More Information
ISBN: 9781839732393
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 13
Publication Date: 31/08/2021
Pages: 244
Series: Studies in New Testament
Language: English

Work and Community in the Thessalonian Correspondence

An African Communal Reading of Paul’s Work Exhortations


In this important study, Dr. Gift Mtukwa investigates the relationship between work and community in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Utilizing an African biblical hermeneutic, he provides a theology of work that takes seriously the communal nature of Paul’s context and its parallels with a traditional African worldview. He combines cultural and historical insight with biblical analysis to demonstrate that work has a critical role to play in community formation. It is neither a burden nor an individual pursuit but a purposeful communal activity done to benefit self and neighbor.

This fresh look at Paul’s work exhortations from a contextualized African perspective offers a powerful reminder that work – like all human endeavors – should have the glory of God and love of others as its goal.

Author Bios

Gift Mtukwa

GIFT MTUKWA earned his PhD in Biblical Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. He is lecturer and department chair in the school of Religion and Christian Ministry at Africa Nazarene University, Nairobi, Kenya, where he teaches biblical studies, New Testament Greek, and Christian ethics. Dr. Mtukwa is an ordained minister with the Church of the Nazarene and currently serves as lead pastor at the University Church of the Nazarene, Nairobi, Kenya.


In this insightful book, Gift Mtukwa argues convincingly that for Paul, “work” serves to shape Christian communities into the self-giving character of Christ. Clearly written and exegetically rock-solid, the book unfolds a coherent theology of work in Paul’s Thessalonian correspondence, one that spotlights work as an expression of love for others.

Dean Flemming, PhD
Professor of New Testament and Missions, MidAmerica Nazarene University, Kansas, USA

Gift Mtukwa provides us with a biblical and theological foundation from the Thessalonian correspondence that demonstrates the value of work in forming and maintaining community. His methodology, African biblical hermeneutics, highlights the importance of recognizing the contextual situatedness of the reader. This is an excellent resource for the student as well as the scholar.

Elizabeth Mburu, PhD
Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek, Pan Africa Christian University, Nairobi, Kenya

This book is an important addition to the growing body of biblical “work” studies, especially because it links work to its central community-formation intent through perceptive African eyes. it also defies traditionalist objections which falsely bifurcate service as “God as mammon.”

Fletcher Tink, PhD
PhD Director in Transformational Development, Asia Graduate School of Theology, Manila, Philippines

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abstract
  3. List of Abbreviations
  4. Chapter 1 Background of the Study, Survey of Scholarship, and Methodology
    1. Thesis Statement
    2. Justification of the Study
    3. Survey of Scholarship
    4. Historical-Critical Issues Related to Work and Community in Thessalonian Correspondence
    5. Ancient City of Thessalonica – Economic and Political Background
      1. Paul’s Ministry at Thessalonica
      2. Authorship, Audience, and Date of Writing
      3. Conclusion
    6. Methodology
    7. Suggested Contribution to Knowledge
    8. Limitations of the Study
    9. Working Definitions
    10. Outline of the Study
  5. Chapter 2 Work and Community in African Worldview
    1. Introduction
    2. African Worldview or Worldviews?
    3. God and Ancestors in the African Context
    4. African Idea of Community
    5. Individual and Community Obligations
    6. Age Sets, Work Parties, and Community
    7. Work and Community in the Household
    8. Conclusion: Work and Community in the African Traditional Society
  6. Chapter 3 Work and Community in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran Community
    1. Introduction
    2. Qumran Community and the Dead Sea Scrolls
    3. Wealth and Work in the Dead Sea Scrolls
      1. Wealth in the Damascus Document (CD) and the Rule of the Community (1QS)
      2. Work and Community at Qumran
      3. Work and Community: Archaeological Evidence
      4. Work and Community in the Scrolls: Obligations for the Community Members
      5. Synthesis – Dead Sea Scrolls on Work and Community
    4. Conclusion on Dead Sea Scrolls and Qumran Community on Work and Community
  7. Chapter 4 Work and Community in the Greco-Roman Perspectives
    1. Introduction
    2. Work and Community in the Greco-Roman Household
    3. Work and Community in Epicurean Philosophical School
    4. Work and Community in Greco-Roman Associations
      1. Definition, Purpose, and Membership of Associations
      2. Financial Obligations in Association
      3. Responsibilities Inside and Outside Associations
      4. Summary of Work and Community in Associations
    5. Conclusion – Work and Community in Greco-Roman Perspectives
  8. Chapter 5 Work and Community in First Thessalonians
    1. Introduction
    2. The Work of the Apostles and the Beginning of Community Life at Thessalonica in 1 Thessalonians 2:8–9
      1. Introduction
      2. Work as Sharing Community Life: “Mgeni siku mbili, ya tatu mpe jembe”
      3. The Workshop as Platform for Paul’s Preaching
    3. Brotherly/Sisterly Love, Work, and Community in 1 Thessalonians 4:9–12
      1. Introduction
      2. Φιλαδελφία and Community Life
      3. Φιλαδελφία Demonstrated
      4. The Implication of Proper Behaviour to All Humanity
    4. Work in Service of the Community in 1 Thessalonians 5:12–14
      1. Introduction
      2. Are the Injunctions General or Specific?
      3. Recognition of Community Workers
      4. Censoring of ὁι  τάκτοι
    5. Conclusion
  9. Chapter 6 Working, Eating, and Community Life in 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15
    1. Introduction
    2. Literary Context of 2 Thessalonians 3:6–15
    3. The Problem of Walking in Idleness
    4. Paul as the Paradigm for the Community 2 Thessalonians 3:7–9
    5. Paul’s Διδαχη on Work and Eating in 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “A Lazy Person Kills the Whole Community”
      1. What is the Occasion for the ἄτακτοι?
      2. Meals in Early Christian Communities
      3. Exclusion of the  τάκτοι from Participation in Communal Meals
    6. Paul’s Paradigm and Its Application 2 Thessalonians 3:11–12
    7. Discipline on Account of Refusing to Work in 2 Thessalonians 3:13–15
    8. Conclusion
  10. Chapter 7 Conclusion
    1. Summary and Conclusions
    2. Contributions
    3. Further Studies
  11. Bibliography

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