My question this morning, and what I want to talk about today is, "Are the Thessalonian Christians still waiting for the Coming of Christ?" The obvious answer is well no, the Thessalonians to whom Paul wrote have been dead for two thousand years. So they could not still be waiting for the Coming of Christ, but most of the contemporary church is still waiting.
The topic of the Second Coming of Christ is a very familiar theme in churchianity. People are constantly making predictions as to when it will happen. It seems like everything that happens in the world is a "sign" of His Coming. The Church as a whole is looking forward to Christ coming "soon," it's always soon. For our time this morning I want us to look at some of the verses in 1and 2 Thessalonians and see what they teach us about the Coming of Christ.
Let's get some context on the Thessalonians. Paul, together with Silas, Timothy, and Luke, had established a beach-head for the Gospel in Europe in the city in Philippi in Macedonia around A.D. 51.
Paul and Silas were arrested and beaten following Paul's casting out of a demon from a slave girl who was used of her masters to foretell the future. As Paul and Silas lay in a dungeon singing praise to Yahweh, an earthquake destroyed the prison. The jailer and his family came to faith as a result, and they joined together with Lydia and her household to form the first home church on the European continent. Luke would remain on to shepherd the young church, while Paul and his companions head south on the Egnatian Way as soon as they are released from prison:
Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Acts 17:1 NASB
As they leave Philippi, it appears that they just pass through Amphipolis, which was about thirty-three miles on down the coast. And then, they seem to just pass through Apollonia, which was sixty-three miles away, and, finally, come to Thessalonica, which was about one hundred miles from Philippi.
Paul and Silas had just been severely beaten—I don't think they could walk 100 miles in three days. Walking shortly after a brutal beating would have been very painful. Even if they were in great shape, this journey on foot would have taken much longer than three days, which makes me think that maybe they traveled on horseback.
Let's talk about Thessalonica: The city, which was founded in 315 B.C., was named in honor of Philip II's daughter, Thessalonicas. It was a trading city of 200,000 people, at least. It was the capital of Macedonia. Three great rivers came through it and converged into the sea, and so it was a very important port. Also, the Egnation Highway went right through the middle of Thessalonica, so everyone traveling east and west came through this city. It was populated by Greeks, Roman citizens, Jews, and Orientals. The Jewish religious influence was having an effect among the population, because Paul found many "God-fearing Greeks" among the citizens.
What do you think was the first thing Paul did once he reached Thessalonica? If he arrived on Friday, I'm sure the first thing he did was go to the synagogue. But if he didn't arrive on Friday, I think the first thing he did was get a job tent-making. In writing to the Thessalonians Paul said:
For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 NASB
Paul makes clear in his letter how he was careful not to be a financial burden on anyone. There were many traveling philosophers, who had a reputation for selfishness, making the rounds in that day. The apostle did not want to be included among that group. So he made tents all through the week. But on Saturday he went into the synagogue and taught the Scriptures. He also received two financial gifts from the Philippians while he was in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15-16).
And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, Acts 17:2 NASB
Paul always started his ministry in the synagogue, this was his practice wherever he went. Why did he do this? It was because this was where he could find some who already had a knowledge of the Scriptures. This is where he could find those who were looking for the Messiah.
The synagogue is not the temple; the synagogue is a completely different place. During the 400 silent years (which is what we call them), from the end of the book of Malachi to the beginning of the Gospels, is when the whole concept of the Rabbis and the synagogue arose. The Hebrew people in that time period had a new passion for the Hebrew Scriptures, and they wanted to learn what Yahweh had to say. They needed a place where the Scriptures could be read and taught, so they developed the synagogue.
The synagogue system offered the unique opportunity of making the Hebrew Scriptures available everywhere the Jews had been dispersed throughout the entire world. There were three things the Jews did in the synagogues, and Gentile people could join in and benefit from all of them: They would read the Tanakh, pray, and try to make some application to their lives of what they were reading and praying about.
There was a synagogue located in every city in which there were 10 Jewish males. No less than seven men would be called upon to read portions of the Law and the Prophets. Then the Ruler of the Synagogue could and would call on any competent distinguished visitor to speak. Yeshua and the apostles took advantage of this practice in order to preach the Gospel.
How long were Paul and his missionary team in Thessalonica? We really don't know for sure, but it seems to have been longer than three weeks.
Acts 17:2 says that Paul "reasoned with them from the Scriptures." Reasoned is from the Greek word dialegomai. It's a word from which we get words like "dialog" and "dialectic." It's a word that originally referred to the Socratic method of communication in which there was a responsiveness on the part of individuals. Questions would be thrown out, like Plato and Socrates did, and then answered, and other questions were asked that were designed to cause individuals to think through the things that they were discussing. Paul didn't just get up there and preach. He allowed for questions and dialog. The imperfect tense indicates a renewed kind of repeated questioning. In other words, an interchange was going on.
As he preached in the synagogue at Thessalonica, Paul would declare to the Jews that there was no salvation in Judaism, nor was salvation possible by means of the Roman philosophy, nor in the two thousand mystery religions prevalent in that day. Salvation was to be found only in Yeshua the Christ, the Messiah of God whom the Jews had rejected while He was on earth:
And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a great multitude of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. Acts 17:4 NASB
Who is the "them" here? It is the Jews of verse 1. Some of the Jews were persuaded that Yeshua was the Christ. They believed Paul's words and put their faith in Yeshua. Not only Jews believed Paul's message, but so did a "great multitude of the God-fearing Greeks." God-fearing points to that class of monotheistic Gentiles who worshiped the God of Israel as the one God and respected the Old Covenant and the moral teaching of the Jews, attended synagogue, observed the Sabbath, and practiced the main requirements of Jewish piety.
But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and coming upon the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. Acts 17:5 NASB
It seems every time Paul finished his teaching in a synagogue, the next verse opens with the words, "But the Jews…"—we see this over and over in Acts. These Jews, like Jonah of old, like the people of Nazareth (Luke 4:16ff.), and like the Jews of Jerusalem later on (Acts 22:21-22), were greatly angered that a "salvation of the Jews" was being offered to the Gentiles, and that many were placing their trust in Him, following Paul and the others.
So this mob assaulted the house of Jason, where the apostles and others were supposed to be staying, and they sought to bring them out to the people:
And when they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have upset the world have come here also; 7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Yeshua." Acts 17:6-7 NASB
When they got Jason before the magistrates they said, "These fellows are doing things that are contrary to the decrees of Caesar." So the Jews in Thessalonica began to persecute the missionaries, but they did it in such a way that the local authorities would see it as a political, rather than a religious issue.
Not finding Paul and Silas, they turned on Jason and some fellow-believers and hauled them before the city rulers:
And they stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things. 9 And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them. 10 And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Acts 17:8-10 NASB
Jason and the other new Christians were dragged to the court by the mob and placed under a lot of pressure. The accusation was that Jason had entertained those who violated Roman Law by claiming there is another king besides Caesar, and that King is Yeshua. A judgement was made, and a bond was paid by Jason, presumably as a bond against any further trouble, and they let them go, possibly suggesting, or even specifically requiring, that it would be a good idea to get Paul and Silas out of town.
What I want to do this morning is to show you the results of Paul's, Silas', and Timothy's visit to Thessalonica. We learn much about the believers in Thessalonica in the two letters written to them by Paul. So please turn with me to the first letter to the Thessalonians.
What is special about Paul's letters to the Thessalonians? This is the first inspired letter that Paul wrote, and this is the first inspired letter of the New Testament. As we saw, Paul and his companions were driven out of Thessalonica, after only a brief stay, by persecution that broke out viciously. He and his companions were forced to leave and went to Berea and then went down to Athens. While Paul was in Athens, he tried to go back to Thessalonica. He says:
For we wanted to come to you— I, Paul, more than once— and yet Satan thwarted us. 1 Thessalonians 2:18 NASB
At least twice, Paul tried to return to Thessalonica, but Satan hindered him. So while Paul was waiting in Athens, he sent Timothy back up to Thessalonica to see how those new converts were doing:
Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone; 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 NASB
Now, while Timothy was in Thessalonica, Paul went on to Corinth and began his ministry in the city of Corinth. While Paul was in Corinth, Timothy came back from Thessalonica to report to him, and he brought a glorious report. And, when Paul heard it, he sat down and wrote the first letter to the Thessalonians.
After about five months, Paul wrote a second letter to them from Corinth because of a misunderstanding in the church. And, these are the very first letters of the New Testament. Any date assigned will have to be approximate, though probably A.D. 51-52.
What is really convicting is that these two letters are written to new converts, many of whom were converts out of pagan idolatry. These Christians at Thessalonica have not even been Christians for a year. They were only several months old in the Lord when Paul writes these letters. And, yet, when you read these letters and look at the doctrinal content of these Epistles, it is almost unbelievable. Almost every major doctrine of the Christian faith is mentioned. The amount of doctrine taught in this short span of time clearly demonstrates the priority the apostle placed on the doctrines of the Word. These new converts out of pagan idolatry have a solid understanding of Christian doctrine.
Most Christians today, even those who have been saved for decades, don't know enough about the Bible to even discuss it intelligibly. But here we see these new converts, many who had been worshiping idols all their lives, have a good grasp on Christian theology. Paul speaks to them about the doctrines of salvation, of assurance, of sanctification, of election, of the Trinity, of the nature of man, of the judgment day of the Lord, of the Second Coming of Christ. He writes these things to them as though they were perfectly familiar with them. Notice what Paul says to them:
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 NASB
Then in the second letter, in referring to the events that would precede the Second Coming, Paul writes:
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 2 Thessalonians 2:5 NASB
Paul, when preaching in Thessalonica, obviously preached the judgment of God and the return of the Lord and their accountability to Him. They knew all about the Second Coming of Christ. This is a remarkable thing. How many Christians can you say this of today? These converts are less than a year old, and they didn't have the New Testament—It wasn't written yet. It was just being written. All they had was portions of the Tanakh and the teaching of Paul.
Compare them with us: We have the complete Bible and every imaginable Bible study tool; we have the Bible on computer and can search through the whole thing in seconds. We even have the Bible on our tablets and phones, so that any time we want we can take out our phones and read Scripture. And yet it appears that they knew way more than we do. Why? How do we differ from them? Desire. They had a strong desire to know the Lord, where as most American Christians desire is for wealth, entertainment, or leisure time. We don't seem to have a strong desire for the things of Yahweh.
What happened to this church after Paul left? These new converts were subject to severe persecution:
For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Yeshua that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Yeshua and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 NASB
Those in Thessalonica were suffering for their faith. But Paul had taught them, before he was forced to leave town, that as believers, they were destined for affliction:
so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. 4 For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4 NASB
They were suffering, but they, like their teacher, Paul, continued to press on in the midst of the suffering. They continued to spread the Word of God in the midst of their suffering:
For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 NASB
Those in Thessalonica were experiencing the same suffering that the first Christians in Judea suffered. Do you remember what that was? The apostles were beaten and told to keep quiet about Yeshua:
And they took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them to speak no more in the name of Yeshua, and then released them. Acts 5:40 NASB
Then we see that Stephen was stoned to death. And Saul tried to destroy the church:
And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Acts 8:1 NASB
"That day" is emphatic in the Greek text, referring to the day of Stephen being stoned to death. "On that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem":
But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house; and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison. Acts 8:3 NASB
"Ravaging the church" is from the Greek word lumainomai, which literally means: "he exercised brutal and sadistic cruelty."
In the midst of all this talk about suffering and persecution a major theme arises in the study and reading of 1 and 2 Thessalonians: that theme is the Return of the Lord Yeshua the Christ. This is a subject found at the close of every chapter of the first letter:
and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Yeshua, who rescues us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 NASB
Who is waiting for His Son from heaven? The first Thessalonian Christians:
For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Yeshua at His coming? 1 Thessalonians 2:19 NASB
Paul says that "they" will be in the presence of our Lord at His coming:
so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Yeshua with all His saints. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 NASB
"Saints" here is literally "holy ones"—a term also used for angelic beings in the Tanakh. This is the point of reference in:
and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Yeshua will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 2 Thessalonians 1:7 NASB
This is most likely a parallel to verse 13.
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 NASB
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB
Concerning Christ's return, there is a two-fold emphasis of both a confident expectation along with the call to live in readiness in the light of His Imminent Coming.
As we read the Bible, we must keep in mind the hermeneuticial principle of audience relevance, which seeks to discover what the original audience understood a passage to mean. The concern of the evangelical interpreter is to understand the grammar of a passage in light of the historical circumstances and context of the original audience.
Let me ask you a really difficult question, "Who are the letters of 1 and 2 Thessalonians written to?" The Thessalonian Epistles were written to the believers who lived in Thessalonica in the first century.
These young converts in Thessalonica were suffering greatly for their faith in Christ. So when Timothy comes back to Paul, he reports that there is much suffering for these new believers: Their property is confiscated, they are being beaten and imprisoned. Yet in the midst of it all they are still as true to Christ as the day they first trusted Him. So Paul writes to comfort and encourage them in their faith.
The most impressive topic of the Thessalonian Gospel, from what we can gather from these letters, was the Coming of the Lord Yeshua in His Heavenly Kingdom. This letter is loaded with eschatology. It was evidently the topic of frequent conversations when Paul was in Macedonia. Eschatology is a major theological issue, not just in Thessalonia, but in all the Scripture. R.C. Sproul says that two thirds of the New Testament is either directly or indirectly eschatological. Other experts say that 25 to 30 percent of the whole Bible is eschatological. Every one of the five chapters in this first letter ends with a reference to the Second Coming of Christ. With audience relevance in mind, let's look at these letters:
For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Yeshua, who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NASB
The faith of the Thessalonian believers is summed up in these two things: serving a living and true God, and waiting for His Son from the heavens. How did they wait for His son? Were they to do this while in the grave? Did they serve the true God from the grave. No! While they were on earth, living, breathing, they were waiting for the Second Coming of Christ. They expected it in their lifetime.
Where did they get the idea that the Lord would return in their lifetime? They got if from Paul, who got it from Yeshua. Notice what Yeshua said:
"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 NASB
Yeshua here, very plainly and very clearly, tells HIS DISCIPLES that ALL of the things He had mentioned would come to pass in THEIR GENERATION. This includes the Gospel being preached in all the world, the Abomination of Desolation, the Great Tribulation, and the Coming of the Son of man. This is so clear that it greatly troubles those who hold to a futuristic eschatology. In his essay, "The World's Last Night," C.S. Lewis, talking about Matthew 24:34, quotes an objector as saying:
"The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, 'This generation shall not pass till all these things be done.' And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else."
Then Lewis says,
"This is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement 'But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.' The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side." (Essay "The World's Last Night"(1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385)
So Lewis says that what Yeshua said about "this generation" is embarrassing, and calls it an "error." Was Yeshua wrong? I can't accept that, can you? Fortunately, Christ did keep His promise to come within the first-century generation. Christ's Second Coming occurred as He came in clouds of judgment at the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem. This highly verified historical event signified that sin finally had been atoned forever and that all Christians, from generation to generation, could live eternally—on earth and in heaven—without separation from God.
Because of his physical view of the nature of the Second coming, he felt that it hadn't happened yet, and therefore, Yeshua had been wrong. That would be, in fact, much more than embarrassing, it would be devastating to the credibility of Yeshua. If Yeshua was wrong, as Lewis says he was, what else might He have been wrong about? Will those who believe in Him truly have everlasting life? Yeshua wasn't wrong, Lewis was the one who was wrong. We can count on the truthfulness of what Yeshua tells us. Aren't you glad of that?
Others also had trouble with this verse. The New Jerome Commentary says, "This is a troublesome verse." (p. 667) W. Robertson Nicholl (1956), "What is said therein is so perplexing as to tempt a modern expositor to wish it had not been there, or to have recourse to critical expedients to eliminate it from the text." (The Expositor's Greek Testament, p. 294)
This verse doesn't fit into their eschatology, so they would like to eliminate it. This verse is devastating to a futuristic eschatology.
After that first Epistle was written, there came a report to Paul about some doctrinal issues. So he wrote a second letter to correct those misconceptions. In the first chapter he speaks about their suffering—it was real, they were hurting, and so he comforts them with what doctrine? Let's look at the text:
therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Yeshua shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Yeshua. 2 Thessalonians 1:4-8 NASB
He comforts them with the Doctrine of the Second Coming. Notice that he says, "God
will repay with affliction those who afflict you." Who were "those who afflict you"? It was the Jews! Verse 7 says that God will give them relief from their suffering—when? "When the Lord Yeshua shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire." Paul says that they will have relief from their suffering at the Second Coming:
and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Yeshua will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 2 Thessalonians 1:7 NASB
John Gill writes, "This designs a rest which remains for the saints after death in the grave, and at the Coming of the Lord." Adam Clarke's Commentary says
"And to you who are troubled, rest with us. And while they have tribulation, you shall have that eternal rest which remains for the people of God." So they see Paul as telling the Thessalonians, "I know you are suffering, don't worry, once you die you'll have rest."
Is that all that comforting?
Grant Richison writes, "The Thessalonians do not rest in death here. No, the rest is the Second Coming. If they look forward to the Second Coming then they will have a sense of perspective. Although the Second Coming did not occur in their lifetime, it was their hope." He goes on to say that "us" here is, "Paul, Silas and Timothy, as well as the Thessalonians, will receive relief and rest at the Coming of Christ." So they never got relief? The word "relief" here is anesis, which means: "relaxation or (figuratively) relief:—eased, liberty, rest." This word is only used five times in the New Testament:
For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. 2 Corinthians 7:5 NASB
For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality— 2 Corinthians 8:13 NASB
We see by its usage that "relief" is apposed to affliction.
The Thessalonians were waiting for His coming from heaven:
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Yeshua who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:10 ESV
Now if the Second Coming is still future, we have a problem! If Paul was giving them false hope, how can we believe anything he says? If Yeshua did not come in the lifetime of those living first century Thessalonian Christians and give them relief from their persecution, as promised by Paul, then Paul lied to them. If his prediction failed, he is a false prophet! He is a cruel false prophet. That is the problem of this text, and it is unavoidable.
It seems that somebody wrote one or more fictitious letters and signed Paul's name to them, and circulated it up there in the Thessalonian Church. And that forgery obviously was saying that the Second Coming had already happened. This was causing great difficulty among the believers in Thessalonica. So, Paul writes the Second Thessalonian letter to correct this misunderstanding.
Notice that Paul closes this Second Thessalonian letter with:
I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 2 Thessalonians 3:17 NASB
Paul is essentially saying:" You can easily tell a genuine letter from me, because I will always close it with my own handwriting, and I will sign it with my own hand" (his personal mark in every Epistle).
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you... 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 NASB
This verse shatters the paradigm that views the Second Coming as fiery destruction of the whole earth. Do you see that? If the Thessalonians believed that the nature of the Second Coming was an earth burning, total destruction of planet earth, how could they be deceived about its arrival? If the Second Coming was, as many view it today, Paul could have written them and said, "Look out the window, the earth is still here, so the Lord has obviously not come." They thought it had already happened, so they must have viewed the nature of the Second Coming differently than most folks today view it. If we can allow a crack in this earth-ending Second Coming paradigm, maybe we can begin to understand the truth of the Second Coming.
The Second Coming was immanent in the 1st century, the believers at Thessalonica were waiting for the Coming of Christ, they expected it in their lifetime, and it happened in their lifetime. God gave them rest from their affliction by destroying the Jewish temple, nation, and people.
I think that you could get most Christians to agree that; to deny the fact of the Second Coming is to deny the inspiration of Scripture. Do you agree? Well, I believe that the time of the Second Coming is just as clear as the fact of the Second Coming. I believe that to deny the time statements that the Bible gives of the Second Coming is also to deny inspiration.