How can I have Confidence in God & God’s People.
(1 Thess 5: 12—28)
I have been involved in three different churches over my Christian life and I think there has been a common thread throughout the fellowships.
It doesn’t take much to recognise the unhealthy problems that are found in Christian fellowships.
Cliques, schisms, backbiting, judgmentalism, grumblings and murmurings.
It has been said, if you find a perfect church and you join it, it ceases to be perfect.
Now, we can easily make excuses for this. Usually, it goes something like this, “I mean we are only human, no one is perfect”. “He’s a nice brother, but”!
If we are to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ in our neighbourhood, we need to recognise these things and work to put them right.
The Apostle Paul exhorts the Thessalonian believers and each one of us, through this Epistle to work on these things in our churches.
Thess 5: 11 - 13 "11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you;
13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves."
What Paul is reminding us, is that in the light of the fact that Christ is coming again, we should be diligent in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We have seen in our studies that these young believers have come on in the faith very quickly, only in a few months and Paul has much to commend them for.
1Th 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
For the building up of the local body of Christ, it is important to have good leadership. Elders and Deacons ,(Elders, Leaders) who are men of faith, with the ability to lead, direct and teach the fellowship in the ways of the Lord. (Deacons), practical men who can deal with functions within the fellowship.
Men who are shepherds of the flock, men who are not hirelings but men that make sure the sheep are fed and guarded against false teachers and false doctrine.
However it is not enough to have a good leadership team. What is needed is a fellowship that respects its leaders. People that support the leaders, realising that these men are put there by God.
Roman 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
We have seen how it is important in a fellowship to promote love amongst the brethren and how it is essential to encourage each other in the faith.
We are not to work against the leaders, seeking power for ourselves. Such people very often criticize its leaders and often have a problem respecting them.
As the body of Christ we must see and accept that the Lord has seen fit to put certain men over us in the Lord. V12 and so Paul exhorts us “to esteem them highly in love because of their work”.
We must be about promoting peace, and not discord.
There are three points in this passage that stands out.
Those who labour among you.
The word “labour” is the word (Kopiao – Greek) it means to work hard, to feel fatigue, to be wearied.
We must never forget, it is not easy to be a leader and be in the firing line. The ones on show or on the front lines as it were, are easy targets. They do not need our criticisms but our encouragement, they are entitled to our respect.
They have charge of you in the Lord. KJV says “over you”
The word here is (Proistemi) it means, to stand before – in rank – to rule. A position of leadership.
This in no way means to dominate or boss but to serve, to be responsible for. Like a father with his children.
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
To be in opposition to God appointed leaders can cause all sorts of problems in a church fellowship.
We find it very difficult to submit to authority but this is not an option, it is a command.
How can we submit to Christ if we can’t submit to God placed leaders?
They admonish you.
The word is (Noutheteo) means, to caution or reprove gently.
Anyone who takes up a leadership position in the church has a great responsibility before God and will be held to account for how they lead.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
All these things must be recognised and put into practice if we are to live at peace in the church.
Sometimes it is necessary for leaders to correct a brother or a sister in love and also to encourage the fellowship to be at peace one with another.
In verse 14, The Apostle Paul is exhorting oneness in the Body.
1Th 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
Warn them that are unruly.
We are the Body of Christ and each member of the body needs to work together pulling in the same direction. In the physical body we would get nowhere if one leg tried to go one way and the other tried to go in the opposite direction.
The word unruly in this verse is (Ataktos – could mean unarranged or insubordinate). Not being obedient to the other members or going off on a tangent, doing one’s own thing.
His message to them is the same as it is to the other churches.
Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Romans 15:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are to function as one body. We know it is silly for us to neglect our physical bodies, we know that we have to look after its members.
The church is the body of Christ and each of us is its members and as the scripture says:
1 Cor 12:21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
We must respect each part of the body for us to function in the world the way that we should.
Comfort the feebleminded.
(Feebleminded - Oligopsuchos – Little spirited/Fainthearted)
The Thessalonian church was a young church and was under persecution from the Jews and the Pagans.
This could possibly cause the weaker brethren to fall away or succumb to temptation.
It is important that we keep an eye on the weaker ones in the fellowship and be ready to step in where needed. Those that cannot help themselves. They may be of help to another member of the fellowship but in certain cases cannot help themselves.
In the physical body the teeth cannot clean themselves, they need the hand.
The feet cannot walk without the legs.
So it is with the body of Christ, each has his own gift and ministry in order to support the members.
Support the Weak.
(Asthenes – Strengthless/Feeble/Impotent/sick)
Those who are stronger in the Lord need to council those who are weak. This applies to both spiritual and physical needs.
This again is the body taking care of its members.
(Makrothumeo – Longsuffering/Patiently Endure)
We must never allow ourselves to lose our tempers or patience with weaker brethren but give support to anyone who needs it.
Do Good to those inside the church and outside the church.
v15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
It is so easy for us to react to a brother or a sister that maybe acting mean to us but there is no excuse for us to do the same.
(Romans 12:17-21) "17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.
20 On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Notice: that this does not only apply to those in the church fellowship but to ALL men. Even your enemy.
Keep focused on God.
v16 Rejoice evermore.
(Khaheero – Be full of cheer)
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
(The word “again” is Greek Palin) it means oscillatory or repeatedly.
This does not mean put on a brave face in the midst of problems. It is a command to keep our focus on God and not lose sight of Him. To continue praising, even in adverse situations.
Make prayer an integral part of our life.
17 Pray without ceasing.
(Adialeeptos - Uninteruptedly – without omission)
The Apostle Paul repeatedly exhorts this throughout his Epistles.
He uses terms like: Always- Continually – night and day – constantly.
This is not talking about vain repetition, constantly praying the same prayer over and over, like Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s or like in other faith’s, mantra’s but having a prayerful mind, letting prayer become part of our daily thinking.
18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
(Greek – eucharisteō), "to express appreciation for benefits or blessings, give thanks, express thanks, render/return thanks."
Whenever we thank God, then God is on or mind. We are told in this verse to thank God in all circumstances. Notice, it not for all circumstances. We are not thanking God for evil coming upon us or the fact that we are being persecuted or that we are dying of a disease. We are told to thank God IN every circumstance.
Do not put out the Holy Spirit’s fire.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
(Quench - Sbennumi – extinguish)
Don’t extinguish the work of the Holy Spirit. Do not throw water on the Spirits work. Do not put out the fire.
This is not just referring to the gifts of the Holy Spirit like what happened in the Corinthian church, The misuse of the revelatory gifts. Tongues and interpretation, prophecies and the words of knowledge etc.
If this was the case, I am sure the Apostle Paul would have addressed it in the same way he chastised the Corinthian church.
Many commentators suggest that this was happening here in the church in Thessalonica.
However it does not actually say this.
To quench, means to stifle, to retard, or as it’s translated, to quench.
Do not stifle the work of the Spirit. Do not stand in the way of.
If we recognise that something is the work of the Holy Spirit, we should promote it and not go against it.
Do not despise a word from the Lord.
Test the spirits.
(dokimazō - "to make a critical examination of something to determine genuineness, put to the test, examine."
In these days of false doctrines and false teachers, it is imperative that we exercise discernment, checking everything by the word of god. We must be like the Bereans.
Acts 17:11 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.
Verse 20 Despise not prophesying.
We must remember that at this time in church history, that God was still revealing truth and was attesting His word by signs and wonders.
However, Paul was saying test all things, hold to that which is good and reject that which is evil.
It's also important to realize that prophecy doesn't trump or replace the Scripture. It is not at the same level.
In the early church God was revealing truth through Prophecy, the revelatory gift.
Prophecy today is proclaiming the revealed truth not revealing new truth. It is Forth telling not Fore telling.
The Reformers believed in Sola Scriptura ( The Bible alone).
The Bible is the final revelation of God. There is no more, or any new revelation.
Hebrews Chapter 1 tells us:
Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
Sadly, there are churches today that put the revelatory gifts along side the Bible and you hear phrases like, “The Lord as told me to say” or “Thus says the Lord”.
Everything should be judged by scripture. They should not replace the Scriptures or become an authoritative appendix for doctrine.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
The only way this can be done is checking everything fits in with God’s Word.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
It is not just abstaining from evil but abstaining from putting a stumbling block in front of those who are observing us.
It is like offending. Why would we do something that may offend if we don’t need to.
We are the salt and light in the world. The world is watching us. The world is waiting for us to fall.
If Jesus was walking by your side, would you do it? If not, then don’t.
Gods desire for us to keep us blameless..
5:23-24 " May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
(hagiazō, "to make holy," has the connotation, "to eliminate that which is incompatible with holiness, purify. "entirely" "wholly" (holotelēs), "pertaining to being totally complete, with implication of meeting a high standard, in every way complete, quite perfect.
This is the will of God for us.
A Finished Work.
1Th 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
Romans 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
If we are predestined, we WILL be Glorified.
Pray - Greet - Read.
1Th 5:25 Brethren, pray for us.
Despite being a giant of prayer himself, Paul always felt the need of the prayer of others; and the more one prays the more he feels such a need. Our leaders need our prayer, if they are working on our behalf and in the work of the
ministry, they are very likely to be the target of the devil.
We are exhorted to pray for each other.
Spurgeon wrote "If I were allowed to offer only one request to you, it would be this: "Brethren, pray for us." Of what use can our ministry be without the divine blessing, and how can we expect the divine blessing unless it be sought for by the church of God? I would say it even with tears, "Brethren, pray for us." Do not restrain prayer. On the contrary, be abundant in intercession, for only so can our prosperity as a church be increased, or even continued....Dismiss me or else intercede for me."
1Th 5:26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.
(Greet—aspazomai) means to enfold in arms, welcome, embrace.
To welcome all the brethren. It is not wrong to be a kissing church, a hugging church.
This like a family kiss, a sign of closeness. A Holy Kiss.
Note: that Paul does not say - to the orderly - but to all, which indicates his
unconditional love did not exclude even the disorderly brethren. Agape love is all inclusive love.
A Charge to share the Word.
1Th 5:27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.
(Charge—horkizō), "to give a command to someone under oath, adjure, implore."
Paul wanted them All to hear this word.
Pray for Grace.
1Th 5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
A prayer for Grace ( Undeserved favour) (Mercy).
Usually the bookends to Pauls letters. The letter begins with:
1 Th 1:1 "Grace to you and peace". It ends with Grace.
This refers to sanctifying grace, grace that transforms, grace that empowers, grace that is sufficient so that we might walk worthy and in the will of God in a society.