1 Thessalonians



by Ken Cayce



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1 Thessalonians Explained





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Author and Date: The Apostle Paul identified himself twice as the author of this letter (1:1; 2:18). Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy (3:2, 6), Paul's traveling companions on the second missionary journey when the church was founded (Acts 17:1-9), were also mentioned in Paul's greeting (1:1). Though Paul was the single inspired author, most of the first person plural pronouns (we, us, our), refer to all 3. However, during Timothy's visit back to Thessalonica, they refer only to Paul and Silvanus (3:1-2, 6). Paul commonly used such editorial plurals because the letters came with the full support of his companions.


Paul's authorship has not been questioned until recently by radical critics. Their attempts to undermine Pauline authorship have failed in light of the combined weight of evidence favoring Paul such as:


(1) The direct assertions of Paul's authorship (1:1; 2:18);


(2) The letters perfect correlation with Paul's travels in (Acts 16-18);


(3) The multitude of intimate details regarding Paul; and


(4) The confirmation by multiple, early historical verifications starting with Marcion's canon (in A.D. 140).


The first of Paul's two letters written from Corinth to the church at Thessalonica is dated (ca. A.D. 51). This date has been archeologically verified by an inscription in the temple of Apollos at Delphi (near Corinth), which dates Gallio's service as proconsul in Achaia to (A.D. 51-52; Acts 18:12-17). Since Paul's letter to the churches of Galatia was probably written in (ca. A.D. 49-50), this was his second piece of canonical correspondence.


"Time of Writing": Since this epistle was certainly written during Paul's long stay at Corinth (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 3:6), the date can easily be fixed. An inscription discovered at Delphi (dated from the summer of A.D. 52), refers to the proconsulate of Gallio, a position held for only two years. Paul arrived at Corinth before Gallio assumed this position, perhaps a year earlier. Thus, the time of the writing of 1 Thessalonians must have been the (summer or fall of A.D. 51).


Background - Setting: Thessalonica (modern Salonica), lies near the ancient site of Therma on the Thermaic Gulf at the northern reaches of the Aegean Sea. This city became the capital of Macedonia (ca. 168 B.C.), and enjoyed the status of a "free city" which was ruled by its own citizenry (Acts 27:6), under the Roman Empire. Because it was located on the main east-west highway, Via Egnatia, Thessalonica served as the hub of political and commercial activity in Macedonia, and became known as "the mother of all Macedonia". The population in Paul's day reached 200,000 people.


Paul had originally traveled 100 miles from Philippi via Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica on his second missionary journey (A.D. 50; Acts 16:1 - 18:22). As his custom was upon arrival, he sought out the synagogue in which to teach the local Jews the gospel (Acts 17:1-2). On that occasion, he dialogued with them from the Old Testament concerning Christ's death and resurrection in order to prove that Jesus of Nazareth was truly the promised Messiah (Acts 17:2-3). Some Jews believed and soon after, Hellenistic proselytes and some wealthy women of the community also were converted (Acts 17:4). Mentioned among these new believers were Jason (Acts 17:5), Gaius (Acts 19:29), Aristarchus (Acts 20:4), and Segundus (Acts 20:4).


Because of their effective ministry, the Jews had Paul's team evicted from the city (Acts 17:5-9), so they went south to evangelize Berea (Acts 17:10). There Paul had a similar experience to Thessalonica with conversions followed by hostility, so the believers sent Paul away. He headed for Athens, while Silvanus and Timothy remained in Berea (Acts 17:11-14). They rejoined Paul in Athens (compare Acts 17:15-16 with 3:1), from which Timothy was later dispatched back to Thessalonica (3:2). Apparently, Silas afterwards traveled from Athens to Philippi while Paul journeyed on along to Corinth (Acts 18:1). It was after Timothy and Silvanus rejoined Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5), that he wrote 1 Thessalonians in response to Timothy's good report of the church.


Paul undoubtedly had multiple reasons for writing, all coming out of this supreme concern for the flock from which he had been separated. Some of Paul's purposes clearly included:


(1) Encouraging the church (1:2-10);


(2) Answering false allegations (2:1-12);


(3) Comforting the persecuted flock (2:13-16);


(4) Expressing his joy in their faith (2:17 - 3:13);


(5) Reminding them of the importance of moral purity (4:1-8);


(6) Condemning the sluggard lifestyle (4:9-12);


(7) Correcting a wrong understanding of prophetic events (4:13 - 5:11);


(8) Defusing tensions within the flock (5:12-15); and


(9) Exhorting the flock in the basics of Christian living (5:16-22).


Historical - Theological Themes: Both letters to Thessalonica have been referred to as "the eschatological epistles". However, considering their more extensive focus upon the church, they would better be categorized as the church epistles. Five major themes are woven together in 1 Thessalonians:


(1) An apologetic theme with the historical correlation between (Acts and 1 Thessalonians);


(2) An ecclesiastical theme with the portrayal of a healthy, growing church;


(3) A pastoral theme with the example of shepherding activities and altitudes;


(4) an eschatological theme with the focus on future events as the church's hope; and


(5) A missionary theme with the emphasis on gospel proclamation and church planting.


First and second Thessalonians comprise some of the earliest New Testament writings. The first epistle was penned at Corinth by the apostle Paul in response to Timothy's report on the progress of the church they had recently established there (3:1-6).


Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, founded the church at Thessalonica on his second missionary journey (Acts 17:1-14). The apostle had been drawn to this important Roman port after seeing a vision in which a Macedonian man was calling for help (Acts 16:9).


"The City". Thessalonica (Salonika today), had been named (in 315 B.C.), by Cassander after his wife, Alexander the Great's half-sister. Under the Romans the city, famous for its hot springs, burgeoned to a population of over 200,000. It was situated strategically on the Via Egnatia, the main Roman highway from east to west. Its sheltered harbor made an ideal naval station. The city was a natural center for traffic moving in all directions. In Paul's day, it was the capital of Macedonia. Although the provincial governor was headquartered there, he exercised no authority over Thessalonica. As a free city, it was ruled by politarchs and enjoyed political autonomy.


As a military and commercial center, Thessalonica became famous for its wealth as well as its vice, attracting a strange mixture of Roman high society and pagan sensuality (Acts 17:4; 1 Thess. 4:1-8). It also attracted merchants from other parts of the empire, including numerous Jews (Acts 17:4). The nucleus of the church was formed from this group of Jews, although (1 Thessalonians 1:9), indicates that the Apostle to the Gentiles had his greatest success among the non-Jewish peoples of the city (Acts 17:4).


"The Church". In Europe Paul and his companions had gone first to Philippi (Acts 16:12), where they established a church and were miraculously delivered from the jail. Leaving Philippi, they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia to Thessalonica. Going first to the Jewish synagogue, Paul there won his first converts, and met his most serious opposition. His ministry in the city lasted less than a month. During that time he worked as a tentmaker, not wishing to burden the fledgling assembly with his needs, and spent the balance of his time at the home of Jason, organizing the new believers into a church.


But almost immediately the Jews brought Paul before the politarchs and had him expelled from the city. He went on the Berea, meeting great initial success, but was again opposed by the Thessalonian Jews who dogged his trail and incited the people to riot against him. Paul barely escaped with his life, traveling to Athens where his message was received with little enthusiasm. From Athens Paul dispatched Timothy to check on the situation in the Thessalonian church (3:2).


"Occasion and Purpose". After all this persecution and rejection of the gospel, Paul came to Corinth (Acts 18:1), "in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (1 Cor. 2:3). When Silas and Timothy returned bearing good news about the Macedonian churches, Paul was greatly encouraged and pressed forward with his work (Acts 18:4-5). But the Thessalonians were also reportedly having difficulties.


Gentiles, and especially Jews, were impugning Paul's sincerity, defaming him as a wandering charlatan who had deceived them. The church was also somewhat confused about the second coming of Christ. Some members worried about believers who had died before His return. Others considered it unnecessary to continue working, since Christ would return at any time. Still others were sinking back into the immorality of the culture. There was also a crisis in the leadership; many of the rank-and-file apparently were being offended by certain tactless elders. These and other minor difficulties occasioned Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians.





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1 Thessalonians 1
1 Thessalonians 2
1 Thessalonians 3
1 Thessalonians 4
1 Thessalonians 5

1 Thessalonians 1



1 Thessalonians Chapter 1

There is, in my opinion, no doubt at all that the letter to the Thessalonians was written by Paul. Thessalonica was a seaport city. It was located in the Macedonian area. This might have been the largest city in Macedonia. The seaport made it a large city. Thessalonica was a mixture of Greeks and Romans. Many Jewish merchants headquartered here.


In Thessalonica, Paul's main subject to the people was the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His second coming. Paul was the founder of the church in Thessalonica. It was on his second journey that Paul founded the church. There was not as much resistance from the Jews here, as in some of the other areas. Let me say there was much persecution here, but not from Judaizers in the church.


It is believed that this is the first of the letters of Paul to be written. It is also believed that Paul wrote this from Corinth. It was written somewhere around 50 A.D. Give or take a year or two.


1 Thessalonians 1:1 "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", a companion of Paul on the second missionary journey (Acts 15-18), later a writer for Peter (1 Peter 5:12), also called Silas.


'Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy": Paul's salutation takes the form of an everyday letter of the Hellenistic world. The names Silas (Silvanus"), and Timothy (Timotheus), are their names in Latin. Silas and Timothy are mentioned not as coauthors but as a courtesy since they were Paul's companions while he was in Thessalonica.


"Timothy" was Paul's most notable disciple (Phil. 2:17-23), who traveled on the second and third missionary journeys and stayed near Paul during his first Roman imprisonment (Phil. 1:1; Col.1:1; Philemon 1). Later he served in Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), and spend some time in prison (Heb. 13:23).


Paul's first letter to Timothy, while he was ministering in the church at Ephesus, instructed him regarding life in the church (1 Tim. 3:15). In his second letter, Paul called Timothy to be strong (2 Tim. 2:1), and faithfully preach as he faced death and was about to turn his ministry over to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:1-8).


"God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ": Since Paul's initial converts were Jewish, he made it unmistakably clear that this "church", was not a Jewish assembly, but rather one which gathered in the name of Jesus, the Son of God (Acts 17:2-3). Who is both Lord God and Messiah. This emphasis on the equality between God and the Lord Jesus is a part of the introduction in all Paul's epistles (1 John 2:23).


Silas had taken the place of Barnabas on Paul's second missionary journey (Acts 15:22-18:15). Timothy had joined them at Lystra, his hometown (Acts 16:1-3), and had also just recently visited the Thessalonians at Paul's request (3:2).


"The Church": Greek ekklesia ("assembly"): Since Jesus used this term (Matt. 16:18), it had become a technical term among the early believers for a local group of baptized Christians.


In the New Testament, the word never refers to a building, and in its technical sense is carefully distinguished from Israel as designating those who are "in the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ."


While local churches are implied, the more normative sense of the term may also signify all believers in Christ (Acts 8:3; 9:31; 1 Cor. 12:28; 15:9; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18).


This is a typical Pauline greeting to these people he loved so well. In Corinthians, Paul was defending his right to lead them and he reminded them that he was an apostle, called of God. He does not call himself that here, because he knows these people already believe that he was called of God to do this work. He feels that no explanation of who he is will be necessary.


Silvanus is the same person as Silas. We know that Paul had high regard for him. They had been imprisoned together for the gospel of Jesus. Of course, Timotheus is Timothy. It was not unusual for them to be with Paul. Timothy was an understudy of Paul. It seems that both Timothy and Silas had helped Paul in the founding of the church at Thessalonica.


Paul is very proud of this church. He feels they are grounded in the Truth of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We have mentioned in other lessons that there is a message in the name "Lord Jesus Christ". Jesus means Jehovah Savior, Christ means Messiah, the Anointed One.


To call Him Lord means that you have turned your will over to Him. Paul wishes unmerited favor for them (grace). If they know the King of Peace (Jesus Christ), they have perfect peace. Grace and peace are free blessings poured out on mankind by the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


1 Thessalonians 1:2 "We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;"


"Our prayers": Paul and his companions prayed frequently for the entire flock and 3 of those prayers are offered in this letter (1:2-3; 3:11-13; 5:23-24).


Paul never stopped being concerned about the churches that he had begun. He prayed for them regularly. Paul had very little to reprimand them for, he gave thanks to God for them.


1 Thessalonians 1:3 "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;"


"Your work of faith": refers to the Thessalonians' conversion when they "turned to God from idols" (verse 9).


The 3-fold combination of faith, hope and love is a Pauline favorite (5:8; 1 Cor. 13:13; Col. 1:4-5). Paul refers here to the fulfillment of ministry duties which resulted from these three spiritual attitudes (verses 9-10).


"Labor of love": concerns their practice of serving the "living and true God" (verse 9), and the "Patience" (i.e., perseverance). "Of hope", has to do with their steadfastly waiting "for His Son from heaven" (verse 10).


It appears from the praise that Paul has for the church at Thessalonica, that he is very pleased with their faithfulness to Christianity. We see the main things that are important in the faithful Christian in, faith, hope and love.


1 Corinthians 13:13 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity."


Charity, here is agape, which means God's kind of love. These three, faith, hope and love sum up a Christian. We have faith in Jesus, love His people as he would, and have hope of our resurrection in Him.


1 Thessalonians 1:4 "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God."


"Knowing ... your election": Paul's conviction of the genuineness of his readers' conversion was based on subjective and objective factors.


The church is commonly called "the elect" (Rom. 8:33; Col., 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10; Titus 1:1). In salvation, the initiating will is God's, not man's (John 1:13; Acts 13:46-48; Rom. 9:15-16; 1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 1:13; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1-2).


Man's will participates in response to God's promptings as Paul makes clear when he says the Thessalonians received the Word (verse 6), and they turned to God from idols (verse 9). These two responses describe faith and repentance, which God repeatedly calls sinners to do throughout Scripture (Acts 20:21).


The former relates to his own assurance of the gospel, the propriety of his Christian life, and to the effectiveness of his ministry produced by the Spirit's power (verse 5). The objective factor concerns the Thessalonians' becoming followers of Christ (verse 6), being examples to other believers (verse 7), and their gospel witness (verse 8).


Because of the faith, love, and hope in the previous verse, God has predestined us to the election of sonship in Him. We had to activate our will and have the faith, love and hope. He elected us to be His because of our decision. Paul says here, there is no question about it, you belong to God.


1 Thessalonians 1:5 "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."


"Our Gospel": Paul called his message "our gospel," because it was for him and all sinners to believer and especially for him to preach. He knew it did not originate with him, but was divinely authored; thus, he also called it "the gospel of God" (2:2, 9; Rom. 1:1). Because the person who made forgiveness possible is the Lord Jesus, he also referred to it as "the gospel of Christ" (3:2).


"Word only" It had to come in word (Rom. 10-13:17), and not word only, but in Holy Spirit power (1 Cor. 2:4-5), and in confidence (Isa. 55:11).


What manner of men": The quality of the message was confirmed by the character of the lives of the preachers. Paul's exemplary life served as an open book for all men to read, establishing the credibility of the power and grace of God essential to making the message of redemption believable to sinners.


Greek, euaggelion ("Good News"), is a technical term for the Christian message, stated succinctly (in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).


Paul was not a man of just words, but of deeds as well. His deeds proved to all that he truly believed the words he brought to them. Paul's power to heal, his power to preach, and his power to endure persecution came from the power of the Holy Ghost within him.


Paul is assured that he does not have to explain who he is or what he stands for to these people. They believe in the work of Paul. The "we" in this indicates that Timothy and Silas are known of them also.


1 Thessalonians 1:6 "And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:"


"Followers": means "imitators." (See also 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1). The Thessalonians had become third generation mimics of Christ. Christ is the first; Paul is the second; and the Thessalonians are the third (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1).


"Joy of the Holy Ghost": (Rom. 14:17). Joy in the midst of suffering, evidenced the reality of their salvation, which included the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). It is a joy inspired by the Holy Spirit.


"Received": (Greek dechomai) means to "receive in a respectful, obedient, and favorable way."


Paul does not mean that these people became Paulites. They were Christians. They followed Paul because he showed them the way to follow Christ. We know from the book of Acts that Paul was so persecuted here by the Jews, that Paul had to depart.


This was not Jews, in the church. They were Jews who did not believe in Christ. They were not Judaizers. It is so strange that the greatest growth in the church is in time of persecution. The joy, they experienced then, was not experienced because of things that happened around them, but the opposite. This joy was from within, despite the persecutions around them.


1 Thessalonians 1:7 "So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia."


"Example" The Greek word "tupos", was used to describe a seal that marked wax or a stamp that minted coins. Having become imitators of Christ (verse 6a), the readers were moral examples themselves (leaving their mark on others), that others could emulate. And the Thessalonians were fine examples in joyfully receiving the gospel amidst persecution (Verse 6b), and in sharing their faith with others (verse 8).


This is just saying that this church was doing so well that the other churches could look to them as an example of how the church was to function.


1 Thessalonians 1:8 "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."


The Greek word "execheo", translated "sounded out," means to "ring out." The Thessalonians' faith in Jesus resounded everywhere abroad. The idea is to reverberate. Wherever the Thessalonians went, the gospel given by the word of the Lord was heard. It resulted in a local outreach to Thessalonica, a national outreach to Macedonia and Achaia, and an international outreach to regions beyond.


Paul is saying here, that their good works speak for them wherever it is known of them. It seems that the gospel had spread from this city to other cities. We do not know whether people off the ships in the harbor came to church and carried the good news of their faith in God to other areas or whether they sent ministers forth with the gospel of Jesus Christ.


"We need not to speak anything": Though it may appear that this church developed such a testimony in only 3 Sabbaths of preaching (Acts 17:2), spanning as little as 15 days. It is better to understand that Paul preached 3 Sabbaths in the synagogue before he had to relocate elsewhere in the city.


In all likelihood, Paul spent months not weeks, which account for:


(1) The two collections he received from Philippi (Phil. 4:16);


(2) The time he worked night and day (2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8); and


(3) The depth of pastoral care evidenced in the letter (2:7-8, 11).


We do know that the verse above speaks of a spreading of the Word of God by these Thessalonians to other places, some quite far away. Paul, is just saying, it is a well-known fact of how you are spreading the true Word of God.


He also says, it was not necessary for him to carry the good news about them. The good news of their faith and work in God had spoken for itself.


1 Thessalonians 1:9 "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;"


"Ye turned": (Greek epistrepho) describes their "conversion", which is both positive (to God), and negative (from idols). This word describes what the bible elsewhere calls repentance (Matt. 3:1-2; 4:17; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 20:21). Salvation involves a person's turning from sin and trusting in false gods to Christ.


"Serve": (Greek douleuo, "to perform the duties of a bondslave"): A bondslave was a person who had been sold to another, thus becoming his personal property. Socially this was a very undesirable condition; but spiritually being God's servant was a privilege. Such was the readers' relation to the Lord. Those converted to Christ abandoned the worship of dead idols to become willing slaves to the living God.


Not only does Paul not have to tell the other churches about Thessalonica, but the people in the other churches are telling Paul. This had been a society of idol worshippers, but when the Truth was presented to them, they had turned from idol worship, to the worship of the One True God.


We had spoken earlier in this lesson how Paul had been empowered by the Holy Ghost. It seems that this church at Thessalonica had been filled with this same power. These people were bearing fruit for Jesus, because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and power. They were living and ministering to others through the power of the Holy Ghost.


1 Thessalonians 1:10 "And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, [even] Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."


"To wait": signifies waiting with expectation, looking ahead in faith, to the fulfillment of Christ's promises to return to the saints.


This is a recurring theme in the Thessalonian letters (3:13; 4:15-17; 5:8, 23; 2 Thess. 3:6-13; Acts 1:11; 2 Tim. 4:8; Titus 2:11-13). These passages indicate the immanency of the deliverance; it was something Paul felt could happen in their lifetime.


"Wrath to come": (5:9; Rev. 6:16), refers to the time of the Great Tribulation (spoken of by Christ, Matt. 24:21), from which the saints of the church will be delivered. This can mean to evacuate out of a current distress (Rom. 7:24; Col. 1:13), or to exempt from entering a distress (John 12:27; 2 Cor. 1:10).


The wrath can refer either to God's temporal wrath to come on the earth (Rev. 6:16-17; 19:15), or to God's eternal wrath (John 3:36; Rom. 5:9-10).


(1 Thessalonians 5:9), develops the same idea. The emphasis in both passages on Christ's work of salvation from sin favors this being understood as the deliverance from the eternal wrath of God in hell because of salvation.


Paul felt that the coming of the Lord was very near. Of course, it was for him, because none of us live much beyond one hundred years old. It is near for each of us, whether we are part of those physical dead who rise first, or whether we are those living who will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We shall rise, because He arose.


Our hope is of the resurrection in Him (Jesus). Notice, we are delivered from the wrath to come, not the tribulation to come. The wrath of God occurs the last three and one half years of the great tribulation period. When the wrath of God falls on this earth at the end of the Gentile age, we Christians will be standing around the throne of God in heaven.


Revelation 7:14 "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."


The tribulation was going on, but we are taken out of it. The wrath falls on the unbelievers.


Ephesians 5:6 "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."


Noah was not delivered from the flood; he was delivered in the flood. We are not delivered from tribulation, but in the tribulation. We are saved completely from the wrath of God.


Romans 5:9 "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him."


The Son from heaven, of course, is Jesus Christ our Lord. Notice, that Paul brings up the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. This letter is about the hope of the resurrection that Christians have because Jesus arose, and the second coming of Christ. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.


1 Thessalonians Chapter 1 Questions


  1. Who wrote this letter?
  2. Where was Thessalonica located?
  3. What nationality was it made up of?
  4. What was Paul's main subject in this letter?
  5. When had Paul founded this church?
  6. Was this an earlier letter or later letter of Paul's to the churches?
  7. Where was Paul when he wrote this letter?
  8. When was it believed that the letter was written?
  9. Who was the other 2 with Paul that Paul mentions in the first verse?
  10. Why did Paul not mention in this letter that he was called of God to be an apostle?
  11. What is another name that we know Silvanus by?
  12. Which one of these men was an understudy to Paul?
  13. What are some of the reasons Paul is proud of this church?
  14. What message is in the name, "Lord Jesus Christ"?
  15. Grace and peace are ______ blessings poured out on mankind by the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
  16. What kind of prayers did Paul pray for them?
  17. What are three very important things to be found in a Christian?
  18. Because of the _____, _______, and ______ God has predestinated them to election of sonship in Him.
  19. Paul was not a man of just words, but what?
  20. Where did Paul's power to heal, to preach, and to endure persecution come from?
  21. These people were not Paulites, but ____________.
  22. What type of joy is spoken of in verse 6?
  23. Who were they examples to?
  24. What spoke for these Thessalonians and made it unnecessary for Paul to speak for them?
  25. This had been a society of ________ ____________.
  26. They turned from the idols to the __________ ___.
  27. What empowered them to minister to others?
  28. How do we know we will arise?
  29. We are delivered from the _______ to come.
  30. Who does the wrath of God come on?
  31. Noah was not delivered ____ the flood, but ___ the flood.
  32. What justifies us?
  33. _______ is the Resurrection and the Life.



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1 Thessalonians 2



1 Thessalonians Chapter 2

Verses 1-2: Paul denies his adversaries' accusation that his ministry in Thessalonica had been in vain, that is, "empty" of proper motive. That he had been physically abused (suffered), and insulted (shamefully entreated), previously at Philippi, yet was bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel, verifies the purity of his ministerial motives.


Otherwise, persecution for the gospel would probably have prevented his courageous preaching. There was no impure incentive of any kind in his ministry (verse 3).


1 Thessalonians 2:1 "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:"


"Not in vain": Paul's ministry among the Thessalonians was so fruitful that not only were people saved and a vibrant, reproducing church planted, but the church also grew and flourished even after Paul left (1:5-8).


Paul says you know that the message we brought was Truth and you received it unto yourself. It was empowered by the Spirit of God and now you received it so fully that you are empowered with that same Spirit to minister.


Paul had asked nothing from them in return for bringing the gospel to them. His reward was in knowing that they received the True Word of God and were transformed into servants of the Most High God.


1 Thessalonians 2:2 "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."


"Entreated ... at Philippi": Paul and Silas had been brutalized in Philippi before coming to Thessalonica (Acts 16:19-24, 37). They suffered physically when beaten (Acts 16:22-23), and incarcerated (Acts 16:24). They were arrogantly mistreated with false accusations (Acts 16:20-21), and illegally punished, in spite of their Roman citizenship (Acts 16:37).


"Much contention": Like their treatment in Philippi, Paul's team was falsely accused of civil treason in Thessalonica (Acts 17:7), and suffered physical intimidation (Acts 17:5-6).


Paul never allowed a little persecution to keep him from bringing the gospel message to all who would receive it. Contention, in this verse, means conflict or fight. Everywhere Paul went, there seemed to be conflict. Most of his problems came from the Jews.


He had been a Pharisee of the Pharisees, before he came in close contact with the Light of the world on the road to Damascus. It seemed the conflict at Philippi had been so great that he had left there and come to Thessalonica. He did not stop preaching because of the conflict, he just moved locations.


Paul counted it a pleasure to be able to suffer for Christ and the gospel message. The message that Paul had brought to Thessalonica was not made milder by the conflict, but if anything was even bolder and more sure. Paul's boldness seemed to increase with every persecution.


1 Thessalonians 2:3 "For our exhortation [was] not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:"


Paul used 3 distinctly different words to affirm the truthfulness of his ministry, each expressing a contrast with what was characteristic of false teachers. He first asserts that "his message" was true and not erroneously false. His "manner of life" was pure, not sexually wicked. His "method of ministry" was authentic, not deceptive.


Paul was not a man of untruths. He spoke the message of God, exactly the way the Lord had given it to him. He did not alter the message to please man. Guile, in this verse would possibly mean trick.


Paul had not tried to trick anyone. He knew the Jews were caught up in the outward cleanness of a man. He explains that he was not an unclean man. Paul's message was straightforward. He never varied to the right or the left. He spoke Truth.


1 Thessalonians 2:4 "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."


"Allowed of God": It could be that some false teachers came into the church to discredit Paul's ministry. This would account for his emphasis (in verses 1-12), on his divine appointment, approval, integrity, and devotion to them. (Acts 9:15; 16:9-10).


Allowed and trieth translates the same Greek verb dokimazo differently because it has two different meanings in this same verse. "Allowed", means that God had carefully examined Paul and found him to be fit for the ministry, thus entrusting the apostle with this responsibility.


"Trieth" means that the Lord examines him daily to see whether he remains fit and can continue in the ministry. This habitual divine scrutiny is the reason Paul seeks to please God rather than men. God then, is the ultimate cause and motive of Paul's ministry, not impurity (verse 3), or covetousness (verse 5).


I love the word "allowed" in the verse above. Paul counted it a privilege to be trusted with the gospel message. We should count it a privilege to be allowed to work for God ourselves. Paul spoke as an oracle of God. Paul did not choose what he would say. He turned his tongue over to God and spoke the words as the Spirit gave him utterance.


Most ministers today have this all turned around. They are preaching what the people want to hear. The Bible calls that preaching to itching ears.


2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"


This verse in Timothy is speaking of ministers called of men to preach, not called of God. Paul was called of God to carry the message God chose to the people. The people did not always want to hear what the Spirit of God speaking through Paul had to say. It many times, stepped on their toes. The Spirit brought out sins in them that they thought no one knew about but God knew.


Paul had no desire to please men. His desire was to bring the message God wanted the people to have as accurately as he could. Paul's desire was to please God, not man.


If it brought persecution, so be it. God looks on the heart, and judges righteously. He looks on the heart of the minister, and the people he is ministering to. Let me mention, one more time, the gospel is (good news).



Verses 5-6: "Flattering words": Paul used 3 disclaimers to affirm the purity of his motives for ministry:


(1) He denied being a smooth-talking preacher who tried to make favorable impressions in order to gain influence for selfish advantage;


(2) He did not pretend to be poor and work night and day (verse 9), as a pretense to get rich in the ministry at their expense; and


(3) He didn't use his honored position as an apostle to seek personal glory, only God's glory (1 Cor. 10:31).


1 Thessalonians 2:5 "For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God [is] witness:"


"Cloak" (Greek prophasis), signifies "excuse," "cover up," or "front"; for an impure motive of greed.


Paul was not trying to get anything from them. He did not covet anything that belonged to them. When someone flatters you, they are usually setting you up to get something from you. Paul had none of these desires. He was compelled within himself to bring the Truth of the gospel to all who would receive it.


Some believe that Paul was trying to make up for the times when he himself had persecuted the Christians. I really believe that Paul loved God so much that he wanted everyone to know and love God as he did. He was truly grateful that God had loved him enough to turn him around on the right path.


I believe that Paul loved God even when he was persecuting Christians. He even thought he was doing that for God. His eyes of his understanding had not been opened where he could see Jesus for who He really is. Paul knew that even if the people did not understand what he was trying to do, God did. He really had to answer to no man but God.


1 Thessalonians 2:6 "Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor [yet] of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ."


"Might have been burdensome": may be rendered, "though we could have wielded authority". Paul and his coworkers did not seek esteem (glory), from men nor from the Thessalonians (neither of you), although they could have 'thrown their weight around" as the apostles of Christ, and thus demanded honor.


"Apostles of Christ": This plural is designed to include Paul with the 12 for the sake of emphasizing his unique authority. Silvanus and Timothy were "apostles (messengers), of the church" (Rom. 16:7; Phil. 2:25).


We already mentioned in the book of Philippians that Paul would not accept any gifts from any of the churches except the church at Philippi. Paul preached the gospel to them with no strings attached. He did not even ask for an offering from them.


We see in this that Paul was not seeking to be thought of as the great apostle. He included Timothy and Silas in this letter right at the beginning. Paul was not looking to be honored by these people. He knew his reward would be in heaven. He did not ask them to think of him as the number one apostle.



Verses 7-8: Paul may have had in mind Moses' portrayal of himself as a nursing mother to Israel (Num. 11:12). He used the same tender picture with the Corinthians (2 Cor. 12:14-15), and the Galatians (Gal 4:19).


Paul's affection for the Thessalonians was like that felt by a mother willing to sacrifice her life for her child as was Christ who was willing to give up His own life for those who would be born again into the family of God (Matt. 20:28).


1 Thessalonians 2:7 "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:"


"Nurse cherisheth": Just as a nursing mother selflessly cares for her children, so Paul gave himself to the Thessalonians. He changes the figure of speech to that of a father (In verse 11).


Paul had made himself as one of them. He had not elevated himself up above the people. His message to them had been a message of the love of God. He was tenderly teaching them as a parent would his own child.


1 Thessalonians 2:8 "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."


In this, Paul was bringing them the good news of the gospel of Christ, but wanted them to feel the love that he had for them as well. Paul had such great love for them that he would have been willing to face most any hardship to bring them this message that would bring Life to them.


He is also saying that he preached from his heart. He was not trying to scare them out of hell, but love them into heaven.


1 Thessalonians 2:9 "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God."


"Laboring night and day": Paul explained this (in 2 Thess. 3:7-9). He did not ask for any money from the Thessalonians but rather lived on what he earned and what the Philippians sent (Phil. 4:16). So that his motives could not be questioned, unlike the false teachers who always sought money (1 Peter 5:2).


Paul did not stop when the sun went down. He preached into the night when necessary. He also prayed for the people he preached to. The call of God is not an 8 hour a day job. The called of God are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the rest of their life.


Paul is saying that he will not be held responsible by God for not telling them the good news of the gospel. He told them all. He will have a clear conscience when he stands before God.


1 Thessalonians Chapter 2 Questions


  1. What is Paul saying to them in verse 1?
  2. What was the power in the message brought?
  3. What was the only reward Paul wanted and got?
  4. Where had Paul suffered persecution just before he came to Thessalonica?
  5. Did the persecution Paul faced alter the strength of his message?
  6. What does "contention", in verse 2, mean?
  7. Where did most of Paul's problems come from?
  8. What had caused Paul to change from being a Pharisee?
  9. He did not stop preaching because of the conflict he just _______ _____________.
  10. For our exhortation was not of _________, nor of __________, nor in ________.
  11. What did "guile", in verse 3, mean?
  12. The Jews were caught up in the ___________ cleanness of man.
  13. What word in verse 4 did the author say she loved?
  14. Paul counted it a __________ to be entrusted with the gospel message.
  15. What did Paul speak to the people?
  16. The Bible calls it preaching to __________ ______ when we preach what the people want to hear.
  17. Why did the people sometimes take offence at what Paul preached?
  18. What does gospel mean?
  19. God was witness that Paul had not done what in his ministering?
  20. When someone flatters you, what do they do it?
  21. What was Paul truly grateful to God for?
  22. Who did Paul have to answer to?
  23. Who was the only church Paul would allow to help him financially?
  24. What does Paul compare the gentleness of his message to them to in verse 7?
  25. What did Paul want them to feel besides the love of God in the gospel message?
  26. Why did Paul want to do this?
  27. He was not trying to scare them out of ______, but to love them into _________.
  28. Why would Paul feel no guilt when he stands before God
  29. It pleased God to save them that believe by the foolishness of ____________.



1 Thessalonians Chapter 2 Continued

1 Thessalonians 2:10 "Ye [are] witnesses, and God [also], how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:"


"Ye are witnesses": Under Old Testament law it took two or more witnesses to verify truth (Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1). Here Paul called on both the Thessalonians and
God as witnesses to affirm his holy conduct in the ministry (2 Cor. 1:12).


Paul is saying in this that he and those who travelled with him, were a living example of what they preached. He is also telling them that they were eye witnesses of this. He is saying, as God is my witness, we behaved properly to you.


Paul, and those ministering with him, were a testimony of the goodness of God. They were, in fact, a walking sermon. I had rather see a sermon, than hear one any day. Paul was a representative of God to these people.


1 Thessalonians 2:11 "As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father [doth] his children,"


"Exhorted": (Greek parakaleo, "exhort, comfort, encourage"). The noun form of this word for Christ (1 John 2:1, "advocate").


"Charged": (Greek martureo, "witness," "testify"), is the term from which the English term martyr derives.


The three key words in this are exhorted, comforted, and charged. Paul used these 3 words to describe his fatherly relationship with the Thessalonians since they were his children in the faith. They emphasized the personal touch of a loving father (1 Cor. 4: 14-15).


Exhort in the verse above is a calling into the brotherhood of Christianity by the preaching of Paul. They were then comforted and empowered to minister by the Holy Spirit (Comforter), and the next step would be charged (given the great commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel).


These are the steps that Paul had brought them through as a loving parent would do. The parent prepares the child and then the child goes out to continue this in his children. In this case, it is speaking of spiritual children.


1 Thessalonians 2:12 "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory."


"Walk" refers to the Christian life and conduct.


"His kingdom and glory": This speaks of the sphere of eternal salvation (Col. 1:13-14), culminating in the splendor of heaven.


This is one statement that is being overlooked today among Christians. The preachers are not emphasizing enough that after you receive your salvation (free gift), you must walk in that salvation. If we are truly sons of God, we should behave as our Father would have us to.


Pick up your cross daily, is what Jesus said, and then He said, follow me. The only way that we can walk worthy of God is to step in the footprints Jesus laid for us to walk in. God called you, you must answer.


1 Thessalonians 2:13 "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."


"The word of God which ye heard of us": Both Paul and the Thessalonians recognized that the Word he preached to them was the Word of God ("a word spoken by God). In this context, Paul is boldly asserting the divine inspiration of his gospel (2 Tim. 3:16).


"Worketh also in you": The work of God's Word includes: saving (Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23); teaching and training (2 Tim. 3:16-17); guiding (Psalm 119:105); counseling (Psalm 119:24); reviving (Psalm 119:154); restoring (Psalm 19:7); warning and rewarding (Psalm 19:11); nourishing (1 Pet. 2:2); judging (Heb. 4:12); sanctifying (John 17:17); freeing (John 8:31-32); enriching (Col. 3:16); protecting (Psalm 119:11); strengthening (Psalm 119:28); making wise (Psalm 119:97-100); rejoicing the heart (Psalm 19:8); and prospering (Joshua 1:8-9).


Paul is like a proud father who is bragging on his children. Paul was proud that God had called them to His kingdom, but he was even more proud that they realized that his message was not his own, but was the message God had sent him with.


The Word of God is the One we call Jesus. It is also the Bible. For thousands of years, men have tried to prove that the Bible was just like any other book. They cannot do it. The Bible stands alone in the fact that it is alive. It is just as current today as it was two thousand years ago. It is our instruction for living victorious lives.


It was the instruction for our great grandparents living victorious lives as well. It is ageless. The Bible is inspired (God breathed). When I look into the Bible, I see the face of Jesus. All other books, besides the Bible, are of men. The Bible is of God.


1 Thessalonians 2:14 "For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they [have] of the Jews:"


"Followers": (imitators): As the Thessalonians imitated the apostles in their commitment to the Lord (1:6), they also imitated the Judean churches, since they also suffered at the hands of their own people.


Not only were the Thessalonians imitators of Paul and the Lord, but also of the churches in Judea, in the sense that they both were persecuted for Christ's sake (Acts 4:1-4; 5:26; 8:1). They drank Christ's cup of suffering (Mark 26:39), and walked in the way of the Old Testament prophets (Matt. 21:33-46; Luke 13:34).


To proclaim you were a Christian brought great persecution. In Judea, the persecution of the Christians came from the Jews. Here in Thessalonica it came from all those who did not believe. The church at Thessalonica was a Gentile church.


We had mentioned earlier that their persecution had not come from Judaizers in the church, but from the unbelievers from without.



Verses 15-16: "Contrary to all men": Just as it is God's will that all men be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), so it was the will of the Jews that no one find salvation in Christ (verse 16). Paul at one time had embraced this blasphemy of trying to prevent gospel preaching (1 Tim. 1:12-17).


1 Thessalonians 2:15 "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:"


"Killed the Lord Jesus": There is no question that the Jews were responsible for the death of their Messiah, though the Romans carried out the execution. It was the Jews who brought the case against Him and demanded His death (Luke 23:1-24, 34-38), just as they had killed the prophets (Matt. 22:37; Mark 5:1-8; Acts 7:51-52). If the Lord was not exempt from persecution, His followers could hardly expect to escape it.


"They please not God": Throughout this passage Paul shows that while his Jewish enemies think they are serving God, they really are not.


Paul is placing the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus on the Jews here. Look, in Jesus' own words, He says the Jews killed the prophets.


Matthew 23:31 "Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets."


It was the Jews who cried out for Jesus to be crucified. It was the Romans who carried it out. Really, though, you and I nailed Him to the cross. Paul speaks as one who knows. He had been a Jew. The Jew thought himself to be better than all other people. It outraged them that salvation was offered to the Gentile.


1 Thessalonians 2:16 "Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."


"Fill up their sins": This expression parallels (Genesis 15:16). Often God allows His people to suffer the indignation of others simply because He is longsuffering toward the sinner, "not willing that any should perish." Consequently, some will repent and others will fully justify their condemnation.


"The wrath is come upon them": God's wrath (1:10; 5:9), on the Jews who "fill up the measure of their sins" (Matt. 23:32, Rom. 2:5). Thus, filling up the cup of wrath can be understood;


(1) Historically of the Babylonian exile (Ezek. 8-11);


(2) Prophetically of Jerusalem's destruction in A.D. 70;


(3) Eschatologically of Christ's second coming in judgment (Rev. 19); or


(4) Soteriologically in the sense that God's promised eternal wrath for unbelievers is so certain that it is spoken of as having come already as does the Apostle John (John 3:18, 36).


This context relates to the fourth option.


The big problem with the Jews, who had accepted Jesus as their Savior, was that they wanted to remain a Jew, as well as being a Christian. They wanted all Gentiles who came to Christ to first fulfill the custom of Jewish circumcision.


Paul, Peter, James, and many of the other disciples had gotten together and agreed that this was not part of being a Christian. God had turned to the Gentiles because the Jews as a whole, had rejected Christ as their Messiah, the Savior of the world.


When Paul speaks of we in the verse above, he is speaking of him being a Pharisee. He had been taught from his youth that Gentiles were unclean. Jesus opened his eyes and let him see the truth. To reject the Son of God is a serious thing.


Ephesians 5:6 "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."


1 Thessalonians 2:17 "But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire."


"Being taken from you": The Greek term (aporphanizo) is intensely passionate. It is related to our word "orphan," and could be translated "since we have been torn apart."


Paul had been forcedly separated from his spiritual children (Acts 17:5-9). His motherly (verse 7), and fatherly instincts (verse 11), had been dealt a severe blow. Literally the Thessalonians had been orphaned by Paul's forced departure.


We remember that Paul was in Corinth when he wrote this letter to the Thessalonians. He loved these people and desired to be with him. They were his friends, but Paul thought of them as his children in the Lord Jesus Christ. He was their founding father, and he thought of them as his spiritual children.


1 Thessalonians 2:18 "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."


"Satan hindered us": Satan, which means adversary, continually attempted to tear down the church that Christ promised to build (Matt. 16:18). He was said to be present at the churches of Jerusalem (Acts 5:1-10), Smyrna (Rev. 2:9-10), Pergamum (Rev. 2:13), Thyatira (Rev. 2:24), Philadelphia (Rev. 3:9), Ephesus (1 Titus 3:6-7), and Corinth (2 Cor. 2:1-11).


He thwarted Paul in the sense that a military force would hinder the advance of his enemy. This could very possible refer to the pledge that Jason made (Acts. 17:9), if that pledge was a promise that Paul would not return to Thessalonica.


Paul wanted to come back to minister to them and to visit with them. It would have been like going home, because they had so eagerly accepted Paul and his teaching here. Satan is the author of all lies and the source of all hindrance to the gospel. Paul's own personal desire was to go to see them, but sometimes our desire is not the desire of the Lord.


Satan could not have prevented Paul from going back there any time he wanted to unless God gave Satan permission to do this. Unknowing to Satan, he sometimes plays right into the hands of God. God uses for good what Satan intended for evil.


God perhaps had plans for Paul to go to another church at this time. If you are a Christian, Satan has to get God's permission to attack you. Our problems come to make us strong and to show us how badly we need God.


1 Thessalonians 2:19 "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?"


"Crown of rejoicing": The bible speaks of eternal life like a wreath awarded for an athletic victory. It is spoken of in terms of:


(1) The imperishable wreath that celebrates salvation's victory over corruption (1 Cor. 9:25);


(2) The righteous wreath that celebrates salvation's victory over unrighteousness (2 Tim. 4:8);


(3) Expected coming (2 Cor. 7:6).


Regarding Christ and the future, it can refer to:


(1) Christ's coming at the Rapture (4:15), or


(2) Christ's second coming prior to His 1,000 year millennial reign (Mat. 24:37; Rev. 19:11 - 20:6).


Paul referred directly to Christ's coming 4 times (in 1 Thess.), and once indirectly (1:10). Context indicates Paul most likely refers here to Christ's coming for the rapture of the church.


"At his coming": (Greek parousia): This was a common term in the Hellenistic world for formal visits by royalty. It became a technical term in the New Testament for the second coming of Christ. As such, it is used 18 times (seven in the Thessalonians epistles). This is the first time Paul uses it in his writings.


Paul's greatest reward would not be on this earth, but in heaven. He would feel a special joy when those whom he ministered to are able to stand before the Lord and be counted among the believers.


Paul would have many stars in his crown for all those he led to the Lord down through the ages. Paul's hope, the same as ours was hope of the resurrection. His joy would be very great because of all those he would be responsible for making the resurrection.


1 Thessalonians 2:20 "For ye are our glory and joy."


A spiritual parent is very much like a physical parent, in the fact that they have more joy over their children doing well than they do when they do well themselves. Paul could depend on these Thessalonians staying firm in their belief until the end. They truly would be his glory and his joy.


1 Thessalonians Chapter 2 Continued Questions


  1. How had Paul behaved himself in front of these Thessalonians?
  2. What was Paul saying in this description of his behavior?
  3. Who was the witness that Paul had lived this way among them?
  4. What are the three key words in verse 11?
  5. What do they show?
  6. What is exhort speaking of in verse 11?
  7. Tell of the steps Paul had brought them through.
  8. What does "walk worthy of God" mean?
  9. Pick up your cross _________.
  10. What did Paul thank God for without ceasing about these Thessalonians?
  11. What is the Word?
  12. What sets the Bible aside from other writings?
  13. What does inspired mean?
  14. Who had the Christians in Judaea suffered by?
  15. Who is verse 15 speaking of that killed the Lord Jesus?
  16. Who were the Jews forbidden to speak to?
  17. What was generally wrong with the Jews who had accepted Christ?
  18. Why did Paul desire to see them again?
  19. Who did Paul say had hindered him?
  20. Who is the author of all lies?
  21. Why do Christians have problems?



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1 Thessalonians 3



1 Thessalonians Chapter 3

1 Thessalonians 3:1 "Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;"


"No longer forbear": The agony of separation between spiritual parent, Paul, and his children in Thessalonica became unbearably painful (verse 5).


"Left at Athens alone": Paul and Silas stayed behind while Timothy returned (verse 2). This would not be the last time that Timothy went to a church in Paul's place (1 Cor. 4:17; 16:10; Phil. 2:19-24; 1 Tim. 1:3).


1 Thessalonians 3:2 "And sent Timothy, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:"


"Establish ... comfort ... faith": This was a common ministry concern and practice of Paul (Acts 14:22; 15:32; 18:23). Paul's concern did not focus on health, wealth, self-esteem, or ease of life, but rather the spiritual quality of life.


Their faith was of supreme importance in Paul's mind as evidenced by 5 mentions (in verses 1-10). Faith includes the foundation of the body of doctrine (Jude 3), and their believing response to God in living out that truth (Heb. 11:6).


"Minister of God": is a variant reading, probably substituted for "God's fellow workers" (1 Corinthians 3:9).


Paul's desire was to lead these Thessalonians into all truth. The very next best thing to being there himself would be to send Timothy. We have discussed before, that a Christian never stands still. If the Christian is not growing in the Lord, he will be losing ground. This is the very purpose of Timothy going.


He will get them off the milk and honey of Christianity and get them to the meat of Christianity. There is a growth in the Lord that comes from feeding on His Words every day. There is also, a growth that comes from facing problems and overcoming them with the Word of God.


Paul is highly recommending Timothy to them. He will build them up in their most holy faith.


1 Thessalonians 3:3 "That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto."


"Appointed": God had promised Paul future sufferings when He commended him to ministry through Ananias (Acts 9:16).


Paul reminded the Thessalonians of this divine appointment so that they would not think that:


(1) God's plan was not working out as evidenced by Paul's troubles, or


(2) Paul's afflictions demonstrated God's displeasure with him.


To think that way would upset the church's confidence in Paul and fulfill Satan's deceptive purposes (verse 5; 2 Cor. 4:8-15; 6:1-10; 11:23-27; 12:7-10).


The word "afflictions" is the same as tribulations. Let's look at what Jesus had to say about the Christians having tribulation.


John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."


You might say, why do we have tribulation?


Romans 5:3-5 "And not only [so], but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" "And patience, experience; and experience, hope:" "And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."


You can easily see the reason for tribulation, is to make us strong in the Lord. We must realize that we are nothing in and of ourselves. We realize that our strength is in Christ our Lord. Jesus, our leader, was afflicted, and we will be too if we are His.


1 Thessalonians 3:4 "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."


"Suffer tribulation": Paul had told them to expect him to suffer as he had already suffered before this Thessalonian experience (2:14-16; Acts 13:14). During (Acts 17:1-9), and following (Acts 17:10-18:11), his time at Thessalonica, Paul also knew tribulation.


The life of a Christian is not without problems (regardless of what some tell you). It is a life of self-sacrifice. Many ministers today are promising things to their converts that are not realistic.


We must learn to live victoriously during the problems. It rains on the just and on the unjust, but Christians have someone to go to in their time of trouble. We have Jesus to help us.


Romans 8:35 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"


Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come," "Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."


1 Thessalonians 3:5 "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 labor be in vain."


"Know your faith": Paul was anxious to know the spiritual condition of this assembly.


"The tempter": Satan had already been characterized as a hinderer (2:18), and now as a tempter in the sense of trying/testing for the purpose of causing failure (Matt. 4:3; 1 Cor. 7:5; James 1:12-18).


Paul was not ignorant of Satan's schemes (2 Cor. 2:11; 11:23), not vulnerable to his methods (Eph. 6:11). So Paul took action to counterattack Satan's expected maneuver and to assure that all his efforts were not useless (2:1).


Paul is aware that they have faced great tribulation, and he is not fully persuaded that they were able to handle the crisis. He is sending Timothy to check, and see if they stayed faithful. Paul knows exactly how the devil works. He will bring so great a temptation in our weakest area that many will fall.


He just cannot wait to find out if they had withstood or not. He is praying that they stood, because he had given them a strong enough foothold in the Word that they would not fall. If they fall, he feels his effort was in vain.


1 Thessalonians 3:6 "But now when Timothy 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:"


"Your faith and charity": Timothy returned to report the Thessalonians' trust in God, their response to one another, and to Paul's ministry. This news convinced Paul that Satan's plans to disrupt God's work had not been successful and settled Paul's anxiety (verse 7).


By the time Paul wrote this, he had already heard from Timothy that they had withstood the great temptation. He is delighted that they held strong in their faith and charity. Paul was pleased that they wanted him to come back and minister to them. He reminds them that he desires to come and see them as much as they want him to come.


1 Thessalonians 3:7 "Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:"


Paul was very pleased that his spiritual children had been strong in the faith. It seems Paul's afflictions and distress never stopped. Jesus had told Paul, He would show him what great things he would suffer. One of the highest callings we can have, is to suffer for Christ. Just to know that their faith had been so strong encouraged Paul.


1 Thessalonians 3:8 "For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord."


"Stand fast": Pictured here is an army that refuses to retreat even though it is being assaulted by the enemy. This is a frequent Pauline injunction (1 Cor. 16:13; Gal. 5:1; Eph. 6:11, 13-14; Phil. 1:27; 4:1; 2 Thess. 2:15).


We see from this, Paul has had new life breathed into his weary soul, because these, his converts, have kept the faith. When one Christian stands fast in the Lord, it gives the others courage to stand.


1 Thessalonians 3:9 "For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;"


"Render": (Greek antapodidomi), has the sense of paying back something owed. Paul repays God in the currency of thanksgiving.


"Joy": Paul, like John (3 John verse 4), found the highest sense of ministry joy in knowing that his children in the faith were growing and walking in the truth. It led him to the worship of God in thanksgiving and rejoicing.


Paul is so grateful of their stand for Christ; he has nothing to pray for them, but praise to God. Again, this is like a parent thanking God for a child who has been obedient to God. What a joy comes in knowing someone you led to the Lord has this much strength and stamina in God. Paul's joy is in his heart.


1 Thessalonians 3:10 "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?"


"Praying": As to frequency, Paul prayed night and day just as he worked night and day (2:9). As to fervency, Paul prayed super-abundantly (Eph. 2:20).


"Perfect" (literally complete): Paul's stay with the Thessalonians was so brief that he could not complete the work to his satisfaction. He longed for the opportunity to remedy the deficiencies (That which is Lacking), in their faith.


"Lacking": Paul was not criticizing the church but rather acknowledging that they had not yet reached their full potential, for which he prayed and labored (verse 10). The themes of (chapters 4-5), deal with areas of this lack.


We see from the "night and day", that Paul continuously prays for them. He prays in earnest. Paul desires to come and minister to them that they might continue to grow in this most holy faith they have begun in.


Romans 12:2 "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."


1 Thessalonians 3:11 "Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you."


"Direct our way unto you": Paul knew that Satan had hindered his return (2:18). Even though Timothy had visited and returned with a good report, Paul still felt the urgency to see his spiritual children again. Paul followed the biblical admonition of the Psalms (Psalm 37:1-5), and Proverbs (Prov. 3:5-6), to entrust difficult situations to God.


God Himself is our Father. This is showing the unity of Jesus Christ and God the Father. They are one in Spirit. They are one in purpose. When we pray, we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. Jesus is the Way. Paul is praying that he will be able to see them again. Only God can cause this to be. Paul went where God sent him.


1 Thessalonians 3:12 "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all [men], even as we [do] toward you:"


"Love one toward another": With over 30 positive and negative "one anothers", in the New Testament, love appears by far most frequently (4:9; Rom. 12:10; 13:8; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11; 2 John 5). It is the overarching term that includes all the other "one anothers." Its focus is on believers in the church.


"Toward all men": In light of the fact that God loved the world and sent His Son to die for human sin (John 3:16), believers who were loved when they were unlovely (Rom. 5:8), are to love unbelievers. Other New Testament commands concerning all men include pursuing peace (Rom. 12:18), doing good (Gal. 6:10), being patient (Phil. 4:5), praying (1 Tim. 2:1), showing consideration (Titus 3:2), and honoring (1 Peter 2:17).


The type of love spoken of here is the unselfish God love for all of mankind. He loves us even when we are unlovable. If we have taken on the name Christian (Christ-like), then we must have that unselfish love for every single person in the human race, that Christ had. The world loves, because of what we can do for them, or what we can give them.


God loves us in spite of all of our faults, asking nothing in return, except that we believe on Him. We must learn to love with the same kind of love that God has for us.


Mark 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this [is] the first commandment." "And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."


1 Thessalonians 3:13 "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."


"Unblameable in holiness": Paul prayed that there would be no grounds of accusation because of un-holiness (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Peter 5:16-17; Jude 24).


"Coming of our Lord: Again, Paul used the term parousia to refer to Christ's second coming, repeating it for special emphasis.


"His Saints": Since this exact term is not used elsewhere in the New Testament of angels, but is commonly used for believers, it is best to understand the coming of the Lord to rapture all His church and take them to heaven to enjoy His presence.


"Saints" used here in the masculine plural, refers to holy people. These may be believers (see Eph. 1:1; 1 Thess. 4:14), or angels (see Mark 8:38). Considering the problem cited (in chapter 4), the former idea is likely in view here.


If we love the way Paul was speaking of (in verse 12), then we will be established in our hearts unblameable before God. We will be in right standing with the Father, because we have washed in the blood of the Lamb (Jesus), and been made righteous and holy before the Father.


The Christians are the saints. Jesus is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords, and the saints will reign with Him.


1 Thessalonians Chapter 3 Questions


  1. Where had Paul gone to from Corinth?
  2. Who does the "we" include in verse 1?
  3. Where did Paul want to go?
  4. Who did Paul send in his place to Thessalonica?
  5. What happens, if a Christian is not growing?
  6. Timothy will take them off the _______ and _____ and feed them the meat of the Word.
  7. What are 2 ways the Christian grows?
  8. What must we use to overcome problems?
  9. What is another word for "afflictions"?
  10. In the world you shall have _____________.
  11. Why do we have tribulations?
  12. Where is our strength?
  13. What difference is there between Christians and non-Christians at problem times?
  14. What can separate the Christian from the love of God?
  15. Why is Paul sending Timothy to check on them?
  16. What would make Paul think he had failed with them?
  17. What did Timothy report to Paul about these people?
  18. In what way were these Thessalonians Paul's children?
  19. What had breathed life back into Paul?
  20. When Paul prayed for them to the Father, what kind of prayer did he pray?
  21. How often did he pray for them?
  22. What is meant by the names of God in verse 11?
  23. What kind of love is spoken of in verse 12?
  24. If we are truly Christian (Christ-like), what must we do?
  25. What will establish our hearts unblameable before God?
  26. What makes us righteous?
  27. Who are the saints?



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1 Thessalonians 4



1 Thessalonians Chapter 4

1 Thessalonians 4:1 "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."


"Furthermore" (Greek loipos) marks a key transition in the book. Here Paul introduces his exhortation on practical Christian living.


"By the Lord Jesus": To give added weight to his words, Paul appealed here to the fact that he wrote with the authority of Christ Himself (see verses 2, 15; 5:27; 2 Thess. 3:6, 12).


"Please God": (2:4, 15; 2 Cor. 5:9; Eph. 5:10, 17; Col. 1:10; Heb. 11:6; 13:15-16; 1 John 3:22). This is done by obedience to the Word of God (verse 3).


We see in this that Paul is calling them to walk holy before their God. There is only one way to walk that is pleasing to God. That is to walk on the straight and narrow path of righteousness. You might even explain it as walking in the footprints Jesus has left for us. Paul reminds them that Christianity is a daily walk.


The word "abound" in this particular instance, would mean to live therein. This is speaking of steadfastness in the Lord. Paul has explained and preached before to them about walking uprightly before God. He taught them that the only way to please God is to have faith in Him and walk in His ways. We should, like these people, try to please God and not ourselves.


The word "furthermore" shows us that this chapter is directly connected to the chapter before. This is just a further explanation of what God expects from each of us. True salvation is a free gift. We do not do anything to earn it. It is, however, up to us to walk in the salvation that has been given us. We must walk in newness of life. We must desire to please God in all that we do.


1 Thessalonians 4:2 "For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus."


"Commandments we gave you": Paul appeals to his apostolic authority, speaking as a representative of the Lord Jesus.


Paul is saying in this, the commandments were God's. He explains that he was the messenger that God sent them by. Everything Paul said to them was as an oracle of God. The Spirit of God put the Words in Paul's mouth and Paul spoke them.


1 Thessalonians 4:3 "For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:"


"The will of God": All of God's Word contains God's will, both affirmations and prohibitions.


Specifically, God's will includes salvation (1 Tim. 2:4), self-sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2), Spirit filling (Eph. 5:18), submission (1 Pet. 2:13-15), suffering (1 Pet. 3:17), satisfaction (5:18), settledness (Heb. 10:36). And particularly here, sanctification, which literally refers to a state of being set apart from sin to holiness.


In this context, it means being set apart from sexual impurity; holding oneself away from immorality by following the instruction (in verses 4-8).


The New Testament delineates three kinds of holiness:


(1) Positional holiness (1 Cor. 6:11);


(2) Progressive holiness (Rom. 6:12-23);


(3) Perfected holiness (3:13). The second kind is in view here.


Sanctification in this verse, means purification or holiness. This means that God Himself has purified them for Himself. We are set aside for God's purposes when we are sanctified. We may be in the world, but we are no longer of this world. We are in Christ and He is in us.


"Fornication" (Greek porneia) means any form of sexual impurity.


Abstain, means to hold one-self off. It also means refrain. Fornication means, adultery, incest, idolatry, or harlotry of any kind. This includes homosexual and lesbian acts.


We see the seriousness of sexual sin. It is adultery in the physical, but spiritual adultery is included as being forbidden. It is covered in idolatry. Stay away from spiritual adultery and physical adultery, is what Paul is saying.


1 Thessalonians 4:4 "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor;"


"Possess his vessel": Two interpretations of "vessel" are usually offered. The term can mean:


(1) The wife (Ruth 4:10, LXX, 1 Peter 3:7), which one acquires, or


(2) The body (2 Cor. 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:21), which one possesses.


The latter is most likely since:


(1) The reference (in 1 Peter 3:7), is used only in a comparative sense ("someone weaker"), referring to general humanity, not femaleness;


(2) Being married does not guarantee sexual purity;


(3) Paul would be contradicting what he taught (in 1 Cor. 7), about the superlative state of singleness (7:8-9); and


(4) If taken in the sense of marrying a wife, Paul would be talking to men only and ignoring how women were to stay pure.


Therefore, "possess his own body" is the preferred translation/interpretation.


This is really saying, let your spirit rule over your flesh. Paul, in Corinthians had said we have this treasure in earthen vessels. The flesh of man came from the earth. This then, is speaking of the flesh of mankind.


To possess anything, means you have control over it. This is what is being said then, have control over your flesh and walk holy before your Lord.


1 Thessalonians 4:5 "Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:"


Concupiscence means longing for what is forbidden, or lust.


The Gentiles here are speaking of those who are not Christians. Gentile believers are the spiritual house of Israel. This is speaking of those who are not saved. The Gentiles who know not God are doing whatever is pleasing to the flesh.


1 Thessalonians 4:6 "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."


"Go beyond" means overstep this moral law.


"Defraud his brother": The context, which remains unchanged throughout (verses 1-8), demands that this refer to all the destructive social and spiritual implications for illegitimate sexual activity.


"Avenger": This means it is God who ultimately works out just recompense for such sins (Col. 3:4-7; Heb. 13:4).


This is speaking of going beyond the fraud. It includes sin of all kind. This is just saying do not sin against your brother. God sees everything we do against anyone. He especially watches over the brethren. Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.


"Defraud" means literally "take advantage of," "rob," or "cheat."


"In any matter" (or "in this manner"), refers to the sexual misconduct, deplored in the previous verses. It could refer to infidelity to one's spouse, or to an unmarried person committing adultery with someone's spouse.


1 Thessalonians 4:7 "For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness."


"Called us": Whenever the epistles refer to the "call" of God, it is always a reference to His effectual, saving call, never to a general plea. It is linked to justification (Rom. 8:30).


This uncleanness is not in the physical sense. This is uncleanness of the heart. It is not the dirt on the outside of man which destroys him; it is having an unclean heart. Our call is to be a sermon to others in the way we conduct our daily lives.


1 Thessalonians 4:8 "He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit."


"Despiseth": Paul's language here seems to echo Jesus' words (in Luke 10:16).


"Given unto us his Holy Spirit": God's Spirit is a free gift to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Acts 2:38; Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:16; 12:13; 2 Cor. 6:16).


When we despise man, we are despising God's creation, because God made man. When we despise the creation of God, we are finding fault with the Creator, who made this creation.


It is impossible for flesh man not to despise, but when we become spirit man, with the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, the Spirit within us knows only love. He loves the unlovable through us.



Verses 9-10: Taught of God to love": Through God's Word (Psalm 119: 97-102), and by God Himself, they were loving believers (Rom. 5:5; 1 John 2:7-11; 3:14; 4:7-8, 12).


1 Thessalonians 4:9 "But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another."


The great commandment that Jesus gave unto us was to love God with everything within us. The second commandment was like unto it. Look with me at what it is.


Matthew 22:39 "And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."


This is printed in red in my Bible which means that Jesus, Himself said this. The brotherly love spoken of above is loving your brother as you do yourself. Paul says, Jesus made it so clear; there is no need for me to add to that.


1 Thessalonians 4:10 "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;"


Paul is saying to them that the type of love that they have for their fellows in the church there, is very good. He just wants them to expand that type of love to all of humanity. It is easy for us to love our neighbors that we see every day. We understand them. Paul is saying, love the stranger, whom you do not have much in common with.


1 Thessalonians 4:11 "And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;"


"Study" literally means "aspire" or "determine."


"To be quiet": This refers to one who does not present social problems or generate conflict among those people in his life, but whose soul rests easy even in the midst of difficulty (1 Peter 3:4). Paul later deals with those who did not "attend to their own business" at Thessalonica (2 Thess. 3:6-15).


"Work with your own hands": this and (2 Thessalonians 3:11), suggest that some believers had abandoned their occupations, believing Christ's second coming was near at hand. Greek culture looked down on manual labor, but Paul exalts it.


We are seeing in this a description of the character traits that will follow those who are believers in Christ.


Proverbs 9:13 "A foolish woman [is] clamorous: [she is] simple, and knoweth nothing."


It is impossible to learn if you are talking all the time. Be a good listener and thereby show that you are wise in the Lord. We should never take on someone else's work to do. We should be doing (to the best of our ability), the job that God has called us to do. I, for one, want to be found working when the Lord comes to get me.


God has a job for each of us to do. It is not the same job as someone else. It is unique in the fact that you are the only one called to do that specific job. Find out what the will of God is for your life and get busy doing it.


1 Thessalonians 4:12 "That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and [that] ye may have lack of nothing."


"Them that are without": Non-Christians are in view here (1 Cor. 5:2; Col. 4:5; 1 Tim. 3:7).


"Lack of nothing": The biblical means of supplying one's needs is to work. (Verses 11 and 12), are important for the Christian work ethic.


The only contact that some people have with God is, the God they see operating in your life. You are a living witness by the way you conduct your life. If you live Christ-like before them, they see Christ in your walk. If you walk the worldly life, you lead them to destruction.



Verses 13-18: Even though Paul's ministry in Thessalonica was brief, it is clear the people had come to believe in and hope for the reality of their Savior's return (1:3, 9, 10; 2:19; 5:1-2; 2 Thess. 2:1, 5). They were living in expectation of that coming, eagerly awaiting Christ.


Verse 13: (2 Thess. 2:1-3), indicates they were even agitated about some things that were happening to them that might affect their participation in it. They knew Christ's return was the climactic event in redemptive history and didn't want to miss it. The major question they had was "What happens to the Christians who die before He comes? Do they miss His return?"


Clearly, they had an imminent view of Christ's return, and Paul had left the impression it could happen in their lifetime. Their confusion came as they were being persecuted, and experience they thought they were to be delivered from, by the Lord's return (3:3-4).


1 Thessalonians 4:13 "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."


"Them which are asleep": Sleep is the familiar New Testament euphemism for death which describes the appearance of the deceased. It describes the dead body, not the soul (2 Cor. 5:1-9; Phil. 1:23). Sleep is used of Jarius' daughter (Matt. 9:24), whom Jesus raised from the dead and Stephen who was stoned to death (Acts 7:60; John 11:11; 1 Cor. 7:39; 15:6, 18, 51; 2 Pet. 3:4).


Those who sleep are identified (in verse 16), as "the dead in Christ." The people, in ignorance, had concluded that those who die miss the Lord's return and they were grieved over their absence at such a glorious event.


Thus, the departure of a loved one brought great anguish to the soul. But there is no reason for Christians to sorrow when a brother dies as if some great loss to that person has come.


"I would not have you to be ignorant" is simply Paul's way of saying, "I have something I want to tell you (Rom. 1:13; 11:25; 1 Cor. 10:1; 2 Cor. 1:8).


"That ye sorrow not" is in the present tense: "So you will not continue to grieve."
Apparently, these believers were concerned about their loved ones who had died in the Lord, especially in view of Christ's promised second coming (verses 14-15).


"Hope": (Greek elpis), means "certain expectation."


The hope spoken of here is the hope of the resurrection. Those who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior, have no hope, because He is Life. Ignorant would mean uninformed, in the verse above. This is the beginning verse of Scriptures that are used at many funerals to comfort those who have lost loved ones.


One of the greatest promises made to those who believe is, that the death of the body is not eternal death of the spirit. Because Jesus arose from the grave, all believers in Christ will arise with Him to new life in Him.


There should not really be sorrow for a Christian who sheds this sinful flesh and goes to live eternally with God. Paul is speaking here of the Christians who have died to this world. They have experienced physical death.


1 Thessalonians 4:14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."


"Will God bring with him": As Jesus died and rose, so also will those who die believing in Him rise again so they can be taken to heaven with the Lord (1 Cor. 15:51-58).


These texts describe the rapture of the church, which takes place when Jesus comes to collect His redeemed and take them back to heaven. Those who have died before that time (called "those who have fallen asleep"), will be gathered and taken back to heaven with the Lord.


"Jesus died and rose again": The certainty of the believer's hope is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:20-23).


"Bring": This presupposes that those who sleep in Jesus are with Him, and when He comes they will come with Him.


"Them also which sleep in Jesus" can be translated: "those who were put to sleep by Jesus." As a parent lovingly puts a child to bed when tired, so Jesus just as lovingly takes His saints from this life ("were put to sleep"), at the right time.


My own personal belief about death is, the instant we draw our last breath, our spirit goes to be in heaven with Jesus. Our body (the house we moved out of), goes to the grave. That body was made from the dust of the earth and it must return to dust. The real me is the spirit that was housed in that body.


There is a physical body and there is a spiritual body. It is the spiritual body that rises. To really understand this, you must read (1 Corinthians chapter 15 beginning with verse 15). Read it all the way to the end of the chapter. I will give just a sample of that here.


1 Corinthians 15:44-45 "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [was made] a quickening spirit."


Notice the statement "will God bring with Him". I believe the spirit of the Christian is with God in heaven immediately after death. There is a later, resurrection of the body. We do know that even now the Martyred Christians are in heaven crying how long.


Revelation 6:10 "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"


We do know that the body of Jesus came out of the tomb. We do know that it was different enough that the disciples did not recognize His body. We do know that the body still had the marks of the nails. We do know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (Read 2 Cor. 5:8).


1 Thessalonians 4:15 "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."


"The word of the Lord": Was Paul referring to some saying of Jesus found in the gospels? No. There are none exact or even close. The only explicit reference to the rapture in the gospels is (John 14:1-3). Some suggest that Jesus had said the words while on earth, their substance being recorded later in such places as (Matt. 24:30-31; John 14:1-3 and John 6:39-40; 11:25-26).


Similarities between this passage (in 1 Thess.), and the gospel accounts include a trumpet (Matt. 24:31), a resurrection (John 1:26), and a gathering of the elect (Matt. 24:31). Yet dissimilarities between it and the canonical sayings of Christ far outweigh the resemblances.


Some of the differences between (Matt. 24:30-31 and verses 15-17), are as follows:


(1) In Matthew, the Son of Man is coming on the clouds (but see Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27). In (1 Thess.), ascending believers are in them;


(2) In the former, the angels gather, in the latter Christ does personally;


(3) In the former, nothing is said about resurrection, while in the latter this is the main theme; and


(4) Mathew records nothing about the order of ascent which is the principal lesson in Thessalonians.


On the other hand, did he mean a statement of Jesus that was spoken but not recorded in the gospels (Acts 20:35)? No. There is reason to conclude this since Paul affirmed that he taught the Rapture as a heretofore hidden truth (1 Cor. 15:51), i.e., "mystery."


Apparently, the Thessalonians were informed fully about the Day of the Lord judgment (5:1-2), but not the preceding event, the rapture of the church. Until Paul revealed it as the revelation from God to him, it had been a secret, with the only prior mention being Jesus' teaching (in John 14:1-3). This was a new prior mention, being Jesus' teaching (in John 14:1-3). This was new revelation of what had previously been an unrevealed mystery.


"We which are alive and remain": This refers to Christians alive at the time of the Rapture, those who live on this earth to see the coming of the Lord for His own. Since Paul didn't know God's timing, he lived and spoke as if it could happen in his lifetime. As with all early Christians he believed the event was near (Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 10:11; 16:22; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Tim. 6:14; Titus 2:13). Those alive at the Rapture will follow those dead who rise first (verse 16).


"Prevent" (Greek phthano, "precede"): The Greek emphasizes that the living will have no advantage over the dead when Christ returns.


This was a revelation that Paul had gotten from God. Paul was looking for the coming of the Lord to be at any second. Today it seems even more evident that the coming of Christ is very near. There is a generation of people who will be alive when the Lord Jesus comes. My own personal belief is that it is our generation.


It really does not matter whether we go by the way of the grave, or whether we will be living at His coming. If we are alive, we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. Flesh and blood do not inherit the kingdom, so those living will have to be changed to an incorruptible, spiritual body.



Verses 16-17: The order of events at the time of Christ's coming is clearly given:


(1) The Lord will descend with a shout, accompanied by the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God (1 Cor. 15:52);


(2) The dead in Christ will be resurrected; and


(3) Then those remaining will be caught up with them in the clouds.


"Dead in Christ" is a technical expression for believers of the church age. "Caught up (Greek harpazo, "to seize," "snatch"): The Latin word for carry off is "raptus", from which we get rapture. The doctrine of the Rapture of the church is given its clearest expression in this verse.


1 Thessalonians 4:16 "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:"


"For the Lord Himself shall descend": This fulfills the pledge of (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11). Until then, He remains in heaven (1:10; Heb. 1:1-3).


"Archangel": Very little is known about the organization or rank of angels (Col. 1:17). While only Michael is named as an archangel (Jude 9), there seems to be more than one in the archangelic ranks (Dan 10:13).


Perhaps it is Michael, the archangel, whose voice is heard as he is identified with Israel's resurrection (in Dan. 12:1-3). At that moment (1 Cor. 15:52, "twinkling of an eye"), the dead rise first. They will not miss the Rapture, but be the first participants.


"Trump of God" (1 Cor. 15:52). This trumpet is not the judgment trumpets of (Rev. 8-11), but is illustrated by the trumpet of (Exodus 19:16-19), which called the people out of the camp to meet God. It will be a trumpet of deliverance (Zeph. 1:16; Zech. 9:14).


The trumpet that gathered the people, throughout the Bible was a silver trumpet. This trump that is blown will be silver, because it will redeem the people from this earth. Silver means redemption. The reason there is no silver in heaven is because we have already been redeemed.


This is the last chronological mention of silver in the Bible. The voice of the Lord and the trump are so enveloped in one, that it is hard to separate the one from the other. We can see in the following verse that many times the voice is spoken of as a trumpet.


Isaiah 58:1 "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins."


This shout will wake the dead. This is the same shout that brought Lazarus from the grave. The dead in Christ just means that these will rise before the living in Christ who will be changed and rise. In Jude, Michael is spoken of as the archangel. My belief is that Michael is like a general under Jesus.


Whether the archangel is actually sounding or whether this is the voice of Jesus who is now King of kings and Lord of lords, I am not certain. It really does not matter. We know that this pure sound calls the Christians from the earth.


1 Thessalonians 4:17 "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."


Although the word Rapture does not occur in the English Bible (the Latin Bible uses the verb here from which rapture derives), the idea is expressed in the words "caught up." The Rapture is the first phase of Christ's return, involving every Christian alive at the time. These Christians will be caught up to meet Him in the clouds, instantaneously receiving glorified bodies.


"Caught up": After the dead come forth, their spirits, already with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), are now being joined to resurrected new bodies; the living Christians will be raptured, literally snatched away (John 10:28; Acts 8:39). This passage, along with (John 14:1-3), and (1 Cor. 15:51-52), forms the biblical basis for "the Rapture" of the church.


The time for the Rapture cannot be conclusively determined from this passage alone. However, when other texts such as (Rev. 3:10 and John 14:3), are consulted and compared to the texts about Christ's coming in judgment (Matt. 13:34-50; 24:29-44; Rev. 19:11-21), at the end of a 7 year tribulation, it has to be noted that there is a clear difference between the character of the "Rapture" in that there is no mention of any judgment, while the other texts feature judgment.


So then, it is best to understand that the Rapture occurs at a time different from the coming of Christ in judgment. Thus, the Rapture has been described as pre-tribulational, before the wrath of God unfolded in the judgments of (Rev 6-19).


This event includes complete transformation (1 Cor. 15:51-52; Phil. 3:20-21), and union with the Lord Jesus Christ that never ends.


All those who have died "in Christ" will be resurrected; those who are alive and saved at the time of the Rapture will be caught up with Christ before the start of the "Seventieth Week of Daniel." That is, the Great Tribulation.


There are many reasons to believe that the Rapture precedes the Tribulation, but fundamentally this view is consistent with a historical-grammatical interpretation of the Scriptures.


A close examination of the prophetic Scriptures reveals a distinction between the Rapture (which relates to the church), and the revelation of Christ in power and glory (which relates more to Israel).


"We which are alive" is speaking of the Christians alive at the coming of Christ who will be changed in the twinkling of an eye.


1 Corinthians 15:51-54 "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, " "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality." "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."


1 Thessalonians 4:18 "Wherefore comfort one another with these words."


"Comfort one another": The primary purpose of this passage is not to teach a scheme of prophecy, but rather to provide encouragement to those Christians whose loved ones have died.


The comfort here is based on the following:


(1) The dead will be resurrected and will participate in the Lord's coming for His own;


(2) When Christ comes, the living will be reunited forever with their loved ones; and


(3) They all will be with the Lord eternally (verse 17).


"Comfort": The Christian's hope of the resurrection brings solace in the face of death, in contrast to the hopelessness of the heathen.


Christians should have no fear of death. We should be comforted to know that there is an eternity of life awaiting us with the Lord Jesus. The beginning of the 14th chapter of John tells us exactly why we should not let our heart be troubled or afraid.


When a Christian dies, we should celebrate their home-going, not grieve deeply for their departing. We are really grieving for us who were left behind.


1 Thessalonians Chapter 4 Questions


  1. What kind of walk is Paul trying to get them to walk in verse 1?
  2. What is the only walk pleasing unto God?
  3. What does "abound" in verse 1 mean?
  4. What does the word "furthermore" in verse 1 tell us?
  5. Whose were these commandments that Paul was speaking to them?
  6. The ________ of God put the words in Paul's mouth and Paul spoke them.
  7. What does "sanctification" in verse 3 mean?
  8. What does "abstain" mean?
  9. What sins are covered in "fornication"?
  10. What is spiritual adultery covered in?
  11. What is the "vessel" spoken of in verse 4?
  12. What does "possess" mean?
  13. "Concupiscence" means what?
  14. Who are the Gentiles in verse 5?
  15. God hath not called us to ________________, but unto ___________.
  16. When we despise God's creation, who are we really despising?
  17. What was the second commandment that Jesus gave?
  18. They were loving their brothers in all Macedonia, but what more were they to do?
  19. Study to be ________.
  20. We are to walk honestly toward them that are __________.
  21. In verse 13 Paul said I would not have you to be ___________.
  22. What is the hope spoken of in verse 13?
  23. What does "ignorant" mean?
  24. What is one of the greatest promises made to the believers, about death of the body?
  25. What is the authors personal opinion about death?
  26. What two kinds of body do we have?
  27. Where are the Martyred Christians now?
  28. _______ and _______ do not inherit the kingdom of heaven.
  29. What happens to the Christians who are alive when the Lord returns?
  30. Who shall rise first?
  31. What was the trumpet that gathered the people made of?
  32. Why is it silver?
  33. Who is called an archangel in Jude?
  34. Who is "we which are alive" speaking of?
  35. This corruptible must put on ____________.
  36. This mortal must put on ______________.



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1 Thessalonians 5



1 Thessalonians Chapter 5

1 Thessalonians 5:1 "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you."


"But": Paul used familiar Greek words here to indicate a change of topics within the same general subject of prophecy (4:9, 13; 1 Cor. 7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1). The expression here points to the idea that within the broader context of the end time coming of the Lord Jesus, the subject is changing from a discussion of the blessings of the rapture of believers to the judgment of unbelievers.


"Times" (Greek chromos), denotes "periods of time" as opposed to "seasons" (Greek kairos), which are specific points of time.


"Times and the seasons" These two terms mean the measurement of time and the character of the times respectively (Dan. 2:21; Acts 1:7). Many of them expected the Lord to come in their lifetime and were confused and grieved when their fellow believers died before His coming. They were concerned about the delay.


Apparently, the Thessalonians knew all the God intended believers to know about coming judgment, and Paul had taught them what they hadn't known about the Rapture (4:13-18), so Paul exhorted them to live godly lives in light of coming judgment on the world, rather than to be distracted by probing into issues of prophetic timing.


They could not know the timing of God's final judgment, but they knew well that it was coming unexpectedly (verse 2).


Paul had no more idea of when this would happen than you and I do. He was like us, in that he was to watch and be ready. The Lord comes in an hour when we think not. Paul had gone into detail about what they could expect at the coming of Christ. Now their part is to watch and be ready.


God did not intend for any of us to know the exact hour. We are, however, children of the light.


Ephesians 5:8 "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light:"


These Thessalonians and all Christians of today should walk in the light, expecting that glorious coming of the Lord. We should live our lives, as if today were that day.


1 Thessalonians 5:2 "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night."


"Day of the Lord" is an all-encompassing term to describe the period that begins with the Great Tribulation, and includes the second coming of Christ and the millennial kingdom. This Old Testament expression is here identified with the parousia already introduced. It will begin unexpectedly (Matt. 24:37).


There are 19 indisputable uses of "the Day of the Lord" in the Old Testament and 4 in the New Testament (Acts 2:20; 2 Thess. 2:2; Peter 3:10).


The Old Testament prophets used "Day of the Lord" to describe near historical judgments (Isa. 13:6-22; Ezek. 30:2-19; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph. 1:14-18), or far eschatological divine judgments (see Joel 2:30-32; 3:14; Zech. 14:1; Mal. 4:1, 5). It is also referred to as the "day of doom" and the "day of vengeance."


The New Testament calls it a day of "wrath," day of "visitation," and the "great day of God Almighty" (Rev. 16:14). These are terrifying judgments from God (Joel 2:30-31; 2 Thess. 1:7-10), for the overwhelming sinfulness of the world. The future "Day of the Lord" which unleashes God's wrath falls into two parts:


(1) The end of the 7 year tribulation period, (Rev. 19:11-21); and


(2) The end of the millennium.


These two are actually 1,000 years apart and Peter refers to the end of the 1,000 year period in connection with the final "Day of the Lord" (2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 20:7-15). Here, Paul refers to the aspect of the Day of the Lord," which concludes the tribulation period.


"A thief in the night": This phrase is never used to refer to the rapture of the church. It is used of Christ's coming in judgment on the Day of the Lord at the end of the 7-year tribulation, which is distinct from the rapture of the church. And it is used of the judgment which concludes the Millennium (2 Peter 3:10).


As a thief comes unexpectedly and without warning, so will the Day of the Lord come in both its final phases.


Jesus explains in the following Scripture that no man knows the exact time of the return of Christ.


Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."


If people knew the hour He was coming, they could be bad until just an hour or so before and then come to Christ. He does not want us to come to Him because we fear the wrath of God, but because we love Him and want to please Him. He has a purpose in this coming as a thief in the night. Of course, this has come for everyone at the end of their life on earth.


Those of one generation will not taste of death. He will come in the same manner that He went.


Acts 1:11 "Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."


He went up with a cloud and will come back the same way.


1 Thessalonians 5:3 "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."


"Peace and safety" were slogans of the Roman Empire. Just as false prophets of old fraudulently forecast a bright future. In spite of the imminence of God's judgment (Jer. 6:14; 8:11; 14:13-14; Lam. 2:14; Ezek. 13:10, 16; Mica 3:5), so they will again in future days just before the final Day of the Lord destruction.


"As travail upon a woman": The Lord used this same illustration in the Olivet Discourse. It portrays the inevitability, suddenness, inescapable nature, and painfulness of the Day of the Lord.


When the unbelieving shall say, it is a time of peace, then shall be sudden destruction. We know the peace talks are going on all over the world today. This is one sure sign that the end is near.


We see in the comparison here of the woman having a child, the suddenness of the birth pains. Suddenly, unawares to her, the pains of birth begin. The world at peace has no idea that sudden destruction is upon them. The rain in the days of Noah came suddenly. It had never rained on the earth before. It was a surprise to the unbelieving world, but not to Noah.



Verses 4-9: But ye: In contrast to the wicked, for whom Christ's coming will be an hour of destruction, these believers are "Children of light" who will not face God's wrath, but will be saved at the time of the parousia.


"Not appointed to wrath": The wrath is the agony and tribulation occurring at the beginning of the day of the Lord. The believer is spared this, however (1:10; Rev. 6:16).


1 Thessalonians 5:4 "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief."


"But ye, brethren": Paul dramatically shifts from the third person plural pronoun (3 times in verse 3), to the second person plural. Because the church is raptured before the judgment of the Day of the Lord, believers will not be present on earth to experience its terrors and destruction (verse 3).


"Not in darkness": Believers have no part in the Day of the Lord, because they have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light (Cor. 1:13). Jesus taught that to believe in Him would remove a person from spiritual darkness (John 8:12; 12:46).


The contrast between believers and the lost is emphatic, and Paul draws it out all the way through verse 7. Believers will not experience the wrath of God because they are different in nature.


Unbelievers are in darkness (verse 2; "in the night"), engulfed in mental moral, and spiritual darkness because of sin and unbelief (John 1:5; 3:19; 12; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 4:17-18; 5:8, 11). All these people are children of Satan (John 8:44), who is called "the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53). The Day of the Lord will overtake them suddenly and with deadly results.


The Christians have the Light of Jesus to show the way. The Bible tells us of all sorts of signs that will be just before the destruction. (Matthew chapter 24), has a nice list of things that will happen. Most of them have already occurred. All true Christians have a sort of anticipation of this now.


1 Thessalonians 5:5 "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness."


"Children of light": This is a Hebrew expression that characterizes believers as children of God. Their heavenly Father, who is light and in whom is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5-7; Luke 18:8; John 8:12; 12:36). Believers live in a completely different sphere of life than those who will be in the Day of the Lord.


Darkness obscures our view. The light makes manifest. We can see clearly in the Light. Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. If we are Christians, we are of the Light. Satan is darkness to the utmost. Darkness is the absence of the Light. Children of darkness have not received the Light.


1 Thessalonians 5:6 "Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober."


"Let us not sleep": Because believers have been delivered from the domain of darkness, they are taken out of the night of sin and ignorance and put into the light of God. Because Christians are in the light, they should not sleep in spiritual indifference and comfort, but be alert to the spiritual issues around them.


They are not to live like the sleeping, darkened people who will be jolted out of their coma by the Day of the Lord (verse 7), but to live alert, balanced, godly lives under control of the truth.


This does not mean that we are not to rest in sleep. This is speaking of spiritual sleep. Do not be unaware. The watching and waking is learning all we can about the Light (Jesus). Let His Light shine so brightly within us that it will do away with all darkness. Sober (in verse 6 above), means to abstain from wine. In other words, don't be drunk when the Lord comes back.


1 Thessalonians 5:7 "For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night."


Most sins are committed at night. Whoever is sinning seems to think the darkness will cover the sin. In daytime, most people are working. The light of day keeps many sins from occurring.


1 Thessalonians 5:8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation."


"Breastplate": Paul pictured the Christian life in military terms as being a life of soberness (alertness), and proper equipping. The "breastplate" covers the vital organs of the body. "Faith" is an essential protection against temptations, because it is trust in God's promise, plan, and truth.


It is unwavering belief in God's Word that protects us from temptation's arrows. Looking at it negatively, it is unbelief that characterizes all sin. When believers sin, they have believed Satan's lie. Love for God is essential, as perfect love from Him yields perfect obedience to Him.


Elsewhere the warrior's breastplate has been used to represent righteousness (Isa. 59:17; Eph. 6:14). Faith elsewhere is represented by a soldier's shield (Eph. 6:16).


The "helmet" is always associated with salvation in its future aspects (Isa. 59:17; Eph. 6:17). Our future salvation is guaranteed, nothing can take it away (Rom 13:11). Paul again combined faith, love, and hope (1:3).


Not only are we to be sober, but we are to be doing the things God would have us doing. The things mentioned here are part of the armor of God. The breastplate covers the heart. This is saying then, let faith and love be so full in your heart that it covers your chest. We know how important faith is, because without faith it is impossible to please God.


In (Romans 10:9), it speaks of believing in our heart. Then faith is a product of a heart of love stayed upon God. The brain is in the head. The logic of salvation is what is meant by the helmet. We believe in our heart, but the mind gets up in the logic of it all. Salvation is sensible to the thought of mankind. All people want the hope of salvation.


1 Thessalonians 5:9 "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,"


"Wrath": This is the same wrath referred to (in 1:10). In this context (note especially the contrast), it appears obvious that this wrath refers to God's eternal wrath, not His temporal wrath during the tribulation period (Rom 5:9).


We have discussed this before, but the wrath of God occurs in the 7 year tribulation period. God's wrath is saved for those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior. The thing that saves us is belief in our heart that Jesus is the Christ risen from the dead on the third day. We must confess Him with our mouth.


We obtain salvation through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father, but by Him. He is the door we must enter to reach the Father. When we enter Him, heaven is on the other side.


1 Thessalonians 5:10 "Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."


"Wake or sleep": This analogy goes back to (4:13-15), and refers to being physically alive or dead with the promise that, in either case, we will one day live together (4:17; John 14:1-3). Forever with the Savior who died as the substitute for our sins (Rom. 4:9; Gal 1:4; 2 Cor. 5:15, 21).


Jesus died in our place. He was our Substitute. He paid our penalty for sin, which is death. He gave His body on the cross for our sin that we might obtain life through Him. This is just saying that the dead in Christ and the living in Christ at His coming will partake together of the life in Him.


1 Thessalonians 5:11 "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."


He is saying that we should take comfort in the knowledge that we will live in Him. We should build each other up, reminding those who have grown weary waiting. He says, why am I telling you this, you already do this?


1 Thessalonians 5:12 "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;"


"Know them": This means that the people are to know their pastors well enough to have an intimate appreciation for them and to respect them because of their value. The work of pastors is summarized in a 3-fold description which includes:


(1) Laboring, working to the point of exhaustion;


(2) Overseeing, literally standing before the flock to lead them in the way of righteousness; and


(3) Instruction in the truths of God's Word (Heb. 13:7, 17).


"Are over you" indicates a governing leadership, and refers to spiritual leaders such as elders and pastors. The people are to respect and regard them highly for their labor of love.


God has an order in the church as well as in heaven. The pastor is the leader of the congregation as the shepherd is the flock of sheep. He teaches the truth. He leads the flock, by teaching from the Word of God. The job of the pastor is to teach the congregation how to live victorious lives in Jesus.


1 Thessalonians 5:13 "And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. [And] be at peace among yourselves."


"Esteem": In addition to knowing pastors, congregations are to think rightly and lovingly of their pastors, not because of their charm or personality, but because of the fact that they work for the Chief Shepherd as His special servants (1 Peter 5:2. 4). They are also to submit to their leadership so that "peace" prevails in the church.


This just means that the congregation, who has chosen to follow a certain pastor, should have respect for the office of pastor. The work the pastor of the church does is to benefit the congregation. You should love and respect them for the work they do for God. This is saying live in peace.



Verses 14-15: "We exhort you". Paul has discussed how the pastors are to serve the people and how the people are to respond to the pastors (verses 12-13). In this verse, he presents how the people are to treat each other in the fellowship of the church. The "unruly", those out of line, must be warned and taught to get back in line.


The "fainthearted," those in fear and doubt, must be encouraged and made bold. The "weak," those without spiritual and moral strength, must be held up firmly. Patience, forgiveness and acts of goodness must prevail among all the people.


1 Thessalonians 5:14 "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all [men]."


It is the job of the leaders in the church to warn one in the congregation who is unruly. Sometimes it can be done with a sermon to the whole church. If that does not work, then they should be talked to kindly, but firmly. It is not good to allow someone to be unruly in the church.


The pastor must keep order to have effective sermons. We should all help the feebleminded. This could also be those who are depressed to the point of being feebleminded.


The job of the church is to help those who cannot help themselves. The weak, could mean several things here, one of which would be mental illness. Patience is one of the gifts that show when the Spirit of God is in your life.


1 Thessalonians 5:15 "See that none render evil for evil unto any [man]; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all [men]."


Christians are to turn the other cheek. We are not to try to get even for a wrong that has been done. Be kind to those who classify themselves as your enemies. Kill them with kindness.



Verses 16-22: Paul gave a summary of the Christian's virtues. These verses provide the foundational principles for a sound spiritual life in brief, staccato statements that, in spite of their brevity, give believers the priorities for successful Christian living.


1 Thessalonians 5:16 "Rejoice evermore."


"Rejoice": Joy is appropriate at all times (Phil. 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4).


Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.


1 Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."


"Pray": This does not mean pray repetitiously or continuously without a break (Matt. 6:7-8), but rather pray persistently (Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8), and regularly (Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2, 12).


The Greek word here rendered "without ceasing", is used in secular literature to denote a man suffering from an intermittent cough, one that is not continuous, but occurs at intervals. Just as this individual has the tendency to cough, though does not always do so audibly, so the believer ought to remain in the attitude of prayer though not always praying audibly.


We may not be able to pray aloud every minute of every day, but we can have a prayer in our heart at all times. This also means continue to pray until the answer comes. The fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.


1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."


"Give thanks": Thanklessness is a trait of unbelievers (Rom. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). "This is God's will" (includes verses 16-17).


"In every" event or circumstance (thing), the Christian is to "give thanks" to God for the good He can bring out of the event, even should the event be unpleasant. The constant attitude of prayer (mentioned in verse 17), will help the believer to maintain gratitude in the face of adversity.


Notice that even the bad things that happen to us, are the will of God for that moment. Troubles come to teach us to lean more on Jesus. Every problem that we overcome through faith in Him, makes us stronger than we were before. Knowing all of this, how can we do less than to praise Him in all things and at all times.


1 Thessalonians 5:19 "Quench not the Spirit."


"Quench" means putting out fire (in Matthew 12:20, Ephesians 6:16 and Hebrews 11:34). Here it is employed metaphorically to mean "stifle" or "suppress."


The fire of God's Spirit is not to be doused with sin. Believers are also instructed to not grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), but to be controlled by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and to walk by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16).


The Christian can stifle the Holy Spirit's workings by hindering Him from leading the believer to rejoice (verse 16), to pray (verse 17), to give thanks in adversity (verse 18), and by despising prophetic utterances (verse 20), inspired by the Spirit.


The Spirit of God within us is given so that we might minister more boldly. This same Holy Spirit is our Teacher and our Guide. He is our Comforter. Only a fool would quench any of these things. When we quench not the Spirit, we allow the Spirit of God to minister through us.


1 Thessalonians 5:20 "Despise not prophesyings."


"Prophesyings": This phrase can refer to a spoken revelation from God (Acts 11:27-28; 1 Tim. 1:18; 4:14), but most often refers to the written word of Scripture (Matt. 13:14; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Rev. 1:3; 22:7, 10, 18-19).


These "prophetic utterance" are authoritative messages from God through a well-recognized spokesman for God that, because of their divine origin, are not to be treated lightly. When God's Word is preached, or read, it is to be received with great seriousness.


What is prophesyings? In this instance, it means predictions. God has used this method to bring warnings to His people throughout the ages. We should love to hear from God what is going to happen. The only way we would despise them is if we know we are guilty of displeasing God and they are warnings to us.



Verses 21-22: "Prove all things": This call for careful testing and discernment is in response to the command (of verse 20). One is never to downgrade the proclamation of God's Word, but to examine the preached word carefully (Acts 17:10-11). What is found to be "good" is to be wholeheartedly embraced. What is "evil" or unbiblical is to be shunned.


1 Thessalonians 5:21 "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."


This is the same thing as trying the spirits to see whether they are of God or not. We must stand firmly on the Word of God and then we will not fail. Don't believe everything you hear. Check it out with the Word of God.


1 Thessalonians 5:22 "Abstain from all appearance of evil."


We know that it is bad to do evil, but we see here that it is bad to even give the appearance of evil. The world is looking at how you conduct your life. If you give the appearance of evil, you might cause your weaker brother to sin.


1 Thessalonians 5:23 "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."


"God ... sanctify you": Having concluded all the exhortations beginning (in 4:1), and especially (from verses 16-22), Paul's ending benediction acknowledged the source for obeying and fulfilling them all. It is not within human power to be sanctified in all these ways (Zech. 4:6; 1 Cor. 2:4-5; Eph. 3:20-21; Col 1:29).


Only God (Rom. 15:33; 16:20; Phil. 4:9; Heb. 13:20), for references to God as "peace" "Himself," can separate us from sin to holiness "entirely."


"Spirit ... soul ... body": This comprehensive reference makes the term "complete" more emphatic. By using spirit and soul, Paul was not indicating that the immaterial part of man could be divided into two substances (Heb. 4:12). The two words are used interchangeably throughout Scripture (Heb. 9:16; 10:39; 1 Pet. 2:11; 2 Pet. 2:8).


There can be no division of these realities, but rather they are used as other texts use multiple terms for emphasis (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). Nor was Paul a believer in a 3-part human composition (Rom. 8:10; 1 Cor. 2:11; 5:3-5; 7:34; 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 6:18; Col. 2:5; 2 Tim. 4:22). But rather two parts: material and immaterial.


"Unto the coming": This fourth mention of Christ's parousia refers to the rapture of the church as it has previously at (2:19; 3:13; 4:15).


This verse does not form a definition of the constituent parts of man, but is a Hebraism to denote the whole man.


The God of peace is Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we are acceptable to God the Father. We are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. He took our sin on His body and clothed us in our white linen garment free from sin, washed in His precious blood. The spirit is what we are. The body is the house the spirit dwells in.


They are in constant warfare trying to control our soul, which is the will of man. Man is a spirit, living in a body with a soul. Blameless is the same as being justified (just as if I had never sinned).


Jesus wiped the slate clean when He gave His body for our sin. We received this cleansing when we received Jesus as our Savior. It is our obligation to walk in the salvation we received. Walk in Him and you will be ready when He returns.


1 Thessalonians 5:24 "Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it]."


"Calleth you": This, as every time the divine call is mentioned in the New Testament, refers to God's effectual call of His chosen ones to salvation (2:12; 4:7; Rom. 1:6-7; 8:28; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 4:1, 4; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Peter 2:9; 5:10; 2 Peter 1:10). The God who calls will also bring those whom He calls to glory and none will be lost (John 6:37-44; 10:28-29; Romans 8:28-39; Phil. 1:6; Jude 24).


God is not only faithful, but He cannot and will not lie. The Truth cannot lie. God is the Truth. He fulfills every promise He made.


1 Thessalonians 5:25 "Brethren, pray for us."


Not only should the pastor pray for his flock, but the congregation should pray for their leader. I say with Paul, pray for me.


1 Thessalonians 5:26 "Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss."


The "Holy kiss" was a Jewish custom of welcome (See Luke 7:45; 22:48). It was also used by the early Christians (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Peter 5:14).


This gesture of affection is commanded 5 times in the New Testament and refers to the cultural hug and kiss greeting of the first century which for Christians was to be done righteously in recognition that believers are brothers and sisters in the family of God.


This is not speaking of a passionate kiss between a woman and a man, but is speaking of a warm greeting. If a kiss, a kiss on the cheek.


1 Thessalonians 5:27 "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren."


"Public reading was the foundation of spiritual accountability (Gal. 4:16; 2 Thess. 3:14).


We see from this verse that this letter is not just for the church at Thessalonica, but to all who love God.


1 Thessalonians 5:28 "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you. Amen."


(Romans 16:20, 24; 2 Thessalonians 3:18).


Paul always speaks a benediction over all of his converts. We can say with Paul, so be it.


1 Thessalonians Chapter 5 Questions


  1. Why did Paul not tell them the hour and day of the coming of Christ?
  2. When are we assured the Lord will come back?
  3. The day of the Lord comes as a ________ in the ________.
  4. Who knows the day and hour that the Lord will return?
  5. When they shall say peace and safety, what comes?
  6. What is this sudden coming of the Lord compared to?
  7. What is one very good sign that the end is near?
  8. When was the first rain upon the earth?
  9. Why will the day of the Lord, not overtake the Christian unaware?
  10. Where do we find a lot of the things listed that will come before the Lord's return?
  11. What are Christians called in verse 5?
  12. What does the word "sober" in verse 6 mean?
  13. They that be drunken are drunken in the _______.
  14. Put on the breastplate of ________ and _______.
  15. Put on the helmet of ____________.
  16. God hath not appointed us unto ________.
  17. Who is God's wrath reserved for?
  18. _____ was our substitute.
  19. Who is the leader of the congregation?
  20. Why should you love and respect him?
  21. Who must warn the unruly in the church?
  22. Be ______ to those who classify themselves as your enemy.
  23. Pray without ___________.
  24. What are we to give thanks for?
  25. ________ not the Spirit.
  26. What does prophesying in verse 20 mean?
  27. Abstain from all ______________ of evil.
  28. Who is the God of Peace?
  29. Greet all the brethren with an _______ ____.



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