though his brothers clothe Noah. Noah curses Ham's son, Canaan, which has prophetic importance as the civilizations of the Semites and the Canaanites would later be in conflict.

Men then turned to build a great city, known as Babel, with a tower in the heavens, but this sort of prideful overreach is punished by God by destroying the tower, scattering the people, and confusing their language.

Direct download: Genesis06.mp3
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Though there are poetic elements of the creation account in Genesis, there are important things that are related in Genesis. There was a first man and first woman, and they fell from grace due to man's sin, and though they have an adversary in Satan, God does not abandon them, even though the effects of sin are immediately visible in Cain.

Genesis states that the sons of God had children with the daughters of men, and there are multiple interpretations as to what this may mean. Some say that the sons of God are men of the Sethite line and the daughters of men are women of the Cainite line. Another interpretation, supported by Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:17, is that the sons of God were fallen angels. This interpretation may explain why the lifespans before the flood are recorded as so long. A newer interpretation is that the sons of God may be ancient rulers who claimed to rule by divine right, but may have been demonically possessed.

God gives man ample warning through Noah that He is going to send a flood. The account in Genesis bears some similarity to other flood accounts in the region, but in other accounts, there are significant differences as to the reasons for the flood and the results of the flood. The flood mirrors in some aspects the account of creation, though the 40 days and nights of rain, the 150 days of flooding, and the time spent testing to see if the land was clear were much longer than the time described in creation.

God declares that He will not again curse the ground, though He knows that the human heart is inclined toward evil from youth.

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Genesis 2 gives us another perspective on creation with an emphasis on man. Man is given the land to cultivate, and Adam is given Eve to help him. God instructs Adam not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but he eats deliberately, knowing that this is a sin, and that it is grave matter. This meets the criteria of mortal sin. We can see the effects of Adam's sin immediately after, when Cain slays Abel.

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The first twelve chapters of Genesis concern the origin of Man. The creation is structured into seven days, but appears to be a thematic categorization of creation into ages, as the word for day is used shortly thereafter to also mean an era. The universe was created by God, who existed before everything else and created it out of nothing.

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Much of the scholarship of the book of Genesis from the 18th century to the early 20th century was based on Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis that the Torah was collated from multiple sources based on various factions. The evidence for this comes from the type of content in portions of the Torah, and in particular the words used for the name of God.

The theory proposes that there were four authors of all of Torah, the Jahwist author, whose writings are theorized to be very personal, at around the time of Solomon in 950 BC, the Elohist author, who was supposed to be much more philosophical and less personal, writing about 100 years later, the Deuteronomist author writing at the time of Josiah's reforms in 600 BC to support the reforms, and the Priestly author, who is supposed to be concerned with laws and rituals, writing after the end of the Babylonian Exile in 500 BC, and all of these various sources were later reconciled by an editor or editors. Please note that this is all conjecture and not endorsed by the Catholic Church.

No hard evidence for such documents exists, and similar differences exist in the writings of other ancient Semitic cultures. In practice, this theory tends to prevent a deeper faith.

Direct download: Genesis02.mp3
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Genesis is a book of origins, as the name suggests, but it is in many ways more addressed in the New Testament than the Old Testament. Genesis, along with the next four books of the Bible, was substantially written by Moses, though some portions, such as the death of Moses in Deuteronomy, may have been written or edited by others.

Genesis' origin differs profoundly from the Semitic origin stories of other cultures, which serves to highlight how different our faith is from that of other religions. Notably, the origin stories explain the gods emerge from the chaos. Genesis is suitable for instruction in the faith and not be dismissed.

Direct download: Genesis01.mp3
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You may have noticed the six-week hiatus in the podcast between Thessalonians and Genesis. This space was once occupied by several lessons from an old study on Ephesians. On account of poor sound quality and missing episodes, the editors thought it better to take them off the air.

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In strong terms, Paul commands the people not to associate with those who live in idleness. This is not simply lending a helping hand to those who are down on their luck, but to those who refuse to work and simply live on others and gossip. Paul commands such people to attend to their work quietly.

In contrast, 1 Cor 5:9ff describes a situation where those who are wicked must be driven out, but this is not that situation. Such people are not enemies, so we are to help them by warning them.

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The second coming will be a terrible day for some, but it will be the end of the journey for the faithful. Paul prays that the word of the Lord speed on as the Thessalonians have been doing and are continuing to do. Paul prays that God directs His people to Himself.

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The book of Daniel predicts that a desolating sacrilege will appear in the temple. People had thought that the desecration of the temple in the time of the Maccabees was this, but Jesus says that this is yet to come. This is an antichrist who will cause sacrifice to cease. There will be a tribulation and while some will make it to the day of the Lord, some who remain faithful will die before getting there.

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Paul addresses the likely reason for this second letter, a misapprehension of the second coming. Some had been caught up in the belief that the second coming had happened or was about to happen soon. This idea may have come from a false letter of Paul.

The end times will be accompanied by a man who is against God's law but who exalts himself over God, and this was something that the people would have understood. Most men, including Christians will fall away but those who endure to the end will be saved.

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When the Lord is revealed on the last day, He will be revealed from Heaven, in power, and in the fire of justice, which may or may not also be a literal fire. God will punish those who do not know God and refuse to obey Him. Yet it is by God's grace that we may know Him.

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Thessalonica is growing in faith. Paul's catechesis is an exercise in growing in holiness. The Thessalonians were eager to hear the good news and were preparing for the second coming. Paul sees that they have already grown in love, and Christians must have love to care for their fellow Christians.

On the last day, those who persecuted Christians will be judged as well as those who were persecuted, who are being made worthy of the kingdom of God.

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