Studies in the books of
1 & 2 THESSALONIANS
By Christopher W. Burke, Sr.
The author of the following studies sincerely hopes that all who read these lessons will be further instructed and encouraged in the truths that are expounded herein. We hope that God’s people will be exhorted to be more faithful to Jesus in these last days, and live the kind of lives that will glorify Him and exult His precious gospel to the end that God will be glorified and lost sinners will be saved.
Although these epistles of Paul address several deep doctrinal subjects, we have tried to emphasize the practical teachings of personal holiness and godly Christian living. We believe that professed believers and church members are failing in these areas today.
We don’t pretend to be a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but merely a plain Baptist preacher who loves to preach and teach the blessed old Book. You may disagree with some of our teachings, especially with regards to the second coming of Christ and end time events. But I sincerely hope that any differences that exist in our views on these or other subjects will not hinder the book from being a blessing to each of our readers.
Thank you, and may God bless you.
Brother Chris Burke
Chapter 1,Part 1; verses 1-4
This letter was written by the apostle Paul from Corinth in about 51 AD. It was written during Paul’s second missionary journey, which makes it one of the earlier writings of Paul.
There were several reasons why Paul wrote this letter. There were certain unbelieving Jews and Gentiles who, after Paul’s departure from Thessalonica, went about defaming and attacking his character, saying that he was a deceiver, a swindler, a fraud, and a counterfeit. Many times a similar thing happens to good sound pastors when they leave a church.
Believers were also being taught that the second coming of Christ was already past, and that they had missed it. What a blow that would be to our faith if heretics could convince us that the second coming was passed and we were left behind.
Believers were also unsure about their loved ones who died in the faith and were buried in their graves, and what would become of them. That was certainly a very real and legitimate concern if it were true that the resurrection had already taken place.
And then, some members of the church had quit their jobs, and were sitting around idol waiting for the Lord to come back. They became lazy and were a burden to the church. Paul exhorted them to get back to work.
Other members of the church were falling back into immoral behavior, especially fornication, which was very common in that heathen society, like it is in our heathen society today. Paul warned them of the judgment of God against all such evil practices.
Beloved, many professed believers and Baptist church members today have fallen back into the immoral practices of adultery and fornication. We warn our people against committing such things, and we can only hope that none of our church members are guilty of these gross sins of the flesh.
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Silvanus is Silus. These two brothers, Silus and Timothy, accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey.
We notice that Paul was writing to the local church at Thessalonica. In the obvious practical sense, the Scriptures were primarily written to God’s people who were serving and worshipping Him in His prescribed way, which in this dispensation is the local New Testament Church, which is the only kind of church.
As in all his epistles, Paul wished the grace and peace of God upon this church also. Grace and peace must be mighty important graces of the Spirit for Paul to pray for their distribution upon the saints in everyone of His letters.
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
Paul was truly thankful for all who were saved under his ministry. He showed his thankfulness by praying for them continuously. He was continually mindful of this church for three special characteristics or qualities that they manifested in their lives.
1) First was their work of faith.
These believers had a faith that worked. Beloved, a faith that doesn’t work is a dead faith, according to James. A faith that doesn’t work is a questionable faith of what sort it really is. James likened faith that doesn’t work to the faith of demons (James 2:19)!
True saving faith works and serves Christ, not with eye service as men pleasers, but as unto the Lord.
True faith will do what it can to further the work of the church, and the gospel of Christ in the world.
The saying goes that “talk is cheap”. Talk is also easy and unprofitable. True faith doesn’t just talk, but it works and gets things accomplished for the Lord.
2) Secondly, was their labor of love.
This is labor in the Lord’s work that is done out of a motive of love. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter, that he could do all kinds of “good works” and labors, but if it wasn’t done out of love, then it wouldn’t profit him one little bit!
Let our labors be done out of love for the Lord and His cause, and for the lost, and for His saints!
Paul may have been thinking about how that this church bestowed labors upon him personally, by protecting him and providing for him during his stay in Thessalonica. It is truly a labor of love to help and care for God’s ministers and missionaries. God will bless a church as a whole, and members in particular that bestow labors of love on their pastor.
Do you think that this pastor is desirous of a handout from the church? No, but God will bless His people when they take care of His ministers. Likewise, God will bless His churches who take care of His ministers who labor on the mission fields, who sacrifice of their earthly goals and ambitions to serve the Lord in strange lands. God will bless us for financially supporting missions, as well as for supporting them with our prayers.
3) Thirdly, Paul commended this church for their patience of hope.
By patience is meant endurance or perseverance.
Hope produces perseverance. In Romans 5:2-5 Paul tells us that patience or perseverance produces experience, and experience produces hope. As the cycle of Christian growth continues, hope produces even greater perseverance.
Perseverance is needed to undergo the strong trials, hardships, and persecutions that accompany the Christian life of faith. Beloved, very few believers in America are suffering persecution because of our faith. We might pretend that we are, but we really aren’t.
I know a preacher who used to say that the verbal and emotional abuse that we take from this sinful world, can be even worse than the physical sufferings that our forefathers endured. Beloved, let us not kid ourselves. We don’t suffer anything compared to what they suffered.
But we do suffer trials, hardships, terminal illnesses, and death. And we do suffer persecution by the world, because of our faith in Jesus, only let us not compare it with hot lead poured in the ears, or watching your own children as their heads are bashed against the rocks, or a pregnant mother whose belly is slit up the middle, killing her and the unborn child.
You might think those things are disgusting. You’re right, they are!!! May we not forget what our forefathers suffered, and even what Christians in other lands are suffering today. Let us pray for those who are in hiding, and those who are suffering brutality and gruesome torture at the hand of Christ haters.
Some might say, “that doesn’t really go on in our educated, civilized society. Beloved, don’t kid yourselves. Education and civilization never stopped the persecution of Christians. If you don’t believe me, just stick around a little while longer. We will see such persecution again in our nation if the Lord doesn’t come back first. And it is going on in the world around us right this very hour!
As we will see in our next study, the Thessalonian church experienced great persecutions for their faith in Jesus. And just think, they were only a very young church when they were pounced on by Satan, the roaring lion. Yet by the grace of God they endured in hope.
Beloved, weak believers and weak churches will endure Satan’s attacks by the patience of hope. As a pastor, I am especially concerned about new believers and weak believers when we see the ol’ devil hounding and harassing them.
Yet, I also know that the grace of God will see them through, and even make them stronger for it. Thus, the saying in Romans 5:4 is fulfilled that “patience works experience, and experience hope.”
That is not to say that we don’t come to the aid of our brother or sister in their trials. We do, or we should! We can give comfort and we can help them with their physical needs, and we can pray for them and with them.
But there is only so much that man can do, even fellow believers. When it comes right down to it, when we’ve done all that we can do, we just have to stand still, and behold the salvation of the Lord.
The good news is, God’s grace is sufficient for the weak and feeble, as well as for the strong. Beloved, this pastor and his wife went through many hard spiritual trials in our young Christian lives.
Humanly speaking, it was a wonder that we made it through those times. But it was the grace and mercy of God that strengthened and helped us. And it was His patience of hope that kept us going and encouraged us through those difficult times.
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
Paul was convinced that, because these believers in Thessalonica had such a work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope, that they were in deed the elect of God. Wow!
It isn’t so much a person’s confession of faith, or baptism, or even church attendance that is convincing proof of our conversion, but rather it is our works of faith, labor of love, and our endurance in the fiery furnace that is most convincing of our genuine salvation.
In conclusion, are we workers of faith and laborers of love, and do we persevere in hope? May the Lord help all of us to increase in these areas of our lives.
Part 2; verses 5-10
The Power of the Gospel and the Christian testimony.
In our text we have perhaps the greatest example of the power of the gospel demonstrated in a church, and the greatest example of the Christian testimony found in a church. This was not written of just one or a few members, but of a church as a whole.
Would you like to see a model church in the New Testament? Here you have it! Were they perfect? No. Did they have problems? Yes they did, as we will see later. But even with their problems, they were a great church. May the things that Paul said about the church of Thessalonica in our text, be true of our churches, and also may these things be said of us by this lost world, and other believers.
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
What did Paul mean by the gospel coming “in word only”?
He meant to come to the outer ear only, and to the natural heart and mind only. It means to come without the power of the Holy Spirit, either in the preacher or the hearer, or both. It means to come without true repentance and conviction of sin. It means to come without genuine faith and trust in Jesus for personal salvation. It means to come without love for Jesus, His people, and His church. It means to come without any real change in one’s life. It means to receive a profession of religion, but no possession of Christ!
But Paul said the gospel came to them both in word and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is essential that the gospel comes to lost sinners in word. Lost sinners must hear the gospel if they are to be saved. But the gospel must also come in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who puts that love of Jesus way down in our heart and soul. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that helps us and enables us to live the Christian life. Without the Holy Spirit we can do nothing to please God or to serve Him acceptably.
Paul said that the gospel also came to them in much assurance. It came in much assurance of salvation. It came in much assurance of the truth of the gospel, and what Jesus did for them on the cross. God wants His people to have much assurance of their salvation. He doesn’t want us to be in doubt, but believing!
It also came in much assurance of the minister of the gospel that preached it to them. Of course, Paul had a good testimony of the gospel. He was a very moral and godly man, and his godly character showed. He was very honest and upright in all of his dealings in the world. And He was always about Christ’s business. If we are about the Lord’s business like we should be, we won’t have time for carnal foolishness and worldly activities, which are a bad testimony of Christ, the gospel, and His church.
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
The Thessalonian saints became followers of their good examples in the faith.
Who do we follow and mimic? Do we follow after, and model ourselves after godly believers? Or do we follow and mimic the heathens and worldlings? Do we model ourselves after sports stars, or rock stars, or TV and movie stars? Beloved, I sure hope not! Rather we should be followers of godly and faithful men and women in the Lord’s work, and of Biblical examples such as the apostle Paul.
Not only did they become followers of Paul, but they also followed the Lord. You might go wrong following your preacher- I hope not, but you might! But we can’t go wrong following Jesus.
Someone might ask “what does it mean to follow Jesus?” Isn’t He in Heaven? It means to follow His teachings and instructions found in His Word. To be a follower of Jesus, we must be students of His Word. And not only students, but also keepers and doers of His Word. This world already has too many who say, and don’t do!
It also says in verse 6 that they received the word in much affliction. No sooner were these folks saved than they were persecuted for their faith (read Acts 19:1-9). I wonder how believers in America would hold up in tribulations and persecutions? Well, those who are truly saved will stand by the grace of God! But many today can hardly get to church! Oh, we have it so hard today!
Not only that, but these believers received the Word with joy of the Holy Spirit. Herein is the key to enduring tribulations and trials- the joy of the Spirit. Yes, the joy of the Lord is our strength Nehemiah 8:10). The joy of the Lord is the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit!
So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
They were examples. That is, they were good examples. Beloved, we all are examples of some kind, but are we good examples to others? They were good examples because they mimicked Paul and Jesus. They showed forth the good examples of Paul and Jesus in their lives. Especially being believers who received Christ in much affliction, and yet they displayed great joy to the lost world around them! If we really want our testimonies for Jesus to shine, then rejoice in our afflictions. That will get lost sinner’s attention.
For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
Not only were they good examples in their moral character, and in their joy in afflictions, but they sounded forth the Word of God in their Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even in every place their faith in God was sounded abroad!
What a testimony these believers in Thessalonica had! I want that for our church! I want that to be said of you and I! Not so much for our sakes, but for the sake of souls that might hear and believe our testimonies, and for the glory of God, and for the testimony of Jesus and His church.
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
Their testimonies showed forth what kind of witness that Paul had among them. What do the testimonies of those saved under our ministry, say for us and our testimony? When people behold those saved under our ministry, what would they think or say about us?
Their testimony showed that they turned from idols to serve the living and true God. I hope that our testimony speaks loud and clear that we have turned from our idols. I hope that people don’t think we are covetous, which the Bible says is idolatry. Beloved, that is one of preacher’s greatest downfalls today! I don’t want people to say that this preacher worships the idols of this wicked old world. But did you know that if we are guilty of such things, we testify to the world that our church condones such wicked behavior.
Many professed believers today think that what they do is their own business. They think that they live unto themselves, and that they are not accountable to anyone. But I have news for them. They are accountable to their local church. The fact is, what we do is a reflection on our church. What is more, what we do is a reflection on our Lord- be it good or bad! And we are most certainly accountable to Him! I hope that people can speak good of us and our church when they look at our lives. Most importantly, I hope that they can speak well of our Lord Jesus.
Not only do we not want people to think that we are idolaters and worldlings, but we want them to see that we are worshippers of the living and true God. Do people behold our lives (and they do behold our lives beloved), and say that we are worshippers of the living God? What do the lost heathen say about our testimonies? What do other believers say about our testimonies? Beloved, our testimonies are tremendously important to us, our church, and the glory of our Lord.
And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
What a way to sum up the testimony of these believers! Not only did they walk right as they followed Paul and Jesus; not only did they live right as good examples for others to see; not only did they speak by sounding forth the word of the Lord in every place; not only did they serve the Lord right by throwing out their idols to serve the Lord only, but they waited for their Lord’s return from heaven!
In all their afflictions and persecutions, with joy of the Holy Spirit they awaited their Lord’s return. They waited patiently for Jesus to return, but they never saw it in their lifetime. We probably will see the second coming of Jesus in our lifetime, but are we waiting and watching for His return as they were? May the Lord help us as we live, and walk, and witness, and work, to be waiting for the Son of God from heaven?
How did the Word of God by the gospel come to us? Did the Word come in power and in the Holy Spirit? Are we following Jesus as we walk on in our Christian journey? Are we good examples as we live before others? Are we sounding out the Word of the Lord in every place? Have we turned from our idols to serve the living God? And, are we waiting for His Son from heaven, whom God raised from the dead- even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come?
One of the main themes and reasons for Paul’s writing this letter, was to justify his own character to the Thessalonian saints. It is a shame that men of God, especially a man like the apostle Paul, should have to go to such great extents to justify his character and his testimony before the children of God.
I would just like to start out by saying to all of us, be careful about receiving accusations against another brother or sister in Christ, especially against a member of our church, and even more especially the leaders and the pastor of the church. Guard and protect your pastor. He should be held in high esteem, otherwise the testimony of the church will suffer, and worse yet, the cause of Christ will also suffer.
Of course, this means that pastors have an awesome responsibility to live above reproach, and to live such a testimony that is deserving of honor and respect. But honor and respect should be given the pastor for the sake of his office, and for the honor and glory of Jesus’ Name, whom we represent.
A pastor should also respect and honor the members of his church. He should be slow to receive accusations against them. He should also speak kindly and respectful of them.
But as strange as it may seem to us, Paul endured great harm to his name and testimony, even by professing believers. Sadly enough, there will always be those who will say evil things against us, and against our testimonies, however righteous and godly we endeavor to live in this world.
They will accuse us of having evil motives, of being morally corrupt and perverse, of being deceivers and false prophets, of being greedy and covetous, of seeking self glory, and of abusing our authority and power in the gospel. These were just some of the accusations that people had made against the Apostle Paul in Thessalonica.
Can you just imagine anyone, who had any spirituality about them at all, making such accusations against Paul? Yet, they did. How then do you suppose that we will escape such accusations?
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: 2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
Paul was accused of having evil motives for his labor in the gospel, and that his entrance among them was vain, or that is, for vain reasons and motives. But Paul justified himself by calling their attention to his suffering that he endured for the gospel at Philippi, just before he came to Thessalonica. Yet, with all of his suffering there, he still came to them preaching the gospel in power!
The true man of God won’t quit preaching the message of God because of persecution. On the other hand, the hireling and the hypocrite will quit preaching in a heart beat at the mere smell of suffering. They’ll tuck-tail and run long before the first stone is cast. Yea, even before the first verbal assault if they can elude it.
One excellent proof of a man’s sincerity in the work of Christ, is his willingness to suffer for Jesus. And so Paul’s willingness to suffer was powerful evidence of his sincerity and pure motives.
For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
Paul’s persuasive preaching to win the souls of men with the gospel, was not done with false doctrine in order to lead them astray with beguiling words, but he preached the truth as it is in Jesus. Paul preached the pure Word of God, not with men’s wisdom, but in simplicity and sincerity, and in truth.
The God called preacher can’t go wrong if he simply preaches the truth of the Word of God, and shuns cunningly devised fables, old wives tales, and words of man’s wisdom.
Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “Preach the Word…” and to “…be instant in season, out of season…” and to “…reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” True success in the ministry will only come when God’s ministers are faithful to preach the truth of the Word of God!
We can’t win people to the Lord by preaching what we think they want to hear, or with eloquent speech. Now, we might win them with that kind of preaching, but not to the Lord! But to truly win souls for Jesus we must preach the whole counsel of the Word of God.
And Paul said that he had no immoral, or unscrupulous motives of any kind behind his ministry, or behind his conduct among them. Paul had no lewd or vile affections toward them. He had no secret agenda to seduce his converts, or to assault them, or take advantage of them in any way. Oh beloved, how sad to say that this has been true of many professed preacher, even among Baptists!
But instead, Paul said that he was allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, and that his sole purpose in preaching was to please God, who tries the hearts. Beloved, if all of God’s ministers were only concerned with pleasing God, and not other men, and not our own selfish motives, then would everyone be better off for it.
For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
Paul didn’t use flattering words to win them. Now I admit, we might win more people to our church if we employed flattery.
“Oh, Mr. Bigger Barns, you are such a fine, upstanding citizen, how delighted we are to have your gracious presence in our humble little church.”
“Mr. Sensual Lust, how we would love to have you in our church. It doesn’t matter how sinful you are, if you will only join our church, Jesus will accept you just as you are.” “You don’t need any fruit of repentance if you will grace us with your attendance and your tithes.”
“And Mr. No Conviction, it doesn’t matter what you believe, or how you live, you are always welcome to be a part of our church.”
Again, Paul didn’t have any ill design or covetous motives behind his ministry. He didn’t flatter people in order to get big love offerings. Sad to say, but one of the most scandalous professions in recent years has been that of preachers and evangelists. May God help all of His true preachers not to be lovers of filthy lucre, and not to use our office for personal, material gain.
Paul said “God is my witness”. Ultimately, God is our witness and our judge. He is the One who vindicates and justifies His ministers. We can make our case to other men, but we must commit our cause to the Lord who knows all things, and will bring all the hidden things to light in His good time, and will justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.
Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
Paul didn’t seek glory and honor, or the applause of men. He didn’t seek popularity or the praise of men. He didn’t want men to bow down to him because he was an apostle. Have you ever met preachers, who practically expected people to bow the knee to them?
There certainly are many so-called preachers today who use religion for self glorification, who are more concerned with their own popularity than they are with truth, and with the furtherance of the gospel of Christ.
Paul said he wasn’t burdensome to the saints. This means that he did not abuse the authority of his office. He didn’t treat the saints harshly or severely. He didn’t exact anything from them.
As an apostle, Paul rightfully could have taken of their means to provide for himself. But he didn’t exercise his God given right and authority for the sake of the testimony of the gospel. Paul was much more concerned about the cause of Christ than his own personal comforts. May this also be true of the preachers of the gospel today!
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
Paul wasn’t harsh or severe, but he was gentle to them. Here he pictured himself as a nursing mother, who cherishes and cares for her children. What a beautiful illustration of a loving and caring minister of God. Paul was like a compassionate mother, who waited on the new-born babes in Christ, and saw that they were fed and properly cared for.
So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
To be “affectionately desirous” means to be attached. Paul was saying, that like a mother is attached to her children, I am attached to you.
Paul was willing even to impart his own soul to these saints. As a nursing mother gives her milk to her child, she would also give her life for the child. Likewise, Paul not only gave them the milk of the gospel, but he also risked his life for their spiritual nourishment and protection from their foes because they were near to him. In other words, this was a poetic way of saying “I love you!” It wasn’t just a matter of duty, but it was mostly a matter of love.
May God help His pastors not only to do their spiritual duty, but also to love their people. I sometimes wonder if that teaching is left out of some Bible colleges!
For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
Here Paul is saying that he worked to earn his own keep so that he wouldn’t be chargeable to the Thessalonian saints, and so that he couldn’t be accused by the enemy of being a charlatan and a fraud.
Sometimes it is better for preachers to work, if they must do so to keep from being falsely accused by the enemy, in order to protect the testimony of Christ and the gospel.
Again, the true man of God is more concerned with the furtherance of the gospel than his own ease and comfort.
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
Finally, Paul calls the Thessalonians as a witness of the things that they knew to be true of him. After he offered his own defense for all of the allegations and charges made against him by his enemies, now he placed the verdict with those believers who knew him, who beheld his life and his testimony as he labored among them in the gospel.
After we’ve considered an evil report against a brother in Christ, let us remember what we know to be true of that brother by our personal experience. If the accusations don’t seem to be true based on what we know of that brother in Christ, most likely they are not true. Who should we be inclined to believe, the enemies of God’s people, or God’s people? Who is most likely telling the truth, the God haters of the world, or the saints of God who love the Lord and the brethren?
In conclusion, let us be careful about making or receiving accusations against God’s people, especially members of our church, and his preachers and pastors.
For the gospel’s sake, let us be careful to maintain good testimonies that will stand up to the scrutiny of men, and more importantly, to the judgment of God.
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
The key thought that I want to discuss from these verses is “walking worthy of God”. “To walk” is the Jewish axiom meaning “to live”. So then, what does Paul mean by “walk (or live) worthy of God”.
First, no sinner, saved or lost, is “worthy” of God. Beloved, we are only sinners saved by grace. Grace teaches us that we are unworthy of God. We have no worthiness to brag or boast of. If there be any good in us, its only because of Him. At our best we are all just unprofitable servants. We can do nothing that will add anything to God. He does not need us in His work. Thank the Lord He is pleased to use us!
So then, to “live worthy of God” is to live like unworthy sinners, who have received His free and sovereign grace in salvation. To “live worthy of God” is to live in such a way that testifies of the grace of God that has changed our lives, and made us new creatures in Christ Jesus.
Beloved, the grace of God teaches us some things, doesn’t it? According to Titus 2:11-13, the grace of God that bringeth salvation teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lust, that is, to live moral and holy lives, both inwardly and outwardly. It teaches us to live soberly, that is, to be God conscious, and awake to the things of the Spirit, and to be listening and looking for the will of God in our lives. It teaches us to live righteously, that is, to live right in the eyes of God and man, and to be honest and just in all our dealings in this world. And the grace of God teaches us to live godly in this present evil world.
To “walk worthy of God” is a sobering thought, beloved. This is a tall order, and one that we should take very seriously everyday that we live. I’ll assure you that God takes the way we live most seriously.
If someone tells you that God doesn’t care how you live, or how you walk in this world as a child of God, don’t you believe it for one second! Yes beloved, God wants His children to walk and live worthy of Him! He wants us to live the very highest standard of faith and morals!
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
This is a very important verse of Scripture. We often use this verse as a proof text for the effectual call to salvation. But that isn’t the only reason God inspired this verse.
I want to ask each of us, is this verse true of you and I? Paul said that he was very thankful to God because these saints received the Word, not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the Word of God.
Do we receive the preached Word as the word of men, or as the Word of God? Now, don’t get me wrong beloved, I am not the Pope. I don’t speak ex-cathedra. I don’t pretend to be the infallible voice of God when I stand behind the pulpit! I am just a man called of God to preach His Holy Word. But, when we preach according to the truth of God’s Word, which I trust we do at least most of the time, we should receive it as the Word of God.
Let us be careful not to refuse what the preacher preaches, just because it doesn’t line up with our beliefs, or with our standard of morals and godly living. This is a dangerous thing to do. We might just be refusing Him that speaketh from Heaven!!!
We should weigh the message of the man of God in the balance of the Word of God. If it is according to the Word of God in principle and in precept, then we need to receive it as such!
One great evidence of genuine salvation is that we receive the preached Word as it is in truth, the Word of God. Not only that, but the Word of God also effectually works a change in our faith and practice in our lives.
It is one thing to say that we receive and believe the truth of the Word of God, but does the Word of God effectually work a change in our faith and practice? Are we growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord? Are we learning more of the truth of His Word? And, are we putting what we learn to practice in our daily lives? If not, then we are hearers only, and not doers of the work!
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: 16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
I just want to bring out one thought from these verses. Paul said that the Thessalonian saints were suffering at the hands of their countrymen, just like the Jewish churches were suffering at the hands of the Jews, which also crucified Christ and killed their own prophets. Beloved, the children of this world hate God, they hate the Lord Jesus Christ, and they hate the children of God.
Whatever our country, whatever age we live in, the wicked heart of natural man is still the same. Mankind hasn’t evolved to a higher spiritual plain over the last 2,000 years. Education, humanism, and our “civilized” western culture haven’t improved the old Adamic heart of sinful men. Natural men still hate God as much as ever, and they still hate God’s people. Beloved, if we can’t see this fact in this sinful world in which we live, there is something wrong with our spiritual eyesight!
We should expect the world to hate us. Notice the following passages of Scripture: “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12; and “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” 1 Peter 4:12.
To suffer persecution and fiery trials of our faith, means that we are living godly in Christ Jesus. It means that we are condemning the world by our holy moral conduct. It means that we are being the good witnesses that we ought to be in this lost and dying world. If we are being the light of the world and the salt of the earth that we should be in this dark and decadent world, then we will suffer for Jesus.
But let us be encouraged, so have all the children of God suffered since Cain slew righteous Abel, because Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain, a sacrifice that pictured Abel’s faith in the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ who was to come. And the righteous have suffered ever since.
But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
I just want to notice one thought from these verses, and that is, Satan hinders the Lord’s people and their work for the Lord. Let not sovereign grace Baptists think that Satan doesn’t hinder our work for the Lord.
I believe in our text that Paul was hindered by men who were being used by Satan. Beloved, we have an arch enemy in this world, who is none other than Satan. He rules and controls the lost in this world, as well as the host of demon spirits. He causes them to hinder the people of God, and the work of God that is done through us.
Therefore, as Peter said “let us be sober and vigilant, because our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), and whom he may hinder in the work of God.
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and joy.
What is the pastor’s hope, and joy, and glory of his ministry? What are we hoping to get out of our labors in the Lord’s Church? Is it the money? I don’t think so. Is it to pat ourselves on the back and say “look at all the wonderful things we have done! Look at all the souls I got saved! Look at how the saints have followed my ministry! Aren’t I wonderful?” No beloved, it isn’t that way at all, or at least it shouldn’t be.
Pastoring isn’t about glorying in ourselves, but in glorying in what Jesus does for you. We rejoice when souls are saved. We rejoice when souls surrender to baptism and service in the Lord’s Church. We rejoice to see the effectual working of the Word of God in His people. We rejoice to see God’s people grow in grace and knowledge of Him. We rejoice to see the saints walking worthy of God as we taught about this evening.
But our greatest hope is to stand with you in the presence of Jesus Christ, and to present you to Him, as it were, at the judgment seat of Christ, and to see you receive a full reward from the Lord. You are our hope! You are our rejoicing! And you are our glory at the second coming of Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, are we walking worthy of God? Are we living in a way that brings honor and praise to the God of all grace? Are we keeping the Lord’s commandments? Are we living and walking in the light of God’s Holy moral law?
Do we receive the preaching and teaching of the Word as it is in truth, the Word of God? Is the Word of God effectually working in us, and bringing about positive, spiritual changes in our lives?
Are we persecuted by our countrymen because of our witness of Jesus, and because we are living godly in Christ Jesus? Do people know we are Christians, and that we stand for the truth of God’s Word?
Are we aware of Satan’s presence and power in the world? Are we on our guard against him, and do we watch for his attacks, and his designs to hinder our work for the Lord?
Do we serve the Lord out of selfless motives, because we are truly concerned for the good of others, that they will receive a full reward at the second coming of Christ?
This certainly should be true of your pastor, but we should all be concerned about the spiritual well being of our brethren, and for their abundant entrance into glory.
May the Lord help us to apply all these principles to our lives, that we might give Him due honor and glory.
Finally, are you saved by the grace of God? Have you confessed Jesus before men? Have you followed Him in Scriptural baptism and membership in the Lord’s Church.
This chapter expresses Paul’s care and love for the Thessalonian saints. Paul was a wonderful example of concern and love that God’s people should have, and need to have for one another.
We can’t overemphasize the need for brotherly love between God’s, people, especially in an age and time when, because iniquity abounds, the love of many has waxed cold.
Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
Paul could not forbear. That is, his concern for the Thessalonians was so great that he had to find out how they were getting along. Remember, these saints had received the gospel in much affliction and persecution (read Acts 17:1-10). Paul was not with these new believers very long before he fled to Berea because of persecution.
Now he was overcharged with concern for them. He feared that persecution may have caused them to deny the faith. Again, we see Paul’s great love for the saints of God expressed in this passage. Paul himself was suffering greatly for the gospel’s sake, yet he was concerned about others and not himself. This is perhaps the greatest evidence of true Christian character.
For this reason Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica, to establish them and to comfort them in the faith. This new church needed to be taught the precious truths of the Word of God. They needed to learn doctrinal truth as well as practical truth for godly living. For a church to be strong in the midst of difficult times, it must be established in the truths of God’s Word.
It is good to have men like Timothy who are grounded in the Word of God, to help in the ministries of the church. I’m glad we have men like this in our churches. That is one of the purposes of the church, and the ministry of the church, to train men and women for the work of the ministry.
Therefore, it is so important that we grow up and mature in the faith, and come to a full knowledge and understanding of the truth of the Word. We all need to be skillful in the Word, and be able to rightly divide it, and use it for the teaching of the saints, and to witness the gospel to the lost.
The pastor’s great challenge is to teach and train up the saints for the ministry. And then, it is the pastor’s duty to guide the members into various ministries where you can use your skills and talents to advance the kingdom of God.
Too many churches and pastors today have this all wrong. Too many think the pastor is supposed to do all the spiritual work in the church, and that church members are only supposed to come and sit and listen. But that’s not the way churches are supposed to be! At least not according to Ephesians 4:11-13 (read).
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
Paul reminded the Thessalonian saints that persecution was a part of the Christian life. Persecution is not the exception, but the rule of the Christian experience. As I have taught over and over, if believers are not suffering persecution, most likely we aren’t serving Jesus and testifying for Him like we should be. But when we suffer for the Lord, we shouldn’t think it some strange thing. No beloved, it is the Christian way. In fact, we should gladly suffer reproach and persecution for Jesus, when we consider all that He suffered and sacrificed for us.
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. 6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
Again Paul was concerned for these believers, that perhaps they were so severely tempted by the devil that they denied the faith and dispersed their church. Sometimes this happens. I have seen several mission works and churches, especially new works, that closed their doors and dispersed for one reason or other. Now, it wasn’t the grace of God that failed them, but they failed the grace of God. Perhaps the Lord wasn’t in those works, I don’t know, but the devil is a great adversary to be reckoned with. May we never underestimate our enemy.
In any case, this is a concern to the Lord’s churches. We should be concerned about the Lord’s churches. We should grieve over churches and missions of like faith that are failing. But instead, some churches and preachers gloat over suffering churches. I have known some who gloated over troubles in the Lord’s churches. Beloved, we’re not to gloat and glory when other churches fail, but we should grieve with them that grieve.
But Paul, in verses 6 and 7, was comforted and relieved when he received good news from Timothy that the new church was doing well, and that they still cared for Paul. It is good news to our ears when we here that true churches or missions that were struggling and suffering, are now doing well, and that the Lord has helped and blessed them.
It is always good news to hear that God is blessing His kind of churches, and preserving them, and causing them to stand strong in the midst of trials. Beloved, there are many churches that we know of personally that are failing. I know of several churches that barely have enough people to hold a meeting.
Now I know that where two or three are gathered together, Jesus is in their midst. But there are many churches that used to have large congregations, who now struggle to have enough people for a meeting. We need to care for our sister churches and support them with our prayers.
But Paul was greatly relieved and comforted to know that this church was still standing in the grace and blessings of God. May we also rejoice when we hear that God is blessing and upholding His churches.
For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
One of Paul’s greatest desires that he expressed in his epistles, was to visit the saints and churches that were established under his ministry. I have known of several missionaries that returned to the field every so often to visit the brethren and churches that were saved and organized under their ministries. And they continue to communicate with them by mail or phone or email, to keep up with how they are doing and how the churches are doing. Even years after they have come off the field, they still care about them. This is good evidence of their genuine godly love for those souls that they preached the gospel unto.
During a recent trip to Florida, we were able to see some of our church members from Faith Baptist Church, which we formerly pastored, and also to meet their new pastor and his family. It was a great blessing to fellowship with those saints again. I hope that when pastors leave a church for what ever reason, that we still have a love for the saints that we pastored. I hope that we are still concerned about the good of their church, and desire for God to preserve them and bless them.
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Paul was so concerned about brotherly love in the church, and also about our love toward all men. Again, if I had to say what doctrine that I think is the most important doctrine in the Scriptures, I would have to say love. Beloved, love is the foundation of all truth. God is love. For God so loved the world that He sent His Son into the World to save His people from their sins. If God so loved us, then ought we to love one another. And love is foundational to all the precious doctrines of God’s sovereign grace.
Furthermore, Christ so loves His wife, His church, that He gave Himself for it in a very special way. He loves it so much that He nurtures it, and sanctifies it with the washing of water by the Word. And beloved, Christ wants us also to love one another as He loves us. And He wants us to love the lost in this world, as He loved us when we were lost, without hope, and without God in the world.
Finally, Paul wanted their hearts to be established in love, and to be unblameable in holiness before God, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Every chapter of this book speaks about the second coming of Christ for His people. Here Paul wanted these saints to be unblameable in holiness before God when Jesus comes back for them. It is important for the sake of our testimony in this world that we lead unblameable, holy lives. But it is even more important as we consider the judgment seat of Christ, where we will stand before the Lord and give an account of the deeds done in our bodies, whether they be good or evil.
May God help us to be ready to meat Jesus, as being unblameable in holiness, and not be ashamed at His coming. May we have an abundant entrance into the glories of heaven.
Part 1; verses 1-12
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
In this verse Paul claims the authority of Jesus for what he has said and is about to say. Beloved, if God’s men don’t have authority from Jesus for what we say, then our words are of no spiritual value. It is so important that we speak according to “thus saith the Lord”, and not “thus saith the preacher.”
“As ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God.” Paul’s former exhortations were for the saints to walk and please God in personal holiness. Now he is exhorting them to increase more and more in personal holiness. Again, we will see in this chapter, the importance of preaching on practical living. Paul preached extensively on Christian living. It was needful in his day, and it is at least as needful in our day!
For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
Once more, Paul reminds the Thessalonian saints that His words are the direct commandments from the Lord, and not just the words of man. Therefore, all of his letters are the inspired Word of God and should be received as such.
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:
Many Christians ask “What is the will of God?” Well, here is part of His will for every one of His blood bought saints. That is, our sanctification, or our personal holiness of heart and life. Paul is not speaking of our past sanctification or our future sanctification, but he is speaking about our present, progressive sanctification. This is the ongoing work of God in our lives, which perfects us more and more.
Here we see that Paul directly relates our sanctification with moral purity. Those who deny that sanctification includes moral purity, plainly deny God’s Word. In this particular instance, Paul is warning against the sin of fornication. Fornication is one of the most heinous of sins committed among believers, and yet it is one of the most common; even among preachers! Fornication includes sexual sins and impurities of all kinds. And Paul associates our sanctification with abstaining from these gross sins.
That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
As believers we are to possess our vessels, or that is, exercise control over our bodies. God’s people need to have self-control, or temperance. Part of self-control is controlling the sexual lusts of the flesh. There certainly is a natural sexual lust in just about all of mankind. Most worldlings don’t want to control that lust, but rather they want to express it! Right? But God’s people are not to be like the devil’s children. We are to control our natural passions, and abstain from the sinful fulfillment of those passions. There is one lawful way to fulfill our passions, and it is called the wedding bed! I hope I’m not being too plain, but that is what Paul is talking about in our text.
Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:
In other words, not in the passion of lusts, like the worldlings that know not God. As we already said, this world thrives and takes pride in fulfilling these lusts any and everyway they can. Beloved, the “macho” thing to do is to abuse and misuse members of the opposite gender, and humble them, and destroy their lives and reputations. Men, and even teen-agers in the world take great pride in such behavior, don’t they? But again, Paul said that we are not to be as the worldlings are! We are to be pure and holy, and temperate in these matters.
That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.
Here, Paul is talking about committing such wicked sins of adultery and fornication with the spouses of other church members within the local church.
You say “preacher, does that kind of thing really happen?” Yes, sad to say it does! I can think of several situations within our kind of churches where it has. Beloved, this kind of sin ought not to be so much as named among Christians, especially members of the Lord’s churches!
Paul taught the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 5, which was guilty of permitting adulterous behavior, that the guilty person or persons should be put out of the church. There is no place in the body of Christ for adulterers and fornicators. They must be put out. If they should later repent, and I mean truly repent, then they should be received back into the church. But not until they have be chastened of the Lord, and truly repent of their wicked sins against God and against their brothers and sisters in Christ.
For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.
God has called us to holiness. Beloved, Peter said that we were called with a holy calling! We are called unto holiness, and personal godliness, and righteous living. Some antinomians would call this legalism. So be it! Paul called it walking in holiness and pleasing God. I would rather be on Paul’s side and God’s side, than those so-called believers who promote lascivious behavior among the people of God.
He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
Paul wraps up this exhortation by confirming his words with a strong warning. Whosoever despises this exhortation to sanctification and holiness, despises God. And he further seals and accredits his words with the witness of the Holy Spirit. Truly if we have the witness of the Holy Spirit within, we will agree with Paul’s warnings against adultery and fornication among believers.
But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
Now, Paul shifts his thought to that of brotherly love. Of course, this is a logical place to make an appeal to brotherly love. If we love one another as we are taught of God, then we certainly won’t defraud our brothers and sisters. What kind of person, who claimed to know the love of God, would commit fornication with his brother’s wife? To commit such fornication is an evident token that they don’t have the love of God in them!
And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
Along with our sanctification, we also need to increase in our love for one another. Paul sounds a lot like the apostle John in these verses. Again, as we reiterate over and over also, the love of God and brotherly love are essential to the life and health of a church. May God help us to “increase more and more” in Christian love for one another.
And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
In other words, learn not to be busybodies, and meddling in other people’s affairs. Beloved, this is such a destructive force in our churches. Instead of being busybodies, we need to work with our own hands and take care of our own business, and not the business of others.
That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
God’s people are not to be busybodies, or slackers, or lazy. Instead, we need to be hard working and diligent, so that we may provide for our own, and also have to give to others who have legitimate needs.
How is our progressive sanctification? I trust we are living holy lives that are pure and free from all manner of fornication and impurity. If not, then we need to confess our sins, and repent before God, and seek his forgiveness.
How is our brotherly love this evening? May God help our love to increase more and more!
And finally, may we not be busybodies, who meddle in other people’s affairs. But may we seek to do our own business, and provide for our own needs as God has commanded us.
Part 2; verses 13-18
In this chapter we find clear descriptions of two important Bible doctrines. The first was the moral character of believers that we saw in our last study, and the second, which we will see presently, is the second coming of Jesus in the rapture of the saints.
This is the most clear description of this event in all the Bible, although other passages either refer to it, as in 2 Corinthians 15:51-52, or otherwise typify it as with Enoch, Elijah, and also John in Revelation 4:1, when a door was opened in heaven and the Lord called for John to “Come up hither”.
Although there are not many references to this event, and it was kept a mystery throughout much of Bible history, yet the clarity of Paul’s writing here in 1 Thessalonians 4, makes the rapture difficult to impossible to spiritualize or explain away.
From other Bible examples of God’s wrath, we see that God’s people were removed or else were protected from His wrath. Methuselah died in the year of the flood, and therefore he didn’t die in the flood. Noah was protected in the ark from the wrath of the flood judgment. Lot was removed from Sodom and Gomorrah before the fire and brimstone fell, and the children of Israel were kept safe from God’s wrath upon Egypt.
In like manner, in the rapture all dead and living saints will be taken out, and therefore they are not appointed unto wrath; either the Great Tribulation wrath, or eternal wrath.
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
We don’t want to be ignorant about the state of believers who die in the Lord. Apparently these believers were being taught by some that the resurrection had already past, or that there was no resurrection at all, and consequently both they and their dead loved ones would have missed out on the resurrection.
This indeed would be uncomforting, and upsetting to the children of God! What hope would there be for Christians if there were no resurrection? Yea, what advantage would there be to being a Christian at all? Like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”!
So then Paul didn’t want these saints to be ignorant about this matter of the resurrection. Ignorance about the Christian’s hope in Christ certainly would cause much sorrow, just as the sorrow of lost sinners who have no hope. Without this hope, we would be no better off than they are!
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” Beloved, this is the very heart of the gospel. If we truly believed the gospel, then do we have hope. The Christian hope is the resurrection unto a new eternal life with Christ.
When Jesus returns, He will bring the souls and spirits of His people with Him. Therefore, must we deduce that they are now living in the presence of the Lord. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that “to be absent from the body” is to be present with the Lord.
Therefore, let us not weep for the sleeping saints, as they are in heaven with Jesus. Weep for ourselves, and for others left behind, but not for them. They are much better off than we are!
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
Paul certified that his words were written by the authority of the Lord Himself. It wasn’t just Paul saying these things to make the Thessalonian saints feel better about the death of their loved ones. But it was the Lord who authorized Paul to speak, and inspired him to write. We have the same assurance that these are the inspired promises of God.
We notice that Paul said “We which are alive and remain…” Paul believed in the imminent return of Christ. He believed that Jesus would come back in his day. Otherwise, he might have said “don’t be too concerned about it brethren, Jesus won’t come back again for over 2,000 years.” But he didn’t say that. He said “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord…”. And therefore, Paul thought he would see the Lord come in his day.
“…shall not prevent them which are asleep.” Although they say the word “prevent” really means “precede”, both are certainly true. When Jesus comes back for His saints, the rapture of the living saints will not prevent the dead in Christ from rising, nor will we precede them into the presence of the Lord. Be comforted in the fact, that the grave shall not hinder the sleeping saints. We don’t need to worry about those saints who died in the Lord. Their bodies have returned to the dust, but rest assured, they are just fine!
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
There will also be the voice of the archangel. Archangel means the prince of angels. Some believe this is actually Jesus Himself. More likely it is Michael who is so described in Jude verse 9, who is also described in Daniel 12:1 as the angel who stands for the people of God, meaning the nation of Israel. Perhaps as the special archangel who protected the nation of Israel, Michael will accompany the Lord Jesus to receive the Jewish saints.
And then there will be the trump of God. This is not the last trumpet judgment of Matthew 24:31, or Revelation 11:15. But it is the same last trump as in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. This last trump represents the end of the church age, and the beginning of the Great Tribulation period.
The dead in Christ shall rise first! Their bodies will be both resurrected and then caught up to be reunited with their souls and spirits in the presence of the Lord.
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
“We which are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds…” Beloved, we will be taken out of this world because of the Great Tribulation judgment that will immediately follow. We will be caught up in the clouds, which might be literal clouds, but also refers to the great host of saints and angels that will attend this glorious event that time and eternity have long awaited and anticipated.
“to meet the Lord in the air…” “…the air…” is only a temporary meeting place. It is like a contingency plan in a chemical plant. When the warning horn blows everyone is to evacuate the site, and meet outside of the danger zone. When the warning horn of God blows, all saints are to evacuate this earth, which shall become the danger zone of God’s great wrath. And we are to meet our Saviour in the clouds, who shall save us from the wrath to come, and deliver us to the safety of heaven.
“…so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We understand this to be in heaven, but it would include the earth when the danger of God’s wrath is ended, and Jesus begins His millennial reign. There too, will we be with the Lord. It would also apply to the eternal age, when we shall dwell with Him forever in the new heaven and new earth, and inside New Jerusalem. But most importantly, “…so shall we ever be with the Lord.” It isn’t as important where we will be, but who we will be with! Beloved, we will ever be, with the One who died, for you and me! Yes, we will ever be with the Lord.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Because of these glorious facts of the Christian faith, we are to comfort one another. There is great comfort over saved loved ones who have died in the Lord. And not only is there comfort over them, but there is great comfort for our own state as well. We don’t have to worry what will become of us, whether we live, or die. We have a glorious and sure hope of the resurrection, and of glorification, and of that joyful up taking, when Jesus comes for us in the rapture.
Beloved, in this life there are many sorrows and heart aches and death, but we have great comfort when we meditate and ponder upon our future hope with Jesus.
Do you have this kind of hope? If you don’t have the Christian hope, then you are still one of those others who have no hope.
The only way to have this Christian hope is by repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus. Repent, and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Believe that He died for your sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead the third day for you.
Believe this gospel even this very moment, and you will receive life everlasting, and a glorious hope with Jesus for all eternity.
This section also deals with the second coming of Christ.
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
Times – This is speaking of periods of time or dispensations of time.
Today is the day of grace or the church age, also referred to as the time of the Gentiles. They were at the beginning of the time of the Gentiles, while we believe that we are near the end. And when this time is at its end, there will be some notable changes in the world.
Seasons – These are the specific points in time or segments of time. We had a season of sickness in our church. We pray for a season of revival in our church; most of us could use it about now!
The Bible gives us some information about times and seasons that will accompany the end times. Some of these are given in this chapter.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
First, the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. It is spiritual night out there right now, just about midnight. The virgins are all slumbering. Few Christians are really watching for Jesus. When Jesus comes again it will be as a thief, because many if not most of His people will be taken by surprise.
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 shall say peace and safety.” I still believe that the one world movement, probably headed by the UN, will be the driving force that will lead to a worldwide sense of false peace. No doubt this will come near the end of the church age.
We might be looking for another liberal administration, which will promote arms reduction and surrendering national power and authority to the UN. That is where recent liberal administrations have tried to lead our nation. Bear in mind that this false peace will not come with the sanction and blessing of God and His people, but it will come in direct contradiction to true Christianity. It will be an immoral, perverted, and idolatrous peace that will be cheerfully sanctioned and supported by all the false religions of the world.
But once this false peace has been achieved, then sudden destruction will come upon this world, like a woman in labor. Like a woman in labor, the pains will come in waves. Each wave, or plague will be stronger, and they will grow closer together. This period of labor will be the great tribulation period described in Matthew 24 and the Revelation, and several of the Old Testament prophets. And as we see in Revelation, none of the lost shall escaped the wrath of God, except those that are saved during this awful time. Those which are saved during this time, will be persecuted unto death for the cause of Jesus. It won’t be a happy time for saved or lost, yet for the saved there shall be a glorious hope!
Preceding this time, however, there will be the rapture of the saints that we studied about last time, which we will see again in a few moments.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
The children of God are not in darkness.
We have the light of the Word of God, which teaches us and warns us about these things. We are without excuse. There is no good reason why we should be ignorant and unprepared for these times that we see coming upon the world even right now.
We are children of the light and of the day. Jesus said “I am the light of the world”. We are children of light, and therefore children of God and of Christ. We have light and understanding that this world knows not of. And therefore, we should be walking in the light of spiritual understanding, and moral purity, and faithfulness to the Saviour.
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others…” That is, as the lost sinners in the world. Let us not sleep in the moral decay of sin. Let us not sleep in the idolatry that is rapidly invading our world and nation. Let us not slumber and grow desensitized to sin and unbelief, and disdain for the God of Heaven.
Rather, let us watch and be sober. Let us be spiritually awake and alert to the evil prevailing around us and upon us. Let us be on our spiritual guard. Let us keep our swords sharp through meditation and Bible study. Let us keep in close fellowship with the Lord through all-prayer.
For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
Sleepers and drunkards do their vile and corrupt deeds in the night. We are in the night time of the age. We see the spiritual slumber among professing Christendom, and the wicked deeds of the spiritually drunken heathen waxing more and more prevalent as the midnight cry approaches.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
But let us who are of the day be sober… Let us be serious about the things of the Lord. Let us be looking and watching for the coming of Jesus in the air. Let us be living lives that are pleasing to the Saviour when He comes.
Let us put on the breastplate of faith and love… That is, faith in Jesus who died, was buried, and rose again for us; Who is with us in life; Who gave us His Word to comfort and to give us light for faith and practice; Who intercedes for us at the right hand of God.
And love for the Saviour who died for us, and lives for us, and is coming for us. How many have left our first love for Jesus? How many love this old world more? Why are not the saints of God in the house of God whenever they can be?
Beloved, faith and love are our shield to protect us in this world. When we let down our shield of faith and love, then will Satan penetrate our hearts with his fiery darts of sin and temptation. How many today have been pierced through by Satan’s darts?
And let us put on the helmet of salvation, which is our hope of salvation. This is not speaking so much of our assurance of salvation, that is our faith. But our hope of Jesus’ second coming, of salvation complete, of living eternally with Jesus in our new immortal bodies, and of all the glories of heaven with Jesus around His throne.
And thus, as Paul said in the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), now abided faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
What will enable us to be faithful to the end of this age? Faith, hope, and love. Are we feeding and fostering faith, hope and love in our souls and spirits? Or, do we put earthly and worldly things before these necessary things? When Jesus comes again, will He find faith on the earth?
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
God has not appointed us to wrath, that is, His blood bought saints for whom Christ died. I don’t believe, as we pointed out last time, that God has appointed us to eternal wrath, or even to tribulation wrath.
But God has appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. He has appointed us to obtain salvation from sin and eternal death by faith in His work on the cross. He has appointed us to obtain eternal salvation with Him in glory. And He has appointed us to obtain salvation from the tribulation wrath by His coming for us in the rapture.
Therefore, because of this let us be sober, and watching, and wearing the breastplate of faith and of faithfulness, and of love, and also the helmet of hope, which is the helmet of salvation.
Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
Regardless of whether we live to the coming of the Lord or not, it doesn’t matter does it? Either way we will be caught up with Him in the clouds, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Some of us may be alive to see His coming in the clouds, but it makes no difference. Those of us who are in the grave will meet Him first! What we miss on earth because we are in the grave, will be compensated when we see Him first in the clouds.
But either way we will live together eternally with Him where He is. That is all that really matters, isn’t it?
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.
Once again, Paul said in light of these glorious end time truths, that we should comfort ourselves, and edify one another, even as we do, but even more so as we see the day approaching.
Are we ready for the second coming of Jesus? We can only truly be ready if we have faith in Jesus and His death on the cross for our sins, His burial in the tomb, and His resurrection from the dead on the third day.
As believers are we ready for His coming? Are we watching for Him. Are we living righteously and soberly in this world? Are we living as children of the light and children of the day? Are we living like Jesus wants us to live in this world? And are we bearing the Christian armor, especially the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation.
Part 2; verses 12-14
Duties toward the pastor
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
“…to know them…” means to respect and honor your pastor, especially for His office’ sake. When church members dishonor their pastor, they dishonor the Lord. If pastors put themselves in their office, then they are not worthy of respect. But if God put them in their office, then they are worthy of all respect. Mark it down, the church that honors their pastor will be a blest church.
“…to know them…” also means to provide for the physical needs of your pastor. Many churches keep their pastor on the border of poverty, while most of the members are fairing sumptuously. Do you know why that is? It is because many church members don’t regard the Lord’s work as being as important as their secular work. Many church members think that “the preacher needs to get a job”. That means, the preacher should spend 40-60 hours a week on church work, and another 30-40 hours providing for his family. It is no wonder that so many churches are dwindling down to nothing today! Their pastors don’t have time and energy for the ministry because they have to work secular jobs.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally I don’t mind working. I have worked a public job since I was 14 years old. But as a working pastor, I don’t have the time or the energy to do all the things that could be done for the church. I am not able to do many of the things that I would like to do for the ministry. I can’t always be there when people need me.
“…which labor among you…” means to labor in the Word… studying, teaching, preaching. Beloved, sermons don’t write themselves. It takes many hours to prepare most sermons, and that is not counting prayer and meditation time.
If you’ve ever prepared three or four sermons a week, week after week, you can appreciate the effort it takes, especially for preachers who are concerned about the quality and content of their sermons, and the spiritual needs of their churches.
“…which labor among you…” is also referring to the gospel ministry outside the church. Most of our labors are internal for the body of the church, but there are the ministries that reach out into the community that we are involved in. The radio ministry, the church paper, and the web site; these are all outreaches of our church.
There is also visitation, which includes door-to-door witnessing, visiting the sick, and wherever we are called upon to visit. We hope that all these things will result in souls being saved, and the growth of our church.
“…are over you in the Lord…” That is, over the flock in spiritual matters, who have God given authority. I don’t believe that pastors have absolute authority over the church. But I do believe that pastors have God given authority over the spiritual matters of the church.
“…and admonish you…” This literally means putting in mind. Teaching and preaching the Word, and all the doctrines therein. This also includes warning, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. This is a major role of the pastor, and it is not an easy task to stand behind the pulpit and reprove and rebuke the Lord’s people. But that is our God given place to do so, and I trust we do so in a loving manner.
Whether church members realize it or not, pastors preach on your toes, so to speak, because we love you and know that is what’s good for you. I don’t take pleasure in preaching on the sins and erring ways of my church members. But it needs to be done for their own good!
Don’t despise your pastor because he preaches hard against sin, and false doctrine, and unscriptural practices in the Lord’s churches. I preach these things because I want to see our church maintain the highest degree of spirituality, and morality, and godly order in our worship. Lift up your pastor and encourage him to preach hard against sin. After a hard sermon on sin say “thank you preacher, for preaching on my sins and erring ways. Keep it up!”
“…esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake…” To esteem them means to place them in a high place in your affections. Not just esteem them, but esteem them very highly. Pastors are worthy of esteem, because their work is God’s work. And God’s work, beloved, should be the most important work in the world to God’s people.
“And be at peace among yourselves.” Keep peace in the church at any cost! I believe this is especially important between church members and their pastor. Pastors cannot edify the body if there is strife and division between them and the church members. Our work of teaching and building up the body is greatly hindered when there are divisions in the church. Therefore, it is the job and the responsibility of every church member to keep peace in the church.
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Here we see a few more particular duties of the pastor, yet these can also apply to other church members as well.
…warn them that are unruly… Part of the pastors job is to warn them that are unruly.
…comfort the feebleminded… This could be the elderly or others who have lost their mental faculties, and those who were never so endued.
…support the weak… Some in the church are strong, while others are weak. The pastor needs to pay special attention to the weak, to support them and encourage them, and help keep them in the straight and narrow way.
And then there is the tough one …be patient toward all men. Sometimes we’re more inclined to cut off peoples ears, than to be patient with them. This is one area where I have fallen short many times. Please pray for the patience of your pastor!
We will conclude by providing some other verses related to pastors:
1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
1 Timothy 5:20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
1 Peter 5:2-3 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Part 3; verses 15-28
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
It has often been said that to render evil for good is devil-like; to render evil for evil is man-like; and to render good for evil is God-like.
We are certainly not to be devil-like and render evil for good. We are not even to be man-like in our behavior and render evil for evil. But rather we are called to be God-like, and to render good for evil.
We are to do good to all men, even to the heathen who act like devils! But we are especially to be good to one another as believers. If we can’t even do that, then we certainly aren’t worthy to be called Christians.
Joy and rejoicing are the spiritual temperature of a church. How spiritual a church is, and how close in fellowship a church or an individual believer is to the Lord, can be measured by our joy in the Lord.
I once heard a missionary say that he could always tell a Baptist Church because the people never smile. Well, I don’t totally agree with that. I’ve known church members who always smiled, who smiled their way out of church never to return! Thus, true joy in the Lord is much deeper than a shallow, superficial smile.
But on the other hand, the spontaneous response of “Amen” or “halleluiah” to the preached Word of God, and the joyful singing of the songs of Zion by the saints of God, out of hearts of love for Jesus for His wonderful salvation, are good spiritual indicators of our fellowship with the Lord.
If we are cold and indifferent to the worship and service of God in His house, it is a sure thing that our joy is not what it should be!
We certainly have a lot to rejoice about! If any people in the world have good reasons to rejoice in the Lord, it is true Baptists!
Pray without ceasing.
This certainly doesn’t mean to pray constantly without ever stopping. But it means to be consistent in prayer. Pray regularly every day. Don’t be sporadic in our prayer life. Don’t be hot and cold in our prayer life, but consistent, in season, out of season.
Don’t give up on prayer, even when the trials are strong, and it seems God isn’t answering our prayers. Keep on praying; keep on seeking; keep on knocking; God will answer in due time!
Prayer is so important and vital to our spiritual state.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Earlier in chapter 4 we saw that our sanctification and abstinence from fornication was the will of God concerning believers.
Here we see that thanksgiving is also the will of God for believers.
As we have preached often times before, thanksgiving is the opposite of murmuring and complaining. It there is one thing that God hates, it is murmuring and complaining out of His people. Israel wandered around in circles in the desert for forty years because of their murmuring and complaining. I believe there are a lot of professed believers who are wandering around in circles today because of their murmuring and complaining.
Oh, beloved, we have it so hard today. We suffer so much for Jesus. We have so much to complain about.
Beloved, there has never been a time in history when it has been easier to be a Christian. We have nothing to complain about, except our own waywardness, and unfaithfulness.
When we go around complaining over every little thing, I believe we make the Lord angry and disgusted with us. He certainly isn’t pleased with our constant moaning and groaning.
No beloved, instead of complaining, why don’t we try giving thanks to Jesus instead. Whenever we’re tempted to murmur, just stop and think of all the mighty and marvelous blessings that are eternally ours because of Calvary!
And this is God’s will concerning us!!!
Quench not the Spirit.
Don’t douse the fire of the Holy Spirit, either in our own lives, or in the church!
Can we hinder the power and blessings, and working of the Holy Spirit in our churches? Yes, we can! And it is a command of Christ that we don’t! And it is a sin if we do! God help us not to quench the working of the Spirit in our church.
Do we want to see God’s power displayed in our midst? Do we want to see revival? Do we want to see souls saved? Do we want to see saved souls come for baptism and church membership? Then quench not the Holy Spirit with negative and bitter attitudes.
Don’t poor cold water on the fire of the Spirit’s work in our church! To do so is a sin against the Holy Spirit, and a grief to the Holy Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Today we have no further need for prophesying in the proper sense of the word. The cannon of Scripture is complete. We have everything we need for faith and practice in the Word of God.
But we might interpret this to mean “despise not the preaching of the Word of God”. Don’t despise the teaching, exhorting, reproving, and correction in righteousness. As James said, let us “receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls.”
People who despise the preached Word of God certainly do not receive it with meekness, and therefore it does not do them any good.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Prove all things. Don’t be gullible! Don’t believe everything we hear, especially from the world, and the false religions of the world. But I will do you one better. Don’t even believe this preacher, or any other Baptist preacher, unless he preaches in accordance to the pure Word of God.
I don’t mean that we should have a critical and judgmental spirit, but we should prove everything that we believe, as well as everything that we do, by the Word of God!!!
And those things that are proven to be good, hold fast to them. Keep them in our hearts and minds. Incorporate them into the very fabric of our being, and make good use of them in our lives.
We are not to just be hearers of the Word only, but we are to make the Word of God a part of us, whereby we manifest the Word in the outward expression of our lives.
If the Word doesn’t affect our lives and our behavior, then it does us no real good. Even if we say that we know all the doctrines of the Bible, if those doctrines don’t work a change in us, then they do us no good.
We are nothing more than dead, dry, unloving, unfeeling Baptists, if the Word of God is not engrafted into our hearts and lives.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
This is a great general verse that we all should put to memory. It is very short, but to the point.
Someone might say, “I’m not sure if this thing is good or bad”. “I’m not sure if the Lord would approve; it appears to be worldly and not conducive to my spiritual good.” “It seems to be in the ‘gray area’.”
Then abstain from it, beloved. If you can’t tell whether a thing is good, or whether the Lord would approve, then abstain from it.
In the previous verse it said to prove all things. If we try to prove a thing by the Word of God, and it doesn’t prove to be positively good, and for the glory of God, then abstain from it. Its just that simple.
Stay on the safe side. Don’t risk tempting the Lord and arousing His hot displeasure and chastisement! Abstain from the very appearance of evil!
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.
May the God of peace sanctify us wholly. That is, may we be sanctified completely, in every aspect of our lives. In our beliefs; in our thoughts; in our walk; in our words; and in our witness for the Lord- May we be sanctified completely!
We are not sinless perfectionists. But we do believe that perfection ought to be our goal in life!
Perfection is a mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. May we ever be aiming for, and moving toward that mark of perfection in every aspect of our lives.
And Paul prayed that these saints would be preserved. Not just in soul and spirit, but also in body as we travel down this earthly pilgrimage.
Yes, beloved, we are preserved eternally, but may we also persevere in sanctification as we are being preserved by the power of God.
Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
One thing is for certain, those who have been called by the gospel, will most certainly be preserved by the same God who called us unto salvation.
He will do it!!! Not might do it, or do it only if we do our part. But He is faithful who has called us to salvation in Christ, and therefore He will preserve His people; body, soul, and spirit.
Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Although Paul knew that God would accomplish all His sovereign will in all things, yet he desired prayer in his behalf. God works with our works to accomplish His will.
We should never neglect the use of prayer because of God’s sovereignty. Remember that the sovereign God ordained prayer, and uses prayer to accomplish His will and purpose.
Finally, Paul charged that this letter be read to all the Holy brethren, or that is, the whole church. Beloved, the Word of God is meant for all of God’s people, not just the presbytery.
There are many people even today, who believe that only the priests or certain religious leaders, can interpret and understand the Word of God, but that just isn’t so!
If you are saved you have the Holy Spirit abiding within you, and He gives you the understanding of the written Word of God.
This concludes our study in 1 Thessalonians.
Chapter 1; verses 1-12
Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Note the need for continued grace and peace…
We need grace for everything pertaining to our spiritual life and progress. We need grace to live by day in and day out, with all of life’s troubles and trials that we face. We need grace to serve by in the midst of a world that despises our Lord and His people. We need grace to suffer by as life is full of suffering. We need grace to grow by. If we are going to grow as Christians, we need God’s grace. We need grace to die by, and God gives His people dying grace as well in their time of need.
Likewise we need the peace of God to rule in our lives. “There is no peace, saith my God to the wicked.” There is no peace in this world. There is no peace in the natural human heart, but only trouble and turmoil. Therefore, believers need peace of heart and mind. We need peace in our churches. We need peace from the onslaughts of our many enemies. We need peace with the world around us, which hates Jesus and His followers.
We want to notice four thoughts from this chapter.
1. Three things that are worthy of thanks and praise to God.
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Here in the midst of extreme trials and persecution, we see three things in the saints at Thessalonica for which Paul was thankful and praised God…
1) Faith that grows exceedingly…
There are so many things we don’t understand. So many injustices in the world. So much violence and wickedness in the land. Sometimes we cry from our hearts: “Lord, why do the wicked prosper?” “Lord, increase our faith.” Yet, in the midst of great trials, their faith grew exceedingly.
2) Love for one another that abounds…
In a world where the love of many is waxing cold, love between the brethren that abounds is truly something to be thankful for! And the saints of Thessalonica had an abounding love.
3) Patience and faith in persecutions and tribulations…
In a world full of troubles and trials, patience to endure hardships and persecutions is certainly a virtue worthy of thankfulness and praise to God. Beloved, as times grow harder in our world, and persecutions increase, we will need a great increase of patience. We have so little patience today! The Thessalonian church was a wonderful example for us to follow.
2. Counted worthy of the kingdom.
Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
There are several ways to interpret this verse. We will notice 2 of these.
1) They were counted worthy to suffer because they were in the kingdom of God. From this interpretation, we would count it a privilege to suffer for Jesus. How many of us could say that we count it a privilege to suffer for Jesus? But according to the Scriptures, it is a privilege to suffer for Jesus, whether we realize it or not (Acts 5:40-42)!
2) The second interpretation is, that God counts those of His people worthy of the kingdom, who suffer for His cause. Beloved, the Lord honors and rewards His people when they suffer for Him. Now, we understand that saints are made worthy of the kingdom by God’s grace. Yet, we are proven and judged worthy of the kingdom by our works and deeds. According to this interpretation, does God judge us worthy of the kingdom?
3. The righteous judgment of God upon the wicked (verses 6-10).
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
God punishes those who persecute His people. Beloved, it is serious business to lay a finger on one of God’s elect! Even if God is using that wicked person to chastise one of His children, still God will not hold that wicked person guiltless! Remember the nations of old (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, etc.), that persecuted Israel. Even when Israel was living in open rebellion against God, still God brought judgment upon those nations for bringing harm to His people.
We should pray for our enemies who plot and design evil against us, who put forth their hand to persecute God’s chosen people. They are in danger of the Lord’s imminent judgment. We need to pray for them as Steven prayed for his enemies when he said “lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60), and as Jesus prayed for His enemies when He said “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
“Rest with us”… Take it easy, relax, don’t be overwrought because of the persecution. The Lord is coming soon! And He will make all things right at His appearing. And He will take vengeance on all the enemies of His people.
Jesus is coming with His mighty angels… I believe this is speaking of post rapture events of the Great Tribulation period. In the book of Revelation we see how that God employs His mighty angels in the execution of His wrath. The Holy Angels of God are now standing by, as it were, just waiting for their charge to go forth and execute God’s vengeance upon this wicked world!
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Notice the phrase “them that know not God”. This means those who know not God intimately, in a true saving relationship. Who know not Jesus by faith in His work on the cross of Calvary. Beloved, there are many who claim to know God. Most people in the world say they know God in some way or other. But to most of them, Jesus is going to say “I never knew you: depart from me ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23). Beloved, unless they obey the gospel, they don’t know God in the forgiveness of their sins, and therefore they are not saved, but they are lost in their sins.
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
All such unbelievers, who have not come to faith in the gospel, however religious they may be, shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.
Beloved, this is not speaking about annihilation as the Jehovah False Witnesses teach. This is speaking of eternal, never ending punishment and separation from God of all lost sinners who die in their sins. Many Scriptures teach that the final judgment of the wicked is eternal suffering in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Revelation 20:10, 14-15).
Again, we notice that this punishment is also away from the presence, glory, power, and blessings of the Lord for all eternity. Those who are bound for the lake of fire shall not experience anymore of God’s blessings. Down here on earth lost sinners reap the benefits of God’s general blessings and benefits- but not so in the lake of fire! The lake of fire, beloved, is truly a God forsaken place- and that for all eternity!
When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
Jesus is coming to be glorified in His saints. We will spend all eternity admiring Jesus for His work on the cross for our sins. That is what the saints in heaven are doing now and shall do forever. While the wicked are suffering eternal damnation and separation from God for obeying not the gospel, the saints will be rejoicing around the throne of God, in the presence of God, praising God because they believed in the Son of God, and His work on the cross for their sins. Do you believe the gospel?
4. Counted worthy of His calling.
Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul prayed that God would count them worthy of His calling. He prayed that God would fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness in them, and His work of faith with power. Paul desired to see God’s work completed in them, and that all His will for their church would be accomplished.
The purpose was, that the name of Jesus Christ may be glorified in them, and them in Him. Beloved, all that we do, and all that we are, should be for the glory of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the whole duty of our new life in Christ.
And this will all be according to the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Beloved, it all comes back to grace. We are what we are, and we do what we do for the Lord by the grace of God.
(Part 1; verses 1-5)
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Once again, we see that the Thessalonian saints were being taught that the second coming of Christ had already past, and they were troubled that they may have missed it.
But Paul said “don’t be shaken in mind or troubled…”!
“neither by spirit…” Beloved, we are to try the spirits as in 1 John 4:1, because John said there are many false prophets gone out into the world. Try the spirits by what we’ve been taught in the Lord’s Church. When a professing preacher or Bible “expert” tries to teach and persuade us of a doctrine that is contrary to the doctrines that we have been taught in the Lord’s Church, watch out! Beware! Red flags should go up immediately, telling us there is something wrong with this new teaching. Beloved, try the spirits by the Word of God! “If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them!” Isaiah 8:20.
“nor by word…” Don’t be seduced by the words of men, especially eloquent preachers.
“nor by letter as from us…” Paul may be saying that “even if I tell you by letter that the Lord’s second coming has passed already, don’t believe it.” But more likely, Paul is speaking of letters written by other professing Christians or apostles, and those wicked persons who counterfeited Paul’s writings. Beloved, there are certainly a lot of religious counterfeiters out there.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
What is meant by “a falling away”? It means a great apostasy or departure away from the gospel and the things of Christ, and from the truth God’s Word.
Has this happened yet? Yes, to some extent under the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But this “falling away” will not fully consummate until the end times.
Can the world get worse than it was during the dark ages? How about the forbidding of all Christian practices by edict of death? How about absolute mandatory submission to the man of sin and his wicked secular rule, and violent death to all who fail to comply?
Who is the “man of sin”? In this verse he is called the son of perdition, or “destruction”. He is the anti-Christ of 1 John 2:18; the beast of Revelation 13:1-4, and the little horn of Daniel 7:7-10; 24-25. These five are all one and the same person.
He will be a secular leader, possessed with Satan, having the power and the blessings of the pope, who I believe is the false prophet of Revelation 13. He is the anti-type of Antiochus Epiphanes, and therefore he will be a Gentile, the ultimate fulfillment of “the abomination of desolation” spoken of in Matthew 24:15.
He will not be Judas Iscariot. Although Judas was referred to as the son of perdition in John 17:12, I believe this conjecture is fanciful. This contradicts Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die…” Although Judas was a deceiver and a hypocrite, and every other abominable thing, he was never described as this man is described! Judas was not so great, powerful, and clever as the “man of sin” will be. Also, Judas was a Jew, and I don’t believe the man of sin will be Jewish. All things considered, there is just not enough evidence to support this theory.
What is “the day that shall not come”? It is the coming of the Lord back to the earth. This does not take into account the rapture, but the events that will accompany end times will be evident after the rapture. Very possibly the world events that precede the rapture will also be hard for Christians. Grievous persecutions against God’s people for our stand on moral issues and for our stand for the many truths of the Bible, may very well be instituted and enforced before the coming of Christ in the rapture.
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Here we see the character of “the man of sin” is the same as the little horn of Daniel and the beast of Revelation.
He “opposes and exulteth himself…” Watch out for those who exult themselves. They are behaving like anti-Christs.
He “exults himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped”! He wants to be the object of all worship! Not only will he not permit Christianity, but any other form of religious worship.
He “sitteth in the temple of God, showing that he is God.” This is the “abomination of desolation” spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24:15, which I believe refers to this wicked Gentile ruler who will stand in the temple of God, even in the Holy of Holies, during the tribulation period.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
Notice the importance of teaching and re-teaching the Word of God.
Paul said “remember ye not…that I told you these things?” They probably remembered, but they were being taught a lot of heresy from the religionists of their day. Believers are constantly bombarded with error from false religions, to where we begin to doubt and become troubled about the things that we’ve been taught from God’s Word. Therefore, we need to hear, and re-hear the precious truths of God’s Word, and be reaffirmed in those things that we’ve been taught by God’s faithful ministers.
In conclusion, be careful what we hear and what we receive as truth, whether about the second coming, or any other truth taught in the Word of God.
Try the spirits, try the words of men, and try the religious books and papers that you read. Not every one wearing a suit and tie and carrying a Bible and speaks gracious sounding words is a true man of God.
There is going to be a falling away. I believe this time has come, or it sure seems to be the case. As a part of the falling away, not only will there be a departure from the truth, but wickedness, sin, and rebellion against God in the world will also dramatically increase. We certainly see these things happening in our world today.
Soon the man of sin will appear. I don’t know if he will be made manifest before the rapture or not, but we don’t need to worry about him if we’re saved! We’ll be gone before he comes into full power.
Finally, may we remember the things we’ve been taught. Don’t be deceived by false prophets and anti-Christs, but remember the teachings of our church and of the Word of God.
Part 2; verses 6-10
What is meant by “the man of sin”. It is the embodiment of sin and total depravity unrestrained.
How does unrestrained depravity display itself? It opposes God. It is supreme enmity and hostility against God. It exults itself above God. This is the ultimate display of pride.
(Read Isaiah 14:12-15)
The man of sin will be possessed with the devil, who is the epitome of pride.
The greatest manifestation of depravity and sin is unbridled pride. All sin, we say could, stems forth from pride. And the essence of pride is selfishness… Me first… Not thine, but my will be done. The whole world revolves around me, can’t you see!
The ultimate fulfillment of pride and selfishness is to try and take the very place of God Himself, so as to be worshipped as God, and to usurp God’s place of honor, and of authority, and power- even His very throne! Thus, the man of sin will claim to be God and cause men to worship him.
The nature of fallen man will also degenerate with an increase in pride in the last days.
Notice 2 Timothy 3:1-4, and notice verse 2 in particular. Here we see that in the last days men shall be lovers of their own selves- “Oh, how I love me.” They shall be covetous- “I want, I want. Give to me- give me more of this world” is their cry. They will be boasters- “Everybody look at me, aren’t I wonderful.” Yes they shall be exceeding proud! Does this seem to describe our generation today?
So, Satan has quite a lot of proud and selfish sinners from which he could choose the man of sin. Of course, the man of sin is already foreordained to this end.
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
What or who is restraining the man of sin from being revealed?
No doubt this passage had partial fulfillment in popery, with the restraining of the Roman civil government until the arrival of Constantine the Great. This cannot be the final and ultimate fulfillment because the day of the Lord still hasn’t come.
Most Baptists today believe that this One who restrains sin in the world, and the man of sin from being revealed, is the Holy Spirit. I also believe this to be true, because only God can restrain men’s depraved sinful natures. And only God knows who the man of sin is. And only God can restrain Satan and his evil designs in the world.
Notice the phrase “That he might be revealed in his time.” The man of sin has “a time”. His time is a definite period of time, and not an age. Therefore the Catholic church and its succession of Popes cannot be “the man of sin.” The man of sin’s time, is the time of God’s appointment. And he won’t be revealed until God’s appointed time.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
The “mystery of iniquity” is the plan of Satan to defeat the cause of Christ through the propagation of the gospel, and to defeat the Lord’s church that Jesus built during His ministry, and to bring the world into a state of spiritual and moral decadence.
The “mystery of iniquity” has been working for 2,000 years. But one day soon, with the rapture of the saints, the special power and presence of the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way, and then the depravity of man and Satan will be unleashed, and all manner of sin and wickedness will be unrestrained in the world for a period of 7 years.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
“Then”, after the rapture, and after the special presence of the Holy Spirit has been taken out of the way, “then” shall the man of sin be revealed. Therefore, we need not be looking for Anti-Christ, but rather for Christ Himself!
Of course, as we study in Revelation, the Lord will destroy Anti-Christ and his wicked kingdom when Jesus returns to earth in Revelation 19:11-21.
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
Again, the “man of sin” possesses the power of Satan, because he will be possessed by Satan. He will have “all power”, that is, all the power of Satan. He will be capable of performing great signs and lying wonders. By these he will deceive the nations, and they will believe in him, and follow him. In this way he will imitate Christ.
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
In Anti-Christ will be manifested the epitome of deception. He will be the master of deception. Satan empowers all deceivers, but Anti-Christ will be the deceiver of all deceivers. Satan in the flesh, as it were, with Satan and his power energizing his every deceptive work in the world.
What is the reason why the world of lost sinners will be deceived by the Anti-Christ? Because they received not the love of the truth, that is, they received not the gospel that they might be saved. Are lost sinners responsible to repent and believe in Jesus and be saved? Yes, they are!
Part 3; verses 11-17
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
What is this strong delusion that God will send upon the unregenerate world in the end times?
There are many possibilities here. Some today think that Paul is talking about flying saucers from outer space, and the belief in life on other planets, which serves to destroy the belief in the Genesis account of creation, with the earth being of focal point of life and of the universe. Science fiction movies and TV shows have helped instill this idea in peoples minds.
Many in recent times think this verse is speaking of “the lie” of evolution and atheistic naturalism. This certainly is strong delusion, which has captured most of the world with its God-less view of origins.
Paul might be speaking of the signs and lying wonders of the “man of sin” who will deceive the whole world with his Satanic powers, and also the false prophet and the image of the beast that he will set up.
The text seems to be eluding to strong error. False teachings concerning Christ and of God will be even more prevalent in the last days than they have been throughout the age. These false teachings will no doubt make way for Anti-Christ. By this time the truth that the world would not receive in verse 10, will have been all but removed from the minds and hearts of men.
We can see how that the public schools around the world are assisting in teaching atheism to our children, and thereby removing the thought of God out of their minds. This has gone on in communistic countries for many years, and now it is taking place in America.
The “lie” that they will believe is probably the lie of the Anti-Christ. The “man of sin” is going to have to be accepted as the world leader. This is going to take strong delusion to induce the whole world and its leaders to get behind the “man of sin”, and follow him, and swallow his lies.
The lie, then, is that the “man of sin” is the social, economic, political, as well as religious savior of the world. He will be portrayed as the one who can pull all of the world’s peoples, economies, religions, and political systems together under one universal world government.
And people will believe the “lie”. Nations and their governments will buy into it. And all those who don’t submit to it, will be starved and famished by economic sanctions and crushed by military force. These things are pictured by the four horses of the apocalypse in Revelation 6.
And the reason for all of this is because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. Again, sinners are responsible to repent and believe the gospel!
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
“That they might be damned who believed not the truth”… That is, they will be damned with eternal judgment “in the lake of fire, which is the second death”, because they believed not the truth about Jesus; the fact that He is the Son of God, and that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day for the sins of His people.
But instead of receiving Jesus, they had pleasure in unrighteousness. They had pleasure in their unrighteous state, because they received not the righteousness of Christ. And they had pleasure in their unrighteous works and deeds as rebel sinners against a Holy God.
They took pleasure in “all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15). Lost sinners take pleasure in unrighteousness down here, but one day their joy will turn to mourning, and their pleasure will be turned into sorrow and pain when they stand before the Great White Throne judgment bar of God.
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
God deserves all the thanks for salvation. We don’t praise the sinner for “getting saved,” but we praise God for saving sinners. And we praise Him because He chose sinners unto salvation.
Some who call themselves Baptists today, call the doctrine of election a “doctrine out of hell.” GARBC churches are known for such statements. But the apostle Paul said that he thanked God because God had from the beginning chosen His people unto salvation! Instead of blaspheming God for election, men ought to be praising Him for it. If not for God’s election, there would not be a single soul saved!
And Paul also praised God because He chose the means for saving His people, which is through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. We were sanctified, or set apart by the Holy Spirit in regeneration unto belief of the truth of the gospel of Jesus. This is the God given means to save sinners. The hard shells teach that they are sanctified by the Spirit, but they don’t believe it is necessary to believe the truth of the gospel to be saved. But Paul tells us here that it is necessary to believe the gospel.
Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This verse confirms that the call to salvation is attended by the outward call of the gospel. Once again, I will state and restate over and over, that sinners must hear the gospel before they will ever be saved! There is not a sinner saved apart from the gospel. There is not a sinner that enters heaven’s portals without believing the gospel.
Now, this does not put salvation partially in the hands of men as the hardshells accuse us, but the sovereign God of heaven designed His plan of salvation to include human instrumentality to accomplish His will in saving sinners. There is no glory given to the human instrument. One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase.
We praise God that He is pleased to use lowly creatures to accomplish His will. But He certainly could have accomplished salvation without us. He certainly could have chosen another means if He desired to do so. It is not that He needs us, but He was pleased to use us in His plan of salvation.
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
Therefore, stand fast, or stand firm. Don’t move away, or let others move you away from the teachings that you have been taught, whether by word or by epistle.
We notice that Paul used the word tradition in this verse. Traditions are those teachings that have been passed down from generation to generation. Traditions may be good, or they may be bad.
Traditional teachings and practices that are consistent with the Word of God are good, so long as they don’t become a form of legalism to attain salvation, and that they don’t hinder or limit other works of the Lord that are different than the tradition, yet are still consistent with the Word of God.
Sometimes, if we are not careful, we can let our traditions prevent other avenues of Christian service and worship that are different than our traditions, but in and of themselves they are not inherently wrong.
Some churches are so ingrained in their human traditions that they won’t even change the order of their services one little bit, or anything about the order of their services. Now, I’m not for changing just for change’s sake, but I also don’t believe in legalistic worship.
On the other hand, it is hard to go wrong with good traditions that were handed down from our forefathers. There are always new and different things being introduced into Christian circles, which have not been tried and proven to be good, and true to the Word of God.
We need to be careful about what we adopt into our churches, especially if it had its origin out there in the world of religion. We would do well to stand firm on those traditions we learned from our fathers, and be slow to cast those things aside for things that are new and unproven. This is especially true of the Bible doctrines that we have received, and the way of holy and godly Christian living.
Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Through God the Father and Jesus His Son, we have everlasting consolation, or comfort. This is another way of stating our eternal security. We need not be shaken or troubled by these things that shall soon come upon the world, as Paul stated in verse 2, because we have everlasting consolation and comfort as the elect of God.
Not only that, but we have good hope through grace. It is a good hope because it is a sure hope. And it is a sure hope because it is of grace. Therefore, our hope isn’t dependent upon us, but our hope stands or falls because of grace.
And our hope is a good hope because it is a blessed and eternal hope, a hope that fadeth not away, but is reserved in heaven for us (1 Peter 1:4).
Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
May the Lord comfort our hearts, and establish and strengthen us in every good word and work. Paul wanted them to be strengthened in both their beliefs through good words, and also in their works, by taking heed to those things which they hear, and putting them to use in their lives.
That is what we need today, to be strengthened in good sound doctrine from the Scriptures, and then put those things that we hear to practice in our lives. This is the way that God has designed for His people to live for Him and serve Him in this present evil world.
This concludes our study in chapter 2. May God help us to understand the future events that shall soon come upon this world.
May God help us to be ready, and watching, and waiting, and anticipating, and preparing for the soon coming of our Lord Jesus Christ for us in the rapture.
And while we wait for the Lord, let us find comfort in our sovereign God, who has all things under control. The world is waxing worse and worse. It seems the whole world is out of kilter. And false teaching is running rampant in the world of religion. But let us not be shaken or troubled, because the Lord has all things under His control. And He is working all things out after the counsel of His own will.
Part 1; verses 1-5
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
Paul said, pray that the Word of God may have free course! That it would not be hindered from being preached. And that the Holy Spirit would cause the Word to blow where He listeth, and accomplish that whereunto He sends it in the world. Oh beloved, how we desire and need for the Word of God to have free course here in Kentucky.
And Paul also desired for the Word of God to be glorified, that is, glorified in His saints through preaching, and rejoicing, and worshipping in the truth as we are free to do.
That is also our prayer, that the Word of God would be glorified in our church. That the Word of God and the God of the Word would be magnified, and glorified among us, and in us, and through us!
And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.
Paul not only desired the Word of God to be free, but he also desired to be free himself from unreasonable and wicked men.
Paul certainly spent much time bound in irons at the hands of wicked men. Beloved, we Americans cannot appreciate what it means to suffer imprisonment, and all manner of persecution for the gospel’s sake.
There are those in the world even yet today who are suffering. Believers in the Middle East, and in communist nations, and in some third world nations are suffering for Jesus even this very moment. May God help us to hear their cry for help, and to pray for them wherever they are in the world. And then, as we anticipate celebrating the birth of our freedom of conscience, and our freedom to worship God in America, may we stop every day and thank the Almighty for our precious gift of freedom.
Paul wanted to be delivered from “unreasonable men”. Have you ever known anyone who was unreasonable? Someone who would not, or could not reason with you from the Scriptures? And they were made angry by the truth, and driven to wicked deeds because of their hatred for the truth? I have known such people, and I have worked with such people on the job. And some of the worst I’ve met have been Catholics.
Ironically, many Catholics today are still like their forefathers. They still despise and persecute Baptists for our stand for the Scriptures. What the Great Whore would do to Baptists today if she had secular government power at her disposal. We see in the Revelation that one day she will have this power again, and she once again will persecute the saints of God as she did in days of old.
And we also read in verse 2 that “all men have not faith.” Armenians teach that all men do have faith, and that lost sinners simply need to exercise their inborn their faith. But this simply isn’t true. Paul said that all men have not faith, and therefore they do all these wicked things. Paul himself did not have faith before he met the Lord, and he too did all manner of wicked things, and persecuted the church, and arrested Christians, and drug them off to prison, and had them put to death. It wasn’t until faith came to Saul of Tarsus from the Lord that he quit his bloody works against believers.
Let us know and understand that no man by nature has faith in God, but faith is the free and sovereign gift of God in salvation.
But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.
“…the Lord is faithful…” All the unreasonable and wicked men in the world would render us helpless, and would overcome us, and destroy the Lord’s churches, and eradicate the Christian faith…
But the Lord is faithful… The Lord is faithful who shall establish you, and keep you from evil, and the evil one. The only reason why the Lord’s people and His churches are still around, is because “the Lord is faithful.” If the Lord were to take His great hand of preservation from off His people, that roaring lion Satan would pounce on us and destroy us in a heartbeat. But “the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you and keep you from evil.
And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
In verse 3 Paul had confidence in God’s preserving grace, and here in verse 4 Paul has confidence in persevering grace. Notice he said that these believers do, and will do, or will continue to do the things they are commanded.
Again, as we’ve said before, preservation and perseverance are like two sides of a coin. One doesn’t exist without the other. We persevere because we are preserved. And because we are preserved, we will persevere. If professing believers are not persevering in the faith, we would do well to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith.
But Paul had confidence that genuine believers would do the things that they were commanded by the Word of the Lord. Notice he said do! True saving faith is demonstrated in the doing of the Word, and not in hearing only. We know what James has to say about hearing only!
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
What direction should we be going in as a church? Here, Paul mentions two things that he desired this church to be directed into.
The first is the love of God. When we think about the direction of a church, we probably don’t normally think of intangible destinations such as love. We think of goals for souls, and physical or material accomplishments. But Paul wanted them to trek into the boundless expanse of God’s love.
The love of God is where the power and blessings of the Spirit are. In the love of God is the Spirit filled life. In the love of God is the peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. In the love of God is the unity of the Spirit in the Lord’s Church. In the love of God is the power of a changed life. In the love of God is the power and demonstration of the Spirit, in the salvation of souls through repentance and faith in Jesus.
What direction would I like to see our church go in days to come? Deeper, deeper, in the love of Jesus! That is where the future prosperity of our church lies. And not only in vertical love between us and our Lord, but also in horizontal love between one another.
Beloved, we are going to need more love among ourselves in days to come. We have those who are suffering, and who will be suffering more and more in days and months ahead. They are going to need more love and tender compassion.
Beloved, as a church we need to be directed into the love of God. Not only for our own sakes, but for the sake of others in our body. We need for one another to be directed in the love of God.
And secondly, Paul desired for them to be directed into the patient waiting for Christ. I believe these saints were directed to wait for the second coming of Christ. Paul thought the second coming was imminent, that it could happen any time. How much more ought we to think that it could happen at any time.
Beloved, this is the mindset that God’s people need to be in. If we are dwelling in the sphere of God’s love, and we are waiting for Jesus to come from heaven, everything else in our lives will fall into place within the will that God has for us and our church.
If we are living in the love of God looking for the Son of God, we won’t need so many negative admonitions to keep ourselves from the world and from sin.
And Paul said “patient waiting for Christ”. As difficult times and persecutions increase in the days ahead as the end times draw near, we are going to need great patience to endure. Patience and endurance will increase as we look more and more for the soon coming of our Lord Jesus.
In conclusion, may the Word of God have free course in our church, and in our community.
May God be pleased to continue to give us liberty to worship Him in our nation, and may we not abuse that liberty, but use it to worship God every time the church doors are open.
Thank God that “the Lord is faithful”, and that He will keep us and preserve us from evil men, and from Satan and the world.
Also, thank God that He will cause us to persevere. Not only does He preserve us, but He also worketh in us both to will and do of His good pleasure.
And may the Lord direct us into the love of God and the patient waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven.
We need the love of God in our church more than anything else I know of. And we need to have that same love for one another too.
And beloved, it won’t be long before Jesus will come back for us. Let us be patient, and let us keep watching and waiting for the Lord to come. In the moment when we think not, he just might come! Let us keep patiently waiting for our Lord.
Part 2; verses 6-18
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
Note that this was a command made binding by the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not just Paul’s words, but the inspired Word of God, and they are still binding today.
What does Paul mean by “withdraw”? To break communion and fellowship. To excommunicate. To cast one out of the church, or remove them from the church roll. This is speaking of church discipline.
What is meant by walking disorderly? To be out of rank, as in the military. Walking, as we said before, speaks about one’s manner of life and habits. To walk disorderly means to walk in open sin and rebellion against the commandments of Christ.
Specifically, Paul is referring to one’s refusal to work. Such persons are living irresponsibly. They are depending on others to carry their burden for them. But the term is a general term, and can be applied to any disorderly conduct among God’s people.
Who is Paul talking about in this verse? He said “every brother”. In other words, true Christians are meant first and foremost. Yes, true believers can walk disorderly when we get out of God’s will. And also all who profess to be Christians, especially those who are members of the Lord’s true churches.
Note: The local, visible church must be designed here by Paul, otherwise this warning would have no meaning whatsoever in the so-called “universal, invisible church”.
Who should withdraw from such disorderly ones? The church. This should be done formally by church action. It should also be carried out personally and individually to accomplish its intended purpose.
For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
As a mission pastor, Paul was an example of hard work to the churches. Believers could follow Paul’s example of hard work. God wants His people to be hard workers. Whether a pastor works a secular job or not, in any case he should set an example of hard work.
Paul worked hard day and night. He might have been what we called a “work-oholic”. Of course, he didn’t have a wife and family that needed his time and attention. But he set the example of hard work for Christians and members of the Lord’s churches.
We should note here that Paul did not have to work a secular job. He had God given authority to live of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14). But he chose to work so that he wouldn’t be chargeable to them, and also to set the example for believers to follow.
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
Here, Paul set the Biblical principle for all able bodied persons. This includes all persons, both men and women. Not that Paul is commanding mothers to go to work outside the home. But certainly housewife and mother is a fulltime job! (Notice the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31). A diligent housewife and mother truly labors both day and night to fulfill all of her responsibilities. But whoever the person, and whatever our lot in life, we are to be diligent and hardworking in whatever business we have been called to do.
And the principal that Paul gave is, if an able bodied person will not work, then neither should he or she be allowed to eat. Such people shouldn’t be supported by the church. And they shouldn’t be on the public welfare rolls either. This is a bad testimony to the Christian faith!
Beloved, there is no excuse for an able body person not to be able to find work in our day and time. There are jobs out there if people will only look! I’m not saying that a Christian will never find themselves on welfare, or in a bad financial situation. But the way to get back on our feet is through hard work, and not lying around on the couch.
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
The testimony of these disorderly church members got back around to Paul. Disorderly conduct will eventually become public information, and will bring a reproach upon Christ and His Church.
Not working eventually will lead one to be a busybody. We’ve all heard the saying that idleness is the devil’s workshop. Here Paul shows this to be the case with believers who won’t work.
Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Here is the cure for such idleness! Get to work! Employ ourselves with something profitable, that will take our minds off of matters that don’t pertain to us. The human mind is an amazing thing. It keeps on working, even when the body and hands have stopped. When the body and hands are working, the mind serves as their help and guide. But when the body and hands stop, the mind begins to wander.
And Paul said to work with quietness, implying that idleness tends to cause the mouth to work overtime. When we spend our time working day and night, we have far less time to engage our mouths in idle gossip, and in other people’s business.
But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
Here Paul encourages all those who are about their business, and working hard to support themselves, and their families, and the church, to keep up their hard work.
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
If any man will not hear and obey this warning, then disfellowship that person, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.
Too often we tend to do just the opposite. We baby and coddle believers in their wrong-doing, rather than exhort them to do the right thing. That is our inclination to resort to human reasoning. But the Biblical way is the best way in these matters, and it is not our place to change them.
Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
Just because we carry out the Biblical practice of discipline, both on a church and on an individual level, doesn’t mean that we consider such a person as an enemy, but we should still think of them as a brother. We warn them and correct them because we love them in the Lord, and we want to see them restored back into fellowship with the church.
Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
Ultimately, we should desire to have peace in our church. The end result of all exhortations and warnings, is to restore peace and keep peace. They should not cause wars and divisions, but rather they should bring peace.
And Paul said that by all means, we need to have peace and love in our body. He further said “the Lord be with you all.” Beloved, if the Lord is with His people in sweet fellowship and communion, we will have peace and love as we should.
The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Here, Paul called attention to his signature, that it was by his own hand. As we said concerning chapter 2, there apparently were those who were writing letters, and stating the letters were from Paul when they were not. So Paul confirmed this letter with his signature, to show that it was truly his writing.
I suppose that would be a good lesson for us, that we make sure that what we read and what we hear are truly the words of the person who supposedly wrote or said them.
What was the reason for this admonition about work? The thinking that the coming of Christ was at hand. They were gazing up into heaven as the disciples in Acts 1:11.
May we be about the business that the Lord called us to. Let us be found busy, and working hard in the Lord’s vineyard, when the Lord comes back for us, and not gazing into heaven.
This concludes our study in the book of 2 Thessalonians.