Archive for the '1 Thessalonians' Category

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1 Thessalonians 5:21

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"Test all things; hold fast what is good“
 
By challenging the Thessalonians to not despise prophecies, Paul did not want to imply that they were to be gullible and swallow any religious nonsense that might come their way. This verse puts a qualification on the previous verse.
 
Test
We test preaching (5:20) against the Word of God. The final arbiter of truth is God’s Word. The word “test” means to test with the purpose to approve. We approve prophecy by the Bible.
“To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 ).
Satan is in the business of imitating God’s Word. Christians are to test truth as a FBI agents examine counterfeit money. Some people will contrive ideas and pass them off as God’s ideas.
all things;
God wants us to test “all” things, not simply most things. Do not condemn anything without first investigating it. On the other hand, do not accept anything until you first test it against the objective truth of God’s Word.
It is difficult to put aside our preconceptions about truth because we build security around what we believe. Honesty means that we examine the Bible without bias as much is possible.
Principle:
All Christians need to develop a sense of discernment.
Application:
Some people try to pawn off their personal ideas as being from God. This confuses the voice of God with the voice of man.
One drop of poison in your food spoils the entire meal. False doctrine usually carries much truth. The Devil is too smart to tempt you with absolute contradiction to what you believe. He takes what you believe and modifies it slightly. Peter, for example did not discern the plan of God, so Jesus rebuked him.
“But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Mark 8:33).
Jesus said in effect, “Peter, you are peddling the Devil’s lie. What may look right to you is, in fact, a lie.” Very few Christians today take the time to sniff out error. Everything seems to sit right with them because they do not rightly divide the word of truth.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 ).
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1 Thessalonians 5:20

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“Do not despise prophecies“
 
We now come to the second command about corporate worship.
 
Do not despise prophecies
The word “despise” means to make of no account and frequently signifies to despise. We can make prophecies of no account and treat them with contempt. “No account” is less than one. We can treat the Bible as nothing. It is a dangerous thing to treat with disdain what God says or reject with contempt God’s revelation.
“Prophecies” here probably refers to the gift of prophecy. The person with this gift could directly receive revelation from God before the Bible was completed. There came a time toward the close of the first century when this prophetic gift came became inoperative (1 Corinthians 13:8). The prophetic gift not only dealt with future things but things in the present (Acts 13:2). “Prophecies” include both a prophetic element and a proclaiming element. These were oral proclamations before the revelation of the New Testament. The prophetic element came to close but the preaching element continues to this day.
Some people in Thessalonica may have pawned off their own personal notions without the gift of prophecy. People today pawn off their personal ideas about God by claiming that they special contact with God.
Others despise the teaching of God’s Word. They falsely interpret and twist the Bible to suit their biases. They reject the clear claims of Scripture. The believer who treasures the Word is the believer who honors what it says.
“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification” (1 Corinthians 14:3-5).
Prophecy was a special, temporary gift before the completion of the canon (the writing of the New Testament books) of the New Testament. By this gift, God revealed His mind and will to a prophet so that Christians could understand New Testament truth before the New Testament existed.
Today God succeeded the prophet by the teacher who expounds the mind of God already revealed on the pages of completed Scripture.
Principle:
Christians are to carry a positive attitude toward the teaching of God’s Word by their pastor.
Application:
Some Christians believe that they must challenge all teaching from the pastor. They make themselves the final arbiter of truth. Their pride keeps them from learning from God’s appointed teacher. The three pastoral books (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) all declare that the church is to operate under a pastor/teacher who clearly and systematically sets forth doctrine.
The qualification to the above statement is that Christians who listen to the exposition of Scripture should check what the pastor teaches against the Word of God (Acts 17:11). That is why the church is to “test” the prophecy (5:21).
It is bad enough to discourage the preaching of God’s Word. It is even worse to despise it. When we underestimate the significance of God’s Word, we do it to our loss. Some people view the teaching of the Bible as irrelevant to their lives.
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1 Thessalonians 5:19

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“Do not quench the Spirit“
 
Paul transitions from individual responsibility to corporate worship with verse 19. God reveals His will to the church as well as to the individual. We can squelch the public movement of the Holy Spirit. Five commands about life in the assembly follow.
 
Do not quench the Spirit
The Bible commonly portrays the Holy Spirit like a flame. The idea of “quench” carries the idea of putting out a light of a torch, lamp or fire (Matthew 12:20; 25:8; Hebrews 11:34). Paul uses “quench” metaphorically to speak of hindering the operations of the Holy Spirit. People who refuse to submit to the teaching of the Word “quench” the Spirit. Those who usurp the ministry of the Spirit in the local church throw cold water on God’s work in the congregation.
The Bible portrays the Holy Spirit as both heat and light. As heat, He impresses the reality of God upon the believer. As light, He reveals who God is to the believer. Some Christians blow out the flame of the Spirit in their lives. They do this by not yielding to the conviction of the Spirit about their sin and by accommodating sin.
The Greek indicates that the Thessalonians were to stop something they were already doing. In essence, “stop stifling the Spirit.”
Principle:
Rebellion in the local church against its leadership quenches the Spirit’s ministry in that church.
Application:
A believer can extinguish the work of the Spirit in the church. Every local church has those who try to stifle the ministry. Some do this by opposing leadership. Others do it by indifference to leadership and thus lull themselves and others to sleep. Whatever means they may use, the result is that they extinguish the fire of the Spirit.
A dynamic move of the Spirit of God may be perceived as a threat to some people in the church. Lacking understanding, they will reject any proposal outside their comfort zone.
Christians need to be careful about limiting the ministry of the Spirit in the local assembly. To put out the flame of a manifestation of the Spirit is to interfere in what God is doing. Either we yield to the work of the Spirit or we extinguish His work. Those are the alternatives. We can grieve the Spirit as well as quenching the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).
If you are hindering the work of your local church, you may be suppressing what the Spirit is doing. Do you take the negative position on most things? Are you on the negative side of every positive issue and on the positive side over every negative issue? It is incumbent upon Spirit-filled believers to be on the side of the ministry of the Spirit in the local church.
We must be careful not to stifle the Spirit of God in our church. When we do this, we are spiritual anarchists against the work of God in our church.
“But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He turned Himself against them as an enemy, And He fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10).
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1 Thessalonians 5:18b

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“…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you“
 
for this is the will of God
 
The Holy Spirit highlights giving thanks in everything by saying that it is the will of God. By recognizing God’s will, we give thanks for both prosperity and adversity. By knowing that God has a sovereign plan for adversity, we can put right our anxiety about trouble that comes our way. This is one area where we can know God’s will without a doubt.
 
“So the king did not listen to the people; for the turn of events was from the LORD, that He might fulfill His word, which the LORD had spoken by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat” (1 King 15:15).
 
in Christ Jesus
God always links His will for us in association with Christ. Jesus is the reason we accept suffering as God’s will for us. We have an occasion to represent Him in adversity.
for you
God designs all circumstances for the benefit of the believer. God thinks about your limitations. He knows the proper proportions of adversity that are right for you. We should not concern ourselves with the portion given to someone else. God works in each person’s life differently.
He custom designs the structure of their circumstances by divine design. God knows the straw that will break the camel’s back. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but He wants a tested product. Engineers of today’s automobiles test drive prototypes so that they know what these cars can tolerate. God wants to bring out the best in us.
Principle:
God has a purpose for everything that happens to the believer.
Application:
God’s providential plan for our lives includes all contingencies. God foresees every circumstance that comes into our lives. Not only does He foresee everything that happens to us, but He providentially plans or allows each situation that comes into our lives.
There is no substitute for understanding the will of God for our suffering. Nothing can come into our lives unless the Lord allows it. God must put His initials on everything that comes into our state of affairs. We may give thanks through tears.
Our obligation is to believe God’s Word about these matters. The Bible teaches God’s providential care of His creatures throughout the Scriptures.
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1 Thessalonians 5:18

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“…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you“
 
in everything give thanks;
 
We can give thanks “in everything” because we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). God ordains adversity as well as prosperity. Every circumstance that comes our way is from God. Failure to accept this as true is an indication of skepticism about God’s plan for the universe. We can give thanks for everything because God is in control.
 
Principle:
We give thanks in everything that comes into our lives because it comes by the will of God.
Application:
There is a difference in giving thanks “for” everything and “in” everything. If we gave thanks “for” everything that would mean that we give thanks for the Devil and his plan for the world!
Neither do we give thanks necessarily “after” everything. It does not require much faith to trace the hand of God with the benefit of hindsight. However, it takes faith to accept one’s lot with gratitude in the midst of circumstances.
“…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:20).
This passage in Ephesians is more powerful than our verse in Thessalonians. We are to give thanks always for all things. When the police call and tell you that your son is in jail, it is difficult to give thanks for that. But we need to have the attitude of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:18,
“Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, ‘It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.’”
Whatever comes in our lives comes in by the will of God, otherwise, He would prevent it. God mixes with His divine compound the bitter and the sweet, the good and the bad, in appropriate proportions so that they work together for good. God knows just the right amount of sunshine and rain. He measures out these things with great precision.
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1 Thessalonians 5:17

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“…pray without ceasing…“
 
pray without ceasing
 
The Greek used the word “without ceasing” for a person with a hacking cough and for repeated military attacks. This is not continuous prayer but prayer that recurs regularly. The idea is persistence in prayer.
 
The word “pray” is in the present tense and carries the idea of customary prayer. This person shoots up prayers throughout the day.
Principle:
Dynamic prayer prays at stated and non-stated times.
Application:
When thankful, pray. When in trouble, pray. When lacking in wisdom, pray. Pray at stated times and non-stated times. Always be willing and ready to pray. We do not have to lift the receiver off the hook to talk to God. We do not even need to dial; we just shoot up our requests. We can talk to God while we work or drive our car.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17).
“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” (Luke 18:1).
“…but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
“Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:5).
“…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…” (Romans 12:12).
“…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—…” (Ephesians 6:18).
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving…” (Colossians 4:2).
Continued prayer is a state of steady communion with God. We do not allow great gaps to intervene between episodes of prayers. He takes interest in the small areas of our lives. We do not brush off our children when they come to us with a little scratch. Neither does God brush us off when we come to Him with little things.
Great people of God in the Bible persevered in their appointed times and non-appointed times of prayer. They never got out of communication with the throne of grace. They constantly had a sense of dependence on God.
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1 Thessalonians 5:16

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“Rejoice always…“
 
Paul now turns to dealing with the attitude of the individual Christian. Spiritual responsibilities towards others call for us to address our subjective attitude. Paul now prescribes the personal issues that correspond to the fellowship of the saints.
 
This is the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament.
Rejoice
A rejoicing attitude does not tumble into a survival mode toward life. The Holy Spirit commands the believer at Thessalonica to “rejoice” even in duress situations. The Thessalonians were living with deep and daily persecution. Their circumstances did not alter their joy. True joy transcends circumstance. This is not self-hypnosis. Biblical joy rests in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
always
God wants us to rejoice “always,” not just some of the time but all of the time.
Principle:
At the heart of Christianity is the outlook of joy.
Application:
We cannot constantly carry joy in our lives if we look to the circumstances of life. Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness depends on circumstances being right. If I get a new car, I am happy. If someone bumps my fender in the parking lot, I am not happy. Joy is inner animation of soul regardless of circumstance. Our joy depends on our orientation to God’s providence and promises.
The foundation for the believer’s rejoicing is in who God is and what He does. There are many reasons why a Christian should always rejoice:
·        God’s presence – Psalm 16:11
·        The God of our salvation – Habakkuk 3:18
·        Answered prayer – John 16:24
·        Our hope — Acts 5:41
·        Our hope — Romans 5:2
·        Our hope — Romans 12:12
·        The Holy Spirit — Romans 14:17
·        The fruit of the Spirit – Ga 5:22
·        The Lord is the source of our joy — Philippians 4:4
·        Tribulation works endurance — James 1:2-3
·        Purpose in suffering – 1 Peter 4:12,13
·        Joy in trial — 1 Peter 1:5-8 
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1 Thessalonians 5:15b

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“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all“
 
but always pursue what is good
 
Paul now gives the other side of the coin of retaliation. The word “but” is the “but” of strong contrast in the Greek. In contrast to retaliation “pursue whatever is intrinsically good (Greek) for the other person.” “Instead of seeking to injure someone, put great effort in seeking their good.”
 
The word “pursue” in this passage means to follow after, strive for, to pursue the “good.” The idea is to put some earnestness in going after the good of other people. “Don’t be half-hearted when doing them good.” Paul used this term in Philippians.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me…. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
Paul uses “pursue” in the sense of a foot race in the above passage. “Run after the good. Don’t stroll along after the good for you will not win the race for good. The goal is to win the race, not just participate in it. Chase it down, don’t saunter along.” This takes energy, intense effort, quickness and a definite goal.
The word “always” is an easy word to miss. The principle of pursuing the intrinsic good of other people is not something we do occasionally but something that we must “always” pursue. There are no exceptions.
both for yourselves and for all
The church at Thessalonica faced protracted persecution from the non-Christian community. It would be an easy reaction to retaliate against them but this would not be intrinsically good for the Christian or the non-Christian. Persecution can cause Christians to turn on one another as well.
Principle:
God wants us to put full effort into helping people.
Application:
Many of us put a half-hearted effort into what we do. This always yields half-hearted results. We will revert to type quickly if we are not earnest about pursuing the intrinsic good of other people. Our spiritual reflexes are so poor that if we do not train them to react when the time comes, they will revert to basic instinct. We respond in kind.
People can say some untrue and cruel things about us. This may stab us like a spear. It is not enough to stuff this in our soul. We must deal with it by “pursuing the good.” We cannot be half-hearted about it or we will never make it. We will open our mouth and put our foot in it.
It is tempting to avenge ourselves. “If someone injures me, I injure them. After all, I am justified in doing this because they did it to me first.” The heat of passion can get us into trouble but if we have the idea of pursuing the good no matter what happens to us then maturity will have the upper hand.
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? ”Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:44-48).
The law of the jungle is to give evil for evil. When we give evil for evil, we behave like animals. When we pay back evil for good, we function like the Devil. When we give good for evil we conduct ourselves like God.
None of us can get through life without a mountain of unfair treatment by others. How we respond to unfair treatment depends on whether we pursue the good.
“Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
“Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:18-25).
Eternity is too long and life too short to get into a mode of revenge. If we move into this mode, it will sour our soul. Married folks get into verbal duels that end worse than the beginning. Harsh remarks bring harsh replies. If they do not have the maturity to stop this cycle, they will infuse attitudes of antipathy into their souls. They will begin to hold grudges. Grudge builds on grudge. Someone must become mature somewhere and break the deadlock.
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1 Thessalonians 5:15

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“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all“
 
See that
 
In this context, “see that” is a warning against the attitude of revenge. Not only must the church as a whole display longsuffering (5:14) to one another but also they must not pay back an injury with an injury.
 
no one renders evil for evil
The word “renders” signifies to give back, to restore, return, render what is due, to pay, give an account. The New Testament uses this term for paying back a financial debt. It also carries the bad sense to pay someone back for a wrong. The idea in this case is revenge or retaliation.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17).
“…not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).
to anyone,
Mature Christians do not retaliate against the Christian or the non-Christian, people we like or people do we do not like.
Immaturity repays evil with evil and good for good. Maturity repays good for evil. The mature person can place justice in the hands of God. It is the responsibility of mature leadership to repay good for evil.
Principle:
Vengeance usurps the place of God.
Application:
Some Christians will take nothing lying down. The law of the jungle is kill or be killed. “I will pay you back for this if it is the last thing I do.” This attitude usurps the place of God. The sovereign execution of vengeance belongs to God.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’” (Romans 12:17-21).
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1 Thessalonians 5:14e

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“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all“
 
be patient
 
There are two main words for “patient” in the Greek. One means patience with circumstances and the other means patience with people. Our term is the second word – patience with people.
 
“Patient” comes from two Greek words: long and temper. This person has a lo-o-o-ong temper, not a short temper. A “patient” person can put up with people. They can “bear with” obnoxious people because they are long-tempered. They can exhibit patience in spite of difficult people. Patient people are slow to react because there is a delay mechanism built into their attitude.
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up…” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
“And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrew 6:15).
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain” (James 5:7).
with all
Everyone knows an annoying person. There is a tendency to show our ire toward these jerks. The difficulty with this attitude is that we are to be patient with “all” people, jerks included.
The word “with” means face-to-face and implies fellowship. It is easy to isolate people we do not like.
Principle:
All Christians need patience from every other Christian.
Application:
Christians must not only bear with people they like but with people they do not like. We are to bear with other people but we must also forbear against reacting to them. Mature Christians do not retaliate against every wrong against them. Immature people feel that they must take affront at every injury against them. Mature people try to bring stability to every tense situation.
How do you react when someone provokes you? Mature people do not react in the face of provocation. Instead, even in the face of that aggravation, they are there for people, even maddening people. Not only do they not strike back but, to the contrary, help those who hurt them.
It is one thing to show a long temper to our families but it is something else to show it to “all men.” We improve the situation with no exceptions. We do not render evil for evil but, on the contrary, blessing. The patient person goes the extra mile in the face of aggravation. We make the extra effort to help others. Patience is one thing that we cannot borrow from others. That is why we must not run short of it.
God does not ask us to agree with every cockeyed idea that comes down the pike from other Christians. We do not have to share others opinions, but we must free ourselves from resentment toward them. They may snub us, ignore us and treat us with disrespect but God expects us to carry a long temper toward them. We give them the benefit of the doubt. We construe what they say in the best light. This will prevent much heartache.
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