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Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; [KJV]

ειπερ δικαιον παρα θεω ανταποδουναι τοις θλιβουσιν υμας θλιψιν [TR, undisputed]

Paul begins his epistle referring to ‘God Father our’ and ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ - all five nouns being accusative due to the use of the preposition en - and referring, again, to ‘God Father our’ and ‘Lord Jesus Christ’ - all five nouns this time being genitive due to the influence of the preposition apo.

That both of the concepts (that is also to say ‘the persons’) being referred to in the first occasion of mention are presented in the anarthrous form, that is to say without an article, is quite understandable. For this is the introduction of concept. Later, we would expect the anaphoric article to be added in order to refer back to, or to locate to, these persons.

That the two concepts, on the second occasion of mention, are both, again, anarthrous is also understandable since Paul is referring to the knowledge of divine person within two different congregations - one in the assembly at Thessalonica and one located within the fellowship of the three ministers, Paul Silvanus and Timothy : wherever (Athens ?) they may have been at that time.

In the same sense, elsewhere, Paul speaks of ‘their Lord and ours’, 1 Corinthians 1:2. Thus it is not unexpected to see him use this expression twice without article, not referring back in the second to the first. He gives regard to the dwelling in each assembly of an individuality of presence and thus does not assume to use the anaphoric article in the second case to refer to the first case. In each gathering, there is a Presence. That Presence is individual to each assembly.

Thus far, as I say, all is understandable.

Paul proceeds :

  • and immediately, he uses the anaphoric article in verse 3, referring, in thanks, back to θεος in verse 1. And we would no doubt understand this to be a reference to God Father, the first person of the two mentioned.

  • Paul again uses the anaphoric article in verse 4, mentioning assemblies of θεος, and referring back, again, to what one would understand to be God Father.

  • In verse 5 Paul speaks of the righteous judgment of God (expressed in the assembly) and, yet again, uses the anaphoric article to refer back to God Father in verse 1.

  • Thence also, once more in verse five, regarding the kingdom of God, the anaphoric article is used in reference back to verse 1, to ‘God Father’.


Then in verse six, Paul uses θεος without an article. The noun is, on this occasion, anarthrous. Thus, Paul is signifying a new concept. He has not - yet - mentioned the concept which he now introduces. (Else, would he use an anaphoric article to refer back to it.)

Previously, Paul used the term θεος specifically, coupling it to 'Father', and identifying one individual.

Now he uses the term θεος generically - without the defining and identifying quality of the article and without the anaphoric article referring to the previously specific mention of the concept - and he now extends the concept to more than one person.

On this occasion Paul introduces the idea of recompense to those who have caused tribulation to others. This recompense occurs upon the revelation of Jesus Christ who, with the angels of his power, in a fire of flame, awards vengeance to them that know not θεος (again, no article).

Paul does not, on these two occasions in verse 6, refer ‘Theos’ back to ‘God Father’ in verse 1.

Is Paul widening the concept of ‘Deity’ - which he first applied to ‘Father’ - and does he now extend the concept (indicating its extension in application) to include both Father and Son ?

Having spoken, firstly, of the presence of God Father in the assembly at Thessalonica and having extended a blessing of grace and peace from within the ministerial fellowship (and having spoken of Jesus Christ as a separate entity, previously) does Paul now extend the concept of Deity to include - also - the descending Lord Jesus Christ who brings Divine recompense upon those who have persecuted the faithful who believe in God through the Son of God, Jesus Christ ?

Mentioned in resurrected and ascended glory, Lord Jesus Christ is - now, in Paul‘s narrative - revealed from heaven, and revealed now (for the first time) with angelic power in attendance, seen in Divine authority recompensing his enemies to whom, heretofore, he had been required to give sufferance :

Sit thou, on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool, Matthew 22:44 ; Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Psalm 110:2. [KJV]

Is there another justifiable grammatical reason for Paul’s use of the anarthrous θεος in this verse ?

What other grammatical reason can there be for not using the anaphoric article in verse six ?

Thereafter, in verses 11 and 12, Paul uses the anaphoric article, referring back to verse 1, speaking of ‘the calling of the God of us’ and ‘the grace of the God of us and of Lord Jesus Christ’ in the same vein as that in which he began the chapter.

Does the use of the anarthrous θεος in verse six, together with - elsewhere in the chapter - the anaphoric article, give us an insight into Paul’s understanding of the true nature of Deity as revealed in Jesus Christ - in whom is revealed ‘God Father‘ ?

Or is there another grammatical explanation ?

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  • Within the New Testament, para (tou) theou appears twelve times with the article, and ten times without; personally, I wouldn't read too much into it.
    – Lucian
    Jun 16 '20 at 14:16
  • What evidence do you have that any NT writer treating "God" as anathrous which then required some device so the reader could understand which "God" the writer was referring to? Jun 16 '20 at 19:10
  • @RevelationLad The evidence is in the passage before us. Paul uses Theos in both ways - anarthrous and anaphoric. The question is Why does he do so ? The fact that he does so is there on the page of scripture.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 16 '20 at 21:49
  • 2
    @NigelJ: Apparently it does...
    – Lucian
    Jun 16 '20 at 22:03
  • @Lucian Well, I have accepted that there is a pattern and grammarians have seen a stylistic reason for the pattern. My own view is that there is a conceptual reason, (beneath the stylistic pattern of the grammar) but I shall ponder on that myself and accept that the textbooks have spoken.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 16 '20 at 22:10
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The potential for exegetical error by treating "God" as a noun to which simple anaphoric axioms are applied may be seen by comparing the openings of the two letters to the Thessalonians:

enter image description here

Since this letter is the second, the exegetical consideration of an anaphoric use does not begin with the second greeting. Rather, the greeting in the first letter is the "starting point." If one wants to accurately assess whether Paul is using the concept of anaphora, the question is what does Paul intend to communicate by changing the second greeting:

1 Thessalonians                       2 Thessalonians
ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ   ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ
χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη                 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη
                                      ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

The addition of the pronoun "our" (ἡμῶν) in the second letter is referring to Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. Where the first letter was addressed to the church of the Thessalonians in God [the] Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ; the second is addressed more narrowly to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ. So if anaphoric reference is intended, apparently there is an issue requiring identifying the church in the second letter to imply a subset of the larger group from the first letter.

Second, each letter salutes the recipients with the identical "grace to you and peace." But where the first letter is in the form of a traditional greeting, the second states this is something to come from their divine origin: God [our] Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ. The pronoun is lacking in the verse, but as noted in Thomas Pearne's answer, the article can be omitted in prepositional phrases. Thus, ἀπὸ [implied article] θεοῦ πατρὸς is an anaphoric reference to θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν in the previous verse and so is correctly translated with the pronoun as God our Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ.

At the same time, the phrase θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦis closely replicates that of the first letter. The only difference being the case. So, if Paul has some anaphoric element in mind as it pertains to God, it is such that the implied article is meant to refer back to verse 1 in both letters. In other words, while it is clear Paul has narrowed the address to "our" in the second letter, "God our Father" is the same "God [the] Father" in the first letter, but not as an intellectual or grammatical construct. Rather, it is only so because there is real grace and peace from their divine source: God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul's grammatically unambiguous anaphoric use of the article relating to the opening is found in verse 12 where grace previously identified in verse 2 is mentioned again:

so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:12)

πως ἐνδοξασθῇ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ, κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

The use of the article refers to grace which was first mentioned in verse 2. Thus, τὴν χάριν is a classic and indisputable anaphoric reference: to grace, and the understanding of this renewed mention is:

so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace [from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ]...

After the renewed mention of grace, a second article with God immediately follows: τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. Obviously, this article is not being used as a duplicate anaphoric reference to θεοῦ ἡμῶν from either verse 1 or 2. Rather, this article has been used to create the T-S-K-S construction to convey the equality of our God and Lord Jesus Christ.

While it is doubtful any use of article with God are anaphoric (in my opinion), it seems obvious Paul was aware his intention to state equality with God could potentially be denied by a claim the anaphoric axiom could be applied to "God." Consequently, he began the second letter by changing the address from the first letter in order to construct a very precise and grammatically correct application of the anaphoric article should one attempt to apply that argument to God. That is, Paul ensured his T-S-K-S phrase stating equality with God was "protected" by immediately prefacing it with an actual anaphoric reference to grace from God.

Finally, where the second letter begins by addressing what is semantically a smaller group than the first letter, the ending asks for grace to a wider audience when compared to the first ending:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (1 Thessalonians 5:28)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. (2 Thessalonians 3:18)

Grace, which by comparison was directed to a smaller audience in the opening, is by comparison expressed to a larger group than was addressed; as if to say The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, and to any who were not in the church of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the disappointment arising from the failure of the return of the Lord, whom Paul said was "our" God, may have caused some to deny the deity of Christ. Thus, the misunderstanding could truly be expressed by Paul saying "God our Father," which is now in contrast to those who believe only in God the Father.

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  • I need to read this several times to digest it all. For now +1 in appreciation of a thoroughly excellent piece of work. Many thanks. Much appreciated.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 18 '20 at 3:33
  • @ThomasPearne ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (2 Thessalonians 1:2) is clearly an anaphoric reference to ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (1 Thessalonians 1:1) and to θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ (2 Thessalonians 1:1) which is what I said. I simply showed the implied article, which is just that, implied. I never called it an implied anaphoric article. The fact is, none of the articles are used anaphorically when used of God, especially the one in verse 12 - which the anaphoric τὴν χάριν makes obvious. Jun 18 '20 at 4:19
  • @RevelationLad There are implied articles in English ('zero' and 'null' - Peter Masters - such as 'I am King' which supposes a 'null' article stronger than 'the') but it would need some stout research and documentation to present something sufficient for adequate peer review on the subject with regards to Koine Greek.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 18 '20 at 10:57
2

Q. Does the use of the anarthrous θεος in verse six, together with - elsewhere in the chapter - the anaphoric article, give us an insight into Paul’s understanding of the true nature of Deity as revealed in Jesus Christ - in whom is revealed ‘God Father‘ ?

Or is there another grammatical explanation ?

A grammatical reason for the lack of article at 2 Thess 1:6 is that BDF documents that it can be omitted in prepositional phrases (BDF 255). παρὰ θεῷ at 2 Thessalonians 1:6 fits this profile.

Another reason is BDF 268.2 which mentions the beginning of epistles. Both 2 Thess 1:6 and 8 can be considered the beginning of an epistle.

I have made no attempt to make a “rule” on why the article is not present when a noun is definite. One out of 7 words in the NT is definite! It was hard enough attempting to look at all article-noun pairs that precede the same noun within one verse.

As far as I know, there are no exceptions to it being anaphoric within the parameters set by the grammars, as documented in my paper.

As for θεός being applied in some way to Jesus in this passage, see the Excursus on Discourse Analysis


BDF 255

enter image description here

BDF 268

enter image description here

Excursus on Discourse Analysis

Many of the comments in the OP, and one of the answers moves away from grammar and I to the realm of theology.

But there is a field that attempts to bridge the two, discourse analysis. It's not yet as rigorous as grammar.

Discourses like 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 will have a feature known as cohesion. Cohesion is what ties parts of a discourse together. Pronouns and anaphoric articles provide cohesion.

Coherence is a logical means to tie different parts of the discourse together.

This passage has both. The articles that modify θεός in Thessalonians 1:12, 11, 5, 4 and 3 are all anaphoric to the salutation of the letter. This identifies θεός as the Father in all these instances.

(2 Thess 1:1-2, NA28) 1 Παῦλος καὶ Σιλουανὸς καὶ Τιμόθεος τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ Θεσσαλονικέων ἐν θεῷ πατρὶ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ, 2 χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς [ἡμῶν] καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

The passage is also coherent. Note that grace and peace are from two persons here and that this grace is tied to verse 12.

(2 Thess 1:1-2, ASV) 1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; 2 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now let's look at what caps the endpoint of this discourse.

(2 Thess 1:12, NA28) ὅπως ἐνδοξασθῇ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ⸆ ἐν ὑμῖν, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ, κατὰ τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

Some see this as conforming to Sharp's rule. The ASV does not.

(2 Thess 1:12, ASV) that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and [the grace of] the Lord Jesus Christ.

The verbal idea (grace) is carried over by the adjunctive και and/or ellipsis from the introduction. There is no doubt that grace is from two persons in verse 2.

Thus the και serves to apply the verbal idea before και to the second term. The anaphoric article on χαρις also identifies the grace of two persons is the same grace, from two persons in verse 12.

If verse 12 was really about one person, discourse features are available to mark a departure from cohesive elements. One way is the use of adversative particles like δε (but).

We don't see this discourse feature used here.

.

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