For Paul, as well as for all learned 1st Century Jews, Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31 were very important passages. They are two key new covenant passages and Paul sees these as having been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ and the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost. Notice that the tense of the verb “give” is future in Ezekiel 36. When Paul quotes it in 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul uses a present participle. I want to point out the similarities between the promises given in Ezekiel 36-37 and what Paul writes here. Note that didonta and dōsō are from the same verb didōmi:
· 1 Thess 4:8 - God who gives (didonta) his Holy Spirit (to pneuma autou) to us (eis hymas)
· Ezek 11:19 - I will give (dōsō) them an undivided heart and give (dōsō) a new spirit (pneuma) in them (en autois); I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
· Ezek 36:26 - I will give (dōsō) you a new heart and a new spirit (pneuma) in you (en hymin)
· Ezek 36:27 - And I will give my Spirit in you (to pneuma mou dōsō en hymin) and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
· Ezek 37:6 - I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will give my Spirit to you (dōsō pneuma mou eis hymas), and you will come to life.
· Ezek 37:14 - I will give my Spirit to you (dōsō to pneuma mou eis hymas) and you will live.
Now notice the similarities between 1 Thessalonians 4:9 and Jeremiah 31 and Isaiah 54:
· 1 Thess 4:9 – Because you have been taught by God (theodidaktoi)
· Isa 54:13 - All your children will be taught by the LORD (didaktous theou), and great will be their peace.
· Jer 31:34 - No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (38:34 LXX) (kai ou mē diaxōsin hekastos ton politēn autou. . . . hoti pantes eidēsousin me)Notice that what Jeremiah and Isaiah saw as a future has become a present reality for the Thessalonians. They have been taught by God.