- After the events in Acts 17, Paul fled to Berea with Silas and Timothy. Paul then went to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy in Berea. Later, Paul went to Corinth and was joined by Silas and Timothy. This letter was in response to issues and questions that came up in Thessalonica after Paul left
- History of Thessalonica
- Once the Roman Empire split in two – east and west, Thessaloniki, as it became known, was second in importance only to Constantinople, the Eastern capitol of Rome
- Around 1519, the city became 54% Jewish as many persecuted Jews from Spain fled there. The city was made up of Jews, Greek Orthodox and Muslims, with a Jewish plurality. For the next 200 years, Thessaloniki had the largest Jewish population of any other city in the world. Apparently New York City and Miami Beach did not yet exist.
- V. 1-2 – Paul, Silas and Timothy established this church, and are now following up as concerned spiritual parents. These missionary disciple makers are in constant prayer for the converts.
- V. 2-3 – the prayers are specific. Paul took the time to know what these people were dealing with and then he prayed about those things. As the church, we have to have enough care for one another to be able to pray specifically. That is why we need to have, in addition to corporate worship we do on Sunday, small groups like this and the care groups. Lone Ranger Christianity is a flawed model and we cannot function properly without community and accountability.
- V.4-5 – This speaks to the fact that the validity of the faith of the Gentile believers was being called into question by the Jews in the synagogue. This was a church that was persecuted from the very beginning. Paul and his companions were attacked and driven out of the city and Jason, their host was accused of sedition.
The character of those persecuting the believers must have contrasted greatly from the example shown by Paul and company.
- V. 6 – The example Paul and his companions gave was something to be emulated.What kind of example are we? Are we to be emulated?These new believers did follow the good example given to them by Paul and it had great results
- V. 7-8 – the fruit of their faith and obedience is reproduction. Larry Taylor wrote in Things I Learned From My Pastor: “Healthy sheep beget sheep.” What this means is that when we live according to the Word and live out our faith in devotion and obedience to God, evangelism is the natural by product. These new believers were living out their faith properly and the result was evangelism well beyond their own borders.As we live in faith and obedience, we affect others around us and we gain the opportunity to share our faith and we gain the opportunity to model a better way for those who are struggling.
- V. 9-10 – This passage reveals that the church is largely made up of Gentile believers and these non-Jewish believers are the main audience of this letter. Jews would not have turned away from idols because they would not have been involved with idol worship. The book of Ezekiel details Israel's sin of idolatry leading to national destruction. Ezekiel 20:31"When you offer your gifts, when you cause your sons to pass through the fire, you are defiling yourselves with all your idols to this day. And shall I be inquired of by you, O house of Israel? As I live," declares the Lord GOD, "I will not be inquired of by you.
- The servant of the Lord does not serve in vain
- The servant of the Lord does not allow adversity to interfere with service
- The servant of the Lord does not seek his own good
- The servant of the Lord carries his own load
- V11-12 – The servant of the Lord sees potential in others and tries to draw it out of themPart of Paul's ministry to the Thessalonians was to encourage them to holiness. Paul not only encourages them but charges them to live lives worthy of God
- V. 13 – The servant of the Lord is grateful for the fruit of his labor.
- the will of the messenger
- the will of God
- the will of the believer to believe – 1 John 2:2, 2 Peter 3:9
- The Thessalonians accept the word as God's not man's and Paul recognizes that God was at work in the believers. We see a beautiful view of God's power and sovereignty coupled with human responsibility, working together for salvation
- WEEK 4
- JULY 26
- V. 14 – The servant of the Lord follows godly examplesThis is discipleship. Learning from those who have gone before us and teaching those who come afterMatthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
- V. 14-16 – The servant of the Lord stands firm against persecution
- Ephesians 6:13 - Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
- Revelation 2:25-27 Only hold fast what you have until I come.The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
- We see throughout scripture that we are called to stand firm and that we are give the ability to stand firm.
- Matthew 10:19 - When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.
- V. 17-18 – Paul was hindered by Satan, so we cannot be discouraged when we pray for something or yearn to do something and find we cannot. Even though Satan may be hindering us, God is ultimately in charge and Satan is thwarted in his intentions.Genesis 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
- Even Satan's attacks can and will be used against him for God's purposes
- V. 19-20 – Paul sees the fruit of his labor as his glory and for boasting. When we bear fruit in ministry, whatever we are called to do, that is investing in our eternal bank for future glory. We think of the parable of the talents, the man who earned 10 was given not only charge over 10 cities, but the talent of the man who earned no extra talents. We should not serve for the reward but rest assured, anything you lose in this life for the cause of Christ will be more than compensated for in eternity.
- Matthew 19:28-29 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life
- V. 1-2 – Church growth does not happen without some being called out. A group that works well together and enjoys good fellowship can become very comfortable and stagnant, striving for status quo. Paul had use of Timothy in Athens. Paul was in a hostile environment and enjoyed the comfort of a fellow worker. Paul also recognized that in order for the Gospel to be strengthened in Thessalonica, he would have to sacrifice his comfort for the sake of ministry.
- V. 3 – Paul sent Timothy to comfort and strengthen the church that was being persecuted and attacked. We can expect opposition when we endeavor to serve God. We are living in Satan's realm and this world system is set up to prosper those who serve Satan's agenda. We may see some who are abusing the Gospel for personal gain and wonder why they are allowed to prosper or even how their ministry can seem to be blessed by God, but is it really? Is it possible it is being blessed by Satan to pervert the truth of scripture and lead others astray according to their own lusts and desires?
- V. 4-5 – Paul recognized the fact that believers who are actively pursuing faith will suffer. We will be ostracized, we will be outcast, we will be mocked or vilified or even shunned. The message of the Gospel is contrary to the mindset of the carnal man and is in opposition to the world system we live in. Those successful in entertainment often pay homage to dark spiritual forces in order to attain or maintain success. The love of money has derailed many a minister and ministry. Jim Bakker is a perfect example of this as he started out in sincerity and quickly fell from grace because of the allure of money and fame. As he sat in prison cleaning toilets, he realized just how far he had fallen and even wrote a book entitled I Was Wrong.
- V.6-7 – When we are obedient to God, our fruit can be a source of comfort during bad times.If we are going through a rough spot in our spiritual life, recounting past victories, past fruit and answered prayer can become a source of inspiration. As we remember what God has done for us in the past, it is easier to go through struggles.
- V. 8-11 – As we grow in our faith, our focus should beincreasingly outward, toward others. It is very dangerous for us to get caught up looking inwardly and after our own interests and desires. Part of our spiritual maturity is seeking after the welfare of others. Here Paul says he can live, knowing the believers in Thessalonica are standing firm in the faith.
- V. 12-13 – Loving one another is a true measure of our commitment to God. We naturally love ourselves. No one has to tell us to look out for our own interests, we are all about taking care of ourselves. But notice the focus Paul emphasizes - looking to the coming of Christ. We obey and love now, with eternity in sight. This is why we study revelation and get excited when we talk of end times and prophecy, because we know that one day all we do here will have meaning and purpose n eternity.
- V. 1 – a call to continued spiritual growth. We cannot ever come to a place where we think we have arrived, spiritually speaking. A true disciple must continue to learn, grow and transform. This is what we call sanctification. The work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believe is to transform us into the image of Christ. Christ was perfect, we will never be perfect, so we can never stop growing. Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. There are no degrees of perfection, either. Almost perfect is like saying almost infinite or almost omnipotent. We cannot logically be almost something that has no limit.
- V. 2-8 – Here is a serious call to sexual purity. The culture these new believers were coming from was one of very little sexual restraint. Sexual licentiousness was part of religious practice and just an accepted part of life.
- 9-12 – this passage is loaded with application
- 13-18 – Here, Paul shifts major gears as he moves from exhortation to holy living to encouragement of why we are living in holiness. Paul describes the event that we should all be longing for, the resurrection and rapture of the church. This is great hope for those of us who have lost believing loved ones, this is great hope for us who are awaiting the return of our Lord.
- V. 1-2 – This passage leads us to the million dollar question: WHEN WILL CHRIST RETURN?
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today... Aha-ah...
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace... You...
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world... You...
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one
- v. 4-8 – though we cannot know the day or hour, we should be anticipating Christ's return as immanent. We prepare by being diligent in our relationship with God, by sharing our faith with those God places in our path and by living in the light. WHAT DOES LIVING IN THE LIGHT MEAN TO YOU?
1 Thessalonians 5:9-13
I. V. 9-11 – what we know is that as believers, we are not destined for wrath, but destined for salvation and eternal life with God. This should affect our lives in as much as we are living for eternity, not the moment. If we have eternity in sight, we can endure life here better. If we live for the here and now, we will never be satisfied. We will always be looking for the next cool thing, “whatever that may be for you as an individual. Living for the here and now, we worry about getting a fair shake, we worry about our “rights” and what we think we are owed. With eternity in sight, material possessions, hurt feelings over petty slights, watching the wicked prosper and the honest suffer suddenly does not seem so important. As we saw, last week, in the lyrics to Imagine the Utopian ideal is to be able to live without eternal consequences, we understand eternal consequences and rewards.
As we live for eternal reward, we must keep in mind that, as we looked at 2 weeks ago, about 75% of America is going to hell. That is motivation for out eternal perspective.
Notice verse 10 says “whether awake or asleep, we shall live with Him.” This brings us right back to verse 13, speaking of th day of the Lord – all in Christ shall be with Christ on the day of the Lord. Wherever you place that day on the end times time line. This is what we are to encourage one another with – our hope in the resurrection.
II. V. 12-13 – This is always a difficult passage to expound upon with humility, so I will allow it to speak for itself and take any questions.
The second part of 13 is important for us to keep on mind. We are to be at peace among ourselves. That means overlooking minor affronts, and treating others with respect. We remain at peace with one another when we are open and honest, not holding grudges or bad mouthing someone. If you have a problem with someone, go to them and say so. I would much rather you come to me with a problem you have with me rather than harbor a grudge or ill feelings. Generally, when we hurt one another it is not because we set out to hurt others, we are doing or saying something that benefits ourselves and not thinking about the ramifications or consequences. If you have hurt people inadvertently, then chances are, the person who hurt you did so ignorantly as well. This is when we need to have grace. As we have been talking about walking in the light, part of that is being real with someone when they hurt your feelings.
III.V. 14 – There are those among us, in the church, who are inactive. Are they inactive because they are lazy or idle, are they afraid, are they weak in their faith? HOW CAN WE TELL? We tell by spending time with them. We actually have to step out of our comfort zone and spend time with people. Then, we have to carefully and prayerfully determine why someone is inactive. We have specific instructions on how to motivate them
The idle, or as I like to call them, the lazy are to be admonished. This is more than encouragement because this is people who know better and ought to be serving in some capacity. This is someone who has been a believer for awhile, knows the Word and probably once actively served.
The faint hearted: these lack confidence or possibly are afraid to step out. We handle this group more gently as they need to be encouraged and built up.
The weak: for this group, we must go beyond words and put our faith into action. We do what we can to help them.
This is discipleship. This is what we are all called to do. This is not a command for pastors or church leaders, this is a general epistle written to the church, not the church leadership.
Challenge: find someone who is inactive that you have a relationship with and find out why they are inactive and employ one of these three methods to get them moving.
- V.16 – The importance of worship: David was a shepherd boy with plenty of time and solitude on his hands. He did not sit around thinking about getting rich or having power or what kind of mischief he could get into, he used his solitude to worship God. The 23rd Psalm is a prime example. We get bored too easily and want constant entertainment. We have radios in our cars and games on our phones so we never have a quiet moment. Use the quiet times of solitude to spend time in worship.Rejoicing, thanksgiving, praise and worship are all necessary components of our spiritual lives. Doing this helps us keep things in proper perspective. We focus on God's love, faithfulness, provision, His magnitude, and our own inability and power in comparison. Rejoicing helps us stay humble and productive.
- V. 19 – To quench the Spirit is to ignore or hinder the prompting of God in your life and the life of others. When God is doing a work or we see a great victory over something in our lives, we run the risk thinking we have arrived somewhere and can take a break from holiness. Have you ever been focused on doing something that you knew you needed God's help with that you denied yourself indulgences or you abstained from certain things that you deemed sinful, only to accomplish your goal and go back business as usual? That is quenching the work of the Spirit. Rather than build on your spiritual success or accomplishment, we might feel a sense of relief and let down our guard or indulge in some sin as a reward to ourselves for a job well done. This is immature and dangerous behavior. Isaiah 28:9-10 "To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little." It is as we grow and graduate from spiritual meat that we build upon the things that God shows us and teaches us. We cannot “take a break” from holiness or a vacation from devotion, this will quench the work of the Spirit and we will regress and fail to ever grow past a certain level of maturity.
- V. 22 – It is God who sanctifies us and holds us and secures our salvation – HE WILL SURELY DO IT!