Alive again: 1 Thessalonians 3.8 VOTD

“For now we are alive again, if you stand firm in the Lord.”

1 Thessalonians 3.8

The apostle Paul felt discouraged by his circumstances. Good news through Timothy about the Thessalonian saints gave him new life. “The missionary whose task was to encourage others (2) was himself encouraged and revived by news of the church” (I. Howard Marshall, NBC21, 1281).

Relationships between evangelizers and converts are, and ought to be, a close one. How would you describe the concern for saved ones to continue to be faithful?

#1-Thessalonians #evangelism #VOTD

Living a holy life

Christians at Thessalonica were encouraged to “abound more and more” in holiness. The same encouragement is needed by the church of Christ today. God’s people must live a holy life. You must devote your life to following Christ.

“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to un­cleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who re­jects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8) Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #charles-box, #holiness

Short introduction to 1 Thessalonians

“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:1-2).

Paul’s work (along with Silas, Timothy and Luke) in Thessalonica was short-lived and somewhat violent. Though many Greeks and notable women converted to Christ (Acts 17:4), the Jewish leaders of the synagogue were not impressed. They incited a mob to throw Paul out of town, took the man to court who was housing him, and followed him all the way to the next synagogue in Berea (Acts 17:5-11).

However, those who were converted to Christ, and constituted the Thessalonian church, were later praised for their faithfulness (1 Thes. 1:2,3,8-9; 2:13-14; 3:6-7). They were told that the return of the Lord would not precede a great “falling away” from the faith (2 Thes. 2:1-10) – a necessary correction for at least two reasons: (1) they believed those who passed from this life would miss His return (1 Thes. 4:13-18); (2) it had incited a spirit of idleness (cf. 2:9; 4:11).

The “great falling away” and the “man of sin” (cf. 2 Thes. 2:1-9) are only specifically mentioned in 2 Thessalonians. Some believe (Barnes, Hinds, Jackson, et. al.) this is the Catholic church, and the Pope. If it isn’t, we’d be hard pressed to find an historical circumstance and personage that better fit the description.

So with corrections in place, the church could now concern itself with the more pressing concerns of the moment, “…warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (5:14), a good admonition for us all.

—Rick Kelley, Prestonsburg (KY) Informer

#1-thessalonians, #new-testament-introduction

How to end a letter in a great way: 1 Thessalonians 5.12-28

Here’s an outline for 1 Thessalonians 5.12-28, significantly adapted for English, that I’ve been using the last couple of weeks in our Sunday Bible study in Taubaté. An amazing close to this letter which may well be the first document of the New Testament to have been written. The version used here is the NET Bible.

  1. Christian workers and Christian work (12-15).
    At the same time that Paul wants us to honor Christian workers (vv. 12-13, with three honors by the saints [acknowledge, preside, be at peace], matching three activities of the workers [labor, preside, admonish]), he reminds us, with action verbs (admonish, comfort, help, be patient, pursue), that the work of Christ belongs to all (v. 14-15). The two facets of the section are marked by the similar phrases: “we ask you, brothers and sisters” (v. 12) and “we urge you, brothers and sisters” (v. 14).
  2. Eight final imperatives (vv. 16-22).
    Paul gives eight “rapid-fire commands”/1 as he crowds in his last counsels. Three blanket words (always, constantly, everything) on performing the will of God (vv. 16-18) lead to five means of preserving the truth of God (vv. 19-22). The first three deal with right disposition, or attitudes, the second five, with right doctrine, or teaching.
  3. Final prayer (vv. 23-24).
    Paul closes with a prayer (as he has closed each major section of the letter) for peace, purity, and preservation (v. 23), a prayer that he knows God will answer (v. 24).
  4. Goodbye (vv. 25-28).
    a. Paul’s request for prayer shows the reciprocity (“one another”) of the kingdom (v. 25).
    b. A holy greeting to all shows the reality, or genuineness, of our kingdom relationships (v. 26).
    c. Reading the letter to all shows the responsibility of the kingdom’s subjects (v. 27).
    d. Ending the letter with the same grace mentioned at the beginning shows the resources of the kingdom (v. 28).

1/ V. M. Smiles, “The First Letter to the Thessalonians,” in David Durkin, ed., New Collegeville Bible Commentary: NT (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2008): 665.

#1-thessalonians, #bible-class-outlines, #sermon-outlines

Too much zeal?

hands-workIn Monday’s editorial for Forthright Magazine, I made a short reference that “devoting oneself to the work of God should not make us dependent on the saints.” It was one of two possible explanations for 1Th 4.11, Paul’s instructions about working with one’s own hands. Here’s more on that idea.

Citing two sources, Victor Furnish finds it to be a “somewhat more plausible suggestion” that behind Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians to work with their own hands (1Th 4.11) lies the problem that “some believers were so caught up in a zeal to evangelize that they neglected to care for their own and their families’ needs” (First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians, Abingdon NT Commentary, 2007, 98).

Would to God that we had that problem in the church today!

One thing that might militate against this proposal is that the church is always (is there an exception?) instructed in the New Testament to support those who teach and evangelize. Might not Paul have told the Thessalonians to get behind such people and provide for their needs? Still, it is an intriguing possibility, is it not?

• One basis of appeal that the prophet Jeremiah uses to urge Israel to repent is so that they might fulfill God’s purpose for them in the world. “Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name” (Jer 4.2 NTL). Israel was not evangelistic, in the strict sense of the word, but God did intend for them to be a blessing to those around them (see his promise to Abram, Gen 12.1-3), by bringing the knowledge of God to the pagans. Is there a lesson for the church here?

• Posterous, I think I’ve said before, is shutting down April 30. We knew it was coming, but I’m still miffed that the owners sold out to Twitter. I considered it one of the coolest services out there. Now, two of the original creators, who parted ways with the sell-outs before the betrayal, have started Posthaven.com, basically a recreation of their first effort. Except this one will have a financial base from the get-go, since they’ll charge $5 a month for up to 10 spaces/sites. Better yet, they’ve done an import path from Posterous. Worked like a charm. I’m pulling for their success.

I’ve already transferred Quick Bible Truths to it. Others will go that route as well. All the features are not yet available, but they’re working on them.

• In his “audience” earlier today, Mr. Francis of the Catholic Church notes correctly that God chose women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. But he then seems to restrict unnecessarily an application from that truth: “This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness!”

We shall be gracious and consider that he is giving an audience and not writing a treatise on the subject. But outside the meetings of the church, there seem to be few New-Testament restrictions on women in the work they do. Their witnessing, or teaching, should not be restricted to their children and grandchildren. Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #christian-colleges, #corollaries, #evangelism

Now that’s encouraging!

Using a passage from our previous week’s Bible readings, 1Th 5.4-11, today’s sermon will deal with the resurrection still to come. We’ll focus on these points from verse 10:

  1. “Christ died for us.” His death had a purpose and brought purpose to us. Through him we escape wrath and come to salvation (v. 9). Seeing this purpose fulfilled in our lives requires alertness and sobriety (vv. 6-8).
  2. Whether we live or die, “alert or asleep,” that purpose will be fulfilled in those who are faithful. This touches on the problem the Thessalonians felt about those who were passing away. Paul guarantees that faithfulness to Christ is worth it. To die now is to pass to the head of the line.
  3. The purpose of Christ’s death is so that we can “come to life together with him”. To live with Christ, to have the life of God, to be in his presence forever, this is the precious gift of the Cross, restoring the reason for Creation and bringing man full circle back to the fellowship of Eden.

A death now in Christ does not miss this gift, but the Lord’s return will unite us all to him.

Now that’s encouraging! (v. 11).

When Paul preached righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment to Felix, the governor became afraid and sent Paul away (Acts 24.25). That is a terrifying trio of topics for us who work contrary to God’s will, act by the impulse of our carnal desires, and face the wrath of God towards everything that destroys communion with him. Christ died to make us right before God, give us the Spirit’s power to produce spiritual fruit, and allow us pray “Maranatha, come, Lord” because our dread has been turned into hope.

#1thessalonians, #death-of-christ, #easter, #resurrection

#1-thessalonians

The Example of the Thessalonican Church

The Apostle Paul visited the city of  Thessalonica on his  2nd  missionary  journey.  He was there  preaching about 3  weeks.  The  theme of the Epistle is a least fourfold:

  1. To confirm the young converts in Thessalonica in the foundational truths
  2. To exhort them to a life of personal holiness pleasing to the Lord.
  3. To comfort them concerning those who had died; and
  4. To instruct them concerning their own hope of the Lord’s return.

Paul commended the believers there because, according to I Thes. 2:13, they accepted the message.  because it came  from God, not men.  There are many  things we can take from this congregation.

The word “example” can  have both  a positive and a  negative aspect. We see the “positive” aspect  in this  account. The believers not  only accepted the  teaching that  Paul gave and became a  congregation of  faithful ones, but  they did not  keep the   “Good news” to themselves.

They embodied  the  Lord’s teaching in the Great Commission to “go into all the  world and preach the gospel…”  They had been  called out  of the darkness of the  kingdom of Satan and were now in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus, the  Church of Christ.   Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #christian-example

Bible reading: 1 Thessalonians 5

1:1-11. The Sudden Coming of the Lord. Again, Paul tells them something that they have no need for anything to be written, because they already know quite well what he is about to write. But his writing serves as a source of encouragement (v. 11). Basic truths often need repeating. Paul continues the topic of Jesus’ coming, but focuses now on the times and seasons of his arrival, specifically, that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night, that is, suddenly, unexpectedly, without warning. Some disparage his coming, by saying that nothing will happen: There is peace and security. Don’t worry! Be happy! But they will soon discover that sudden destruction comes on them. Its suddenness is compared to the labor pains that begin, often at an inconvenient moment, for a pregnant woman. Their unpreparedness means that they will surely not escape. They deliberately ignore what the Thessalonians know quite well and could be known by any who so desired. But the new converts are not like them, choosing to remain in the darkness. They all are sons of the light and sons of the day. That Paul continues in verses 4-7 to speak of those whom the day would overtake and who belong to the night and who are of the darkness, highlights the great divide between those in Christ and the outsiders, between the faithful and the forgetful. Paul does not reveal who they are to whom he refers, who counsel relaxation when what is needed is the greatest vigilance. They might be Jewish opponents who still attempt to derail the Christians’ faith. They might even be Christians lulled into a false sense of security by being in Christ. Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #daily-bible-reading, #eschatology, #pauls-epistles

Bible reading: 1 Thessalonians 4

1:1-8. The Will of God Is Holiness. The Thessalonians had already received instruction from the evangelists after their conversion, just as Jesus had taught to do, “teaching them to observe all things” (Matthew 28:19-20). The content of the instruction dealt with how to live and please God. The way we live determines whether or not we will please God. Pleasing God is basic to one’s salvation. Thus, this manner of life is a must. Salvation is by grace, but by no means bereft of obligation. To live is the way we “walk” (2:12), a metaphor used of the disciple’s relationship to God and his manner of life in the Kingdom. It’s origin likely goes back to Adam and Eve’s literal walk with God in the garden of Eden. Paul acknowledges that they were in fact living properly, but desires to ask and urge them to do so more and more, that is, abound more, excel more. Growth is expected in God’s kingdom. What does not grow is dead. Hence, the need to abound is both the subject of instruction, as here, the topic of prayer (3:12; Philippians 1:9), and a reason for teaching and exhortation (1 Corinthians 15:58). The For of verse 2 connects it to the previous verse. This life is an obligation, because teaching comes in the form of commands. God’s command is eternal life (John 12:50). Those that Paul gave to his converts was through the Lord Jesus. The commands came from Jesus and had his authority as Lord behind them. If Jesus is Lord, he must be obeyed.Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #daily-bible-reading, #eschatology, #pauls-epistles

Bible reading: 1 Thessalonians 3

3:1-5. Timothy Sent to Thessalonica. The forced separation from the Thessalonians became unbearable for Paul, anxious as he was to know how they fared under the duress. In Athens, he decided to send Timothy to strengthen them in their faith.

As he will later remind Timothy himself (2 Timothy 3:12), Paul makes it clear that Christians are destined for suffering. It was not something “strange” that was happening to them, as Peter would later tell his readers (1 Peter 4:12). Suffering for the gospel is integral to life in Christ, so much so that Paul rejoiced in his suffering in behalf of the body of Christ, considering them a filling up or completing in his physical body of the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24). Just as redemption came by suffering, so its proclamation is accomplished through suffering as well. This is the destiny of God’s people, by him determined and willed that it should be so. To shrink from suffering for the gospel is to draw back from following him. So Paul had forewarned the Thessalonians to expect it, as it indeed happened.

But the knowledge and expectation of such affliction did not assuage his anxiety about them, so he sent to find out about their faith. He must know how they are faring, for fear that the tempter somehow had tempted them. If Satan had been able to thwart Paul’s plans to visit the new converts (2:18), the apostle knows he will be working on their end to entice them to avoid the suffering by compromising or abandoning their faith. He had tempted Jesus to avoid the cross by promising him an easy way out to acquire the kingdom. He would undoubtedly offer the Thessalonians some similar false promise, which, if they did not recognize it for what it was, would prove Paul’s toil useless. Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #emotions, #pauls-epistles

Bible reading: 1 Thessalonians

As one of Paul’s earliest letters, if not the earliest, written around A.D. 51, 1 Thessalonians unveils the vibrant faith and severe struggles of Jesus’ followers who readily embraced the message and made it their own (Acts 17:1-9). In a short time, at most, a matter of months, these Macedonians learned from Paul the good news of Christ. Luke’s comment about the Bereans (Acts 17:11) should not be taken as a slight against the Thessalonians, but as a comment about the resistance of the gospel among the Jews, who forced Paul to flee the city. His concern for those who remained occasioned his writing, and his letter was likely sent, by the hands of Timothy (3:1-5), not long after his departure.

1:1. Greeting. Never the attention hog, Paul joins Silvanus, the Greek form of Silas, and Timothy to himself in the greeting. These two accompanied him to Thessalonica when he first preached the gospel there. Though he is the true author of the letter, he is quick to include others in his labors and recognize their contributions. He writes to the church of the Thessalonians, the modifying phrase indicating those who composed the Christian community there. Church is used in the local sense of the disciples in that location; it is used again in the letter only in 2:14, in the same sense, but in the plural. The term denotes those people whose conversion to Christ has united them together in perpetual assembly around their Lord, whether or not in actual meeting. Their most important location, however, is not Thessalonica, but in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Here is where their true identity and loyalty lie, as well as their sphere of life and operation. With a change of a few letters, the Greek “greeting” becomes Paul’s grace, which he considers the proper salutation, since it captures the essence of his faith, joined to the standard Jewish greeting, peace, now to be seen as that restoration of relationship with God in Christ. Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #bible-commentary, #daily-bible-reading, #pauls-epistles

From Philippi to Thessalonica

A passage that will likely go unmentioned by anyone — hence, my choice — is 1 Thess. 2:2: “But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of much opposition.”

When Paul left Philippi, he seems to have gone without delay to Thessalonica. Luke says he passed “through Amphipolis and Apollonia” on his way there, apparently without stopping (Acts 17:1). (Alternatively, it is evidence for their sincerity.) The mistreatment he suffered in Philippi must have marked him, for him to mention it as he did to the Thessalonians. He and Silas had been beaten “severely” with rods, in public (Acts 16:23). It was in Thessalonica that he recovers from that beating and he must have still bore its marks when he preached in the synagogue of that city.

It would appear, then, that Paul was “deeply hurt” by the Philippian mistreatment (NASV Study Bible). It would seem that he had to muster the courage to continue to preach in Thessalonica and found it “in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” The term “conflict” this this context “seems to suggest inner conflict which has risen due to external opposition” (R. C. Kelcy, Thessalonians, LWC, 40).

This is not Paul’s first hardship, however. He has weathered worse. Before this, on his first missionary journey, in Lystra, he had been stoned by Jews from Antioch and Iconium and left for dead (Acts 14:19). Perhaps he had a harder time “suffer[ing] many hardships” (Acts 14:22) injustly at the hands of the Romans than from the Jews.

However that may be, Paul did find the courage to preach in the next big city down the road, after the humiliation suffered in Philippi. Courage in our God. When men shrink from the trials and mere humans fail in their bluster, we find in our God the stiffness of spine to continue his mission in the world.

#1-thessalonians, #apostle-paul, #philippians

Walking in the new year

Today appears to be slower than yesterday. Christmas hangover? The new Daily Nudge, just posted for the Fellows, asks what the new year holds. They can take it personally, for the church or for their area — be it city or country. However they want to take it will still make it an interesting discussion.

From hangovers to leftovers … the Christmas leftovers are as good as they were yesterday. Sometimes leftovers are even better, like my wife’s sweet and sour carrots, after the flavors are allowed to blend.

Have been working on 1 Thes. 4:1-12. Some very interesting structural items in that pericope, like the word “walk” appearing, an inclusio no doubt, in verses 1 and 12. But there’s much more. I’m disappointed that most versions don’t translate the walk metaphor literally, I who tend to prefer the thought translation. Often, the versions are inconsistent, translating it as walk in one verse and as “live” or some other such bland idea in the other. Continue reading

#1-thessalonians, #conduct, #structural-analysis, #walk