1 Thessalonians - Overview of Book - Dyanamic Discipleship
A STUDY IN FIRST THESSALONIANS
Greetings To A Young Church
1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2—Introduction
The church is not a museum for saints; it’s a hospital for sinners. Churches must remember the reason they exist and take care to stay dynamic. Churches that are static become more interested in status than in souls, more concerned about members and money than ministry. The church at Thessalonica is a noteworthy model of dynamic discipleship. It had a great vision that continued to grow as its members followed the Lord. There are three phases to church growth: a man, a movement, a monument. A church typically begins with a vision God gives to a person (man). The vision gains momentum (movement) and, eventually, there can be a tendency to look back at how things used to be done (monument), rather than to look forward. The church at Thessalonica was perhaps a year old when Paul wrote this letter. The believers were zealous and active in sharing their faith, displayed genuine love and concern, and eagerly anticipated the return of Jesus Christ.
I. The Background Of The Church (See Acts 17).
Paul is on his second missionary journey. He came to this region because the Holy Spirit forbade him to preach the gospel in Asia. God had a specific plan for Paul to spread the gospel and it included Thessalonica.
A. The Importance Of The City.
1. Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia (ancient Greece ).
2. The famous Via Ignatia ran through the middle of the city. This was the main Roman road that connected Macedonia with Rome. Many business travelers passed through the city via this highway.
3. The city was on the coast and had a magnificent harbor. Ships came from all over the world.
4. The population of the city was about 200,000.
5. Paul had in mind that this city could be a launching pad for the gospel (1 Thess. 1:8). It was!
B. The Morals Of The City. The morals of ancient Thessalonica were like any ancient Greek city—not good!
C. The Gospel To The City. In Acts 17, we read about Paul taking the gospel to Thessalonica.
1. The Jews “who were not persuaded” hired evil men who set the city in an uproar.
2. Jason was a new believer, about to be persecuted.
3. All this has happened in three weeks! For three weeks, Paul preached the gospel at the synagogue (v.2), which was always the first place he went when he came to a new city.
a. Paul went to the Jews first, then to the Greeks.
b. In a synagogue, Paul had a ready-made audience of Jews, people who believed in a Messiah.
D. A Church Begins In The City. Three weeks preaching the gospel changed lives in that city. It doesn’t take long to start a church when God’s doing it! The church is sometimes guilty of taking the Holy Spirit’s job away from Him when we think we can do it ourselves.
E. Paul Leaves The City. Paul left Thessalonica but sent Timothy and Silas back to bring him a re port on how the young believers were doing. They delivered the report to Paul about a year later when Paul was in Corinth. He wrote this letter from Corinth.
II. The Burdens Of A Church Planter (1 Thess. 3:6).
Why did Paul write this letter? He was excited about what had been happening in Thessalonica, but was concerned about the persecution the young believers were facing.
A. Encouragement In The Midst Of Growth. Paul encouraged them to keep doing what they were doing.
B. Strength In The Midst Of Difficulties. Sometimes the life of a new believer is difficult initially, as they suffer persecution for their faith.
C. Purity In The Midst Of Immorality. Paul encouraged those in Thessalonica to keep their bodies pure.
D. Instruction In The Midst Of Confusion. People had questions and doubts about the return of Jesus Christ. Every chapter of this book closes with a reference to His return.
A Bridge To Your Vision. As we read this book, we should get a vision for our own lives. We will learn about Christian evangelism, Christian hope, Christian conduct, and Christian fellowship. • May we become like the Thessalonians—alive!
III. The Beginning Of A Church Letter (1 Thess. 1:1).
A. The Author. The author is Paul. His team was Timothy and Silvanus. In ancient times, recipients of a letter were named right after the author(s). Notice that no official titles are given. Paul was on intimate, not professional, terms with these people. Paul typically identified himself as a slave of Jesus Christ and God the Father.
1. Paul (Saul). Paul means “little one.” He was the apostle to the Gentiles.
2. Silvanus (Silas). He was an esteemed brother in the Jerusalem church (Acts 15). He was called a prophet and was a great helper to Paul.
3. Timothy. Paul called him his “son in the faith” and said he was the only other person in the ministry who truly reflected his own heart. Timothy was half Greek and had a godly Jewish mother and grandmother.
B. The Address. There are two greetings here, one spiritual and one physical.
1. We each have a spiritual and a physical address. There are many people in churches who are not in God. This group of believers was not only in Thessalonica, but were also in God.
2. In the Bible the phrase to the church always refers to a group of people. It never refers to a building. The Greek words mean, “to call out from” or “to hand pick.” The idea is that God has handpicked you out of the world and put you in His Son, Jesus Christ, to live for Him.
Think On These Things The purpose of a biblical church is to meet for spiritual reasons, not political or social reasons. What is your reason for going to church?
C. The Approach. Grace and peace were two common greetings of the day. They’re called the Siamese twins of the New Testament and are found in almost all of Paul’s letters.
1. Grace was a Greek greeting for “good morning.” It means “undeserved favor.”
2. Peace (Shalom) was a common Jewish greeting.
3. Grace is always followed by peace. The order is never reversed. You will never experience the peace of God until you’re in touch with the grace of God.
Make The Connection
Þ God uses people.
Þ He could have sent an angel to Thessalonica, but He sent a converted Jewish rabbi, a man who wanted to be used by God.
Þ God will use you only if you want Him to.
Þ God is interested in people who have hearts on fire to be used by Him.
Þ Don’t get stale, stagnant, and static. Stay fresh!
Þ Live in grace.
Þ Let God’s graciousness permeate your life. You will become a more peaceful, restful person—guaranteed! You can’t change the past but, by God’s grace, you can change the future.
A Church On the Move
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4—Week One
It has often been said that there’s no such thing as a perfect church, and if you ever find one, don’t join because you’ll ruin it! A church is made up of imperfect human beings. Some people find only the flaws in a church and use those as excuses for not attending. The church is not a place or an event, it is you. The church at Thessalonica was a young, growing, dynamic church, yet they were not perfect. As soon as it started, there was persecution all around. As soon as they received Jesus Christ, the world hated them. Paul is delighted with their progress and sees the church as it really is: not a human institution but a divine establishment.
I. “Beloved Brethren” (1 Theses. 1:2, 4).
Paul cherished this group of people. He called them “beloved brethren” (v. 4), a term Paul used 60 times in the New Testament.
A. Thankful For Them.
1. Paul was not a pessimist (a tendency to stress the negative). In almost every letter, he gives thanks for something (1Thess.3:10; 5:18; Romans 1:8-9; 6:17; 1Cor.1:4; Eph.1:15-16; Phil. 1:3-4; 4:6, Col.1:3; 3:17). He must have believed that giving thanks was high on the list of things Christians should do.
2. Paul told these people he was thankful for them. When was the last time you told someone you were thankful for him or her?
3. Genuine, personal encouragement and thanksgiving are edifying.
4. Everything in life boils down to relationships: a relationship with God and relationships with others. We sometimes get so busy that our relationships suffer.
B. Interceded For Them.
1. Paul didn’t just tell the Thessalonian believers he was thankful for them, he talked to God about them.
2. Happy is the person who has a network of friends praying for him! Ezekiel called it “standing in the gap” (Ezek.22:30). People with such a network have strength in their walk with the Lord.
3. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, Paul is writing to Timothy; he could just as well be writing any of us. Take this to heart! Paul says to pray for all people for these reasons:
a. That our lives may be peaceable and quiet.
b. Because God loves all, wants to save all, and will respond to your prayers.
c. Someone once said that prayer is the atmosphere of heaven.
4. Want to travel? Pray for people all over the world!
a. Praying for others is the most difficult kind of prayer. It’s easy to pray for ourselves: my needs, my wants, etc.
b. The Bible calls praying for others laboring in prayer (Colossians 4:12)
II. They Were Productive (1 Thess. 1:3).
This is apostolic shorthand for authentic Christianity, faith, hope, and love. Paul refers to these virtues many times (1 Thess. 5:8, 1 Cor. 13:13).
A. Work Of Faith.
1. Genuine Christian faith has a repentance, a “turning to God from idols” (v.9a)
2. Genuine Christian faith is productive. It’s not an emotional feeling but something that produces a life-response. If you believe in Jesus Christ, works will follow.
3. Most people don’t know what being a Christian means. For faith to be true, it must produce something (1 John 1:6). Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). If your religion hasn’t changed you, it’s time to change your religion.
B. Labor Of Love.
1. Genuine Christian faith will “serve the living and true God” (v.9b)
2. The believer who is driven by love is the believer who has really seen the love of Christ (2 Cor.5:14-16).
3. This means a toilsome action sustained by love when the going gets tough. When the going gets tough, the tough keep loving.
C. Patience Of Hope.
1. Genuine Christian faith will “wait for His Son from heaven” (v.9c)
2. The word patience means “to remain under a load and to stay the course when it’s tough.” Here, Paul is talking about persecution. The key to the perseverance of those at Thessalonica was the hope that Jesus Christ would return. They had their eyes fixed on the future.
Thought 1. There Are Several Reasons Why A Man Works.
Þ There is forced labor: a man is forced to work.
Þ There is a sense of duty: a man feels obligated to work.
Þ There is the need to meet necessities: a man has needs that have to be met.
Þ There is the wish to gain more: a man works to build up wealth.
Thought 2. Man Accepts Christ, His Motive For Working Changes.
Þ He now serves and works for Christ (Ephes. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-4:1).
Þ His faith in the new world Christ is creating stirs him to work for Christ.
Þ His love for Christ and for others stirs him to work in order to share the gospel with the world (1 Thes. 1:6-9).
Þ His hope in the return of Christ to set up His kingdom causes him to labor patiently (1 Thes. 1:3)
Make The Connection
Þ One of the marks of a true Christian is his or her love. One of the marks of the world apart from Christ is self-centeredness.
Þ Jesus said all men will know that we are His disciples if we love one another.
Þ Christian love is sometimes laborious.
Þ If you’ve been picked by God, there’s proof in your life.
III. They Were Picked By God (1 Thess. 1:4). It’s exhilarating to think God chose us!
A. Election. This term is used six times in the New Testament. It always speaks of God choosing human beings.
1. Jesus probably astonished His disciples when He told them they didn’t choose Him but, rather, He chose them! (John 15:16). God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Salvation didn’t begin with you; it began with God.
2. Foreknowledge (the idea that God knows everything in advance) is a difficult concept. It’s hard to understand how God picks us. The important thing is that He did choose us, not how He did it. (See also 1 Pet. 1:2).
3. Some people will protest and say, That’s not fair! What if God didn’t choose me? Tell these people you can prove they were chosen: They just have to accept Jesus Christ! If they refuse to do that, maybe they weren’t chosen!
1. Paul is saying he knows God has picked these people to be saved. This flies in the face of those who say that you can never know someone’s eternal status.
2. The word for know means “to perceive with the eyes, to take in certain information, notice, discern, discover.” This relates back to verse 3. What they were producing in their lives demonstrated God had picked them in advance.
3. Whoever the Lord chooses, He changes. Evidence of His choice can be seen in the changes that occur in people’s lives.
“How Does the Gospel Work?”
1 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Every true Christian loves the gospel, but not every true Christian is excited about telling others about the gospel. Many people feel uneasy when they hear the word evangelism. They think it’s something for others to do, not themselves. In this section of Scripture, we’ll see how evangelism is supposed to work. Sharing the gospel is to be natural and spontaneous; it is an outflow of the church. The Apostle Paul could never separate the gospel from the church. The church exists because of the gospel, and the gospel is spread because of the church. All believers should spread the gospel.
I. The Gospel Is Received (1 Thess. 1:5).
A. In Word (From Lips).
1. The gospel is primarily shared verbally. It is the good news, the Word of God. The gospel is to be both lived and shared (1 Thess.1:5; 2:2, 3, 8, 9; 3:2; Rom. 10:14, Acts 8:4).
2. Jesus told His disciples to preach that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The Greek word for preach means “to herald” or “to make a public verbal announcement.
a. Jesus commanded us to preach the gospel to every living creature (Mark 16:15).
b. We should never be ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
c. You don’t need to be persuasive in your words (1 Cor.2:4-5).
d. Preach the word of God, being ready in season and out of season (2 Tim.4:2).
e. Remember, the word of God is powerful, it cuts as a two-edged sword (Heb.4:12)
3. God’s Word will accomplish its purpose (Is.55:10-11).
B. In Deed (From Life).
1. The gospel had a powerful effect as people heard the message and watched how the messengers lived their lives (1 Thess.1:7; 2:8, 10; 4:9-10; Phil.1:27; 2 Cor.3:2)
2. The gospel came not only in “word” but in power and in the Holy Spirit, with much assurance.
a. Preaching in “power” (dunamis) means preaching in the power and energy of God Himself. This is what is so often missed and misunderstood.
b. The gospel is not mere words nor just sharing an idea. The gospel is the power of God at work in the human heart.
c. The gospel is the power of God operating, working, stirring, convicting, and energizing a person to believe and accept the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. This is the reason it is so important for the Christian to be completely surrendered to God—living ever so closely to Him—living and moving and having his being in the Lord.
a. The Christian must be under the control of God so that the power of God can rest upon and flow through his life.
b. The Christian must become nothing but an instrument in the hands of God. Then and only then can the gospel—the very power of God—flow through his preaching like it should.
c. The Holy Spirit opened their minds, convicted their hearts, and made the verbal message clear in their outward lives.
4. The gospel came in assurance or conviction. Paul lived what he preached. If you are living what you are preaching their will be much assurance in your words.
II. The Gospel Redirects (1 Thess. 1:6, 7, 9, 10).
As soon as these people received the gospel in their lives, they started behaving differently. It changed them in five ways:
A. Turned From Idolatry And Began Serving God (v. 9). Paul is saying these people turned from idols and all those around them noticed.
B. Anticipated Jesus’ Return (v.10). One of the marks of a true Christian is excitement about Jesus coming to change everything. If an unbeliever has any inkling that Jesus’ return might be true, it’s frightening to him.
C. Followed Spiritual Leadership (v. 6). These young believers followed mature believers who embodied the truth. That is the clearest definition of discipleship: I hear, I watch, I do. Following spiritual leadership is the mark of a Christian (Heb.13:17).
1. If you want to be a healthy believer, you need a Paul like figure; a person who is more mature in the faith than you are. You also need to have a few people around to watch you like the Thessalonians.
D. Exhibited Joy (v.6).
1. Notice that joy is in the same sentence as affliction. One of the paradoxes of being a Christian is that pain and affliction a re married with joy.
2. The true gospel will always produce hostility among those who do not receive it, but will always produce joy in the hearts of those who receive it (see also Acts 13, 1 Pet. 1:6).
3. Sometimes the gospel spreads most effectively in times of affliction.
E. Became Examples To Other Christians (v. 7). This group of people mimicked Paul and his team. After they matured in their faith, they became examples to others.
1. Key Thought. If the message is separated from the messenger, it will lose all effectiveness. People need to hear the gospel and see it lived. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). God didn’t just send His message from heaven, He sent His Son to embody the message.
2. We are ambassadors for Christ. We carry the message of Christ and are to live our lives for others to see. Do the people in your life know you’re a Christian?
3. Making Adjustments. Is your life one that others would look at and follow? Ask yourself: “If everyone in my church was just like me, what kind of church would this be?” Are you maturing in such a way that you’re becoming an example to others?
III. The Gospel Rings Out (1 Theses. 1:8).
A. Sounded Forth.
1. Compare verse 5 to verse 8. These people were receivers of the gospel (v. 5) and then they became transmitters (v.8) of the same gospel.
2. The phrase sounded forth comes from the Greek word for “echo” or “noise.” It tells us that a large bang was heard in Thessalonica, and it echoed throughout the land.
3. This should end the notion that the gospel is something private—that religion shouldn’t be shared. Jesus admonished that what we hear in secret, we should shout from the housetops. Jesus didn’t keep it quiet!
4. Every church that hears the gospel is responsible for spreading the gospel.
B. Every Place.
1. From this small group in Thessalonica, the gospel spread great distances.
2. We are living in a media-conscious age. While reaching people via media is important, it is not adequate. The gospel is most effectively shared person-to-person.
3. Though evangelism is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is also a responsibility.
4. The reason the early church grew is because everyone became a personal witness for Jesus.
Make The Connection
Þ One of the marks of a true Christian is his or her love. One of the marks of the world apart from Christ is self-centeredness.
Þ If you’ve received the gospel, has it re directed you? Do you embody it? Do you spread God’s Word? May God put it within your heart to pray that you would lead one person to Jesus Christ this year.
Þ Faith, hope, and love. These are not abstract virtues. They produce concrete, practical results in the life of a person. Notice the order:
Þ Faith comes first. You can’t do anything until you believe in Jesus Christ. Faith rests on a past certainty of what Jesus Christ has already done for you.
Þ Love rests in the present and flows as a fruit of faith.
Þ Hope draws us to the future.
“Wanted: Servant Leaders”
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12—Week Two
In Chapter 2, we get insight into the pastoral leadership of Paul the apostle. Paul was the pastor and leader of several churches. If Chapter 1 describes the model church, then Chapter 2 describes the model leader. Leadership is a hot topic these days. There are tapes, seminars, and classes about being a better leader. Let’s broaden the application of leader as we look at this. It will give us insight on how to act before other people, no matter what our position. Godly leaders, people with integrity and a willingness to serve, are needed today.
I. What A Leader Should Not Be (1 Thess. 2:3-6).
Background: Paul spent three weeks in Thessalonica. After he left, his critics came out and a smear campaign began. People said he was insincere and was one of many deceitful teachers who visited the towns of that time. Paul explains why he’s not one of those deceitful teachers.
A. A Deceiver (v.3). Paul was emphatic in saying he was not what he was being accused of.
1. A Christian leader ought to love the truth. Paul loved the truth and had no tolerance for those who didn’t (2 Cor. 4: 2).
2. There were many charlatans at that time. They had impure motives and were there just to cash in on the gospel.
3. One of the first books written in the early church was the Didache, a manual on how to run a church. It was written by the 12 apostles and explained how to spot a deceiver.
B. A People Pleaser (v.4).
1. It is always tempting for leaders to soft-pedal the truth and win the favor of people.
2. David said, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord ” (Ps. 19:14).
3. Paul was never willing to reshape his message to get a pat on the back (Gal. 1:10).
4. The book of Acts repeats this phrase throughout: “…they were filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the Word of God with boldness.” Unfortunately, many churchgoers want the truth watered down.
5. A person who uses flattery (v. 5) manipulates, rather than communicates. Manipulation is diff e rent from true encouragement, which has no ulterior motives.
C. A Dictator (v.6).
1. Though they were apostles, they never pulled rank.
2. You can be an authority without being an authoritarian.
3. When there isn’t authority, every man does what is right in his own eyes.
4. Walk This Way A good rule of thumb: If your goal when you speak or lead is to please God, you’re going to make the right choices and say the right things.
II. What A Leader Should Be (1 Thess. 2:4, 6, 8, 10, 11). Keep in mind that Paul is using himself as an example here. Notice there is a higher standard for a leader to live by than others.
A. A Faithful Steward (v.4).
1. Paul saw himself as having been given a sacred trust, the gospel. He was responsible for accurately sharing it.
2. Faithful stewards who faithfully proclaim the Word of God are needed more today than ever before. (See also 2 Tim. 4:2, 3).
3. God requires people to be faithful stewards.
4. Part of being faithful is being willing to suffer (vs. 1, 2).
B. A Gentle Mother (vs. 6, 8). Tenderness and gentleness are marks of mothers.
1. Nursing mothers (v. 7) cannot be demanding.
2. Mothers “affectionately long” (v. 8) for their children when away from them.
C. A Nurturing Father (vs. 10, 11). Paul references the firm direction provided by a father. Paul considered himself a spiritual father to these new believers.
1. Exhort means “to call alongside to encourage somebody. ” Young Christians, especially, need encouragement.
2. The word charge is illustrative of a father telling his personal life experiences to a child.
III. What A Leader Wants Others To Be (1 Thess. 2:12). The goal of every true leader is to see those he leads mature to a dependence upon God.
A. Walk. We’re called to walk, not crawl. We are to mature in our Christian walk.
B. Calls You. This is in the present tense. God is still calling you to a higher walk, a life of holiness with Him.
1. Have you responded to the call to be saved by Christ? If you have, have you matured in your walk, staying open to God’s calling in your life?
2. We need to be careful to listen to God and be open to His calling on our lives.
3. God calls Christians to a higher standard of living—to faithfulness, gentleness, and maturity. We are all stewards of the Gospel.
“The Most Important Book In the World”
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
The Thessalonians were in love with the Word of God. They heard the prophecies and promises about Christ from Paul. He shared the Word of God with them for three Sabbaths. For Your Information The words of men are flawed. The Word of God is the measuring stick of all truth. The Bible is available to 97 percent of the world’s population. It is the best-selling book of all time but is, perhaps, the least read. None of man’s books can compare to the lasting, enduring quality of the Scriptures. They have influenced people throughout history.
I. The Roots Of The Word (1 Thess. 2:13). The Word is from God. Paul called it the Word of God. You cannot take Jesus seriously unless you take the Bible seriously. Jesus taught that the Bible was from God, and quoted from it 64 times. The Bible claims to be the Word of God over 2,000 times. Evidence in support of that claim is:
A. Accurate Transmission. After centuries of copying and distribution throughout the world, the message has not been marred. We know this because over 5,500 copies of the New Testament have been found, dating back to about 120 years after Christ.
B. Reliable History. The Bible is not just a religious prayer book. It speaks of places, families, and events from history that are supported by other historical records.
C. Unified Message. The Bible consists of 66 books written over 1,600 years by 40 authors in 3 diff e rent languages on 3 diff e rent continents. All of the authors wrote about controversial subjects, yet there was unity, not contradiction, in their messages.
D. Fulfilled Prophecy. God, through the prophets, spoke about events before they happened (see also Isa. 46: 9, 10). The Bible is the only book you can read without a filter.
1. Making Adjustments: What is your final authority? Is it the Bible? Do you lean on its truths and principles? During a crisis, what is your source of comfort, encouragement, and truth?
II. The Response To The Word (1 Thess. 2:13).
A. Received. The external response in Thessalonica was to listen and evaluate God’s word.
B. Welcomed. The word for welcome h e re is often translated “to welcome somebody into your house as your guest.”
1. By the Spirit. The Word of God works! 2 Timothy 3 says that the Word of God will enable the man of God to be complete and thoroughly equipped to do every good work. The Bible will prepare you for life! Get off junk food, doctrinal trends, and the new thing in church. A steady diet of the Word of God will clean out your life.
C. Joy In Your Heart. David described the man who meditated on the Word of God day and night as the blessed man, the man who is very happy.
D. Direction For Your Steps. You’ll know where to walk. David said God’s Word was a lamp to his feet and a light to his path.
E. Victory In Your Battles. Paul referred to the Word of God as “the sword of the Spirit.” When you face trials and temptations, God’s Word will enable you to stand firm and have victory.
F. Growth In Your Life. Paul said we should desire the pure, since re milk of the Word to grow. You cannot grow spiritually on emotional experiences. You grow spiritually through the Word of God as it becomes translated through your life.
III. The Resistance To The Word (1 Thess. 2:14-16). The Word of God will anger people who see you living by it. The Bible has been the focus of attacks since the beginning. Perhaps that is why we’re reluctant to share our faith.
A. Make the Connection
1. Do you receive and welcome the Word of God? Does it speak to your heart and change the way you live?
2. Perhaps you’re not interested in the Book because you d o n ’t know the Author. If you knew the Author, you’d read it as a love letter from God’s heart to your heart.
“The Anatomy of Brotherly Love”
1 Thessalonians 2:17 - 3:10—Week Three
There are several characteristics the Apostle Paul identifies as marks of what true love between Christians is all about. As we’ll see in this section, Paul is very personal in his writing. He is a model of brotherly love. L o v e means a variety of things today. Brotherly love in Scripture is something esteemed at a very high level, something that is to be flowing among Christians. Philadelphia is the Greek word for “brotherly love.” The key to understanding brotherly love is the word “others.” It’s others-oriented. Paul is committed to the Word of God and to the people of God. We’ll look here at five qualities of brotherly love.
I. Brotherly Love Desires Others (1 Thess. 2:17). Brotherly love does not push others away, but embraces them.
A. Being Taken Away. The literal translation of having been taken from you is “being orphaned from you.” Paul saw himself as a spiritual parent to these new believers and was orphaned from them.
B. Being With Them. Paul loved these Christians and wanted to be with them.
1. Being with other Christians is a hallmark of being a Christian. Christians seek to be together because they are all citizens of heaven.
2. We need to be together and need each other’s physical presence. We learn from seeing how Christ is working in the lives of others.
3. The phrase “one another” is used 57 times in the New Testament and about 30 times in Paul’s epistles. We have to be together to carry out the directives to love one another, serve one another, and encourage one another.
4. If we are to make any impact on the world, we have to love each other.
II. Brotherly Love Endures For Others (1 Thess. 2:18). Paul’s mission team left because they were persecuted, yet still they longed to return to these new believers.
A. Satan Hindered. The word hinder means “to break up a path, to make a road impassable.”
1. Sometimes Paul saw opposition as from Satan, and other times from God.
2. How do we know if something is from God or the devil?
c. Questioning which opposition furthered or hindered the gospel.
B. Paul’s Sacrifice. Paul was willing to make a costly sacrifice by sending Timothy back to Thessalonica (3:1-5). He was willing to forgo the strength of others around him if it meant building up these new believers (see also Gal. 16:2, Rom. 15:1.)
III. Brotherly Love Rejoices In Others (1 Thess. 2:19, 20, 3:6-9).
A. Joy. Paul uses the word joy or rejoice five times in these verses. He is rejoicing over those at Thessalonica.
B. Source Of Joy. Paul’s view of relationships was long term. He looked forward to standing before God with all the people he influenced and considered them his reward.
1. Paul’s life was wrapped up with those to whom he ministered.
2. Don’t go to heaven alone. Bring others with you!
3. Invest in lives with an eternal perspective.
IV. Brotherly Love Treats Others As Equals (1 Thess. 3:2).
Notice how Paul introduced Timothy. He saw Timothy (a novice in the faith as compared to himself) as an equal. Don’t forget the second commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves (see also Phil. 2:3, 4).
1. A key to successful relationships is the willingness to take second place.
2. Treating others as equal in the Christian faith is hard for some of us. At times we distance people because we label them.
3. We should play down differences by recognizing the importance of others.
V. Brotherly Love Prays For Others (1 Thess. 3:10-13).
What a heart of love Paul had for these people! He must have been so busy. Yet he continued to pray for them and wanted to see this group grow before God and become holy before Him. When Jesus Christ returned, Paul wanted to rejoice with them.
A. Making Adjustments
1. Do you have to put others down in order feel up? Or can you encourage and recognize the gifts of others?
2. A key to successful relationships is the willingness to take second place. Treating others as equals in the Christian faith is hard for some of us. We sometimes distance people with labels.
3. We should play down differences by recognizing the importance of others.
B. Make the Connection
1. You can never separate commitment to the Word of God from commitment to the people of God.
2. The Word of God must do something in your life to affect others.
3. Are the qualities of brotherly love in your life such that you can uphold someone else? It’s that kind of love that truly makes an impact on the world.
“A Call To Moral Purity”
1 Thessalonians 4:1-10
The moral landscape of our culture is changing daily. An incredible desensitization has taken place in our society. We have seen so much immorality that sometimes it doesn’t bother us anymore. Hollywood has a clear agenda when it comes to sex outside the marriage relationship. Their message is it’s okay, everybody’s doing it. And it’s not just our generation. At the time of Apostle Paul, immorality and divorce were rampant. The Bible is not outdated! Here, Paul writes to the Thessalonians from Corinth, a town full of immorality. Thessalonica also had deities that were worshipped with illicit sexual encounters. Paul provides us with three ways to develop moral purity.
I. Keep Your Life Pleasing (1 Thess. 4:1, 2).
A. Listen. This young church was devoted to God’s principles. It was not so much what they heard as how they heard. Some people listened actively, some listened passively. In three weeks, these people obtained sufficient instruction to already have a growing walk!
B. Commit. Moral purity begins only with God Himself. Your commitment to God is the first step to keeping your life pure, morally, and sexually (See also Phil. 2:13).
1. The Tenderness Is Seen In The Words “beseech” and “brothers.”
a. By calling believers “brothers,” Paul was expressing deep affection and care for them.
(1) The word “beseech” means to ask or request. But note: it always has a sense of urgency about it.
(2) Paul was tenderly requesting his dear brothers to continue to please God in their daily walk, but it was an urgent request. Their walking to please God was an absolute necessity, a necessity that carried with it great blessings for obedience and terrible judgment for disobedience (the displeasure of God).
2. The Strength Of The Exhortation Is Seen In The Following Facts.
a. The believers had been taught how they must walk and please God. They had sat under the teachers and preachers of the Word; therefore, they were without excuse, for they knew exactly how to live and to please God.
(1) The word “ought” means must; it is an imperative, a necessity. Once the believers had heard and been taught how they should live and please God, they were responsible to live that way. Pleasing God was not an option; it was a duty.
b. The exhortation was based upon the Lord Jesus. It was what the Lord Himself had taught. There is no greater authority than the Lord. He is the supreme majestic Being of the universe; therefore, the exhortation to live and walk to please God is of the highest authority.
c. The exhortation involves the actual commandments of the Lord Jesus. This is a repeat of 1 Thes. 4:1: keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus is not an option.
(1) A commandment is a commandment, a law that is to be obeyed. In addition, it has been given by the Lord Himself. Therefore, it must be kept—regardless. We must walk and please God, and we must grow in our Christian walk day by day more and more.
II. Keep Your Lust Controlled (1 Thess. 4:3-8).
A. God’s Will (v.3). It’s God’s will for you to be pure.
The major commandment is sanctification, that is, moral purity. It can be stated no clearer: “This is the will of God.” There is no higher will than the will of God. When the will of God is known, then the will of God must be done. Sanctification—moral purity—is the will of God. The word sanctification means to be set apart and separated. We are to be set apart to God and His will, and His will is moral purity. Therefore, we are to be set apart to live pure lives before God. This means three things.
1. Sanctification Means Abstaining From Fornication (v.3).
a. The word “fornication” (porneias) means all kinds of immoral sexual acts: adultery, pre-marital sex, homosexuality, and all forms of sexual deviation.
b. The believer is not to give his body to an immoral person, not to an harlot or to an immoral neighbor. The believer’s body belongs to Christ, which means that we are to honor Christ with our bodies. We are to take the sexual drive and energy of our bodies and use them as He has instructed:
Þ either we dedicate our bodies solely to Him as eunuchs;
Þ or we marry and build a family with the dynamic virtues of love and care, trust and loyalty.
2. Sanctification Means That A Person Knows How To Control His Body And His Spouse (v.4).
a. Leon Morris points out that the word “vessel” (skeuos) can refer either to a person’s own body or to a person’s spouse (The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians. “Tyndale New Testament Commentaries,” p.75).
b. Both Hold Great Meaning For The Christian Believer. A believer is to know how to control his own body and how to control his spouse. A person can neglect, ignore, and abuse his body and a person can neglect, ignore, and abuse his or her spouse. In discussing a person’s spouse it is important to note 1 Cor. 7:4-5. Neglecting, ignoring, or abusing one’s spouse can bring about temptation and can contribute significantly to the spouse becoming unfaithful and impure.
c. Note that the believer is to know, to possess his or her body and spouse in sanctification and honor (the word “how” is not in the Greek text). There is no excuse for ignorance in this matter nor for disobedience. The believer is to know that it is his duty to keep his body and spouse pure.
d. The Point Is Strong: it is unthinkable that a believer would engage in fornication, that he would bring dishonor to his Lord and to his spouse, family, and himself. The believing husband and wife are to know that they must keep themselves and each other in sanctification and honor. They must not set themselves apart to dishonorable and immoral neighbors nor to harlots.
ü I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification." (Romans 6:19, NASB95)
ü Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." (2 Corinthians 7:1, NASB95)
3. Sanctification Means Resisting The Passion Of Lust (v.5).
a. We Must Resist The Passion Of Lust. Note the double emphasis, that is, the wording, “the lust of concupiscence.” It means the passion of lust, the enslaving power of lust.
(1) When a person begins to lust, he can soon become enslaved to lust; he can be held by the grip of lust to such a degree that it is almost impossible to break the bondage. This is true with the...
· passion for sex.
· passion for pornographic films and literature.
· passion for manipulation.
· passion for exposure.
· passion for sexual conquest.
· passion for looking.
· passion for touching.
· passion for romantic and immoral reading
b. The Passion Of Lust Is The Way Of The World. It is not the way of God. It is the life-style of those who do not know God. This does not mean that they do not know that sexual immorality is wrong.
c. It means that they have rejected God and His commandments; they have chosen to live in the passion of their lusts. The believer is commanded to please God and to keep the commandments of the Lord Jesus. And the major commandment is our sanctification, that is, moral purity. Therefore, we are to abstain from fornication—from all forms of immoral sex (cp. Romans 1:18-32).
4. Moral purity begins with saying yes to God and no to things that would displease God.
5. You never have to pray about whether or not God wants you to be sexually pure. He does!
6. God created sex. It was created for procreation and to be enjoyed between married people.
7. Though sex is God-given, it must also be God-governed.
8. Paul admonished these believers to abstain. Safe sex outside of marriage is an oxymoron.
9. “Thou shall not commit adultery.” With this commandment, God put a wall around marriage to protect the people inside.
B. God’s Judgment Comes Because Of This (v. 6-8).
There are four reasons why we are to live pure lives, and the reasons stand as a severe warning to us.
1. Immorality Defrauds And Cheats A Brother (v.6).
a. Fornication steals from a person. It either takes a wife from her husband or else it takes the husband from his wife. It is that simple—that tragic—that terrible. It steals one of the two major partners of a family, steals...
|· their heart· their affection· their thoughts· their purity||· their body· their innocence· their trust and trustworthiness|
The person who seduces the unmarried steals from the person seduced and from the future spouse—steals the person’s heart, affection, thoughts, purity, body, innocence, and trust.
2. Immorality Shall Be Revenged By God (v.6).
a. This point needs to be heeded, especially in a promiscuous society like ours where immorality is not only accepted, but is encouraged. How can we dare say that immorality is accepted and encouraged in our society? Compare the emphasis and appeal of...
· dress in public and on the beach
· television and films
· books and magazines
· advertisements and promotions
· conversations and jokes
· suggestive words and actions that are acceptable today
The list could go on and on, but the point is this: God is going to judge immoral behavior no matter how much society accepts it. Society does not make the rules for man’s behavior; God makes the rules. He has given the intimacy and preciousness of sex for marriage and only for marriage. And He has made it perfectly clear that any sex outside of marriage will not only be judged, but He will personally avenge the guilty party. Why? Because the guilty party...
· stole the life of a person.
· broke the person’s trust and innocence for the rest of his or her life.
3. Immorality Is Not God’s Call; Holiness Is (v.7).
a. When God calls us to salvation, He does not call us to live unclean lives, giving us the license to go from person to person. Such immorality...
· destroys genuine love for self and for others.
· destroys trust and trustworthiness of self and of others.
· destroys discipline and control of self and of others.
· destroys true care and concern for self and for others.
· destroys ego and esteem of self and of others.
· destroys confidence and assurance in self and in others.
· destroys loyalty and commitment within self and within others.
· destroys freedom and will within self and within others.
· destroys justice and fair treatment of others.
· destroys family and nation.
b. God calls us to holiness—to live lives that are set apart to Him and to purity, to our spouses and families.
c. God calls us to build strong character and communities, strong families and nations. God calls us to holiness so that we can be strong enough to reach out to a world that reels under the awful weight of suffering and death. There is hope; there is salvation from evil and suffering and from death and judgment. But we must be sanctified and holy, totally set apart to building the strongest characters and families, communities and societies possible in order to reach the world.
Again, God does not call us to uncleanness and disintegration of character and society. God calls us to holiness.
2 Cor.7:1; Eph.4:24; 5:3; Col.3:5; Heb.12:14;
4. Immorality Is A Sin Against God (v.8).
a. The word “despises” means to reject. Most persons reject this commandment of God as being old fashioned and unacceptable in an intellectual and enlightened society.
b. But note what Scripture says: the person who rejects this commandment is rejecting God, not some man. The idea is that the preacher or teacher may be able to do little to us if we disregard the commandment. But God can take vengeance, and He will. Every human being who ever breaks the commandment shall receive the vengeance of God—unless he has repented and sought the forgiveness of God.
III. Keep Your Love Prominent (1 Thess. 4:6, 9, 10).
In sexual immorality, you never sin alone (v. 6). Jesus said the law is fulfilled in one word, love. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you will not commit adultery.
A. Making Adjustments
1. If you’re single and you sin in this area, you are sinning against your own body (1 Cor. 6). You are also sinning against your future spouse.
2. If you’re married and sin in this area, you are sinning against yourself, the Lord, your spouse, and your children.
3. If you’re involved in immorality at any level, do not gloss over it. It’s time to deal with it. Proverbs tells us that whoever covers his sin will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes his sin will find mercy.
4. God loves you and is concerned about every area of your life. He warns us to keep away from sex outside of marriage.
5. Don’t run from your sin, confess and forsake it.
6. Pray that God will cleanse your heart and mind.
7. Say yes to God and no to sexual immorality.
B. Who Are You Out To Please?
1. Every human being is out to please somebody. Some please only themselves.
2. You’ll never be morally pure if you try to please yourself. Some try to please other people. You won’t stay morally pure this way, either.
3. We need to please God rather than man. Pleasing God means more than just obeying Him (e.g., Jonah; see also Eph. 6:6).
“The Good Testimony of an Ambitious Worker”
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12
Outside of time spent with families, people spend most of their time at work. If you live to the age of 70, you will have spent 20 cumulative years working! This section of Thessalonians talks about the characteristics of a hard-working, diligent laborer, a person who keeps his eye on the Lord rather than on the clock. Paul writes in this chapter about life outside the church and, specifically, about the Christian work ethic. The Scriptures speak highly of diligent, hard work. In this text, well read about three credentials of an ambitious worker.
I. What He's Acknowledged For (1 Thess. 4:9-10).
The Christian’s life is on the move. It is increasing and not static. The Greek word for increase here mean’s “to overflow.” It is used 17 times in the New Testament and 3 times in this book (abound and increase, 3:11, 4:1, 4:10). In all instances, the word mean’s “to exceed a fixed number, to overflow the boundaries.” Paul doesn’t want these people to be content where they are now, but rather, to strive to become more excellent in their Christian life.
A. Pew Potatoes. We need to take our faith out of the pew and into the workplace!
1. This world is full of Christians who have stopped moving forward.
2. We must be careful not to end up in a spiritual coma.
3. What you can do to keep growing: Talk to God everyday about wanting to make changes. Examine your life and think about what attitudes or habits may have lessened your commitment and love for Jesus Christ. Also take note of your regard for the Bible. What do you do with spiritual truth?
B. Keep Growing.
1. Most scholars agree that there was a group in Thessalonica at this time who believed Jesus was coming soon.
2. They quit their jobs, meddled in the affairs of others, and mooched off people in the church. Paul addresses these people here.
II. What He Aspires To (1 Thess. 4:11).
A. Lead A Quiet Life.
1. The word aspire here could be translated “restless eagerness in pursuit.” The idea is to live restfully.
2. Paul could be speaking to those frantically running a round anticipating Jesus’ return.
3. He probably is talking about the inner peace that comes from settling down and sticking with a job or a task (see also 2 Thess. 3:6-12).
B. Mind Your Own Business. This means to make it a habit to attend to your own private affairs. We are to be involved and concerned with the lives of others, but we should not meddle. There’s a big difference between sticking our noses in people’s business and sticking our hearts in people’s problems.
A Prayer Worth Repeating “ Lord, Thou knowest I am growing older. Keep me from the idea that I must express myself on every subject. Release me from the craving to meddle in every one’s affairs. Keep my tongue from the recital of endless details of the past which do not interest others. Seal my lips when I am inclined to talk about my aches and pains. They are increasing with the years, and my love to speak of them grows sweeter as time goes by. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong. Make me thoughtful, but not interfering; helpful, but not bossy. With the wisdom and experience I’ve gained, it does seem a pity not to use it all, but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends left at the end. So help me to pray more, talk less. And beyond all this, let me continue to flourish spiritually and bring forth fruit to Thy glory even in old age. Amen!”
C. Work With Your Own Hands.
1. The Greeks hated manual labor. The Thessalonian believers lived in a Greek culture.
2. Work is given a place of honor in the Bible.
a. From the beginning of creation, man was given a job to tend the Garden of Eden. One of the Ten Commandments says you shall labor six days. (See also Prove. 14:23, Eccles. 5:12.)
b. The New Testament gives many reasons to work. For example, to provide for ourselves and our families (1 Tim. 5:8), and to have enough to help others (Eph. 4:28).
c. As much as work is exalted, laziness is condemned (Prov. 6:9).
III. What His Aim Is (1 Thess. 4:12).
A. Walk Properly Toward Those Who Are Outside. This refers to giving a good testimony to unbelievers. The workplace is the stage for playing out our Christian faith. Co-workers will examine your life, ask you questions, and scrutinize your behavior.
B. Lack Nothing. This could be translated two different ways: so that you won’t lack anything or so that you won’t depend on anybody. Both are equally true. If you work hard and depend on the Lord, you’ll have everything you need and won’t need to depend on others.
1. One of the greatest witnesses you can have is to work hard.
2. Peter advised us to live such good lives among the pagans that, though we may be accused of doing wrong, they would see our good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us (1 Pet. 2:12).
3. The ambitious Christian worker is marked by continual growth, hard work, and a great testimony. Examine your heart in light of this Scripture passage. Do your work as unto the Lord.
“Endless Hope or Hopeless End?”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-15—Week Four
Death is inevitable. We often teach about Christian living but not about Christian dying. Paul thought it was important for these young believers at Thessalonica to understand death and what happens after death. The one distinguishing difference between a Christian funeral and non-Christian funeral is hope. There is no hope for the person who dies having rejected Jesus Christ. Paul is writing here to comfort the brokenhearted Thessalonians whose loved ones had died. Some of these young Christians were wondering what would happen to these loved ones when Jesus returned. In this chapter, we’ll read about four aspects of death.
I. The Appearance Of Death (1 Thess. 4:13-15).
1. Someone who has died looks like he is sleeping. In John 11, Jesus said Lazarus had fallen asleep, meaning he had died.
2. Sleep speaks of rest after a long, hard labor. For Christians, death is temporary, like a nap. It refers to the body, not the soul.
3. A Christian’s body sleeps until it is resurrected.
B. Life After Death (Luke 16:19). This passage tells the story of a rich man and a beggar.
1. When they died, the beggar went to Abraham’s bosom and the rich man went to the place of torments, Hades.
2. We see that there is a consciousness of the soul after death. In Hades, people are fully conscious and feel pain. It is not a place anyone wants to be. It is a place of torture, suffering, and eternal separation from God.
II. The Ignorance Of Death (1 Thess. 4:13, 15).
A. Speculation. There has always been speculation about death. Because of ancient pagan belief systems, the Thessalonians were ignorant about Christian death.
B. Deceit. There are more books on death and life-after- death experiences now than ever before. Most claim experiences of seeing a white light or feeling a great peace.
1. Perhaps people who have experienced these things have been deceived by Satan, the angel of light, who is telling them there is hope for everyone after death.
2. The flip side of life-after-death experiences is usually not told.
C. Revelation. The Word of the Lord gives assurance for the future (see also 2 Cor. 5:1).
1. Many people will listen to the words of people who have had near-death experiences, yet will reject the words of Jesus Christ, who died and rose from the dead.
III. The Response Of Death (1 Thess. 4:13, 14).
Paul is telling these believers that their grief will be mingled with hope.
A. Stages Of Grief. There are several stages people go through when grieving the death of a loved one:
3. Anger and blame.
B. Grieving Is Necessary.
1. The Hebrews would grieve publicly for 90 days.
2. Jacob mourned for many days when he thought Joseph had been torn apart by wild beasts.
3. When David heard that his son, Absalom, was killed, he said, “Would to God I died.”
a. There can’t be a more miserable experience than growing old as an unbeliever. The only way to look is back.
b. If you’re a Christian, no matter what the past has held, the best is yet to come.
c. Jesus refuted the thinking that big boys don’t cry in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
d. The Bible says there is a time to laugh and a time to cry.
C. Hope. Christian death is mingled with hope. The word hope here means “a joyful anticipation, a confident expectation.”
IV. The Assurance Of Death (1 Thess. 4:14, 15).
A. Life After Death.
1. Paul makes it clear that when a believer dies, his soul goes to be with God.
2. When He comes for the church at the rapture, Jesus will bring with Him those who have died (2 Cor. 5:8).
3. Though the body remains here, the real you is not your body, it’s your soul. It’s good to know that we won’t have this body forever! We’ll have a new body one day.
B. Assurance Of Life After Death. How do we know that we’ll live again? Jesus died and rose again. He secured our salvation on the cross and triumphed over death in the resurrection.
1. Death is inevitable.
2. You must be prepared:
a. Talk about it!
b. Forgive one another.
c. Resolve conflict.
d. Most importantly, prepare spiritually. If your life is not right with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, you are unprepared.
e. Pray that the Lord will teach you to number your days.
“The Comfort of His Coming”
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
The event these verses speak of is one of the most exciting and motivating events Christians could hope for, the rapture of the church. Jesus could come for us at any moment. The coming of the Lord is both a comfort and an absolute necessity, given the state of the world today. Monarchies, socialism, and democracies don’t work. The only hope is when Jesus comes and takes care of this mess! Jesus promised He would return for His church. We should live in anticipation of this event. Bible prophecy gives Christians an advantage. We know how the story ends! There are four aspects to Jesus return:
I. The Return (1 Thess. 4:16).
A. The Coming. The Greek word for coming means “the presence, the visible coming of the Lord.” It is a term applied to a high-ranking official.
B. The Shout. The Greek word for shout means “a military command” like a general would give his troops. Jesus will not come as a suffering Savior but as Ruler of the earth! He will come in person.
C. The Difference. The rapture and the Second Coming are two different events:
1. At the rapture (the first event), Jesus will descend in the air and the church will be caught up to meet Him. At the Second Coming, Jesus will come to the earth (Matt.24:29, 30).
2. The rapture is sudden and unannounced. Everyone will know about the Second Coming and the whole world will see it (Matt. 24:43).
3. The church will be taken up to meet the Lord in heaven (rapture). Then there will be seven years of tribulation, followed by the Second Coming.
D. The Time. We don’t know when Jesus will return for His church. We must always be ready!
E. Imminent. Paul’s use of the phrase “we who are alive and remain” could suggest Paul believed Jesus could return in his lifetime. This doctrine is called imminent return.
II. The Resurrection (1 Thess. 4:15, 16).
Paul is telling the young Thessalonian believers that those who are dead in Christ will rise first. The emphasis here is on what happens to the body when Jesus returns. It is all tied to verse 14, the resurrection of Jesus.
A. Rise. The word for to rise means “to stand among others.” When Jesus rose, He rose literally, not figuratively. The Greeks thought Paul was crazy when he preached the resurrection! They didn’t want to come back in their bodies. When a person dies, his shell remains, but his soul goes to be with the Lord.
B. Change. When Jesus returns, there will be a physical change to the bodies of those who are dead, a transformation. We will all be changed (1 Cor. 15:5). This is a resurrection, not a reconstruction (1 Cor. 15:35-38, 42). Philippians says our lowly bodies will be conformed to His heavenly body. There will be no more blind eyes, no wheelchairs, and no disease. We will have brand new bodies!
III. The Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17).
A. Caught Up. (Note: The word rapture isn’t in the Bible but the concept is. The word Bible isn’t in the Bible, either!) The G reek word for caught up is used 14 times in the New Testament:
1. It means such things as “to catch up, to take by force, to catch away, to pluck, to catch, to pull.” The event is a combination of the Lord descending and the church ascending and meeting together in the clouds.
2. When you catch something away, you own it and are claiming it for yourself. God will claim us one day.
3. The phrase also includes the notion of rescuing something from danger. The church will be taken before the Tribulation (see also 1 Thess. 5:9).
B. Instantly. This will all happen instantaneously. What is now the process of sanctification will occur in the twinkling of an eye.
C. With Him. The best part of this is that we will be with the L o rd. We have walked by faith for so long, and we will finally see Him face to face!
IV. The Reunion (1 Theses. 4:17).
A. Reassurance. A momentary event will become a life-long family reunion! Paul reassures these young believers that they will one day be reunited with their loved ones, to be always together with them and with the Lord.
B. Recognize. Will we recognize each other in heaven? Yes!
1. As Charles Spurgeon said, “Do you think in heaven well be more stupid than we are here?”
2. Peter, James, and John instantly recognized Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration.
C. Relieve. This section was written to comfort mourners.
1. As a Christian, you have reason to hope, unlike those dabbling in philosophies and humanism.
2. Jesus Christ could come back any time.
3. We Christians will be together again one day.
“Watch, Don’t Sleep!”
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11—Week Five
In almost every society since the dawn of time, people have wanted to know the future. Perhaps the reason we’re so concerned about what will happen in the future is that the Bible says God has put eternity in our hearts. God gave Israel prophets who spoke of events of the future. The central promise of Judaism has revolved around the coming of the Messiah. The Messiah did come. And when He left, He said He would come back. The text says concerning the times and the seasons. Two words are used here, one meaning a season of time, and one meaning a point of time. These young believers at Thessalonica were wondering when Jesus was coming. Paul said, in essence, that the issue is not when Jesus comes but how we live until He comes. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future into the hands of a known God. The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is mentioned 1,845 times in the Bible. One out of every 30 verses mentions either the Second Coming or end times.
I. The Day Of The Lord Is Coming (1 Thess. 5:1-9).
Of all the prophecies in the Bible, there is none so detailed as the day of the Lord, a future series of events. It is not a 24-hour period of time, but a season of final judgment upon the earth. In contrast, today we are living in the day of grace.
A. Old and New Testament Mentions. The prophets speak often and in great detail about the day of the Lord. It is referenced in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (e.g., Amos 5:18, Jer. 46:10, Joel 1:15, Isa. 13:6-11, Luke 21:22, 2 Pet.3:10, Rev. 6-19).
B. Destruction. During the Tribulation period, people will think peace has come, but then there will be sudden destruction. The nations of the world will yield their power to a world ruler who will bring temporary peace.
C. Labor Pains.
1. The process of childbirth is painful. The thought here is that the birth of the Kingdom Age, like the birth of a child, will be glorious. The process leading up to the Kingdom Age, the day of the Lord, will be painful.
2. Jesus used the same metaphor of a woman having a child (Matt. 24:8).
3. Jesus also said “watch.” Christians are responsible for knowing the times in which we live (Luke 21:11).
D. Them Not Us. Paul clearly contrasts believers and unbelievers. The coming judgment will come upon them (unbelievers) like a thief in the night. The church is to watch for His coming.
1. Is the coming of the Lord a comfort to you, or do you d read it?
2. Whenever judgment is mentioned to a non-Christian, they are typically unaware or unconcerned.
II. The Disciples Of The Lord Are Watching (1 Thess. 5:5).
A. Their Description ( v. 5). They are called “sons of light.” This means to be characterized by the quality of light. God is light, and we’re to take on His characteristics, to live in moral purity.
B. Their Mission. The church is to live in the light of Christ’s coming.
III. The Deniers Of The Lord Are Sleeping (1 Thess. 5:6).
A. Their Disposition (v. 6).
1. We are to be spiritually alert and prophetically aware.
2. The church is to be watching, waiting, and ready at any time for the Lord ’s return.
3. We have too much information not to be awake. We must take care not to fall asleep in this day of God’s grace.
B. Their Discipline (v.8). We need to protect our hearts and our minds by spending time with the Lord daily.
C. Their Duty (v.11).
1. We need to comfort and build up one another.
2. “Each other” and “one another” tell us we all have the responsibility to build up and comfort one another. This isn’t a job solely for the professionals! (See also Heb.10:25.)
a. In our daily lives, there are always challenges (circumstances, people, things) to our joy.
b. What are you like when things are n ’t going your way?
c. Charles Spurgeon used to tell his seminary students: “When you speak of heaven, let your face light up, let it be irradiated by a heavenly gleam, let your eyes shine with reflected glory. But when you speak of hell, your ordinary face will do.”
d. The Bible says that a merry heart is good medicine. We need to laugh more!
e. Does joy permeate your home?
3. Do you know a person who says he is a Christian, but who hasn’t been walking in fellowship lately? Go to that person and build him up.
4. Are you ready for the day of the Lord? How sad if this earth was the closest you were going to get to heaven.
“Getting Along In the Family”
1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
One of Paul’s favorite analogies of the church is the body of Christ, with Jesus as the head. Unfortunately, there are sometimes divisions in the church. In these verses, Paul compares the body of Christ to a family that should get along together. He uses the word “ brothers” frequently. If God in heaven is our Father, then we are brothers and sisters and belong to the same family. The rest of this book is a practical approach to our relationship with God and others. The underlying fabric in this section is found in verse 13: learn how to get along with each other. The best example a church can give to any community is to have individual inner peace and corporate, internal peace. Paul gives three requirements for getting along in God’s family:
I. Respect For Leadership (1 Thess. 5:12, 13).
Historically, the church has wavered between two extremes in regard to its leaders. On one hand, they have elevated leaders to such a status as to almost worship them. God hates any system that elevates certain people as being closer to God than others. The other reaction has been one of anti-authority. That’s not New Testament, either. Paul told Titus to ordain elders in every city so there would be leadership. Paul tells these new believers they are not to worship or despise their leaders, but are to recognize them.
A. Labor Among You. The word labor means “hard labor” (see also 1 Cor. 15:10).
B. Over You In The Lord. Pastors provide spiritual leadership. The term used for elder in the New Testament can be translated “manager, overseer.” The five duties of a pastor are:
1. Provide spiritual guidance to the church (1 Tim. 3:5).
2. Preach and teach (1 Tim. 5:17). Preachers must spend time studying God’s word.
3. Pray for the church (James 5:14).
4. Determine church policy (Acts 15).
5. Ordain others (1 Tim. 4:14).
C. Admonish You. Admonish is a strong confrontational word. It’s “the act of warning, rebuking, and correcting” (Acts 20:30). The idea is to speak the truth in a spirit of love.
D. Recognize and Esteem. Don’t put church leaders on a pedestal but esteem and obey them when they speak and live the truth (Heb. 13:7).
II. Regard For Laity (1 Thess. 5:14).
We need to value those who are among us and approach people differently depending on their temperaments. We are all to do this, not just leaders. We’re to minister one to another (Rom. 15:14).
A. Warn The Unruly. The unruly Christian is the defiant Christian, a child of God with an attitude! He is stubborn and needs to be warned.
B. Comfort The Fainthearted. He is the sensitive child in the family of God. He is emotionally unstable, gets discouraged easily, and is pessimistic. We need to console, calm, and encourage him.
C. Uphold The Weak. This is the feeble child who needs to be held up by others. This is the young Christian. Put your arm a round him and don’t let him fall.
D. Be Patient With All. The word patient speaks to putting up with problem people.
III. Refuse To Lash Out (1 Thess. 5:15).
When you deal with unruly, fainthearted people, somebody is going to get hurt. Revenge is very easy to come by in our human nature, and some in the church are good at verbal ping-pong, gossip, and back stabbing; the kinds of behaviors that ruin relationships. We’re to return good for evil. Leave vengeance to the Lord.
“What Is God’s Will For Me Now?”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Knowing the will of God is one of the greatest pursuits of any true Christian. We often have trouble understanding His will for our lives h e re on earth. If He can pull off eternity, He can certainly pull off the temporary! In the remainder of this chapter, we have a series of short verses and commands regarding the will of God in specific areas. In this section, well look at the will of God for daily life.
I. God Wants Us To Rejoice Always (1 Thess. 5:16).
In the original language, this would be translated “always rejoice.” Joy is one of the elements missing in the world. The life of an unbeliever is marked by a consistent lack of purpose and joy. Joy is the by-product of a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is not a “don’t worry, be happy” attitude. The idea is an inward joy, not because of your circumstances but, often, in spite of them. We have a lot to be thankful for!
A. When Should We Rejoice? Always! This doesn’t mean a constant emotional high, but an inner satisfaction that comes when we trust God with our future. It is an inward joy that doesn’t depend on our outward circumstances.
B. Why Should We Rejoice?
1. It is a command. This kind of joy is a choice; it is not an automatic response. We have to learn this. Paul said to the Philippians that he had learned to be content in whatever state he was in. He uses the word joy 12 times in the book of Philippians, which he wrote from a Roman prison. Paul practiced what he preached.
2. It is a great advertisement. An authentically joyful Christian is one of the greatest advertisements of the gospel. On the contrary, one of the worst advertisements is a gloomy pessimist who says he’s a Christian. Paul and Silas exhibited an attitude of rejoicing always when they were singing in a Philippian prison.
II. God Wants Us To Pray Unceasingly (1 Thess. 5:17).
A. Pray With Joy. It’s no coincidence that prayer and joy are linked. Our outlook in life is often determined by our uplook to God.
1. If you turn everything over to God in prayer, your outlook will be diff e rent than if you don’t .
2. The only way to have a heart full of joy is to have a heart free of crushing burdens. The best way to get rid of a heart full of burdens is to pray. Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7).
3. Sometimes we go through the ritual of prayer but we don’t truly leave the burden with God.
B. Pray Always. One of our biggest problems is talking too much and not listening enough. This text speaks of something constantly recurring rather than something occurring. It could be translated pray at every season or on a regular basis. On every single occasion, pray. (See also Luke 18:1-8.)
C. Pray Because There’s A Devil. Prayer is our secret weapon. As someone cleverly said, Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.
III. God Wants Us To Be Thankful In Everything (1 Thess. 5:18).
A. Give Thanks.
1. Most people offer prayers of petition, rather than of thanksgiving, intercession, or forgiveness.
2. In the Bible, thanksgiving is as common as prayer itself. People made thank offerings to God. The book of Psalms is filled with spontaneous outpourings of thanks to God.
B. In Everything. The text doesn’t say for everything give thanks but, rather, in everything or in connection with everything give thanks. There are many things we obviously don’t thank God for. The idea is to be grateful because God’s in control (Rom. 8:28).
1. Determine to be involved in each other’s lives and to respect the leaders given you.
2. Regard those around you and ask God to help you forgive others.
“Learn To Discern”
1 Thessalonians 5:19-22
As the Holy Spirit was birthing a new work, there was an amazing spread of authentic spiritual gifts, prophets, and messages throughout the early church. There also were false prophets, counterfeits claiming to speak in the name of the Lord. There seems to be a hint that this was a problem in the early church of Thessalonica. In these few verses, we’ll look at the will of God for living with discernment. Paul, with beautiful balance, says not to quench the Holy Spirit, but to test all things. One of the marks of a mature Christian is discernment, someone who tests all things against the Bible.
I. Stop Stifling The Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19).
The word quench means “to put out a fire.” Fire is a symbol of the Spirit of God. Fire is powerful, it gives warmth and light. Perhaps the Thessalonians were absolutely close-minded to the work of the Holy Spirit. There are two ways the Holy Spirit can be quenched:
A. Wet Blanket Approach. Cessationists are people who believe there are no longer any supernatural manifestations. They’re closed to the Spirit.
B. Molotov Cocktail Approach. These are the thrill seekers, people who are unhappy unless there are some spiritual explosions going on. The Holy Spirit makes people holy, not goofy.
1. When you complain, half of those who listen to you don’t care! There are times when you don't feel like giving God thanks. But you are still to thank Him.
2. The best training we can receive to know the will of God begins with our outlook and attitude. We must cast our burdens on the Lord and choose to rejoice. These individuals are open to anything and don’t check things with the Bible.
II. Stop Suppressing Prophecy (1 Thess. 5:20).
The word prophecy means “one who speaks for God.” The word despise means “to count as nothing or to hold in contempt.” Apparently, this church was against the gift of prophetic utterances.
A. Old Testament Prophets. The Old Testament is filled with the words of prophets who spoke a message for another person. The messages came to the prophets directly or through visions or dreams. The first reaction of most prophets called by God was “Get someone else!” (See also the job description of prophets, Deut. 18:18-22.)
B. New Testament Prophets. There also was prophecy in the New Testament. This prophecy was more forthtelling than foretelling. These prophets were usually people who had a spontaneous message from God for the group of people they were with.
1. There were guidelines given for the gift of prophecy. Prophecy was to edify, exhort, and comfort others (1 Cor. 14).
2. Prophecy needs to be given accurately and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
III. Start Searching Scripture (1 Thess. 5:21).
The New Testament never encourages anyone to blindly follow someone who claims to speak in the name of the Lord. The best example? The Bereans (Acts 17:11).
A. Test. The word test means “to put something to a test in order to approve it.” If it’s genuine, hold onto it. Reject that which is evil (1 Cor. 14, 1 John 4:1).
B. False Prophets. False prophets come in sheep’s clothing. Just because someone says Jesus or God doesn’t mean you should believe everything they say. Even Satan quoted Scripture! Four tests you can apply to anything you read or hear that purports to be in the name of God:
1. Theological Test. It should never contradict Scripture (Gal.1:6-8).
2. Emphasis Test. What is the emphasis of the message? Does it exalt Jesus? Does it point to Jesus? Is it in the Spirit of Jesus?
3. Moral Test. What does the life of that person testify to? What is the result of the teaching in the lives of those who are listening? Does it make them more like Jesus, or less?
4. Accuracy Test. If they say something is going to happen and it doesn’t, it wasn’t from God. In testing things, we should have the same attitude as our legal system, innocent until proven guilty. We are called to test everything. We cant just love everyone. Love is tied to the truth.
a. You never need to be afraid of a genuine work of the Holy Spirit. We should be afraid when we’re not open enough to the true working of the Spirit.
A Faithful Fare well
1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
Imagine the thoughts Paul must have had as he was finishing this letter. Even though he had only been with this young church for three weeks, they had developed a strong bond. As a faithful friend, he closes this letter gracefully. Faithful friends are one of the most precious things in life. Christian friends are the best, as we can bear one another's burdens. Jesus wants us to be faithful. When He rewards us, He will say “well done, good and faithful servant.”
I. Prayers To A Faithful Father (1 Thess. 5:23-24).
A. Sanctification. This is another word for holy. It means, “growing continually.” Paul is praying that these people will continue to grow in the Lord.
1. Sanctification is a process. It begins when you come to Christ and ends the day you die. It’s not instantaneous, but a steady process. God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are!
2. He will sanctify completely. The work of God should extend to every area of your life.
3. God Himself will sanctify you. Paul was only with this group for three weeks. He is now recognizing that he must turn them over to the Lord. Paul had done all he could. (See also 2 Pet. 1:2-8).
1. Notice how Paul phrases this. He begins from the inside and works to the outside (spirit, soul, and body). That’s how God works in us, from the inside out.
2. In contrast, religion starts from the outside and works in. It is based on our actions.
3. God is faithful and will complete what He has started.
II. Petitions To Faithful Friends (1 Thess. 5:23-26).
A. Pray For Us.
1. This is a mark of humility. Paul is asking these people to pray for him.
2. One of the secrets of the effectiveness of Paul’s ministry was that he had so many churches praying for him. Paul’s prayers were always in regard to the work of the Lord (Rom. 15:30-32, Eph. 6:19-20, 2 Thess. 3:1).
3. The kingdom of God is like a battle. Through prayer, we can move the gospel across enemy lines.
B. Holy Kiss. This was Paul saying hello to everyone.
1. A kiss was a common form of greeting in ancient times. In the early church, the congregation was separated, men on one side, women on the other. The men could only greet other men, and the women could only greet other women.
2. When we greet another Christian, it’s holy. It means something and is set apart.
C. Read This Letter.
1. The word for I charge you is a rare word that means, “to place somebody under a solemn oath.” This letter is for all the church and is to be read publicly. As church history progressed, some incorrectly believed the Bible was only for clergy.
2. To be read means, “to take this and distinguish it clearly, or know it accurately.”
III. Pronouncement Of A Faithful Future (1 Thess. 5:28).
A. Grace. Paul exits the epistle the same way he enters, through the doorway of grace. Grace is a style of life, it is how we begin and end the Christian life. Though God’s grace is extended to everyone, not everyone experiences it. It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance.
B. Peace. God wants to give us peace. You’ll never experience the peace of God until you experience peace with God.
1. We can only do so much in terms of discipling, teaching, and warning Christians. There comes a point when we must entrust the issue entirely to the Lord. We must be careful in our lives, though, to diligently know and live by what the Bible says.