Chapter 5 concludes Paul’s discussion on eschatological matters and ends with a smorgasbord of commands to enable the Thessalonians to continue to live as salt and light in their dark world.
Introduction: Now & Later
When I was a kid, I could always count on my Dad stopping at a convenience store for snacks. One of my favorites growing up were the Now & Later candies. Apparently they have their name because you’ll enjoy them now and want some more later. I usually just enjoyed mine in the now and didn’t worry much about the later.
Paul combines these two aspect of time in our chapter this week. What we do now impacts the later. How we view the later often impacts what we do now. With this in mind, Paul discusses three important characteristics which believers should embody in the now (1-12) – purity (1-7), love (9-10), and life (11-12). Then, wanting to clear confusion among the church about the later, he speaks about the resurrection and rapture of God’s people (13-18).
I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain. ~ Charles Spurgeon
3 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions.
- The biblical account tells us that Jewish persecution caused Paul to move from Thessalonica to Berea and then to Athens (Acts 17.1-15). It also suggests that Timothy and Silas stayed in Berea when Paul moved on to Athens (17.14,15). We are not told when, but at some point, Paul is joined in Athens by Timothy and possible Silas. Timothy is then dispatched from Athens to provide strength (“establish”) and encourage (“exhort”) faith within the persecuted congregation in Thessalonica. Timothys third purpose is mentioned in verse 3a.
- “brother” – a term frequently used as a designation for fellow believers.
- “God’s coworker” – Paul often used the term “fellow worker” for someone who was engaged in mission efforts along side him. Here, however, he refers to Timothy as “God’s coworker”, thus identifying him as one who had his own ministry and could be trusted to adequately “establish” the church there.
- Not only is Paul supporting Timothy’s trustworthiness and authority to accomplish the further building of the church, he is also communicating the value of the church by sending such an individual.
- “that no one be moved” – literally means “to shake”. It is best understood to mean one is upset or agitated.
- Reflect & remember how the gospel has impacted your own life (v. 1).
- Know that God has entrusted you with the gospel message (v. 4). There is expectation that you share it. You are capable of sharing it.
- The gospel is able to stand on its own (v. 5). There is no need for us to change or update it.
- The gospel makes God glorious. Not you (v. 6).
- As you share the gospel, don’t attempt to force conversions. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job (v. 7).
- The gospel is best shared within the context of shared lives (v. 8). Invest yourself in other people.
- Live a life that builds gospel integrity (v. 9, 10). When our lives don’t mirror the gospel and God’s Word, we loose our credibility as we share.
- Sharing the gospel is personal (v. 12). Show people you genuinely care.
- Use the Bible (v. 13) It changes lives. Let God work.
- Rejoice when the gospel is received (v. 13). I have witnessed more applause for the service of the church florist than the repentance of a hardened sinner. This strikes me as inappropriate.
The gospel is the good news that the everlasting and ever-increasing joy of the never-boring, ever-satisfying Christ is ours freely and eternally by faith in the sin-forgiving death and hope-giving resurrection of Jesus Christ. – John Piper
In 1 Thess. chapter two, we see the heart of the apostle Paul regarding his desire to share the life-changing gospel of Christ. And why wouldn’t he? He understands and trusts the gospel to work as it is shared. May God grow in us the desire to share with others the redemption freely offered to us through the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross.
Not only does Paul demonstrate the heart of a believer willing to share the good news, he also gives us an example of how to live in order to present the gospel effectively.
1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.
- As is Paul’s usual custom, the epistle begins with salutations from Paul and others in his company, a naming of the recipients, and a short blessing.
- Interestingly, 1 & 2 Thess. are the only epistles in which Paul does not add a description of himself or those with him (Compare to Colossians 1.1). Perhaps this is due to the early writing of these epistles or his comfort level with the church.
- The writing also suggest that the epistle’s authorship is actually shared between the three men listed. The first person plural pronoun “we” is used throughout the book.
- “Silas” – see Acts 15.22-34. An abbreviated form of the longer, Silvanus. Leader in the church in Jerusalem. Also ministered at the church in Antioch. Accompanied Paul on his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 15.40).
- “Timothy” – Originally from Lystra. Mother was a messianic jew and his father was a non-believing Greek. Constant companion to Paul throughout his ministry, Paul’s “son in the faith”.
- “church” – the term church, in it’s broadest meaning can simply refer to an assembly of social, religious, or political gatherings.
- However, Paul gives the reader a couple of qualifiers which sets this group apart from others. “In God the Father” – 1) “God” – meaning the God of the Old Testament, whom both Jews and Christians worshipped, and 2) “the Father” – carries the ideas of authority and benevolence. “and the Lord Jesus Christ” – Jesus is designated as “the Christ” the promised one from the Old Testament and as “Lord” or Master. Jesus’ designation as “Lord” become more widely used after his resurrection, though it isn’t completely absent in gospel narratives.
- “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2.9-11)
- Both epistles identify Paul as the author. If fact his name occurs as the first word of verse 1 of 1 & 2 Thess. His authorship is rarely disputed among scholars.
- Paul founded the church at Thessalonica in his second missionary journey. Acts 17.1-10.
- “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women” (Acts 17.4)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The resurrection of Christ is the most pivotal moment in all of history. It is the climactic event our faith in Christ as Redeemer is validated and the moment which all of our Christian faith relies upon. In this session we see John’s portrait of the resurrected Christ.
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (1 Cor. 15.14).
In short, I didn’t become a Christian because God promised I would have an even happier life than I had as an atheist. He never promised any such thing. Indeed, following him would inevitably bring divine demotions in the eyes of the world. Rather, I became a Christian because the evidence was so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God who proved his divinity by rising from the dead. That meant following him was the most rational and logical step I could possibly take. – Lee Strobel
The truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of gospel truth. The resurrection is the pivot on which all of Christianity turns and without which none of the other truths would much matter. Without the resurrection, Christianity would be so much wishful thinking, taking its place alongside all other human philosophy and religious speculation. – John MacArthur
In these two chapters we encounter the darkest hours in the life of Christ. Betrayal. Arrest. Fraudulent charges. Bogus trial. Death.
Although these moments seem dark, they prove to be Christ’s finest hour in his work of redemption.