Volume 45 - Issue 1
Paul’s Overlooked Allusion to Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2By Jordan Atkinson
This article argues that Paul compares the day of the Lord to a thief in the night in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 because of the influence of Joel 2:9. While the scholarly consensus is that the thief imagery owes to Jesus’s thief imagery for his second coming in Matthew 24:42–44 or Luke 12:39–40, Joel 2:9 better fits the criteria for allusions identified in G. K. Beale’s Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Paul’s contextually faithful interpretation of Joel 2:9 is a model for how Christians should continue to interpret OT prophetic literature.
Paul’s comparison of “the day of the Lord” to “a thief in the night” in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4 did not originate with him.1 As numerous scholars have noted, Jesus used the image of a thief when prophesying his second coming (Matt 24:42–44; Luke 12:39–40). Many of these scholars have argued that Paul’s comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in the night alludes to Jesus’s earlier teaching on the subject. Though this conclusion is one possible explanation for Paul’s simile, NT scholars have neglected to examine whether another, earlier usage of this comparison may better account for Paul’s language in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4. Hundreds of years before Jesus compared his return to a thief’s invasion of a home, Joel had foretold a day of the Lord that would afflict God’s people in the form of an invading army that would overtake Jerusalem “like a thief” (Joel 2:9).2 Though many NT scholars have argued that Paul alludes to the words of Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, he is more likely alluding to Joel 2:9.
To argue that Joel 2:9 is more likely the source of Paul’s comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in the night, I will demonstrate that Joel 2:9 meets or can answer objections from all seven criteria that G. K. Beale lists in his Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament for evaluating potential allusions.3 I will also show how Matthew 24:42 fails some of those criteria. Because Joel 2:9 meets the criteria for allusions better than Matthew 24:42 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, Paul more likely drew from Joel in comparing the day of the Lord to a thief in the night than from Matthew or Jesus tradition.
1. Availability of Joel 2:9 to Paul
Beale’s first criterion for evaluating potential allusions is the source text’s availability to the writer. Paul likely had access to both Hebrew and Greek texts of Joel. Of Paul’s 107 identified OT citations across his corpus, Moisés Silva identified most citations as agreeing with both the Septuagint and Hebrew Masoretic Text, but Paul 7 times agreed with the MT against the LXX.4 Paul therefore had access both to Hebrew and Greek copies of the OT.5 By contrast, Paul may or may not have had access to Matthew or the specific Jesus tradition Matthew cited in Matthew 24:42. Many scholars agree that 1 Thessalonians should be dated to the early 50s CE.6 Even conservative scholars, however, date Matthew to the 60s CE.7 Paul therefore likely did not have a copy of Matthew’s Gospel when he wrote 1 Thessalonians. He may or may not have had access to an oral tradition of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse (later recorded in Matthew 24, as well as in Mark 13 and Luke 21). In any case, Joel was more available to Paul for a possible allusion in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 than Matthew 24 or Jesus tradition behind it.
2. Lexical Evidence for an Allusion to Joel 2:9
Beale’s second criterion for evaluating potential allusions is whether “there is a significant degree of verbatim repetition of words or syntactical patterns,” which Beale calls volume.8 In this respect, Joel 2:9 fares significantly better than Matthew 24:42 upon close inspection. Scholars who argue that Paul is alluding to a Jesus tradition in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 have overstated their case by neglecting to list the differences between Paul’s imagery in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and Jesus’s imagery in Matthew 24:42–44 and Luke 12:39–40. Paul compares “the day of the Lord” to “a thief in the night” (1 Thess 5:2). However, Jesus does not use “day of the Lord” language in either Matthew 24:42–44 or Luke 12:39–40. In Jesus’s use of the imagery, “the Son of Man” is “the thief” (Matt 24:43, 44; Luke 12:39–40). Admittedly, both Paul and Jesus are discussing the same event. Nevertheless, the probability of a proposed allusion depends in part on the repetition of lexical connections between two texts. Therefore, the different referents of “thief” in Paul’s and Jesus’s usage of the imagery decrease the probability that Paul is alluding to Jesus’s teaching in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
Not only do Paul and Jesus compare different referents to a thief, but they also employ different literary devices. In Matthew 24:42–44 and Luke 12:39–40, Jesus uses a metaphor to compare himself at his second coming to a thief, but Paul uses a simile in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Some commentators may have wrongly identified an allusion to Jesus’s teachings in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 because they overlook this fact. In an influential article, Joseph Plevnik refers to “the image of thief” in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 as “a metaphor.”9 Even such major exegetical commentaries as those by Charles A. Wanamaker, Gary S. Shogren, and Jeffery A. D. Weima repeat Plevnik’s mistaken identification of Paul’s literary device in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 as a “metaphor” rather than as a simile.10 Wilfred Watson has rightly summarized, “Simile and metaphor overlap, to a certain extent: they express the same thing but in different ways.”11 Nevertheless, this point does not negate the significance of the difference between the two literary devices. The different ways that a simile and metaphor make the same point result in divergent syntactical constructions, which lessen the probability of Paul’s allusion to Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, just as do their different referents in their respective comparisons.
In fact, Paul’s comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in the night in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 bears more lexical similarity to Joel 2:9 than to either Matthew 24:42–44 or Luke 12:39–40. In Greek biblical texts, the simile ὡς κλέπτης (“like a thief”) only occurs in Joel 2:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4. In Joel 2:9 LXX, the Greek translator uses κλέπται, the plural accusative form of κλέπτης. However, the Hebrew text of Joel 2:9 for the simile is כַּגַּנָב (“like a thief”). Since Paul uses the singular nominative κλέπτης in 1 Thessalonians 5, he may be alluding to Joel 2:9 MT.12 When necessary, then, Paul freshly translated a biblical quotation from a Hebrew text into Koine Greek. The best explanation for a lexical comparison of Joel 2:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2 is that Paul is alluding to a Hebrew text of Joel 2:9 rather than a Greek text.
The context of Joel 2:9 further corresponds to 1 Thessalonians 5:2. In context, Joel 2:9 occurs within the larger unit of vv. 1–11. The references to the day of the Lord in Joel 2:1, 11 frame this unit and establish its thematic focus.13 Both Joel 2:1–11 and 1 Thessalonians 5 are about “the day of the Lord.” In both Joel 2:1 LXX and 1 Thessalonians 5:2, the subject is ἡμέρα κυρίου (“the day of the Lord”). Both Joel 2:11 and 1 Thessalonians 5:4 refer back to this day by adding the article before it, ἡ ἡμέρα (“the day”).
The lexical connections between Joel 2:1–11 and 1 Thessalonians 5 are all the more persuasive because of how both passages speak of the judgment of the day of the Lord. In Joel 2:1–11, the day of the Lord is a day of judgment that would befall Judeans in the form of an invading army if they did not repent of their idolatry. This invading army would “enter through the windows” of the houses in Jerusalem “like a thief” (v. 9). Significantly, this army would be the agent of God’s wrath against the sin of his people, since God himself is at the head of this force, “his army” (v. 11). Though this “great and powerful people” (v. 2) specifically are the ones that would invade Jerusalem “like a thief” (v. 9), they are the agents of God’s wrath at the day of the Lord. Likewise, Paul says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief” on those who are “in darkness,” who will face “sudden destruction” (1 Thess 5:2–4). Paul describes the judgment of the day of the Lord in order to encourage Christians to “keep awake and be sober” (1 Thess 5:6). Joel similarly warns his audience about this day of the Lord in Joel 2:1–11 in order to motivate them to repent in Joel 2:12–17.14 These lexical connections between Joel 2:1–11 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and their complementary function in each passage mean that Paul is more likely alluding to Joel 2 in 1 Thessalonians 5 than to Matthew 24 or Luke 12 when he compares the day of the Lord to a thief.
3. Conceptual Connections between Joel 2 and 1 Thessalonians 5
Paul’s citation and use of Joel elsewhere in his writings meets Beale’s third criterion for possible allusions: recurrence.15 Paul uses similar concepts as Joel did in his portrayal of the Day of the Lord both in 1 Thessalonians 5 and elsewhere in his letters. Paul describes the day of the Lord as a day of darkness in 1 Thessalonians 5:4, just as Joel does in Joel 2:2. Both Paul and Joel describe the day of the Lord with imagery of birth pangs in childbirth (1 Thess 5:3; Joel 2:6). Furthermore, Paul cites Joel 2:32 (3:5 MT/LXX) in Romans 10:13, and the preceding verse describes the “day of the Lord” as “great and awesome” (Joel 2:31 [3:4 MT/LXX]). Paul may also allude to Joel 2:1 in 1 Corinthians 15:52, since both texts mention a trumpet in connection to events on the day of the Lord.16 Paul’s allusions and citation of Joel both elsewhere in 1 Thessalonians and elsewhere in his letters increase the probability that 1 Thessalonians 5:2 is an allusion to Joel 2:9.
Scholars who have tried to demonstrate Paul’s allusions to Jesus tradition in 1 Thessalonians and other letters, by contrast, have overstated their case. Seyoon Kim argues that Paul alludes to Jesus tradition not only in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 but throughout the broader section of 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11. He contends,
Here we should compare the introductory form αὐτοι … ἀκριβῶς οἴδατε ὅτι … in 5.2 with the formula ‘Do you not know that…?” (οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι…;) in 1 Cor 3.16; 5.6; 6.2, 3, 9, 15, 16, 19…. I have tried to show that the formula in those verses alludes to the various sayings of Jesus…. Thus, the formula “Do you not know that…?” in the eight verses of 1 Corinthians and its variants in 2 Cor 5.1 and 1 Thess 5.2 (cf. also 1 Cor 10.16) together suggest that at his founding mission for various churches he [Paul] regularly delivered the teaching of Jesus as part of his preaching of the gospel.17
Kim’s strongest lexical connection between Paul and Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 depends on the accuracy of his assertion that an introductory formula including οἴδατε ὅτι always introduces an allusion to some teaching of Jesus. However, this claim is false.
In 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19, when Paul says that the Corinthians are the temple of God, he is more likely echoing the Old Testament than a teaching of Jesus, since in 2 Corinthians 6:16, Paul quotes Leviticus 26:12 to support his identification of Christians as “the temple of the living God.”18 If Paul explicitly depended on the OT for his identification of God’s people as God’s temple here, then the OT could also have been the source of this theological point elsewhere in Paul’s letters.
Similarly, 1 Corinthians 6:15–16 may not be an allusion to Jesus’s teaching. Paul explicitly cited Genesis 2:24 in 1 Corinthians 6:16. Granted, Jesus also quoted this OT verse in his own teaching on marriage (Matt 19:5). Paul therefore may have been alluding to Jesus’s teaching about Genesis 2:24 in 1 Corinthians 6:16. However, it is at least equally plausible that Paul was alluding to Genesis 2:24 without depending on Jesus’s own teaching about it. Half of the verses that Kim cites in support of his contention that οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι introduces an allusion to a Jesus saying in 1 Corinthians instead are at least equally as likely to be alluding to the OT without reference to any of Jesus’s teachings. No lexical evidence therefore unquestionably supports the claim made by many scholars that Paul is alluding to Jesus’s Olivet Discourse in his comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief.
Paul’s possible allusion to the Olivet Discourse in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 also does not diminish the relative strength of the proposed allusion to Joel 2:9 in the previous verse. As other commentators have rightly noted, Paul may be alluding to Luke 21:34–36 in 1 Thessalonians 5:3.19 Paul warns, “While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them [αἰφνίδιος αὐτοις εφίσταται] as pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape [οὐ μὴ ἐκφύγωσιν]” (1 Thess 5:3). Paul seems to be echoing Jesus’s words in Luke 21:34–36:
But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly [ἐπιστῇ ἐφʼ ὑμᾶς αἰφνίδιος ἡ ἡμέρα ἐκείνη] like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape [ἐκφυγεῖν] all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.
1 Thessalonians 5 and Luke 21 both refer to the day of the Lord and warn of the suddenness of the day of the Lord (αἰφνίδιος) and of the necessity to escape (ἐκφυγεῖν).20
Nevertheless, Paul’s possible allusion in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 to Jesus’s words as preserved in Luke 21:34–36 does not nullify the probability that he alludes to Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Matthew does not preserve a comparable saying in his account of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse, and Luke situates his account of Jesus’s thief metaphor not in the Olivet Discourse but earlier in Jesus’s ministry, as he leads the disciples to Jerusalem. Paul’s allusion to a portion of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse preserved uniquely in Luke among the canonical Gospels may even support the suggestion that he is alluding to Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, since Luke does not include thief imagery in his account of Jesus’s Olivet Discourse. If Paul alluded to the Olivet Discourse in 1 Thessalonians 5 but only had access to Jesus sayings that were later recorded in Luke’s Gospel, his allusion to a part of the Olivet Discourse preserved in Matthew but not in Luke becomes even less likely.
Furthermore, even as Paul alludes to Luke 21:34–36, he may be continuing to echo Joel 2 as well. In the midst of his allusion to Luke 21:34–36, Paul says that the “sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman [ὥσπερ ἡ ὠδὶν τῇ ἐν γαστρὶ ἐχούσῃ]” (1 Thess 5:3). Prophesying of God’s army at the day of the Lord, Joel also wrote, “Before them peoples are in anguish; all faces grow pale” (Joel 2:6). The phrase “are in anguish” translates the Hebrew verb חוּל, which the LXX renders as συντρίβω rather than as the verb ὠδίνω, which is cognate to the noun ὠδίν. Though different Greek words appear in the translation of Joel 2:6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:3, Paul may nevertheless be echoing the concept of Joel 2:6 in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. First, ὠδίν is an acceptable translation of חוּל. Job 39:1 LXX translates a participial form of חוּל with ὠδίν. Isaiah 26:17 LXX similarly translates חוּל by using ὠδίν. Second, ὠδίν occurs in contexts of women suffering labor pains in Isaiah, though other Greek words there translate חוּל. “They will be dismayed: pangs and agony [ὠδίν] will seize them; they will be in anguish [חוּל] like a woman in labor” (Isa 13:8). “Before she was in labor [חוּל], she gave birth; before her pain [ὠδίν] came upon her she delivered a son” (Isa 66:7). Even when ὠδίν does not render חוּל in the Septuagint, the two terms overlap in their semantic range. Therefore, Paul may have been freely rendering the thought of Joel 2:6 into Koine Greek in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. This possibility further supports the conclusion that Paul was likely alluding to Joel 2:9 when he compared the day of the Lord to a thief in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
4. Thematic Coherence between Joel 2:9 and 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4
Joel 2:9 is also more thematically coherent with 1 Thessalonians 5:2 than Matthew 24:42. As Shogren has pointed out regarding 1 Thessalonians 5:4,
One point of difficulty in this section is whether Paul means to say that the parousia will come as a surprise to Christians. On the one hand, the “thief in the night” metaphor seems strictly to apply to the world of darkness. Yet throughout the tradition on which he bases his teaching, all people will be taken by surprise: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matt 24:42, italics added)21
If one assumes that Matthew 24:42 is the background of 1 Thessalonians 5:2, Paul seems to restrict the surprise of the day of the Lord to non-Christians in a way that Jesus does not. Paul and Jesus thereby seem to use thief imagery in potentially contradictory ways. Shogren’s solution to this “tension” is to recognize that “the believer is said to be ‘ready’ if he or she is always walking in God’s light, even though the event itself will come as a surprise.”22 Though this solution is theologically sound, it is unnecessary if one does not assume that Matthew 24:42 is the background of 1 Thessalonians 5:2. When one compares Joel 2:9 to 1 Thessalonians 5:2, those two texts discuss the day of the Lord in harmony with one another. Joel 2:1–11 describes the day of the Lord as a day of judgment, and so does Paul. Jesus does not talk about his return in Matthew 24 with day of the Lord language because he there emphasizes how he will both save and judge people as the Son of Man. By contrast, Paul talks about the day of the Lord in terms of judgment on those “in darkness” because in Joel 2:1–11 the day of the Lord was an expression of God’s judgment.23 Matthew 24:42 thus fails Beale’s fourth criterion for proposed allusions in that Matthew 24:42 does not “fit” Paul’s argument in 1 Thessalonians 5:2–4, but Joel 2:9 passes this test, since it meets Beale’s criterion that an allusion “not only thematically fits into the NT writer’s argument but also illuminates it.”24
This argument is all the stronger if Paul also alludes to Joel 2:6 in 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Both Joel and Paul describe the day of the Lord with the imagery of a woman in labor. Duane Garrett has identified 1 Thessalonians 5:3 as an example of how “convulsing in anguish (like a woman in labor) is a stock expression for the day of the Lord,” as in Joel 2:6.25 Paul, consistent with Joel, describes the day of the Lord as a day of judgment. Paul and Joel’s descriptions of the day of the Lord are consistent in a way that avoids the “point of difficulty” that Shogren strove to resolve.26 Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5 is repeatedly more thematically consistent to Joel 2 than to Matthew 24.
5. Historical Probability of Paul’s Allusion to Joel 2:9
Fifth, it is more historically plausible that Paul alluded to Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 than to Jesus tradition behind Matthew 24:42. This paper has exposed faults in Kim’s vital argument that οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι always introduces an allusion to oral tradition about Jesus’s teachings. Furthermore, Matthew and Luke do not situate Jesus’s metaphor of the Son of Man being a thief in the same historical contexts in their respective Gospels. It is therefore unlikely on grounds of historical plausibility that Paul was alluding to Jesus tradition in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. It is more historically plausible that he was alluding to Joel 2:9. Other NT authors (and Jesus himself!) alluded to various aspects of the day of the Lord described by Joel. Craig Blomberg has identified Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15 among the sources for “a constellation of allusions” in Matthew 24:29.27 According to G. K. Beale and Sean McDonough, Revelation 6:12 alludes to Joel 2:31 (3:4 LXX), Revelation 9:7 alludes to Joel 1:3, 6, and Revelation 14:17–20 alludes to Joel 3:2, 11–14.28 Joel’s imagery in all these texts concerns cosmic portents of the day of the Lord. Revelation 8:12 also prophesies cosmic upheaval reminiscent of Joel’s imagery. In addition to these allusions to Joel, Peter cites Joel 2:28–32 (3:1–5 LXX) in his Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:17–21). Joel was a central text for Christians from the beginning of the church. Numerous NT documents quote or allude to Joel, so it is historically plausible that Paul would allude to Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
6. The Inconclusive History of Interpretation of 1 Thessalonians 5:2
Beale’s sixth criterion for evaluating allusions, history of interpretation, at first seems to support Matthew 24:42 as a more likely allusion than Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. However, Beale describes this criterion as “one of the least reliable criteria in recognizing allusions,” in part because
though a study of past interpretation may reveal the possible allusions proposed by others, it can also lead to a narrowing of the possibilities since commentators can tend to follow other commentators and since commentary tradition always has the possibility of distorting or misinterpreting and losing the fresh and creative approach of the NT writers’ textual collocations.29
Such a distortion seems to have occurred with respect to the correct source of Paul’s comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in the night. English-language exegetical commentators over the past generation have uniformly identified Jesus tradition as the source of Paul’s thief image in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and have not addressed the thief imagery of Joel 2 in their arguments that Paul is alluding to Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.30 Plevnik technically states correctly that, “the image of the thief in the OT is never employed as a metaphor for the coming of the Lord’s day.”31 However, he did not consider that Joel compares the army of the day of the Lord to a thief using simile in Joel 2:9. Seyoon Kim similarly contends that “the unique imagery of the day of the Lord coming like a thief … is not attested in the Jewish literature.”32 Such a statement observes correctly that the entire comparison does not occur in Joel 2:9, but it ignores the broader context of Joel 2:9, which is solely about the day of the Lord (Joel 2:1–11). The erroneous conclusion of multiple scholars that no OT text compared the day of the Lord to a thief may explain why they have not considered Joel 2:9 to be a possible source of Paul’s comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Though it is not consistent with the history of interpretation, Joel 2:9 is the most likely source of Paul’s comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 because the criterion is unreliable, which possibility Beale concedes.
7. Contextual Fit of Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2
Finally, Joel 2:9 is more satisfying an allusion than Matthew 24:42 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, so it better meets Beale’s seventh and final criterion for evaluating allusions. Beale asks,
Does the proposed allusion and its interpretative usage make sense in the immediate context? Does it illuminate the surrounding context? Does it enhance the rhetorical punch of the point being made by the NT writer? Does the use of the allusion result in a satisfying account of how the author intended the allusion and how this use of the allusion would have made its effect upon the reader?33
Joel 2:9 answers all of these questions satisfactorily. Joel 2:9 makes sense in the immediate context of 1 Thessalonians 5:2. It is consistent with Paul’s emphasis on the judgment of the day of the Lord, whereas Matthew 24:42 poses a “point of difficulty,” as Shogren has admitted.34 Joel 2:9 also illuminates the surrounding context, since Paul deals both with the resurrection that Jesus will accomplish for Christians at his Second Coming (1 Thess 4:13–18) and the judgment that Jesus will render on non-Christians at that time (1 Thess 5:1–11). The day of the Lord as prophesied by Joel helps Paul emphasize the judgment of the wicked in 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11. Both Joel 2:9 and Matthew 24:42 would have been rhetorically effective, since both use thief imagery, albeit with different referents, as noted above. Joel 2:9 therefore satisfies every question of Beale’s seventh criterion and is a more satisfying allusion in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 than Matthew 24:42.
8. Conclusion and Significance
According to Beale’s seven criteria for assessing possible allusions in the NT, Joel 2:9 is more likely than Matthew 24:42 (or Jesus tradition behind it) to be the source of Paul’s comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in the night in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Joel 2:9 was more available to Paul than Matthew 24:42. Unlike Matthew 24, Joel 2 has a large volume of lexical connections with 1 Thessalonians 5, and Joel is a recurrent source for Paul, both in citations and allusions, not only in 1 Thessalonians but also in his other letters. Similarly, other NT writers quote or allude to Joel, which makes Joel a historically plausible source for Paul’s imagery in 1 Thessalonians 5:2. Furthermore, Joel’s description of the day of the Lord coheres with Paul’s description of it in 1 Thessalonians 5. The history of interpretation is an unreliable criterion in this case, since commentators seem to have ignored Joel 2:9 as a possible source of 1 Thessalonians 5:2 because of the widespread identification of Matthew 24:42 as its source, the validity of which this paper has questioned. Joel 2:9 is overall a more satisfying allusion in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 than Matthew 24:42. Cumulatively, these seven points make the case that Paul derives his comparison of the day of the Lord to a thief in the night from Joel 2:9 rather than from Jesus tradition.
Identifying Joel 2:9 as Paul’s allusion in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 has contemporary significance. Paul’s interpretation of Joel 2:9, consistent with its context in Joel 2:1–11, is a model for how Christians should continue to interpret OT prophetic literature. If Paul was alluding to Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, then he was modeling typology. “Typological interpretation attends to historical correspondence and escalation. Real events that took place in history are seen to match in sequence and import, and as we progress from a type to fulfillment, we find an increase in significance.”35 Even in Joel, the day of the Lord functioned typologically. The historic days of the Lord recounted in Joel 1:1–2:17 became a pattern for a future day of the Lord prophesied in Joel 2:18–3:21.36 Paul followed this typological trajectory in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 by recycling the thief simile of the historic day of the Lord depicted in Joel 2:1–11 to describe the eschatological day of the Lord. Paul’s interpretation of the day of the Lord from Joel 2:1–11 in 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 is normative for Christians today. Such a lesson could not be gleaned from this text if Matthew 24:42 were the source of Paul’s iconic image of the thief in the night. However, when one recognizes Joel 2:9 as the source of this comparison in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, one finds an example of typological interpretation in Scripture that is based not only in the NT but also in its original OT context and that is thus normative for contemporary Christian hermeneutics.
 Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV.
 OT scholars debate whether the army in Joel 2:1–11 is a human army (e.g., Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, NAC 19A [Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1997], 333–43) or a swarm of locusts (e.g., Joel Barker, From the Depths of Despair to the Promise of Presence: A Rhetorical Reading of the Book of Joel, Siphrut [Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2014], 116–17). The precise identity of the army is not germane to the argument of this paper.
 All seven criteria are located in G. K. Beale, Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012), 33. Beale adapts these seven criteria from Richard Hays (Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul [New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989], 29–32). Hays’s criteria are the methodological standard against which later Pauline scholars have developed their own criteria for identifying allusions. Stanley Porter has rejected Hays’s equation of allusion and echo, and I agree with Porter that an “allusion is concerned to bring an external person, place, or literary work into the contemporary text” (“Allusions and Echoes,” in As It Is Written: Studying Paul’s Use of Scripture, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Christopher D. Stanley, SBL Symposium Series 50 [Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008], 40). Nevertheless, Hays’s criteria remain valid for identifying these kinds of allusions. In his monograph on Paul’s use of Scripture in Colossians, Christopher Beetham agrees with many of Hays’s criteria, to which he adds an additional criterion of interpretation of the proposed allusion in later OT texts and Second Temple Judaism (Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, BibInt 96 [Leiden: Brill, 2008], 32–33). David Shaw has also defended the usefulness of Hays’s original seven criteria against the rejection of them by Porter and the addition to them by Beetham (“Converted Imaginations? The Reception of Richard Hays’s Intertextual Method,” CurBR 11 : 234–45). Thus, this paper follows Beale and Hays in using them to evaluate the probability of Paul alluding to Joel 2:9 in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
 Moisés Silva, “Old Testament in Paul,” DPL 631.
 Paul “had a firm grasp both on the Hebrew text and the LXX” (Gary S. Shogren, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, ZECNT [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic, 2012], 202).
 F. F. Bruce comments, “It is commonly agreed that 1 Thessalonians … should be dated … about A.D. 50” (1 and 2 Thessalonians, WBC 45 [Waco, TX: Word, 1982]), xxxiv; this general consensus has held.
 So recently, Charles L. Quarles, Matthew, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2017), 6.
 Beale, Handbook, 33.
 Joseph Plevnik, “1 Thess 5:1–11: Its Authenticity, Intention, and Message,” Bib 60 (1979): 81 n. 27.
 Charles A. Wanamaker, The Epistles to the Thessalonians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC 13 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 179; Shogren, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 206; Jeffrey A. D. Weima, 1–2 Thessalonians, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014), 346–47.
 Wilfred G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to Its Techniques, JSOTSup 26, 2nd ed. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1986), 254.
 This possibility is all the more likely as Paul elsewhere in his letters seems to work directly from a Hebrew text. Gordon Fee has demonstrated that Paul’s command χαίρετε ἐν κυρίῳ in Philippians 3:1; 4:4 “is best understood as Paul’s own rendering of this OT idiom [‘rejoice in the Lord’],” since “the LXX translators [of Psalms] consistently avoided χαίρω for this idiom” (Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, NICNT [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995], 290 n. 27).
 James L. Crenshaw, Joel, AB 24C (New York: Doubleday, 1995), 128; Barker, From the Depths of Despair to the Promise of Presence, 107.
 Barker, From the Depths of Despair to the Promise of Presence, 141–42.
 Beale, Handbook, 33.
 Granted, Paul does not use the phrase “the day of the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 15, but 1 Corinthians 15 is discussing the same events as 1 Thessalonians 5. Similarly Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner write, “The trumpet as a sign of the day of the Lord in 15:52 recalls Isaiah 27:13, Joel 2:1, and Zephaniah 1:14–16,” and they correlate 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17 and 1 Corinthians 15:52 (The First Letter to the Corinthians, PNTC [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010], 830).
 Seyoon Kim, “The Jesus Tradition in 1 Thess 4.13–5.11,” NTS 48 (2002): 238 n. 45.
 So also Ciampa and Rosner write, “That Paul connects the temple metaphor with the Old Testament is clear from 2 Corinthians 6:16–18, where he quotes Leviticus 26:12 and Ezekiel 37:27” (The First Letter to the Corinthians, 158).
 E.g., Kim, “Jesus Tradition,” 231; Wanamaker, Epistles to the Thessalonians, 180.
 Paul’s claim that non-Christians will not escape the judgment of the day of the Lord (1 Thess 5:3) and Jesus’s instruction that Christians should pray to escape that judgment (Luke 21:36) are complementary.
 Shogren, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 206.
 Shogren, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 206.
 Richard Mayhue lists Joel 2:9 in support for his contention that the day of the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 functions as it did “in the Old Testament—a time of judgment upon the unbelieving world” (“The Bible’s Watchword: Day of the Lord,” MSJ 22 : 71).
 Beale, Handbook, 33.
 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 339. He cites Isaiah 13:8; Jeremiah 4:31; 6:24; 13:21; 22:23; and Ezekiel 30:16 as other examples of חוּל describing the day of the Lord. He cites Hans Walter Wolff’s commentary as the source for his identification of Isaiah 13:8 and Ezekiel 30:16 in this regard (Joel and Amos, Herm [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977], 46).
 Shogren, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 206.
 Craig L. Blomberg, “Matthew,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 87. See also Mark 13:24 and Luke 21:25.
 G. K. Beale and Sean M. McDonough, “Revelation,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 1105, 1114, 1133.
 Beale, Handbook, 33.
 Of recent English-language scholars, Richard Mayhue alone listed Joel 2:9 alongside NT occurrences “for κλέπτης used in a prophetic motif” (“The Bible’s Watchword,” 71 n. 22). Even Mayhue, however, did not argue that Joel 2:9 is the source of Paul’s allusion in 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
 Plevnik, “1 Thess 5:1–11,” 81 n. 27, emphasis added.
 Kim, “Jesus Tradition,” 232.
 Beale, Handbook, 33.
 Shogren, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 206.
 James M. Hamilton Jr., God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 365.
 Barker, From the Depths of Despair to the Promise of Presence, 173–74, 265–67.
Jordan Atkinson pastors Friendship Baptist Church in Harveysburg, Ohio, and is a PhD student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
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