This article presents how Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, executes the process of the formation of the
Thessalonian community. Using the sociological concept of symbolic boundaries, it is argued
that the resources – (1) the kerygmatic narrative, (2) the local narratives, and (3) the ethical
norms – that Paul incorporates into the letter take an essential role to promote the converts to
derive a cooperative identity from the community to which they belong and to strengthen the
distinction between them and the larger society. By providing internal consensus and external
separation, the resources serve to construct and maintain the Thessalonian community that is
internally united and externally distinct.
This article is a reworked version of a section of the author’s larger research project in Practical Theology with specialisation in
Homiletics entitled: ‘Paul’s preaching for community formation in 1 Thessalonians: An alternative to the new homiletic’. It is being
written under the supervision of Cas Wepener and Ernest van Eck at the University of Pretoria.
K.C. (University of Pretoria) was the PhD student. E.v.E.
(University of Pretoria) and C.W. (University of Pretoria)
acted as supervisors.