August 26

I Thessalonians 1-5

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord Jesus, your word to us from Paul glistens with joy and wonder and endless hope. May we be strengthened by the joy we have in you and live accordingly.  Amen.
Thessalonians is written to the Christians of a city we label as Thessalonica.  The locals call it Thess-a-lo-NEE-ki.  It is among the first of the 13 letters that Paul wrote to the first century churches – if not the first. Most who’ve studied the matter date the letter at 51 A.D. Paul wrote it to encourage the believers there and to settle questions they had about the Second Coming of Christ. Their puzzlement was about faithful Christians who had died and they were wondering how the deceased were going to enjoy Jesus’ Return if they weren’t here….legitimate and fair question, I’d say.  Paul had not been in the city long but the result of his visit was such a wave of conversions that his enemies perceived that Paul’s visit was “destroying everything”, so to speak. Prominent women were converting, plus such a large number of Grecians were getting saved that the whole country was hearing this news from Thessaloniki.  It was a city of 200,000 in Paul’s day (just over 310K today with a metro area exceeding 1M). And it’s intriguing how this book still pertains to them now – as well as the rest of us.  The Thessalonian Christians were being persecuted.  So Paul writes to comfort, strengthen, encourage, and instruct.  He instructs them to remain godly and dutiful in their daily discipleship.  He saw that their persecution could add tremendous power to their testimony as they persevered in Christ.  And you probably noticed that Paul closed each chapter with a word about The Return of Our Lord
1 – Silas and Timothy helped found the church here so they are included in the greeting.  Highlights of this short chapter are the reminders about the power in the Holy Spirit and the testimony they had in this influential city. It was merely made more powerful by the manner in which they persevered through the struggles.
2 – talks much about Christian conduct. This was more than needed as the persecution was thickening and the attempt to destroy Paul’s character, reputation, and his work in this town was at a furious pitch come A.D. 51.  In this reticent atmosphere, Paul urges that they “Preach good news, keep motives godly and pure, and do it all for God, avoid greed and being burdensome, be gentle and loving and industrious and holy and encouraging. Paul gave them a great run of pastoral instruction about conduct.  Paul explains the significance of their suffering and reminds them that they are in good company since Jesus was persecuted for living and speaking the truth. Paul adds to the affection of the moment in his statement of his desire to visit them again.
3 – Paul/Silas/Timothy had left Thessalonica, gone to Berea, south to Athens (this from Acts 17&18), and by the time they reached Athens, the news came that persecution had turned awful back in Thessalonica, so Paul sent Timothy back to be an encouragement.  Timothy went and later returned to Paul with the report of the Thessalonian Christians’ steadfast commitment, devotion, and character and it made Paul as joyful as he could possibly be !!
4 – People are always wondering what is God’s will for their lives.  Well here’s a memo.  Five times in the Bible, it says what God’s will is and all five of them are in these next two chapters. Catch these. 1] Be holy (like God) and to do this one must, 2] avoid sexual immorality. It isn’t mentioned here but our prayer life and our love life is intimately linked. An immoral person is an intrinsically dishonest person, and such a person cannot walk with God.
Other vitals in this chapter is to love each other as family. The giving to help the poor was commendable, yet there were some on the receiving end who were taking advantage and using the occasion to maximize the opportunity for laziness. He wanted admirable, productive, charitable, forthright Christians to be their trademark. This chapter ends with the typical theme ending each chapter.  The salient matter here is the clear assertion that there is going to be a rapture where Christ where all Believers (everywhere and from every era are gathered and together and conscious and overjoyed to be with Jesus.  This is by no means the end of history, but the end of this age. We’ll stop there before opening a colossal discussion that is still be talked through 19+1/2 centuries after the doctrines were laid forth…that being “eschatology”; the study of the End Times.
5 – the eschatology teaching continues from Paul. His revelation about the End Times is coming rapid fire and it’s exciting material that is intended to keep us on the edge of our seats and eager. It ought affect how we interpret the news, invest, minister, plan, live, love: everything.  He reminds them to respect Pastors and then Paul stacks together a quiver full of advice -15 loving orders-  that, were it all obeyed, [vv. 14-22] stop and ponder the countless changes that would happen for the good on earth! God’s will issues #3,4,5 were in that list: always rejoice/pray/be thankful.         Paul’s conclusion is golden. What else can be said?  For all to be godly and holy, for all to have undying hope, to revere and celebrate one another, to read the Bible together. It’s how to offer the world a foretaste of heaven.
The Thread Through the Streams

“Follow my Word, do what I have told you, keep your commitments – I’ll help you do this.”

In Numbers, there are duties to follow, vows to make and keep and the Lord would bless them AND KEEP them.  This means they are in good standing and God would not fail them.
In Chronicles, we see a long list of faithful and unfaithful souls listed in brief though we recall many and where their decisions took them. We see decisions made that took one’s destiny into oblivion and their future tribe to ruin. We saw prayers made and recall vows laid down and the Lord hung onto these words and these giants of the Bible.
In Psalms, the WORD is the stellar matter. No one who has put their trust in HIM has ever been forsaken. God hangs onto us and we are to hang onto His Word
In Jeremiah, the good news is rather sparse as Babylon is read a long list of disasters that will transform this degenerate place into a sand dune. Jerusalem falls and the scenes are horrible. But Jehoichin does not fight the whole process, but succumbs and cooperates as he was prophetically told to. After an initial period in Babylon, he is pardoned, brought to the palace, treated even nicer than family was, he is exalted above most other kings and specially fed/cared for the rest of his days
In Micah a world is going to be transformed and Zion will be at the lead. They will teach, and mediate, a world of war will morph to a world of plenty. This was God’s call and it shall come. This is what happens to those who follow the Lord forever [Mi.4:5]
In Luke.we read much assertion about forgiveness; the trait that marks the Christian faith like no other. But the grateful leper shone bright this week. He had a moment and resolved to go back, find Jesus and be grateful. Our Lord declared that his faith healed him. You can bet that he, of the 10 lepers healed, had the longest healthiest life.  Grateful people do.
I Thessalonians. 4:3 /+/ 5:16-18  Give the five orders for us to follow for they are the will of God. All who follow this find themselves in God’s Will and with ne’er a regret all their lives.

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