1thessalonians Study

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Steve Amato, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. Faith, Hope and Love
    1Th 1:1-3
    Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father

    your work produced by faith,
    your labor prompted by love, and
    your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Faith, Hope and Love - "these three remain"1Cor 13 :13
    The quality of faith that saves is one which produces works of faith.
    Labor is prompted by love. What is the difference between "work" and "labor"?
    "Work" simply refers to general applications of faith.
    "Labor" refers to the quality or intensity of the work. It refers to the manner in which the work is carried out. One who loves will not only apply his faith, but labor intensely, wearing himself out.
    And while Love inspires intensity to the work, Hope inspires endurance.

    A person with FAITH applies the Word of God to his life.
    A person with HOPE may do a little each day but continue on for a long time.
    But a person with LOVE will work intensely each day.
    Combining these three should be our objective.
    clark thompson likes this.
  2. I agree with that!
  3. Chosen - How do you know?
    1Th 1:4
    For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,

    How do you know whether someone has actually come to know Christ? By their behavior!
    "we know ('oida' gk.)" means "we perceive based on our external observations".
    (This as opposed to based on internal feelings). What external observations?

    Paul was not simply interested in them claiming to believe, but rather he was watching their lives to see if they demonstrated the quality of faith that saves. For the faith that saves is an application-oriented faith. And what kind of behavior and attitude should be characteristics of such believers?

    • With respect to LIFESTYLE, we should have works of faith.
      With respect to ATTITUDE, we should have endurance of faith.
    For those who have been chosen "have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood" 1Peter 1:2
  4. The Gospel came with Power
    1Th 1:5
    because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.

    Let us not receive the gospel in word only. Verbally acknowledging Jesus as Lord is essential to receiving the gospel (Rom 10:9). But Jesus also says

    "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matt 7:21So while we are acknowledging with our lips, we may be rejecting him by our behavior.
    Also, one thing that God teaches us through nature is that creatures will reproduce according to their own kind. As messengers of the gospel, would we be satisfied if those we lead to Christ become like us? Is our faith a model of the kind of faith we hope to inspire in others? Are we living a lifestyle that we expect others to live?

    The manner in which the Thessalonians received the gospel can be likened to the way in which it was delivered by Paul - with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction, and with a lifestyle consistent with the message.
  5. You became imitators
    1Thess 1:6
    You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

    And just as Paul, they also demonstrated endurance of hope in the midst of persecution. This was an identifying mark of saving faith, and as such a basis for their assurance of salvation - that they endured in the faith in spite of severe suffering.

    In some countries it's convenient to be a Christian. There is little persecution of the sort that the early church endured. So what kind of Christians are produced? Untested. It is inevitable under such conditions that nominalism will dominate the church. Popular Christianity is like a field full of trees as far as the eye can see, in an enviroment in which there is no wind. But when the wind comes and only those who are deeply rooted survive, the shallowness of the faith of most Christians will be revealed.

    Heb 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
  6. Evangelism
    1Th 1:7,8
    And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia— your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it

    There are not many commands concerning evangelism in the New Testament. It doesn't seem to me that Paul ever had to tell believers to do these things. It seems evangelism came naturally to the Thessalonians. But realize that their difficult circumstances, their severe suffering under persecution, their proper reaction to difficulties, these things help them to reveal their faith to on-lookers. They stood out in the crowd because they had genuine hope, anticipating their adoption as sons of God through the resurrection from the dead. Without having our faith challenged through persecution and suffering difficult circumstances, it may be difficult to convince someone else to listen. But of course we can utilize the testimony of those in the Bible who did endure such things with joy.

    Your faith in Christ was not intended to be hidden. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Mt 5:14-16
  7. The Testimony of Deeds
    1Th 1:9,10
    for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead— Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

    How did becoming a Christian actually affect your lifestyle? The Thessalonians had been worshipping foreign gods and turned from such idols. Repentance from sin is characteristic of saving faith. Paul testifies, "First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds."Acts 26:20 Likewise service to God is characteristic of saving faith, as it embraces the purpose of for which Christ died, "he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again."2Cor 5:15 What deeds of repentance and works of service testify of your faith in Christ?

    Realize however that deeds of repentance and service to God while characteristic of saving faith are not objects of our faith. The object of our faith is Christ who himself rescues us from the coming wrath. Thus "Hope" is also characteristic of saving faith. Christian hope is the feeling of anticipation associated with our faith in God's promise to rescue us from the coming wrath. "Waiting" is part of the Christian life. We're waiting on God as is revealed by our compliance to his commands and we're waiting for God as is revealed by our patience and perseverance in the faith which is a consequence of our hope. But "waiting" is not laziness. "We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." Heb 6:12

  8. Dare to Preach the Gospel
    1Thess 2:1,2
    You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.

    In Acts 16 Paul went to Philippi where he was imprisoned after casting out a demon from a possessed slave girl. The girl's master was so angry that he aroused the civil authorities against Paul on the basis of anti-Jewish sentiment. But Paul exerted his rights as a Roman citizen and was released.

    In Acts 17 upon arriving in Thessalonica, he went to the Jewish synagogue. And for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures, proving Jesus to be the Christ. Some Jews believed and a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. But the unbelieving Jews became jealous and slandered him to the civil authorities. This caused a great disturbance, and Paul and Silas left to Berea.

    "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people." Acts 17:11-13

    But these kind of oppositions are to be expected. So dare to preach the gospel in spite of strong opposition.
  9. Never Use Flattery
    1Thess 2:3-6a
    For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed— God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.

    There are those who "boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage." Jude 1:6 and "by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people." Rom 16:18

    When you preach the gospel, how do the people you are speaking to know that you are doing so out of pure motives? Common questions skeptics ask:

    • What do you get out of it?
    • Do you get paid for it?
    • Have you demonstrated real faith in your message by suffering persecution for it?
    • Do you apply your message to your life, or are you a hypocrite?
    • Do they preach just to gain popularity? Do they just want people to like them?
    And we should ask these about ourselves when we minister. But not just whether these could be our motives. But also whether we may be giving people the impression that these may be our motives. Thus, for example, Paul generally avoided getting paid for minister even though he had a legitimate right to receive such pay (1Cor 9).
    Who are we trying to please? Will you minster even if people don't appreciate it? One of the important attitutes to develop in maturing in Christ is the attitude of not caring what other people think of us, but rather to care what God alone thinks of us. This will keep a Christian safe. Think about all those examples of "godly" people sinning in the Bible and how it may have turned out quite different if they only cared what God thought about them. This is not to say that we should not care whether people understand us. Not does it mean that we should not empathize with others. It is other people's attitude towards us I am referring to. Such a dispassionate attitude requires humility. For who are we that we should be concerned about what others think of us. This was the kind of struggle that many of the Christians faced in the early church at a time when Christianity was unpopular.
  10. Be Gentle like a Mother
    1Thess 2:6a-9
    As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

    There are many things we learn in Paul's letters about how to minister to people. Much of it has to do with one's attitude. To be responsible in carrying out God's ministry, one must have an attitude as a parent. And one can learn a bit about proper parenting from Paul in his dealings with those he ministered to. For mother, Paul uses the greek word for nurse. His is focussing on the mother's instinct to take care of the practical needs of her children. In particular Paul pointed out his not taking money from the Thessalonians for ministry, for children do not pay their mother to raise them. As he said elsewhere "Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children." 2Cor 12:14
  11. Exhort like a Father
    1Thess 2:10-12
    You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

    By nature children follow their parent's example. Therefore the minister of the gospel should seek to behave properly as an example to follow. Jesus did not simply command us to preach the gospel, but to make disciples (Matt 28:19,20). That is a long, non-trivial process that requires intimate relationships to develop.

    Like a father, Paul exhorts, commands and encourages them. He focusses on their maturing. And in fact one can learn about fathering by studying Paul's method of ministry. Among other things, fathering involves exhortation. Although not to the point of exasperation, as he says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Eph 6:4
  12. Accept the Word of God
    1Thess 2:13
    And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

    For the Bible to be effective in bringing one to salvation, one must accept it as the Word of God. It is not to be considered merely the opinions of a bunch of dead theologians. Conversely that which is not scripture should not be reckoned the Word of God. The Word of God is the Bible. It is the word of the Lord and his apostles and prophets which has been recorded. Don't gullibly treat opinions, sermons or commentaries by post-Biblical theologians and preachers (such as myself) as infallible truth. Beware of such rhetoric as "now the pastor will give us a word from God", referring to his own words. In fact often such sermons contain little of what the Word of God actually says.

    Accepting the Word of God as the apostles preached it as infallible truth is, of course, indicative of saving faith. John writes, "We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us."1John 4:6 Furthermore, "the word of God is living and active." Heb 4:12a and regenerates the Christian. "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." 1Pe 1:23 Therefore "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" Col 3:16a

  13. Be People of Conviction
    1Thess 2:14
    For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews

    One effect of the acceptance of the Word of God is the developement of people of conviction who stand in spite of strong opposition. These people demonstrate a fearlessness which is characteristic of children of God. Conversely, cowards are first on the list to be thrown into the lake of fire."The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur." Rev 21:8

    And such trials are to be expected. "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" 2Tim 3:12 Jesus said, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."John 15:19
  14. Don't Hinder the Gospel
    1Thess 2:15,16
    who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.

    How do unbelievers try and prevent the spread of the gospel? By developing hostility against it. Remember the Jews who tried to stop Paul. What did they do? They stirred up the crowds to anger through slander and even went to the civil authorities with slanderous accusations. This should not be surprising as Jesus faced the same.

    Also notice the "so that they may be saved" phrase. Without the gospel, the Gentiles would not be saved. "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?"Rom 10:14Notice also from verse 16 what is the worse thing a person can do to heap up their sins to the limit and incur God's wrath? It is to hinder the communication of the gospel of Christ. "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12
  15. What is Your Crowning Achievement?
    1Thess 2:17-20
    But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you— certainly I, Paul, did, again and again— but Satan stopped us. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

    Paul was emotionally attached to the Thessalonian Christians as parents naturally are to their children. Ministers of the word should have such an attachment to those they disciple. Problem is this has to be mutual. The Thessalonians listened to Paul and respected him. With regards to his teachings they were obedient and application-oriented even in the midst of hostility. So it's easy to understand why Paul was particularly attached to them. The circumstances also intensified their relationship. Christians who suffer together are also drawn closer together regardless of whether they're in the same place. Paul's dedication to them no doubt helped secure their allegiance to him and to the gospel he preached. And their allegiance further secured his devotion to them. Effective ministry is more than communication of ideas. Among other things it also incorporates the communication of ones' feelings.

    Satan opposes the development of positive Christian relationships. Either he hinders contact through circumstances as in the case here, or he introduces conflicts internally by provoking the Christian's sinful nature resulting in divisiveness. For example Paul combats one of Satan's scheme with the following, "If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven— if there was anything to forgive— I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes." 2Cor 2:10-11 Paul was not unaware of Satan's schemes. Neither should we be unaware. "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."1Peter 5:8,9

    What is your crown? What is the thing that you will glory in when you enter the presence of the Lord? Paul glories in the impact he's had on other people. He says likewise to the Philippians, "Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!" Php 4:1 Paul viewed his own fruitfulness as contingent upon the fruitfulness of those he had influenced. Let us rejoice if the next generation of Christians does better than us.

  16. Destined for Trials
    1Thess 3:1-4
    So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.

    Who is "we"? Paul had been traveling with Silas and Timothy. And it is apparent from the phrase "left by ourselves" that Paul sees Timothy as essential to his ministry. Interesting that Paul was the one who was called. It was Paul who was the apostle. Yet he treats others involved in his ministry as essential. They are not treated like just another faceless member of his team, but rather co-workers on God's team. This shows Paul's sense of humility in spite of his leadership position.

    Christians are destined for trials. Paul preached, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God" Acts 14:22 and to Timothy he said, "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" 2Tim 3:12 This is to be expected of the Christian life. But Christians also should expect encouragement from their leadership.

    Individuals can strengthen the faith of others. And Christians are in need of encouragement to endure in their faith. There is enough discouragement in the world to hinder belief. But encouragement should not be based on false promises and lies, but upon truth. In particular it was their example of endurance in the face of persecution through which Paul wanted to encourage the Thessalonians in their own struggle. Embracing trials with meekness encourages others who face trials.
  17. Uncertain Conversions
    1Thess 3:5
    For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

    When he left them to go to Athens Paul was not sure of the salvation status of the Thessalonians. At the time, they "believed" and would have been called Christians. But the quality of faith that saves should reveal itself by a person's performance. It should endure through such persecutions that they faced. Else, they believed in vain, and the quality of their faith would have been deficient to qualify them for salvation. Thus Paul's work among them would have been useless. Thus Paul likewise tells the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you— unless, of course, you fail the test?" 2Cor 13:5

    Interesting that Paul measured the usefulness of his work by the results. It was not simply the communication of the gospel that was the objective, though this was his commission. He could have simply carried out his commission as Jonah and tell the message and not care about the response. But Paul identified with Christ's purpose in sending him. Christ's purpose was not just to communicate the message, but to save people. Paul didn't measure the results by the number of people who responded to the message. Rather Paul looked at the quality of the faith of those who claimed to believe.
  18. Encourage Evangelists
    1Thess 3:6-9
    But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

    What convinced Paul that his work had not been useless among them was their faith and love. John writes, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10 and "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands." 1John 2:3 It was their love of the brethren, both among themselves and towards Paul and his men, that gave Paul confidence that they had received the message appropriately.

    Their love and endurance were applications of their faith. Not a faith that simply understands the message, but a faith that receives it.Paul developed a symbiotic relationship with his disciples, which is not surprising. It appears that Paul, despite being an apostle and having Christ living in him, would not have felt really alive if those he preached to did not positively respond to the message with saving faith. This is describing Paul's emotional state and not his action. For I'm sure he would have continued to preach if they hadn't responded, although he would have been somewhat depressed. Evangelists need encouragement. For they deal much with unbelievers only few of whom will have a positive response to the message. And few of them will go on to demonstrate saving faith.

    The joy Paul refers to is not one born of a blind faith, nor is it even the joy of his position in Christ, but rather it is a joy based on things which are seen - a joy based on their response to his message. Such joy can only be understood by those who have experienced it, though it is like the joy of a parent seeing their child go on to live a godly life. It is a sense of satisfaction that one's life meant something essential to someone else. While onlooking Christians welcome new converts into the kingdom with joy, the one who actually communicated the gospel to them and was central to their receiving of the message experiences the greater joy. Likewise to the Corinthians Paul writes, "I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds." 2Cor 7:4 Why was Paul telling the Thessalonians this? In order to make them feel special, which they were. Just as they encouraged him by their works, so he encouraged them by words expressing his feelings. This mutual encouragement is part of what constitutes Christian fellowship.
  19. Intercede in Prayer
    1Thess 3:10-13
    Night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

    Pray for opportunities to minister in some capacity so that others may mature in their faith.

    Pray for Christian's love to increase If a person's love increases so will their holiness. The more one loves, the more one will achieve a blameless life. For love affects the desires of the heart and the desires of the heart affect one's choices and behavior. Trying to achieve holiness without love ends up in legalism and the kind of hypocritical behavior characteristic of the Jewish religious elite of Jesus' day. Consequently Paul doesn't pray that they be blameless, but rather that their love increases so that they will be blameless.

    In speaking of the return of Christ Paul wants to enhance their HOPE in such an event by giving them the assurance that they will be blameless on that day based on their evidence of their LOVE which is a product of their FAITH. When Christ's returns, those Christians who have been exercising love to others - especially to other Christians - will have confidence on that day that they are blameless. Not that they have been sinless, but that they have exercised the quality of faith that God requires for Christ's atoning work to be applied to them for their sins to be forgiven and they have been born of God as has been revealed by their behavior.

    1John 4:16b,17 Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
  20. Living a Life that Pleases God
    1Thess 4:1
    Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

    Living the Christian life is not just a matter of thinking a certain way about things, it's also about following the instructions of Jesus and his apostles concerning every particular thing we do. There's a lifestyle that pleases God which Christians should strive for. And "Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God." Rom 8:8 "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life." Gal 6:8

    For those living a life pleasing to God today, continue to do so and increase in your application of the Word. And let us pray "asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." Col 1:9-12

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