1 Thessalonians Chapter Five
1 Thessalonians 5
The Lord's coming again into this world assumes therefore a very different character from that of a vague object of hope to a believer as a period of glory. In chapter 5 the apostle speaks of it, but in order to distinguish between the position of Christians and that of the careless and unbelieving inhabitants of the earth. The Christian, alive and taught of the Lord, ever expects the Master. There are times and seasons; it is not needful to speak to him concerning them. But (and he knows it) the day of the Lord will come and like a thief in the night, but not for him: he is of the day; he has part in the glory which will appear in order to execute judgment on the unbelieving world. Believers are the children of light; and this light which is the judgment of unbelievers, is the expression of the glory of God-a glory which cannot endure evil, and which, when it shall appear, will banish it from the earth. The Christian is of the day that will judge and destroy the wicked and wickedness itself from off the face of the earth. Christ is the Sun of righteousness, and the faithful will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
The world will say, "Peace and safety," and in all security will believe in the continuance of its prosperity and the success of its designs, and the day will come suddenly upon them. (Compare 2 Peter 3:3.) The Lord Himself has often declared it. (Matt. 14:36-44; Mark 13:33-36; Luke 12:40, &c.; 17:26, &c.; 21:35, &c.)
It is a very solemn thing to see that the professing church (Rev. 3:3) which says that it lives and is in the truth, which has not Thyatira's character of corruption, is yet to be treated as the world-at least, unless it repents.
We may perhaps wonder to find the Lord saying of a time like this, that men's hearts will be failing them for fear, and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth. (Luke 21:26) But we see the two principles-both security and fear-already existing. Progress, success, the long continuance of a new development of human nature-this is the language of those who mock at the Lord's coming; and yet beneath it all, what fears for the future are at the same time possessing and weighing down the heart! I use the word "principles," because I do not believe that the moment of which the Lord speaks is yet come. But the shadow of coming events falls upon the heart. Blessed are they that belong to another world!
The apostle applies this difference of position--namely, that we belong to the day, and that it cannot therefore come upon us as a thief-to the character and walk of the Christian. Being a child of the light he is to walk as such. He lives in the clay, though all is night and darkness around him. One does not sleep in the day. They that sleep sleep in the night: they that are drunken are drunken in the night; these are the works of darkness. A Christian, the child of the day, must watch and be sober, clothing himself with all that constitutes the perfection of that mode of being which belongs to his position-namely, with faith and love and hope-principles which impart courage and give him confidence for pressing onwards. He has the breastplate of faith and love; he goes straight forward therefore against the enemy. He has the hope of this glorious salvation, which will bring him entire deliverance, as his helmet; so that he can lift up his head without fear in the midst of danger. We see that the apostle here brings to mind the three great principles of 1 Corinthians 13 to characterise the courage and steadfastness of the Christian, as at the beginning he shewed that they were the mainspring of daily walk.
Faith and love naturally connect us with God, revealed as He is in Jesus as the principle of communion; so that we walk with confidence in Him: His presence gives us strength. By faith He is the glorious object before our eyes. By love He dwells in us, and we realise what He is. Hope fixes our eyes especially on Christ, who is coming to bring us into the enjoyment of glory with Himself.
Consequently the apostle speaks thus: "For God hath not appointed us to wrath " (love is understood by faith, that which God wills-His mind respecting us) "but to obtain salvation." It is this which we hope for; and he speaks of salvation as the final deliverance "by our Lord Jesus Christ:" and he naturally adds, "who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep" (have died before His coming or be then alive), " we should live together with Him." Death does not deprive us of this deliverance and glory; for Jesus died. Death became the means of obtaining them for us; and if we die, we shall equally live with Him. He died for us, in our stead, in order that, happen what may, we should live with Him. Everything that hindered it is put out of our way and has lost its power; and, more than lost its power, has become a guarantee of our unhindered enjoyment of the full life of Christ in glory; so that we may comfort ourselves--and more than that, we may build ourselves up--with these glorious truths, through which God meets all our wants and all our necessities. This (ver. 10) is the end of the special revelation with regard to those who sleep before the coming of the Lord Jesus, beginning with chapter 4:13.
I would here call the reader's attention to the way in which the apostle speaks of the Lord's coming in the different chapters of this epistle. It will be noticed that the Spirit does not present the church here as a body. Life is the subject-that of each Christian therefore individually: a very important point assuredly.
In chapter 1 the expectation of the Lord is presented in a general way as characterising the Christian. They are converted to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven. Here it is the object itself that is presented, the Person of the Lord. God's own Son shall come, and shall satisfy all the heart's desire. This is neither His kingdom, nor the judgment, nor even rest; it is the Son of God; and this Son of God is Jesus, risen from among the dead, and who has delivered us from the wrath to come; for wrath is coming. Each believer therefore expects for himself the Son of God-expects Him from heaven.
In chapter 2 it is association with the saints, joy in the saints at the coming of Christ.
In chapter 3 responsibility is more the subject--responsibility in liberty and in joy; but still a position before God in connection with the Christian's walk and life here below. The Lord's appearing is the measure and test time of holiness. The testimony rendered by God to this life, by giving it its natural place, takes place when Christ is manifested with all His saints. It is not here His coming for us, but His coming with us. This distinction between the two events always exists. For Christians even and for the church, that which refers to responsibility is always found in connection with the appearing of the Lord; our joy, with His coming to take us to Himself.
Thus far then, we have the general expectation of the Lord in Person, His Son from heaven; love satisfied at His coming as regards others; holiness in its full value and full development. In chapter 4 it is not the connection of life with its full development in our being actually with Christ, but victory over death (which is no barrier to this); and, at the same time, the strengthening and establishment of hope in our common departure hence, similarly to that of Jesus, to be for ever with Him.
The exhortations that conclude the epistle are brief; the mighty action of the life of God in these dear disciples made them comparatively little needed. Exhortation is always good. There was nothing among them to blame. Happy condition! They were perhaps not sufficiently instructed for a large development of doctrine (the apostle hoped to see them for that purpose); but there was enough of life, a personal relationship with God sufficiently true and real, to build them up on that ground. To him that hath shall more be given. The apostle could rejoice with them and confirm their hope and add to it some details as a revelation from God. The assembly in all ages is profited by it.
In the Epistle to the Philippians we see life in the Spirit rising above all circumstances, as the fruit of long experience of the goodness and faithfulness of God; and thus shewing its remarkable power when the help of the saints had failed, and the apostle was in distress, his life in danger, after four years' imprisonment, by a merciless tyrant. It is then that he decides his case by the interests of the assembly. It is then that he can proclaim, that we ought always to rejoice in the Lord, and that Christ is all things to him, to live is Christ, death a gain to him. It is then that he can do all things through Him who strengthens him. This he has learnt. In Thessalonians we have the freshness of the fountain near to its source; the energy of the first spring of life in the believer's soul, presenting all the beauty and purity and vigour of its first verdure under the influence of the sun that had risen upon them and made the sap of life rise, the first manifestations of which had not been deteriorated by contact with the world or by an enfeebled view of invisible things.
The apostle desired that the disciples should acknowledge those who laboured among them and guided them in grace and admonished them, and esteem them greatly for their work's sake. The operation of God always attracts a soul that is moved by the Holy Ghost, and commands its attention and its respect: on this foundation the apostle builds his exhortation. It is not office which is in question here (if such existed), but the work which attracted and attached the heart. They ought to be known: spirituality acknowledged this operation of God. Love, devotedness, the answer to the need of souls, patience in dealing with them on the part of God--all this commended itself to the believer's heart: and it blessed God for the care He bestowed upon His children. God acted in the labourer and in the hearts of the faithful. Blessed be God, it is an ever existing principle, and one that never grows weaker !
The same Spirit produced peace among themselves. This grace was of great value. If love appreciated the work of God in the labourer, it would esteem the bother as in the presence of God: self-will would not act.
Now this renunciation of self-will, and this practical sense of the operation and presence of God, gives power to warn the unruly, to comfort the fearful, to help the weak, and to be patient towards all. The apostle exhorts them to it. Communion with God is the power and His word the guide in so doing. In no case were they to render evil for evil, but to follow that which was good among themselves and towards all. All this conduct depends on communion with God, on His presence with us, which makes us superior to evil. He is this in love; and we can be so by walking with Him.
Such were the apostle's exhortations to guide their walk with others. As regards their personal state, joy, prayer, thanksgiving in all things, these should be their characteristics. With respect to the public actings of the Spirit in their midst, the apostle's exhortations to these simple and happy Christians were equally brief. They were not to hinder the action of the Spirit in their midst (for this is the meaning of quenching the Spirit); nor to despise that which He might say to them, even by the mouth of the most simple, if He were pleased to use it. Being spiritual they could judge all things. They were therefore not to receive everything that presented itself, even in the name of the Spirit, but to prove all things. They were to hold fast that which was good; those who by faith have received the truth of the word do not waver. One is not ever learning the truth of that which one has learnt from God. As to evil, they were to abstain from it in all its forms. Such were the apostle's brief exhortations to these Christians who indeed rejoiced his heart. And in truth it is a fine picture of christian walk, which we find here so livingly portrayed in the apostle's communications.
He concludes his epistle by commending them to the God of peace, that they might be preserved blameless until the coming of the Lord Jesus.
After an epistle like this his heart turned readily to the God of peace; for we enjoy peace in the presence of God-not only peace of conscience but peace of heart.
In the previous part we found the activity of love in the heart; that is to say, God present and acting in us, who are viewed as partaking, at the same time, of the divine nature, which is the spring of that holiness which will be manifested in all its perfection before God at the coming of Jesus with all His saints. Here it is the God of peace, to whom the apostle looks for the accomplishment of this work. There it was the activity of a divine principle in us-a principle connected with the presence of God and our communion with Him. Here it is the perfect rest of heart in which holiness develops itself. The absence of peace in the heart arises from the activity of the passions and the will, increased by the sense of powerlessness to satisfy or even to gratify them.
But in God all is peace. He can be active in love; He can glorify Himself by creating what He will; He can act in judgment to cast out the evil that is before His eyes. But He rests ever in Himself, and both in good and in evil He knows the end from the beginning and is undisturbed. When He fills the heart, He imparts this rest to us: we cannot rest in ourselves; we cannot find rest of heart in the actings of our passions, either without an object or upon an object, nor in the rending and destructive energy of our own will. We find our rest in God-not the rest that implies weariness, but rest of heart in the possession of all that we desire, and of that which even forms our desires and fully satisfies them, in the possession of an object in which conscience has nothing to reproach us and has but to be silent, in the certainty that it is the Supreme Good which the heart is enjoying, the supreme and only authority to whose will it responds-and that will is love towards us. God bestows rest, peace. He is never called the God of joy. He gives us joy truly, and we ought to rejoice; but joy implies something surprising, unexpected, exceptional, at least in contrast with, and in consequence of, evil. The peace that we possess, that which satisfies us, has no element of this kind, nothing which is in contrast, nothing which disturbs. It is more deep, more perfect, than joy. It is more the satisfaction of a nature in that which perfectly answers to it, and in which it develops itself, without any contrast being necessary to enhance the satisfaction of a heart that has not all which it desires, or of which it is capable.
God, as we have said, rests thus in Himself-is this rest for Himself. He gives us, and is for us, this entire peace. The conscience being perfect through the work of Christ who has made peace and reconciled us to God, the new nature-and consequently the heart-finds its perfect satisfaction in God, and the will is silent; moreover, it has nothing further to desire. It is not only that God meets the desires that we have: He is the source of new desires to the new man by the revelation of Himself in love.  He is both the source of the nature and its infinite object; and that, in love. It is His part to be so. It is more than creation; it is reconciliation, which is more than creation, because there is in it more development of love, that is to say, of God: and it is thus that we know God. It is that which He is essentially in Christ.
In the angels He glorifies Himself in creation: they excel us in strength. In Christians He glorifies Himself in reconciliation, to make them the first fruits of His new creation, when He shall have reconciled all things in heaven and on earth by Christ. Therefore it is written "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children sons of God" They have His nature and His character.
It is in these relationships with God-or rather it is God in these relationships with us in peace, in His communion, who develops sanctification, our inward conformity of affection and intelligence (and consequently of outward conduct) with Him and His will. "The God of peace himself sanctify you wholly." May there be nothing in us that does not yield to this benignant influence of peace which we enjoy in communion with God! May no power or force in us own anything but Himself! In all things may He be our all, so that He only may rule in our hearts! He has brought us perfectly into this place of blessedness in Christ and by His work. There is nothing between us and God but the exercise of His love, the enjoyment of our happiness, and the worship of our hearts. We are the proof before Him, the testimony, the fruit, of the accomplishment of all that He holds most precious, of that which has perfectly glorified Him, of that in which He delights, and of the glory of the One who has accomplished it, namely, of Christ, and of His work. We are the fruit of the redemption that Christ has accomplished, and the objects of the satisfaction which God must feel in the exercise of His love.
God in grace is the God of peace for us; for here divine righteousness finds its satisfaction, and love its perfect exercise.
The apostle now prays that, in this character, God may work in us to make everything respond to Himself thus revealed. Here only is this development of humanity given-"body, soul, and spirit." The object is assuredly not metaphysical, but to express man in all the parts of his being; the vessel by which he expresses that which he is, the natural affections of his soul, the elevated workings of his mind, through which he is above the animals and in intelligent relationship with God. May God be found in each, as the mover, spring, and guide!
In general the words "soul and spirit" are used without making any distinction between them, for the soul of man was formed very differently from that of animals in that God breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life, and it was thus that man became a living soul. Therefore it suffices to say soul as to man, and the other is supposed. Or, in saying spirit, in this sense the elevated character of his soul is expressed. The animal has also its natural affections, has a living soul, attaches itself, knows the persons who do it good, devotes itself to its master, loves him, will even give its life for him; but it has not that which can be in relationship with God (alas ! which can set itself at enmity against Him), which can occupy itself with things outside its own nature as the master of others.
The Spirit then wills that man, reconciled with God, should be consecrated, in every part of his being to the God who has brought him into relationship with Himself by the revelation of His love, and by the work of His grace, and that nothing in the man should admit an object beneath the divine nature of which he is partaker; so that he should thus be preserved blameless unto the coming of Christ.
Let us observe here, that it is in no wise beneath the new nature in us to perform our duties faithfully in all the various relationships in which God has placed us; but quite the contrary. That which is required is to bring God into them, His authority, and the intelligence which that imparts. Therefore it is said to husbands to live with their wives according to knowledge," or intelligence; that is to say, not only with human and natural affections (which, as things are, do not by themselves even maintain their place), but as before God and conscious of His will. It may be that God may call us, in connection with the extraordinary work of His grace, to consecrate ourselves entirely to it; but otherwise the will of God is accomplished in the relationships in which He has placed us, and divi ne intelligence and obedience to God are developed in them. Finally God has called us to this life of holiness with Himself; He is faithful, and He will accomplish it. May He enable us to cleave to Him, that we may realise it! Observe again here, how the coming of Christ is introduced, and the expectation of this coming, as an integral part of christian life. "Blameless," it says, "at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The life which had developed itself in obedience and holiness meets the Lord at His coming. Death is not in question. The life which we have found is to be such when He appears. The man, in every part of his being, moved by this life, is found there blameless when Jesus comes. Death was overcome (not yet destroyed): a new life is ours. This life, and the man living of this life, are found, with their Head and Source, in the glory. Then will the weakness disappear which is connected with his present condition. That which is mortal shall be swallowed up of life: that is all. We are Christ's: He is our life. We wait for Him, that we may be with Him, and that He may perfect all things in the glory.
Let us also here examine a little into that which this passage teaches us with regard to sanctification. It is connected indeed with a nature, but it is linked with an object; and it depends for its realisation on the operation of another, namely, of God Himself; and it is founded on a perfect work of reconciliation with God already accomplished. Inasmuch as it is founded on an accomplished reconciliation, into which we enter by the reception of a new nature, the scriptures consider Christians as already perfectly sanctified in Christ. It is practically carried out by the operation of the Holy Ghost, who, in imparting this nature, separates us-as thus born again-entirely from the world. It is important to maintain this truth, and to stand very clearly and distinctly on this ground: otherwise practical sanctification soon becomes detached from a new nature received, and is but the amelioration of the natural man and then it is quite legal, a return-after reconciliation-into doubt and uncertainty, because, though justified, the man is not accounted meet for heaven-this depends on progress so that justification does not give peace with God. Scripture says, "Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." Progress there is, but it is not in scripture connected with meetness. The thief was meet for Paradise and went there. Such views are an enfeebling, not to say destructive, of the work of redemption, that is, of its appreciation in our hearts by faith.
We are then sanctified (it is thus the scripture most frequently speaks) by God the Father, by the blood and the offering of Christ, and by the Spirit-that is to say, we are set apart for God personally and for ever. In this point of view justification is presented in the word as consequent upon sanctification, a thing into which we enter through it. Taken up as sinners in the world, we are set apart by the Holy Ghost to enjoy all the efficacy of the work of Christ according to the counsels of the Father: set apart by the communication of a new life, no doubt, but placed by this setting apart in the enjoyment of all that Christ has gained for us. I say again, It is very important to hold fast this truth both for the glory of God and for our own peace: but the Spirit of God in this epistle does not speak of it in this point of view, but of the practical realisation of the development of this life of separation from the world and from evil. He speaks of this divine development in the inner man, which makes sanctification a real and intelligent condition of soul, a state of practical communion with God, according to that nature and to the revelation of God with which it is connected.
In this respect we find indeed a principle of life which works in us-that which is called a subjective state: but it is impossible to separate this operation in us from an object (man would be God if it were so), nor consequently from a continual work of God in us that holds us in communion with that object, which is God Himself. Accordingly it is through the truth by the word, whether at first in the communication of life, or in detail all along our path. "Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth."
Man, we know, has degraded himself. He has enslaved himself to the lusts of the animal part of his being. But how? By departing from God. God does not sanctify man apart from the knowledge of Himself, leaving man still at a distance from Him; but, while giving him a new nature which is capable of it, by giving to this nature (which cannot even exist without it) an object-Himself, He does not make man independent, as he wished to be: the new man is the dependent man; it is his perfection-Jesus Christ exemplified this in His life. The new man is a man dependent in his affections, who desires to be so, who delights in, and cannot be happy without being so, and whose dependence is on love, while still obedient as a dependent being ought to be.
Thus they who are sanctified possess a nature that is holy in its desires and its tastes. It is the divine nature in them, the life of Christ. But they do not cease to be men. They have God revealed in Christ for their object. Sanctification is developed in communion with God, and in affections which go back to Christ, and which wait for Him. But the new nature cannot reveal an object to itself; and still less, could it have its object by setting God aside at its will. It is dependent on God for the revelation of Himself. His love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost whom He has given us; and the same Spirit takes of the things of Christ and communicates them to us. Thus we grow in the knowledge of God, being strengthened mightily by His Spirit in the inner man, that we may "comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," and be filled unto the fullness of God. Thus, " we all with open face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord." "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth."
We see by these passages, which might be multiplied, that we are dependent on an object, and that we are dependent on the strength of another. Love acts in order to work in us according to this need.
Our setting apart for God, which is complete (for it is by means of a nature that is purely of Himself, and in absolute responsibility to Him, for we are no longer our own, but are bought with a price, and sanctified by the blood of Christ according to the will of God who will have us for His own), places us in a relationship, the development of which (by an increasing knowledge of God, who is the object of our new nature) is practical sanctification, wrought in us by the power of the Holy Ghost, the witness in us of the love of God. He attaches the heart to God, ever revealing Him more and more, and at the same time unfolding the glory of Christ and all the divine qualities that were displayed in Him in human nature, thus forming ours as born of God.
Therefore it is, as we have seen in this epistle, that love, working in us, is the means of sanctification. (Chap. 3:12,13) It is the activity of the new nature, of the divine nature in us; and that connected with the presence of God; for he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God. And in this chapter 5 the saints are commended to God Himself, that He may work it in them; while we are always set in view of the glorious objects of our faith in order to accomplish it.
We may here more particularly call the reader's attention to these objects. They are, God Himself, and the coming of Christ: on the one hand, communion with God; on the other, waiting for Christ. It is most evident that communion with God is the practical position of the highest sanctification. He who knows that we shall see Jesus as He now is, and be like Him, purifies himself even as He is pure. By our communion with the God of peace we are wholly sanctified. If God is practically our all, we are altogether holy. (We are not speaking of any change in the flesh, which can neither be subjected to God nor please Him.) The thought of Christ and His coming preserves us practically, and in detail, and intelligently, blameless. It is God Himself who thus preserves us, and who works in us to occupy our hearts and cause us continually to grow.
But this point deserves yet a few more words. The freshness of christian life in the Thessalonians made it, as it were, more objective; so that these objects are prominent, and very distinctly recognised by the heart. We have already said that they are God the Father, and the Lord Jesus. With reference to the communion of love with the saints as his crown and glory, he speaks only of the Lord Jesus. This has a special character of reward, although a reward in which love reigns. Jesus Himself had the joy that was set before Him as sustainment in His sufferings, a joy which thus was personal to Himself. The apostle also, as regarded his work and labour, waited with Christ for its fruit. Besides this case of the apostle (chap. 2), we find God Himself and Jesus as the object before us, and the joy of communion with God-and this, in the relationship of Father-and with Christ, whose glory and position we share through grace.
Thus it is only in the two epistles to the Thessalonians that we find the expression "to the church which is in God the Father.  The sphere of their communion is thus shewn, founded on the relationship in which they found themselves with God Himself in the character of Father. (1 Thess. 1:3, 9, 10; 3:13; 4:15,16; and here v. 23.) It is important to remark, that the more vigorous and living Christianity is, the more objective it is. It is but saying that God and the Lord Jesus have a greater place in our thoughts; and that we rest more really upon them. This Epistle to the Thessalonians is the part of scripture which instructs on this point; and it is a means of judging many a fallacy in the heart, and of giving a great simplicity to our Christianity.
The apostle closes his epistle by asking for the prayers of the brethren, saluting them with the confidence of affection, and conjuring them to have his epistle read to all the holy brethren. His heart forgot none of them. He would be in relationship with all according to this spiritual affection and personal bond. Apostle towards all of them, he would have them recognize those who laboured among them, but he maintained withal his own relationship. His was a heart which embraced all the revealed counsels of God on the one hand, and did not lose sight of the least of His saints on the other.
It remains to take notice of one interesting circumstance as to the manner in which the apostle instructs them. He takes, in the first chapter, the truths which were precious to their heart, but were still somewhat vaguely seized by their intelligence, and as to which they were indeed fallen into mistakes, and employs them (in the clearness in which he possessed them himself) in his practical instructions, and applies them to known and experienced relationships, that their souls might be well established on positive truth, and clear as to its use, before he touched on their error and the mistakes they had made. They waited for His Son from heaven. This they already possessed clearly in their hearts; but they would be in the presence of God when Jesus comes with all His saints. This was clearing up a very important point without directly touching the error. Their heart got straight as to the truth in its practical application to what the heart possessed. They understood what it was to be before God the Father. It was much more intimate and real than a manifestation of terrestrial and finite glory. Further they would be before God when Jesus came with all His saints: a simple truth which demonstrated itself to the heart by the simple fact that Jesus could not have some only of His assembly. The heart seized this truth without an effort; yet in doing so it was established, as was the understanding also, in what made the whole truth clear, and that in way of the relationship of the Thessalonians to Christ and those that were His. The joy even of the apostle in meeting them all (those who had died consequently, as well as the living) at the coming of Jesus, placed the soul on an entirely different ground from that of being found here, and blessed by the arrival of Jesus when they were here below.
Thus enlightened, confirmed, established, in the real bearing of the truth which they possessed already by a development of it which connected itself with their best affections and with their most intimate spiritual knowledge, founded on their communion with God they were ready with certain fixed basis of truth to enter on and set aside without difficulty an error which was not in accord with what they now knew how to appreciate at its just value, as forming park of their moral possessions. Special revelation made all clear as to details. This manner of proceeding is very Instructive.
 Hence there is the opposite to weariness in the heavenly enjoyment of God; because He who is the infinite object of enjoyment is the infinite source and strength of capacity to enjoy, though we enjoy as recipient creatures.
 Perhaps too in connection with their recent deliverance from idols to the one true God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
── John Darby《Synopsis of 1 Thessalonians》
1 Thessalonians 5
The apostle exhorts to be always ready for the coming of Christ to judgment, which will be with suddenness and surprise. (1-11) He directs to several particular duties. (12-22) And concludes with prayer, greetings, and a blessing. (23-28)
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5
(Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5)
It is needless or useless to ask about the particular time of Christ's coming. Christ did not reveal this to the apostles. There are times and seasons for us to work in, and these are our duty and interest to know and observe; but as to the time when we must give up our account, we know it not, nor is it needful that we should. The coming of Christ will be a great surprise to men. Our Lord himself said so. As the hour of death is the same to each person that the judgment will be to mankind in general, so the same remarks answer for both. Christ's coming will be terrible to the ungodly. Their destruction will overtake them while they dream of happiness, and please themselves with vain amusements. There will be no means to escape the terror or the punishment of that day. This day will be a happy day to the righteous. They are not in darkness; they are the children of the light. It is the happy condition of all true Christians. But how many are speaking peace and safety to themselves, over whose heads utter destruction is hovering! Let us endeavour to awaken ourselves and each other, and guard against our spiritual enemies.
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11
(Read 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11)
Most of mankind do not consider the things of another world at all, because they are asleep; or they do not consider them aright, because they sleep and dream. Our moderation as to all earthly things should be known to all men. Shall Christians, who have the light of the blessed gospel shining in their faces, be careless about their souls, and unmindful of another world? We need the spiritual armour, or the three Christian graces, faith, love, and hope. Faith; if we believe that the eye of God is always upon us, that there is another world to prepare for, we shall see reason to watch and be sober. True and fervent love to God, and the things of God, will keep us watchful and sober. If we have hope of salvation, let us take heed of any thing that would shake our trust in the Lord. We have ground on which to build unshaken hope, when we consider, that salvation is by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, to atone for our sins and to ransom our souls. We should join in prayer and praise one with another. We should set a good example one before another, and this is the best means to answer the end of society. Thus we shall learn how to live to Him, with whom we hope to live for ever.
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15
(Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15)
The ministers of the gospel are described by the work of their office, which is to serve and honour the Lord. It is their duty not only to give good counsel, but also to warn the flock of dangers, and reprove for whatever may be amiss. The people should honour and love their ministers, because their business is the welfare of men's souls. And the people should be at peace among themselves, doing all they can to guard against any differences. But love of peace must not make us wink at sin. The fearful and sorrowful spirits, should be encouraged, and a kind word may do much good. We must bear and forbear. We must be long-suffering, and keep down anger, and this to all men. Whatever man do to us, we must do good to others.
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
(Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22)
We are to rejoice in creature-comforts, as if we rejoiced not, and must not expect to live many years, and rejoice in them all; but if we do rejoice in God, we may do that evermore. A truly religious life is a life of constant joy. And we should rejoice more, if we prayed more. Prayer will help forward all lawful business, and every good work. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it. Quench not the Spirit. Christians are said to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. He worketh as fire, by enlightening, enlivening, and purifying the souls of men. As fire is put out by taking away fuel, and as it is quenched by pouring water, or putting a great deal of earth upon it; so we must be careful not to quench the Holy Spirit, by indulging carnal lusts and affections, minding only earthly things. Believers often hinder their growth in grace, by not giving themselves up to the spiritual affections raised in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. By prophesyings, here understand the preaching of the word, the interpreting and applying the Scriptures. We must not despise preaching, though it is plain, and we are told no more than what we knew before. We must search the Scriptures. And proving all things must be to hold fast that which is good. We should abstain from sin, and whatever looks like sin, leads to it, and borders upon it. He who is not shy of the appearances of sin, who shuns not the occasions of it, and who avoids not the temptations and approaches to it, will not long keep from doing sin.
Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28
(Read 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28)
The apostle prays that they might be sanctified more perfectly, for the best are sanctified but in part while in this world; therefore we should pray for, and press toward, complete holiness. And as we must fall, if God did not carry on his good work in the soul, we should pray to God to perfect his work, till we are presented faultless before the throne of his glory. We should pray for one another; and brethren should thus express brotherly love. This epistle was to be read to all the brethren. Not only are the common people allowed to read the Scriptures, but it is their duty, and what they should be persuaded to do. The word of God should not be kept in an unknown tongue, but transplanted, that as all men are concerned to know the Scriptures, so they all may be able to read them. The Scriptures should be read in all public congregations, for the benefit of the unlearned especially. We need no more to make us happy, than to know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is an ever-flowing and an over-flowing fountain of grace to supply all our wants.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on 1 Thessalonians》
1 Thessalonians 5
 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
But of the precise times when this shall be.
 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
For this in general ye do know; and ye can and need know no more.
 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
When they — The men of the world say.
 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are not in darkness — Sleeping secure in sin.
 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
Awake, and keep awake — Being awakened, let us have all our spiritual senses about us.
 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
They usually sleep and are drunken in the night - These things do not love the light.
 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
God hath not appointed us to wrath — As he hath the obstinately impenitent.
 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
Whether we wake or sleep — Be alive or dead at his coming.
 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;
Know them that, 1. Labour among you: 2. Are over you in the Lord: 3.
Admonish you. Know — See, mark, take knowledge of them and their work. Sometimes the same person may both labour, that is, preach; be over, or govern; and admonish the flock by particular application to each: sometimes two or more different persons, according as God variously dispenses his gifts. But O, what a misery is it when a man undertakes this whole work without either gifts or graces for any part of it! Why, then, will he undertake it? for pay? What! will he sell both his own soul and all the souls of the flock? What words can describe such a wretch as this? And yet even this may be "an honourable man!"
 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
Esteem them very highly — Literally, more than abundantly, in love - The inexpressible sympathy that is between true pastors and their flock is intimated, not only here, but also in divers other places of this epistle. See 1 Thessalonians 2:7,8.
For their work's sake — The principal ground of their vast regard for them. But how are we to esteem them who do not work at all?
 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Warn the disorderly — Them that stand, as it were, out of their rank in the spiritual warfare. Some such were even in that church.
The feeble-minded — Literally, them of little soul; such as have no spiritual courage.
 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
See that none|-Watch over both yourselves and each other.
Follow that which is good — Do it resolutely and perseveringly.
 Rejoice evermore.
Rejoice evermore — In uninterrupted happiness in God.
Pray without ceasing — Which is the fruit of always rejoicing in the Lord.
In everything give thanks — Which is the fruit of both the former. This is Christian perfection. Farther than this we cannot go; and we need not stop short of it. Our Lord has purchased joy, as well as righteousness, for us. It is the very design of the gospel that, being saved from guilt, we should be happy in the love of Christ. Prayer may be said to be the breath of our spiritual life. He that lives cannot possibly cease breathing. So much as we really enjoy of the presence of God, so much prayer and praise do we offer up without ceasing; else our rejoicing is but delusion. Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer: it is almost essentially connected with it. He that always prays is ever giving praise, whether in ease or pain, both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity. He blesses God for all things, looks on them as coming from him, and receives them only for his sake; not choosing nor refusing, liking nor disliking, anything, but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable to his perfect will.
 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
For this — That you should thus rejoice, pray, give thanks.
Is the will of God — Always good, always pointing at our salvation.
 Quench not the Spirit.
Quench not the Spirit — Wherever it is, it burns; it flames in holy love, in joy, prayer, thanksgiving. O quench it not, damp it not in yourself or others, either by neglecting to do good, or by doing evil!
 Despise not prophesyings.
Despise not prophesyings — That is, preaching; for the apostle is not here speaking of extraordinary gifts. It seems, one means of grace is put for all; and whoever despises any of these, under whatever pretence, will surely (though perhaps gradually and almost insensibly) quench the Spirit.
 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Meantime, prove all things - Which any preacher recommends. (He speaks of practice, not of doctrines.) Try every advice by the touchstone of scripture, and hold fast that which is good - Zealously, resolutely, diligently practise it, in spite of all opposition.
 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
And be equally zealous and careful to abstain from all appearance of evil - Observe, those who "heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears," under pretence of proving all things, have no countenance or excuse from this scripture.
 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And may the God of peace sanctify you — By the peace he works in you, which is a great means of sanctification.
Wholly — The word signifies wholly and perfectly; every part and all that concerns you; all that is of or about you.
And may the whole of you, the spirit and the soul and the body — Just before he said you; now he denominates them from their spiritual state.
The spirit — Galatians 6:8; wishing that it may be preserved whole and entire: then from their natural state, the soul and the body; (for these two make up the whole nature of man, Matthew 10:28;) wishing it may be preserved blameless till the coming of Christ. To explain this a little further: of the three here mentioned, only the two last are the natural constituent parts of man. The first is adventitious, and the supernatural gift of God, to be found in Christians only. That man cannot possibly consist of three parts, appears hence: The soul is either matter or not matter: there is no medium. But if it is matter, it is part of the body: if not matter, it coincides with the Spirit.
 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Who also will do it — Unless you quench the Spirit.
 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
I charge you by the Lord — Christ, to whom proper divine worship is here paid.
That this epistle — The first he wrote.
Be read to all the brethren — That is, in all the churches. They might have concealed it out of modesty, had not this been so solemnly enjoined: but what Paul commands under so strong an adjuration, Rome forbids under pain of excommunication.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on 1 Thessalonians》
Chapter 5. The Alert of Coming Again
Build Up Each Other
I. Be Alert of the Lord's Coming
II. God's Will
III. Keep Blameless
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter Five General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To note the unexpected nature of the coming of the Lord, and how we
should prepare for that event
2) To see what our responsibilities are toward those who are over us in
the Lord, and what responsibilities we have to one another
3) To appreciate what the will of God is for us as it relates to joy,
thanksgiving, and prayer
Continuing his apostolic instructions, Paul knows he does not need to
write to the Thessalonians concerning the timing of the Lord's coming,
for they know full well that He will come as a thief in the night and
with sudden destruction catch many people unexpectedly (1-3). Such
should not be the case for Christians, however, for they are "sons of
light" and "sons of the day"; therefore they should watch and be sober,
putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and having as a helmet
the hope of their salvation (4-8). Knowing that God has appointed them
to obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, they know that whether dead
or alive they will live with Christ. Through such hope they should
therefore comfort and edify one another, just as they were doing
A series of exhortations follows. First, to recognize and esteem those
who labor among them and are over them in the Lord, and to be at peace
among themselves (12-13). Then, exhortations related to our concern
for one another, along with a call to rejoice always, to pray without
ceasing, to give thanks in everything, to quench not the Spirit nor
despise prophecies, yet testing all things, holding fast to what is
good and abstaining from all that is evil (14-22).
Paul concludes his epistle with a prayer for their sanctification as it
relates to the coming of Christ, a reminder of the faithfulness of God,
a plea for prayer in his behalf, and final instructions concerning
greeting one another and having the epistle read to all the brethren.
He signs off with a prayer for grace from the Lord Jesus in their
I. WALK IN LIGHT (1-11)
A. FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT (1-4)
1. Concerning times and seasons, Paul did not need to write to
2. They understood that the day of the Lord will come as a thief
in the night (2)
3. It will come unexpectedly upon many, and such will not escape
4. But they are not in darkness, so that day would overtake them
as a thief (4)
B. FOR WE ARE TO BE SONS OF LIGHT AND SONS OF THE DAY (5-8)
1. We are not to be of the night or of darkness (5)
2. Therefore we must watch and be sober, unlike those who sleep
and get drunk (6-7)
3. Those of the day are to be sober, and properly attired by
putting on... (8)
a. The breastplate of faith and love
b. The hope of salvation as a helmet
C. FOR GOD HAS APPOINTED US TO SALVATION (9-11)
1. He did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation
through Jesus Christ (9)
2. Who died for us, that whether dead or alive, we should live
together with Him (10)
3. Therefore we need to comfort and edify one another (11)
II. WALK IN OBEDIENCE (12-22)
A. WITH RESPECT TOWARD THOSE OVER US (12-13)
1. To recognize those...
a. Who labor among us (
b. Who are over us in the Lord (12b)
c. Who admonish us (
2. To esteem them highly in love for their work's sake (
3. To be at peace among ourselves (13b)
B. WITH CONCERN FOR ONE ANOTHER (14-15)
1. Exhorted to...
a. Warn those who are unruly (
b. Comfort the fainthearted (14b)
c. Uphold the weak (
d. Be patient with all (14d)
2. To render not evil for evil to anyone (
3. To always pursue what is good for yourselves and for all (
C. WITH JOY, PRAYER AND THANKSGIVING (16-18)
1. Rejoicing always (16)
2. Praying without ceasing (17)
3. Giving thanks in everything (
-- Which is God's will for us in Christ Jesus (18b)
D. NOT QUENCHING THE SPIRIT, BUT STILL TESTING ALL THINGS (19-22)
1. They were not to quench the Spirit, nor despise prophesies
2. Yet they were to test all things; holding fast to that which
is good, and abstaining from all forms of evil (21-22)
III. CONCLUDING REMARKS (23-28)
A. A PRAYER FOR THEM (23-24)
1. That the God of peace sanctify them completely (
2. That their whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless
at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (23b)
3. Reminding them that the One who calls them is faithful, who
will also do it (24)
B. A REQUEST FOR PRAYER IN HIS BEHALF (25)
C. FINAL CHARGES (26-27)
1. To greet all the brethren with a holy kiss (26)
2. That this epistle be read to all the brethren (27)
D. FINAL BENEDICTION OF GRACE FROM THE LORD JESUS (28)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- Walk in light (1-11)
- Walk in obedience (12-22)
- Concluding remarks (23-28)
2) Concerning what did Paul feel no need to write to the Thessalonians?
- Times and seasons related to the coming of the Lord
3) What did they already know? (2)
- That the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night
4) What will people being saying when the Lord comes? (3)
- "Peace and safety!"
5) What will come upon them when the Lord comes? Will they escape? (3)
- Sudden destruction
6) Why will the Day of the Lord not overtake Christians as a thief?
- They are not in darkness
- They are sons of light and sons of the day
7) What is our responsibility as "sons of light" and "sons of the day"?
- To watch and be sober
8) What are we to put on? (8)
- The breastplate of faith and love
- The hope of salvation as a helmet
9) To what has God appointed us? (9)
- To obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ
10) Why did Jesus die for us? (10)
- That whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him
11) What is our responsibility to one another in view of such things?
- To comfort each other and edify one another
12) What is our responsibility to those who labor among us and are over
us in the Lord? (12-13)
- To recognize them
- To esteem them highly in love for their work's sake
- To be at peace among ourselves
13) What six charges did Paul give concerning those around us? (14-15)
- Warn those who are unruly
- Comfort the fainthearted
- Uphold the weak
- Be patient with all
- See no one renders evil for evil to anyone
- Always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all
14) What three things does Paul say is the will of God for us in Christ
- Rejoice always
- Pray without ceasing
- In everything give thanks
15) What five admonitions does Paul give related to the Spirit and
- Do not quench the Spirit
- Do not despise prophecies
- Test all things
- Hold fast what is good
- Abstain from every form of evil
16) For what two things does Paul pray in behalf of the Thessalonians?
- May the God of peace Himself sanctify them completely
- May their whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at
the coming of the Lord
17) What assurance is there that God will do this? (24)
- The God who calls them is faithful (dependable, trustworthy)
18) What two final admonitions does Paul give the Thessalonians?
- Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss
- To have this epistle read to all the brethren
19) What is Paul's final benediction? (28)
- The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Preparing For Christ's Coming (5:1-11)
1. In our previous study we saw where Paul discussed "The Comfort Of
a. How we ought to be comforted by the facts and events of His coming
b. Especially as it relates to loved ones who have died in the Lord
- cf. 1 Th 4:13-18
2. Of course, "The Comfort Of Christ's coming" presumes that we are
prepared for it...
a. Whether we are among those who have died prior to that great event
b. Or we are among those who will be alive when He comes
3. Are we prepared?
a. Will He find us ready when He comes?
b. Will we be ready should we die before He comes?
[As we come to the final chapter in Paul's first epistle to the
Thessalonians, we find him telling how Christians can be "Preparing For
Christ's Coming" (1 Th 5:1-11). Proper preparation for the coming of
Jesus takes into account that...]
I. HE SHALL COME AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT (1-4)
A. FOR SOME, BUT NOT FOR OTHERS...
1. The Lord's coming will be a surprise for many, as the "thief in
the night" motif clearly indicates - 1 Th 5:2; cf. 2 Pe 3:10
2. But for those who heed the warnings of Scripture, the "Day"
will not overtake them as a thief - 1 Th 5:1-2,4
a. Because they will be ready for His coming, though we don't
know when it will be
b. Because they will have taken to heart the admonitions we
shall consider momentarily
B. FOR SOME, AN INESCAPABLE DESTRUCTION...
1. He will come when people are saying "Peace and safety!" - 1 Th
a. Not in troublesome times, but in peaceful times
b. Yet many Christians seem to think He is coming whenever
there is tribulation
2. When He comes, it will be with "sudden destruction" - 1 Th 5:3
a. Just as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman
b. There will be no time nor way to escape this destruction,
described in more detail in the second epistle to the
Thessalonians - cf. 2 Th 1:7-10
3. This "Day" will be one of glory for those who are ready - cf.
2 Th 1:10
a. For those who now "sleep in Jesus" - cf. 1 Th 4:13-16
b. For those prepared for His coming when He does descend - cf.
1 Th 4:17-18
[What will this "Day" mean for us, when the Lord comes "as a thief in
the night"? A day of destruction, or a day of delight? It depends upon
whether we are prepared for His coming, and proper preparation means...]
II. WE SHOULD LIVE AS SONS OF THE DAY (5-11)
A. WATCHFUL AND SOBER...
1. We are "children of light" and "children of the day" - 1 Th 5:5
a. Because we follow Jesus, the "light of the world" - Jn 8:12;
b. Because we are now in Jesus, and walk in the light - Ep 5:8;
1 Jn 1:5-7
c. Because we cast off works of darkness, and seek to walk
properly - Ro 13:11-14
2. We are to be watchful for His coming - 1 Th 5:6
a. For no one knows the day nor hour - cf. 1 Th 5:2; Mt 24:36,
b. Watchfulness includes prayer - cf. 1 Pe 4:7
c. Watchfulness includes repentance, and strengthening what we
have - cf. Re 3:2-3
-- On the other hand, "sleep" in our text refers to spiritual
laxity - 1 Th 5:6-7
3. We are to be sober - 1 Th 5:6
a. The word "sober" means to be temperate or abstinent,
especially in regards to wine
b. It usually used in a more general sense to be sober-minded,
watchful, circumspect - Barnes
c. Note how Jesus relates this to watching for His coming in
-- We should certainly take the promise of Jesus' coming
seriously, not frivolously
B. ARMED AND WAITING...
1. In all soberness (seriousness), putting on "the armor of God"
- 1 Th 5:8
a. Such as the breastplate of faith and love
1) Faith and love protect our hearts from much evil
2) Faith comes from the word of God, and love comes from Him
who is the Word - Ro 10:17; 1 Jn 3:16
b. Such as the hope of salvation as a helmet
1) Our hope of salvation protects our mind from much fear
2) Hope also comes from the word of God - cf. Ro 15:4
-- Compare this description of "armor" with one more detailed
- Ep 6:11-18
2. Encouraged to wait because God has appointed us to salvation
- 1 Th 5:9-10
a. He has not appointed us to wrath
1) A day of wrath is coming - cf. Ro 2:4-11
2) Yet Jesus has come to deliver us from that wrath - 1 Th
b. He has appointed us to salvation
1) Through the blood of His Son - Ro 5:8-10
2) So that whether we "wake or sleep" (live or die), we live
together with Christ! - cf. 1 Th 4:14,17; Ph 1:21-23
C. COMFORTED AND EDIFIED...
1. We are to comfort one another - 1 Th 5:11
a. With the comfort we each receive from God - cf. 2 Co 1:3-4
b. With the comfort of our hope we have in Christ - cf. 1 Th
2. We are to edify (build up) one another - 1 Th 5:11
a. A goal we are to pursue - Ro 14:19; 15:2
b. The primary work of the church is edification - Ep 4:11-12,
1. Will we be prepared when Christ comes? It all depends...
a. Are we watchful? Are we serious about His coming?
b. Are we putting on the armor of God?
1) With faith and love as a breastplate protecting our hearts?
2) With the hope of salvation as a helmet protecting our minds?
c. Are we actively engaged in comforting and edifying our brethren?
-- If so, then we are truly "sons of light and sons of the day"!
2. Note what is absolutely necessary for us to be doing these things...
a. The Word of God
1) Which builds faith and hope
2) Which provides comfort
1) Where love is to be expressed among members
2) Where comfort and edification is to be experienced by members
"Preparing For Christ's Coming" cannot happen without diligent
application of God's Word and active participation in the Lord's church.
Have you been added by the Lord to His church (cf. Ac 2:41,47)? Are you
continuing steadfastly in fellowship with a local church (cf. Ac 2:42)?
Edifying And Comforting One Another (5:11)
1. To be prepared for the coming of the Lord, Paul exhorted Christians
to be "sons of light and sons of the day" - cf. 1 Th 5:4-7
a. Which necessitates putting on the armor of God - cf. 1 Th 5:8
b. Which also includes edifying and comforting one another - cf. 1 Th
2. This last charge to edify and comfort one another is just one of many
"one another" passages in the New Testament; here are some of them:
a. Love one another - Jn 13:34-35
b. Be affectionate to one another, and honor one another - Ro 12:10
c. Serve one another - Ga 5:13
d. Bear with one another - Ep 4:2
e. Submit to one another - Ep 5:21
f. Be kind to one another, and forgive one another - Ep 4:32
g. Exhort one another - He 3:13
3. These are based upon the principle that we are "members of one
another" - Ro 12:5
a. Implying an interdependence where we need one another
b. An interdependence felt and expressed most keenly in the local
[In this lesson, I wish to focus our attention upon the charge to
"comfort each other and edify one another", especially in our
relationship as members of the same congregation. We note first the
I. COMFORT EACH OTHER
A. THE WORD "COMFORT"...
1. The Greek is parakaleo
2. Lit., to call to one's side, call for, summon
3. Hence, either "an exhortation, or consolation, comfort"
-- The picture is one where someone walks alongside of another,
providing comfort, even exhortation
B. SOURCES OF COMFORT...
1. Each member of the Godhead is a source of comfort
a. The God of all comfort - 2 Co 1:3; Ro 15:5
b. The Lord Jesus Christ - 2 Th 2:16-17
c. The Holy Spirit - Ac 9:31
2. The Word of God is a source of comfort
a. Such as the Old Testament writings - Ro 15:4
b. As well as New Testament promises - 1 Th 4:18
3. Our brethren are to be a source of comfort - 1 Th 4:18; 5:11
a. As Paul expected Tychicus to do for both the Ephesians and
the Colossians - Ep 6:21-22; Co 4:7-8
b. As others had done for Paul - Co 4:10-11
-- We are blessed to have so many different sources of comfort
available to us!
C. RECEIVING THE COMFORT GOD INTENDS...
1. We must as individuals be in a right relationship with God
- 1 Pe 3:12
a. Which involves doing the Father's will - Mt 7:21-23
b. Which involves keeping the Lord's commandments - Jn 14:21-23
2. We must as individuals feed upon the Word of God - Ja 1:21
a. The source of much comfort - Ro 15:4
b. Comfort that comes from the joy and peace it gives - Psa 1:
1-3; 119:165; Jer 15:16
3. We must as "members of one another" comfort one another - 1 Th
a. With the comfort we each have received from God - 2 Co 1:3-4
1) Each of us receive comfort through our individual
relationship with God
2) Each of us receive comfort through our relationship with
b. Can we not see the importance of involvement in the local
1) Unless we are active members, comforting one another...
2) We miss out, and brethren miss out, on the comfort God
offers His people!
4. God intends for us to receive comfort from two angles:
a. Horizontally, through our relationship with Him
b. Vertically, through our relationship with one another in
the local church!
[Why deprive ourselves of the great blessing of comfort from God? Why
shortchange ourselves when God desires us to have comfort "coming and
going"? We hurt not only ourselves, but also our brethren! Don't
forget Jesus' words in Mt 25:41-46. Consider now also the charge to...]
II. EDIFY ONE ANOTHER
A. THE WORD "EDIFY"...
1. The Greek is oikodomeo
2. Lit., to build a house
3. Used metaphorically, in the sense of "edifying," promoting the
spiritual growth and development of character of believers, by
teaching or by example (Vine's)
-- Each person is undergoing a spiritual construction project,
aided by the efforts of those around him or her
B. THE IMPORTANCE OF EDIFICATION...
1. Building up one another is something to "pursue" - Ro 14:19
2. We need to be careful not to "destroy the work of God" - Ro
3. We must be willing to bear with one another if it means
edification - Ro 15:1-3
-- Building each other up is an obligation that has been placed
upon all Christians!
C. ACCOMPLISHING THE EDIFICATION GOD INTENDS...
1. It is done through the church, which Christ designed to edify
or build up its members - cf. Ep 4:11-12; 1 Co 14:26
2. It is done through the working of each individual member, doing
his or her part - Ep 4:16
3. It is done through kind and graceful words to one another - Ep
-- The key point is this: edification (like comfort) takes place
through our involvement with one another in the local church!
1. To the Thessalonians, Paul was able to follow-up his command to
comfort and edify one another with this statement: "...just as you
also are doing." - 1 Th 5:11
a. They were already comforting one another
b. They were already edifying one another
-- Yet like the command to love another, there is always the need to
abound more and more - cf. 1 Th 4:9-10
2. Could Paul have said the same of us as a church? Of you as a
a. Are we engaged in the ministry of providing comfort and
edification to our brethren?
b. If you are not an active member of a local congregation, how can
-- May this command of God motivate us to examine ourselves and our
relationships with our brethren in the congregation where we work
If Paul could have written the same to us ("...just as you also are
doing."), then keep up the good work, and remember the words given to
encourage another congregation:
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not
in vain in the Lord."
- 1 Cor 15:58
Our Duty To Those Who Serve (5:12-13)
1. As "sons of light and sons of the day" (1 Th 5:5), we have a duty to
comfort and edify one another - cf. 1 Th 5:11
2. This duty is true of all us who are members of the body of Christ
- e.g., Ep 4:15-16
a. Each member has a part in which he or she does their share
b. When all are working, the body grows through the edifying of
itself in love
3. Yet the Lord has also blessed His body with those who edify the body
through their service in certain capacities - cf. Ep 4:11-12
a. Such as evangelists, pastors, teachers
b. Whose purpose is for the equipping of the saints for the work of
ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ
[In the text for our study (1 Th 5:12-13), we are told of "Our Duty
Toward Those Who Serve" us by their function in the church of Christ.
Observe that we are commanded...]
I. TO RECOGNIZE THEM
A. THOSE WHO LABOR AMONG YOU...
1. This would include those who serve as:
a. Elders (also known as pastors, bishops), whose duty is to
watch and feed the local congregation - Ac 14:23; 20:17,28;
1 Pe 5:1-2; 1 Ti 3:1-7; Ti 1:5-9
b. Deacons, who minister to the needs of the congregation - Ph
1:1; 1 Ti 3:8-13
c. Evangelists, whose ministry is to the Word of God,
proclaiming the good news to both sinner and saint - Ep
4:11; 2 Ti 4:5,2; 1 Ti 4:16
d. Teachers, who provide instruction in the doctrine of Christ
- Ep 4:11; Ac 13:1-2; 1 Co 12:28-29; Ti 2:3-5
1) Such as those who teach our children
2) And those who teach the lost in our families and
2. There are others who labor among us in other areas...
a. Those who minister through exhortation, giving, showing
mercy (such as in visiting the sick) - Ro 12:6-8
b. Those who use their talents to do good deeds, as did Dorcas
- Ac 9:36-39
c. Those who keep up the facilities in which we meet to worship
1) Cleaning the building, preparing the communion
2) Pruning the yard, maintain the baptistery and other
aspects of the building
-- In every active congregation, there is much labor going on; do
we recognize those who often labor quietly for our benefit?
B. THOSE WHO ARE OVER YOU...
1. "In the Lord"
a. This has particular reference to the elders (pastors,
b. They are the only ones given authority "over" us in the Lord
- Ac 20:28; 1 Pe 5:1-2; cf. He 13:7,17
2. "And admonish you"
a. The duty of elders often require them to admonish and warn
- Ti 1:9
b. That is why they must be qualified to teach - 1 Ti 3:2
-- Any congregation with men qualified to serve as elders should
certainly be careful to recognize them as such, and respect
their God-given duty
[While the context may have special application to our duty toward those
who serve as elders, I believe we are not amiss to apply it toward
those who serve in other capacities as well. Certainly it is
appropriate regarding those who serve us in any role...]
II. TO ESTEEM THEM
A. VERY HIGHLY IN LOVE...
1. To hold them in high regard, to honor them
a. We are to prefer all brethren in honor - cf. Ro 12:10; Ph
b. How much more those who expend their time and energy in
2. To do so in love
a. We are to love all brethren - cf. 1 Pe 2:17; Jn 13:34-35
b. How much more those who expend their time and energy in
B. FOR THEIR WORK'S SAKE...
1. Certainly the work of elders is worthy of high esteem
a. They feed us, they watch over us, they provide examples for
us - 1 Pe 5:1-3
b. They must give an account for our souls - He 13:17
2. So also the work of all who serve their brethren
a. The work of deacons is worthy of high honor - 1 Ti 3:13
b. Indeed, those who are serve are to be considered great in
the kingdom of God! - cf. Mt 20:25-28
[We have a duty to esteem those who serve, to hold them in high regard.
Not just because of who they are, but what they do! Do we both
recognize and esteem our brethren for their work?
Finally, note that in "Our Duty To Those Who Serve" we are...]
III. TO BE AT PEACE
A. AT PEACE AMONG YOURSELVES...
1. Peace among brethren, like unity, is a wonderful thing - Psa
2. It is a mark of heavenly wisdom, and provides the atmosphere in
which much righteousness can be sown - Ja 3:17-18
3. It is certainly something we all should pursue - Ro 14:17-19;
B. TO LIGHTEN THE LOAD OF THOSE WHO SERVE...
1. Those who serve (especially elders) have a heavy burden - e.g.,
a. They watch for our souls
b. They must give an account for our souls
2. We can make their load lighter - cf. He 13:17
a. Make their work a joy, contributing to peace through
obedience and submission
b. Avoid adding unnecessary grief, which would not be good for
us (what an understatement!)
1. As we wait for the coming for the Lord, we are blessed not to wait
a. The Lord's church is here to comfort and edify us
b. There are individuals who labor among us, and are over us in the
1) Some meet our needs, making it easier for us to grow
2) Others watch over us, and admonish us as necessary
-- For such blessings we ought to be thankful!
2. But we can do more than just be thankful...
a. We can recognize those who labor among us, and are over us
b. We can esteem them highly in love for their work's sake
c. We can be at peace among ourselves
Indeed, this is "Our Duty To Those Who Serve". May God grant us the
strength to give what is due those who give so much of their time,
energy and love to us!
Our Duty To Those In Need (5:14-15)
1. We have noted earlier in our study of 1st Thessalonians that Paul
describes Christians as:
a. "the children of light"
b. "the children of the day" - 1 Th 5:5
2. As such, we have various responsibilities and duties...
a. To watch and be sober - 1 Th 5:6
b. To put on the breastplate of faith and love, with hope as a helmet
- 1 Th 5:8
c. To comfort and edify one another - 1 Th 5:11
3. In our previous study we noted "Our Duty To Those Who Serve"...
a. To recognize them - 1 Th 5:12
b. To esteem them highly in love - 1 Th 5:13
[Our responsibilities as "children of light" and "children of the day"
continue as we now notice "Our Duty To Those In Need" (1 Th 5:14-15).
Both in the church and out, there are those in need of help from
Christians. Some may not even be aware of their need, yet our duty
remains. For example, we have the duty to...]
I. WARN THE UNRULY (14)
A. IDENTIFYING THE UNRULY...
1. The Greek word (ataktos) means "disorderly, out of ranks"
a. Used often of soldiers who fall out of line
b. Deviating from the prescribed order of rule
2. The unruly Christian is one who does not abide by the teachings
of the apostles
a. From the beginning, faithful Christians "continued
steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" - Ac 2:42
b. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to do the same - 1 Th
4:1,2; 2 Th 2:15
B. WARNING THE UNRULY...
1. Warning brethren is a crucial component of preaching Christ
- cf. Co 1:28
a. Paul warned the brethren at Ephesus - Ac 20:31
b. He encouraged Timothy to do the same - 2 Ti 4:1-2
2. Unruly brethren who do not heed the warning are to be marked
and fellowship withdrawn - e.g., 2 Th 3:6-15
a. In an effort to save the unruly
b. Also an effort to keep the church pure - cf. 1 Co 5:1-13
[For those who are unruly, their need is to be warned. We should never
fault those brethren who fulfill their duty to "warn the unruly", but be
thankful they have the concern and the courage to do so! Next we learn
of the duty to...]
II. COMFORT THE FAINTHEARTED (14)
A. IDENTIFYING THE FAINTHEARTED...
1. The Greek word (oligopsuchos) literally means "small-souled,
a. Translated "feebleminded" (KJV), "timid" (NIV)
b. It describes those who lose heart, prone to dropping out, be
2. Various conditions might lead some to lose heart; for example:
a. Persecutions, tribulation - Ep 3:13
b. Lack of immediate results - Ga 6:9
B. COMFORTING THE FAINTHEARTED...
1. Such brethren are to be encouraged, consoled
a. Paul had done this while at Thessalonica - 1 Th 2:11-12
b. He did it earlier in this epistle - 1 Th 4:13-18
2. Thus we see need to make a distinction
a. Some brethren (the unruly) need to be warned, admonished
b. While others (the fainthearted) may need a more tender
touch, to be encouraged
[Another duty similar to comforting the fainthearted is to...]
III. UPHOLD THE WEAK (14)
A. IDENTIFYING THE WEAK...
1. The weak could be those in need - cf. Ac 20:35
2. But more likely it refers to those whose faith is weak
a. Who are likely to violate their weak consciences - e.g.,
1 Co 8:7-13
b. Who are tempted to sin
B. UPHOLDING THE WEAK...
1. We uphold the weak by receiving them - cf. Ro 14:1-3
a. Not to argue over things in which they have doubts
b. Nor to despise them because of their weak faith
2. We uphold the weak by bearing with their scruples - cf. Ro 15:
a. Making an effort not to put stumbling blocks in their way
- Ro 14:13
b. Determining not to destroy our brother through the use of
our liberties - Ro 14:14-23; Ga 5:13
[Brethren who are weak in faith need time to grow, for their consciences
to become strong. Our duty is for "each of us to please his neighbor
for his good, leading to edification" (Ro 15:2). Finally, we notice
several sundry duties...]
IV. TOWARD ALL MEN (14-15)
A. BE PATIENT WITH ALL...
1. Certainly we are to be patient with the fainthearted and the
2. We are also to be patient with those we teach
a. Even when it is time to rebuke (warn the unruly) - cf. 2 Ti
b. Even when we are dealing with those who oppose us - cf. 2 Ti
B. RENDER NOT EVIL FOR EVIL TO ANYONE...
1. A principle taught by our Lord - Mt 5:44-45
2. Expounded upon by Paul in his epistle to the Romans - Ro 12:
3. Repeated by Peter in his epistle - 1 Pe 3:9
C. PURSUE WHAT IS GOOD...
1. For yourselves (i.e., Christians)
a. Such as things that make for peace and edify one another
- Ro 14:19
b. Such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience,
gentleness - 1 Ti 6:11
c. Such as holiness - He 12:14
2. For all (including non-Christians)
a. Such as things honorable, and honor itself - Ro 12:17; 1 Pe
b. Such as things that are good - Ga 6:10
c. Such as civil obedience, kind words, gentleness and meekness
- Ti 3:1-2
d. Such as prayers in their behalf, and a knowledge of the
truth leading to their salvation - 1 Ti 2:1-4
1. Such is "Our Duty To Those In Need"...
a. To warn the unruly
b. To comfort the fainthearted
c. To uphold the weak
d. To be patient with all
e. To render no evil for evil with anyone
f. To pursue what is good for us and for all
2. In a world filled with much evil and moral depravity, those who do
such things are truly...
a. "children of light"
b. "children of the day"
Is this true of us? If not, then we need to heed another exhortation
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in
all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is
acceptable to the Lord.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,
but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of
those things which are done by them in secret. But all things
that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever
makes manifest is light.
Therefore He says: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light."
- Ep 5:8-14
Brethren, are we sleeping?
Our Duty To Ourselves (5:16-18)
1. In 1st Thessalonians chapter five, we continue to note our various
a. "the children of light"
b. "the children of day" - cf. 1 Th 5:5
2. In recent studies, we have considered...
a. "Our Duties To Those Who Serve" - 1 Th 5:12-13
1) To recognize them
2) To esteem them highly in love
b. "Our Duties To Those In Need" - 1 Th 5:14-15
1) To warn the unruly
2) To comfort the fainthearted
3) To uphold the weak
4) To be patient with all
5) To render to no one evil for evil
6) To pursue what is good for us and for all
3. Our duties are not just directed toward others, we have some that
address our own spiritual well-being...
a. Three such duties are mentioned in our text for this lesson - 1 Th
1) To rejoice always
2) To pray without ceasing
3) To give thanks in everything
b. Note that Paul says these things are "the will of God in Christ
Jesus for you"
1) These three things are what God wants us to do for ourselves
2) Therefore I have entitled this study "Our Duties To Ourselves"
[It is in the fulfillment of these three duties that we strengthen
ourselves spiritually and emotionally, enabling us to be better fit to
serve God and others. Consider first our duty to...]
I. REJOICE ALWAYS
A. THE NEED TO REJOICE ALWAYS...
1. In joy there is great strength - cf. Neh 8:10
2. When we have joy in what we believe, we abound in hope - cf. Ro
3. When we are joyful, it helps those around us to be joyful
- e.g., 2 Co 2:3
-- To be joyful, to be merry, is crucial to remaining strong
ourselves, and being a source of strength to others - cf. Pro
B. THE WAY TO REJOICE ALWAYS...
1. It is in the Lord that we find the ability to "rejoice always"
- cf. Ph 4:4
a. His salvation is the source of much joy - cf. Psa 21:1
b. He grants joy to those who please Him - Ecc 2:26; 5:20
c. His mercy is a source of great joy - Psa 31:7
d. In His presence there is fullness of joy, and He will abide
with us if we obey His commands - Psa 16:11; cf. Jn 14:21,23
2. To rejoice in the Lord always, follow these simple guidelines:
a. Read and feed upon the Word of God daily - cf. Jer 15:16
b. Meditate upon the teachings of Christ and His apostles
1) Jesus spoke that His disciples joy might be full - Jn
2) The apostles wrote that our joy might be full - 1 Jn 1:4
c. Spend time with brethren who make us happy
1) As Titus' joy encouraged Paul - 2 Co 7:13
2) As Philemon's love and joy refreshed the hearts of others
and gave Paul joy - Phile 7, 20
d. Lead others to Christ, for they will be a great source of
1) As the Thessalonians were to Paul - 1 Th 2:19-20; 3:9
2) As Philemon was to Paul - Phile 1:7
3) As John's converts made him joyful - 3 Jn 4
e. Sing praises of joy to God
1) Certainly we should sing when cheerful - Ja 5:13
2) But we can also find joy by singing praises (cf. "Sing
and Be Happy") - Psa 71:23; 104:33-34; 135:3
[By being "proactive" and following these guidelines, it is possible to
"rejoice always" even when external circumstances are not conducive to
creating joy (cf. Paul and Silas, singing and praying in prison, Ac
16:25). Of course, what helps to "rejoice always" is to...]
II. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
A. THE NEED TO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING...
1. In prayer we find mercy and grace to help in time of need - He
2. In prayer we find forgiveness of sins as we confess them - 1 Jn
3. In prayer we find the peace of God, so helpful in anxious times
- Ph 4:6-7
B. THE WAY TO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING...
1. Having "set times" to pray can help create the habit of praying
a. E.g., consider the example of David and Daniel
1) David, whom God described as "a man after My own heart"
- Psa 55:17
2) Daniel, whom the angel described as "O man greatly
beloved" - Dan 6:10
-- These great men of God made it a habit to pray at set
times throughout the day; we would do well to imitate
b. At the very least...
1) Find some time each day to be alone with God in prayer
a) Early morning may be best for some
b) Others might find it easier to be alone late at night
2) Make it a SPECIAL TIME to be alone with your Heavenly
2. We should not limit prayers to "set times", special needs may
call for special praying
a. Jesus, praying on important occasions - Lk 6:12-13
b. Paul, praying in trying circumstances - Ac 16:25
c. Nehemiah - praying on the spur of the moment - Neh 2:4-5
[Having "set times" helps to develop experience and persistence in
praying; praying "spontaneously" as needs arise develops the disposition
to pray in every circumstance. Together, they fulfill the command to
"pray without ceasing". What helps us even further is if we...]
III. GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING
A. THE NEED TO GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING...
1. Ingratitude is very displeasing to God
a. It is included among other sins that would be prevalent in
"perilous times" - 2 Ti 3:1-5
b. The wrath of God will be revealed against those who are
unthankful - Ro 1:18-21
2. Christians should be known for their "attitude of gratitude"
a. Thankful for what the Father has done for us - Co 1:12-14
b. Abounding in thanksgiving - Co 2:7
c. A part of the "garment" we are to put on - Co 3:12-15
d. A complement to our prayers - Co 4:2; 1 Ti 2:1
3. Thankfulness added to our prayers is the key to...
a. Overcoming anxiety - Ph 4:6
b. Obtaining the peace of God which surpasses understanding
- Ph 4:6-7
B. THE WAY TO GIVE THANKS IN EVERYTHING...
1. Remember that all things can work for our good - Ro 8:28
a. We can therefore glory in tribulation - Ro 5:3-5
b. We can rejoice in persecution - Mt 5:10-12
c. We can rejoice in trials - Ja 1:2-3
2. Include thankfulness along with our prayer requests - Ph 4:6
a. Just as Daniel made the giving of thanks as part of his
daily prayers - Dan 6:10
b. As we "pray without ceasing", so we will be "thankful
1. What is God's will for us in Christ Jesus?
a. To be a thankful people!
b. To be a prayerful people!
c. To be a joyful people!
2. These three are intertwined, with one leading to another...
a. The more thankful we are, the more prayerful we will be
b. The more prayerful we are, the more joyful we will be
-- Thus the key to much joy in Christ begins with the "attitude of
In our zeal to fulfill our duties to those who serve and to those in
need, do not overlook these duties we have to ourselves...they can help
us be more productive in the service we render to the Lord and to all!
1 Thessalonians 5:16
1. In 1 Th 5:16, we have a command which is just as binding upon
Christians as any you can find in the Word of God: "Rejoice always"
2. It has been my observation that many Christians fall far short in
carrying out this command in their lives...
a. It is often apparent as we go about our daily living
b. It frequently carries over into our worship (e.g., lack of
enthusiasm in singing, boredom in singing and listening to
3. Why is it that many Christians don't seem to have joy in their
a. There may be many different reasons
b. In this lesson, I wish to touch on several
[As we begin, let me make sure that we understand what "joy" really
I. DEFINING AND UNDERSTANDING "JOY"
A. IN THE GREEK, THE MOST COMMON WORD FOR JOY IS "CHARA"...
1. It means "joy, delight, gladness" (Vines)
2. It is closely related to charis (grace) and charisma (gift)
a. "We might like to think of charis and charisma as that
which produces joy; and chara as the response to a gift
which is given." (Denny Diehl)
b. This is in agreement with the definition found in the
Zondervan Topical Bible for joy: "the emotion excited by
expectation or acquisition of good"
B. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOY AND GIFT...
1. Understanding the close relationship between joy and gift
allows us to appreciate a very important principle
2. We have or show joy in direct response to the value of the
a. The greater the value we place on some gift, the greater
our joy when received
b. To illustrate, imagine your reaction to three different
1) The gift of a penny (ho hum)
2) The gift of a hundred dollars (now that's really nice)
3) The gift of a new house (wow! that's fantastic!)
3. Can you see how the response or emotion of joy is in direct
proportion to our evaluation of the gift received?
C. APPLY THIS PRINCIPLE TO THE JOY CHRISTIANS SHOULD HAVE...
1. What has God given to us?
a. It may be easier to list those things God HASN'T given us!
b. For everything good in this life is from God - cf. Ja 1:17
2. The most valuable gift God has given us is eternal life! - cf.
a. This involves freedom from the condemnation for sin,
through Jesus' blood!
b. Also, fellowship with God as we go through this life!
c. With the hope of everlasting life with God after this life!
-- Should not the great value of this gift produce great joy? It
did for the Ethiopian eunuch! - cf. Ac 8:38-39
[But as mentioned in the introduction, many Christians who possess this
great gift are not as joyful as they should be. Again I ask, why?
Perhaps one reason is this...]
II. WE DON'T APPRECIATE THE MAGNITUDE OF OUR SIN!
A. WE DON'T APPRECIATE WHAT SIN DOES...
1. How it separates us from God - cf. Isa 59:1-2
2. How it can condemn us to spiritual death and hell - Ro 6:23;
B. WHY MIGHT THIS BE THE CASE?
1. Perhaps we look at sin from the world's point of view:
a. "Sin is not all that bad"
b. "It is only a violation of human relationships, which we
can easily correct by saying 'I'm sorry'"
2. Instead, we should be looking at it from God's point of view:
a. Just one sin makes a person guilty of all! - Ja 2:10-11
b. Sin has affected everyone! - Ro 3:23
c. Sin is so terrible, God had to send His Only Begotten Son
to die for our sins!
[Until we realize the terribleness of sin, we won't appreciate the
salvation from sin which God offers. And that leads us to perhaps the
main reason why most Christians lack joy...]
III. WE DON'T APPRECIATE THE MAGNITUDE OF OUR GIFT!
A. WE DON'T APPRECIATE WHAT JESUS HAS DONE!
1. How He has reconciled us back to a loving fellowship with God!
- 2 Co 5:18-19
2. How in Christ, all things have become new! - 2 Co 5:17
B. WHY MIGHT THIS BE THE CASE?
1. Here are some hints:
a. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain
in you, and that your joy may be full." - Jn 15:11
b. "And these things we write to you that your joy may be
full." - 1 Jn 1:4
-- John wrote, and Jesus spoke, concerning things designed to
give us fullness of joy!
2. Many Christians never take the time to contemplate and
a. What Jesus taught
b. What His apostles wrote
3. If we did, I believe we would appreciate...
a. The terribleness of our sin
b. The magnitude of the gift of salvation in Christ!
4. Instead, we allow ourselves to more influenced by the world
and its standards
a. Such that we value material things over spiritual things
b. Such that we have and show more joy over receiving things
1) A new job, promotion, raise
2) A new house, car
3) A husband, wife, or children
...than we do over receiving the gift of salvation from
[I am not suggesting that we should not rejoice over material gifts;
indeed, we should be thankful. But if we are not as joyful over our
spiritual gifts, we need to retrain our thinking through the Word of
There may be another reason why some Christians are not joyful...]
IV. OVERREACTING TO EMOTIONALISM
A. THERE IS CERTAINLY A DANGER IN EMOTIONALISM...
1. Emotionalism is where emotions rule instead of the Word of God
2. It is often a "better felt than told" kind of religion
a. Where people depend more on what they feel in their heart
b. Rather than basing their beliefs and actions on what the
3. Such emotionalism often manifests itself in worship that is
characterized by disorderly outbreaks of emotion
a. Contrary to what is ordained in 1 Co 14:40
b. Where such displays are often totally unrelated to what is
B. BUT THERE IS ALSO A DANGER IN THE OTHER EXTREME...
1. Of resorting to "dead formalism"
a. In which little or no emotion is shown
b. Whether in our singing, or in offering an "amen" to our
-- Worship which does not involve the heart is just as wrong!
- Mt 15:7-18
2. The extreme to which one can go can be quite absurd, as
illustrated in this story:
"A man walks into a worship assembly. The preacher is
eloquently expressing God's love for us, and the man says
'Amen!' That draws a few stares and whispers of 'Who is
that?' The preacher goes on to state that Jesus died for
our sins so that we can go to heaven and the man says
'Alleluia.' Again more stares and questions. Finally, the
preacher states that through Jesus we may have eternal life,
and the man says 'Praise the Lord!'
Everyone is looking now, and one fellow goes over to the
newcomer to inform him, 'We don't praise the Lord here.'"
C. THERE CAN BE BOTH JOY AND ORDERLY WORSHIP!
1. There is room for "Amens" and "Praise the Lord!" when offered
with sincerity and in keeping with what is said
2. In reacting to one extreme, let's not go to the other and take
away the joy of being a Christian!
a. "Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in the
Lord your God." - Joel 2:23
b. "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house
of the Lord.'" - Psa 122:1
c. "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"
- Ph 4:4
d. "...singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"
- Ep 5:19
1. Oh, but many Christians enter the worship of our Creator and Savior
with the enthusiasm and vigor of those filling their income tax
returns on April 14th!
2. Brethren, this should not be! And if it is...
a. We need to pray the prayer of David: "Restore to me the joy of
Your salvation..." - Psa 51:12
b. We need to allow the Word of God to do its work: "Your words were
found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and
rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord God
of hosts." - Jer 15:16
3. If we would spend time with the Word of God, we would learn that we
also have been called of God...
b. Called out of sin and its consequences
b. Called into a wonderful relationship with God and Jesus Christ,
where all can be made new!
4. With such a knowledge of God's great gift, joy is a natural reaction
and also a wonderful blessing:
Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk,
O LORD, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they
rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are
exalted." (Psa 89:15-16)
Don't you want that joy? Then understand and accept the gift of
eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Our Duty To The Truth (5:19-22)
1. The last chapter of 1st Thessalonians is filled with exhortations to
various duties that we have as Christians awaiting the coming of the
a. Our duty to those who serve - 1 Th 5:12-13
b. Our duty to those in need - 1 Th 5:14-15
c. Our duty to ourselves - 1 Th 5:16-18
2. Before Paul closes his epistle with a final blessing and admonition,
he lists another series of exhortations...
a. Do not quench the Spirit - 1 Th 5:19
b. Do not despise prophecies - 1 Th 5:20
c. Test all things; hold fast what is good - 1 Th 5:21
d. Abstain from every form of evil - 1 Th 5:22
-- Taken together, we can categorize these exhortations as "Our Duty
To The Truth"
[What is our obligation to the truth? What does God expect of us
regarding the reception of truth, and that which proves to be error?
From the exhortations in our text, we can say first...]
I. DO NOT STIFLE REVELATION OF THE TRUTH
A. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TRUTH...
1. In Proverbs, we are exhorted to "buy the truth, and do not sell
it..." - Pro 23:23
2. Why is truth so important? In Psalms we learn...
a. God's truth preserves us - Psa 40:11
b. God's truth is a shield and buckler - Psa 91:4
c. God's truth provides atonement - Pro 16:6
3. Jesus taught regarding truth...
a. It provides freedom from the bondage of sin - Jn 8:32
b. It is the means by God sanctifies Jesus' disciples - Jn
-- In view of its benefits, we should never be guilty of stifling
B. THE REVELATION OF THE TRUTH...
1. God's truth was made known through His Holy Spirit - Jn 16:13
a. In Old Testament times, He did this through prophets - cf.
1 Pe 1:10-11 ; 2 Pe 1:20-21
b. In New Testament times, He did this through the apostles and
prophets of Jesus Christ - cf. Jn 16:13; 14:26
2. These inspired apostles and prophets communicated God's
a. Through their spoken word - cf. 1 Pe 1:12
b. Through their written word - cf. Ep 3:3-5; 1 Co 14:37
3. This truth was fully and finally revealed....
a. Completed through the work of the apostles - Ac 20:32; 2 Pe
b. Revealed one time for all times - Ju 3
c. Thus we have that which can make us complete - cf. 2 Ti 3:
4. Today, if we desire to receive God's truth...
a. We cannot look to their spoken word, since they are no
b. We must look to their written Word, i.e., the Bible
c. We must accept God's Word in its entirety - cf. Psa 119:160
C. THE SUPPRESSION OF THE TRUTH...
1. Mankind has a history of resisting God's truth...
a. Israel suffered this affliction - cf. Hos 4:1
b. The Gentiles likewise, especially the wise - cf. Ro 1:18-23
2. In New Testament times, Christians could be guilty of resisting
a. By "quenching the Spirit" - 1 Th 5:19
1) Refusing to heed what the Spirit was still making known
at that time
2) Cutting off the revelation of God's truth intended for
b. By "despising prophecies" - 1 Th 5:20
1) Belittling the prophecies being made known through the
2) Refusing to accept what the prophets of God were
3. Today, we can stifle the truth of God...
a. "Quenching the Spirit" through neglecting God's revealed
b. "Despising prophecies" through rejecting the apostles'
[Through neglect or outright rejection of God's Word, we can be guilty
of stifling the truth, and suffer the consequences of not having the
benefits of truth in our lives. To avoid being misled by false prophets
or false interpretations of God's word, we need to...]
II. EXAMINE ALL THINGS BY THE TRUTH
A. CLAIMS OF TRUTH NEED TO BE CHALLENGED...
1. As Paul wrote: "Test (prove, KJV) all things" - 1 Th 5:
a. This is not quenching the Spirit nor despising prophecies
b. But a recognition that not all claims to be from God are
2. As John wrote: "...do not believe every spirit, but test the
spirits" - 1 Jn 4:1
a. For many false prophets have come into the world
b. It is not quenching the Spirit to test what people claim is
a revelation from God
B. EXAMINING CLAIMS OF TRUTH...
1. The Bereans provide a noble example - Ac 17:11
a. They received the word with all readiness (i.e., they paid
careful attention to what Paul said)
b. They searched the Scriptures daily (to see if what Paul
taught was true)
-- This is how the Bereans tested Paul's teaching, for which
they were commended as being "fair-minded"
2. In examining all things by the truth today, we need to...
a. Give people a fair hearing - Ac 17:11
b. Search the Scriptures daily, looking at God's word in its
entirety - Psa 119:160
c. Accepting that which is in harmony with the apostles'
teaching, and rejecting that which is not - cf. 1 Jn 4:6;
["Our Duty To The Truth" does not end with simply believing the truth
and rejecting that which is false, we must also "hold fast what is good"
(1 Th 5:21). I take this to mean we must...]
III. APPLY THE TRUTH IN OUR LIVES
A. WITH PROPER ATTITUDES...
1. A prayerful attitude, like David possessed - e.g., Psa 86:11
2. A meek spirit, allowing God's word to be implanted - Ja 1:21
B. WITH RIGHT ACTIONS...
1. In deed, not just in word; e.g., our love - 1 Jn 3:18-19
2. We must be doers of the Word (truth), not hearers only - Ja 1:
3. Thereby walking in the truth, which delights those who see you
- 3 Jn 3-4
[Our duty is to hold fast what we find to be true, to practice what we
believe to be true. At the same time, we must also...]
IV. ABSTAIN FROM WHAT THE TRUTH DEFINES AS EVIL
A. THE TRUTH DECLARES THAT EVIL EXISTS...
1. There is that which is false, that which is wicked - e.g., Exo
2. Those who do evil, do not want to hear that which is true - Jn
B. THE TRUTH DEMANDS THAT WE ABSTAIN FROM EVIL...
1. When we are not valiant for truth, we will become progressively
worse - Jer 9:3
2. Therefore we must "abstain from every form of evil" - 1 Th 5:22
a. KJV has "appearance" instead of "form"
1) Leading many commentators to conclude that we must always
abstain from that which may "seem" to be wrong (e.g.,
2) Yet Jesus did things that "appeared" to be wrong; e.g.,
eating with sinners which appeared to be toleration of
their evil deeds - Mt 9:11
b. The Greek word is eidous - "As commonly explained, abstain
from everything that even 'looks like' evil. But the word
signifies 'form or kind.' Compare Luke 3:22; John 5:37, and
see nearly the same phrase in Joseph. 'Ant. x. 3, 1.' It
never has the sense of 'semblance.' Moreover, it is
impossible to abstain from everything that looks like evil."
(Vincent's Word Studies)
c. "'Abstain from every form of evil,' i. e., every sort or
kind of evil (not 'appearance,' KJV). This meaning was
common in the papyri, the Greek writings of the closing
centuries, B. C., and the New Testament era." (Vine's
Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
3. This we do by taking heed to both our thoughts and our actions
a. Thinking on things that are true - Ph 4:8
b. Walking righteously and speaking uprightly - cf. Isa 33:
1. "Our Duty To The Truth" is made clear in our text...
a. Do not stifle revelation of the truth
b. Examine all things by the truth
c. Apply the truth in our lives
d. Abstain from what the truth defines as evil
-- Because of the benefits that comes from knowing and walking in the
truth, we should be careful to fulfill "Our Duty To The Truth"!
2. What about those who do not have a love for the truth?
a. They will be susceptible to the lying wonders and unrighteous
deception of the lawless one - cf. 2 Th 2:9-10
b. Having no love for truth, God will harden their hearts even
further by sending them a strong delusion - 2 Th 2:11
c. Not believing the truth, but taking pleasure in unrighteousness,
they will be condemned - 2 Th 2:12
We must therefore have the prayer and attitude of David regarding God's
"Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of
my salvation; On You I wait all the day." - Psa 25:5
Is that your prayer? Is that your attitude? Are you walking in the
Closing Prayer And Final Admonitions (5:23-28)
1. In our study of First Thessalonians, we have seen that the epistle
divides itself into two sections...
a. Personal reflections (1-3)
1) Regarding their condition - 1:1-10
2) Regarding his conduct - 2:1-12
3) Regarding his concern - 2:13-3:13
b. Apostolic instructions (4-5)
1) Walk in holiness - 4:1-8
2) Walk in love - 4:9-10
3) Walk in diligence - 4:11-12
4) Walk in hope - 4:13-18
5) Walk in light - 5:1-11
6) Walk in obedience - 5:12-28
2. Mention is made of the Second Coming of Christ in every chapter, and
so I offered "Holiness In View Of The Coming Of Christ" as the theme
of the epistle
3. In the final verses of Paul's letter, we finds words that certainly
fit in with such a theme...
a. In the form of a closing prayer
b. In the form of final admonitions
[While this prayer was offered in behalf of the Thessalonians, it
expresses what must be the sentiment that God has for all His children.
That being so, let's take a few moments to first reflect upon...]
I. PAUL'S CLOSING PRAYER (23-24)
A. THAT THEY BE SANCTIFIED...
1. That is, "set apart for a holy purpose"
a. As stated earlier, this is God's will for them - 1 Th 4:
b. Especially in regard to sexual purity - 1 Th 4:3b-4
2. By God Himself
a. He who is described as the "God of peace" - cf. Ph 4:9;
b. Which He does through the Word of God - cf. Jn 17:17; Ac
20:32; 1 Pe 1:22-23
a. Not just in part, but in whole
b. As mentioned momentarily, in body, soul and spirit - 1 Th
-- Of course, we must cooperate with God if this prayer is to be
answered in our lives - cf. 2 Ti 2:19-22
B. THAT THEY BE PRESERVED BLAMELESS...
1. For which Paul prayed earlier in this epistle - 1 Th 3:13
a. To be blameless in holiness
b. When? As here in 5:23...at the coming of our Lord Jesus
2. Preserved blameless, that is, without fault - cf. Ju 24
a. Which Jesus makes possible through His death - Co 1:22
b. Provided we remain faithful - Co 1:23
c. God is faithful, and will uphold His end; will we uphold
ours? - cf. 1 Th 5:24
3. Blameless not just in spirit, but in soul and body
a. Often in the scriptures, the terms soul and spirit appear to
be interchangeable, referring to that part of man which
continues after death - cf. Mt 10:28; Re 6:9; 20:4; Ecc
12:7; He 12:23
b. They are also used to distinguish one from the other (He
4:12), in which case...
1) Soul refers to the animal life, as distinguished from the
mind or spirit
2) Spirit refers to the immaterial part of man that
continues after death
-- God is faithful, and can be counted on to help us answer this
prayer; but against we must cooperate with God - cf. Ph 2:12-16
[To assist those who desire Paul's prayer to be answered in their lives,
we now notice...]
II. PAUL'S FINAL ADMONITIONS (25-27)
A. PRAY FOR THE BRETHREN...
1. Paul requested that they pray for him - 1 Th 5:25
a. Something he asked often of his brethren - e.g., Ro 15:30-
33; Ep 6:18-20
b. Especially that the gospel might have free course - cf. 2 Th
3:1; Co 4:3
2. Certainly we should pray for one another as well
a. When we sin - 1 Jn 5:16-17
b. When we are sick - Ja 5:14-16
c. When we are serving the Lord - 2 Th 3:1
-- If the prayer of one righteous man avails much, how much more
the prayers of many righteous! Wouldn't we want the prayers of
others on our behalf?
B. LOVE THE BRETHREN...
1. Paul charged that they greet the brethren with a holy kiss
- 1 Th 5:26
a. Something he did often in his epistles - e.g., Ro 16:16;
1 Co 16:20; 2 Co 13:12
b. Greeting one another with a kiss was a common practice
1) In those days, and in many eastern countries today
2) "The custom hence arose in the early Church of passing
the kiss through the congregation at the holy communion
[Justin Martyr, Apology, 1.65; Apostolic Constitutions,
2.57], the men kissing the men, and the women the women,
in the Lord. So in the Syrian Church each takes his
neighbor's right hand and gives the salutation, 'Peace.'"
c. The emphasis appears to be greeting each other in love, and
2. Certainly we should have a deep love for one another
a. It is a mark of discipleship - Jn 13:34-35
b. It is a sign of true conversion - 1 Jn 3:14
-- Brethren who truly love one another will help each other stay
on the straight and narrow, to remain sanctified and blameless
in anticipation of the Lord's return!
C. READ THE SCRIPTURES...
1. Paul charged that this epistle be read to all the brethren
- 1 Th 5:27
a. As he did the letters to the Colossians and the Laodiceans
- Co 4:16
b. Believing in the Word of God to build them up and give them
the inheritance among all those who are sanctified - Ac 20:
2. We should not underestimate the importance of the Scriptures in
a. The means by which God sanctifies us - Jn 17:17
b. By which we are born again and have purified our souls
- 1 Pe 1:22-25
c. By which God brought us forth, and will save our souls - Ja
-- Just as Paul commended his brethren to the Word of God, so we
need to be committed to the Word of God if we desire that
inheritance promised to those who are sanctified!
1. Paul ends his epistle with a simple prayer:
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." - 1 Th 5:28
2. It is a prayer that we should all offer to one another...
a. Do we not all need grace?
b. Do we not all want the grace of the Lord in our lives?
3. It is a prayer that we can help fulfill in our own lives...
a. By praying for one another fervently
b. By loving one another in all purity
c. By reading the scriptures diligently
4. Doing such things will also help fulfill the prayer for God...
a. To sanctify us completely
b. To preserve our spirit, soul, and body blameless at the coming of
My prayer is that our study of this brief epistle has encouraged us to
always have "Holiness In View Of The Coming Of Christ." Are you getting
ready for that great event...?
"And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one
another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish
your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." - 1 Th 3:12-13
The alert of coming again
Encourage one another
Build up each other
I. Be alert of the Lord’s coming
1. Sudden destruction
2. Be alert and self-controlled
3. Receive salvation surely
1. Be joyful always
2. Pray continually
3. Give thanks in all circumstances
III. Keep blameless
1. Physical body
2. Inner soul
3. Inmost spirit
－－ Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Sons of Light (1 Thess.5:5)
(Our Lord’s return will find some unconcerned and some unprepared)
(Watchful and sober while children of darkness are asleep and drunken)
(ministering mutual comfort and edification)
Believers in Relation to One Another
1 Our Attitude to Equals in the assembly (1 Thess.5:11, 13)
Comfort and edify one another, and be at peace with all
2 Our Attitude to Elders in the assembly (1 Thess.5:12~13)
Know who they are and esteem them highly
3 Our Attitude to Erring saints in the assembly (1 Thess.5:14)
Support the weak and be patient toward all