Greetings in Christ! This week Paul is going to give us a lot to think about. The Christians in Thessalonica found out that when you become a Christian there is a lot to learn. To be a successful Christian one must consider herself or himself a lifetime student. Paul did. (Phil 1:13) Paul had the equivalent of a PhD, but after his conversion he called it dung. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Paul began looking at Scripture differently. The philosophy, vain deceit, and traditions of men he had learned as a Pharisee were replaced with sound doctrine. Paul spent 14 years unlearning what he had learned as a Pharisee before he was ready to teach the word of God. (Gal 1:15 – 2:1) More here. Paul then had the same power that was available to the unlearned and ignorant men who had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13), because he had been with Him too. The 14 years Paul spent in the word and in fellowship with Jesus gave him his deep insights into the word of God.
Then opened he [Jesus] their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
Spending time with Jesus and asking Him for understanding is how we grow as Christians. We also learn by being meek, or teachable (Ps 25:9; 1 Thess 1:6), by praying for understanding (Matt 7:7), by being obedient (Ps 119:100), studying (2 Tim 2:15), meditating on the Scriptures (119:99), and of course, doing all this by faith (Hab 2:4b; Heb 11:3a). Like Paul, we need to unlearn what we have learned. The world taught us, ‘trust your heart’. The Bible says He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: (Pr 28:26a) The world says we need to ‘love ourselves’. Jesus said If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. He also said love thy neighbor as thyself. We already love ourselves. We feed ourselves, spend money on ourselves, etc. Jesus said Blessed are the poor in spirit … Blessed are they that mourn … Blessed are the meek … Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness … Blessed are the merciful … Blessed are the pure in heart … Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake [and] Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Not exactly what the world has taught us. When we decide to follow Jesus, everything we thought we knew about the way the world works is turned on its head.
Father, give us understanding as we begin our study in 1st Thessalonians. Help us to draw everything we can out of each verse so that like Paul, we may be approved workmen who are not ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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1 Paul, and Silvanus [Silas’ full name, like Michael and Mike], and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul includes Silas and Timothy but not Luke because Luke stayed in Philippi. The Thessalonians did not meet him. (See last week’s notes.) A good leader stands behind his team members and supports them. Because the letter was from all three of them, the Thessalonians would understand that Paul was telling them they can trust Silas and Timothy to minister to them as well.
Paul begins his letter with his signature salutation, grace and peace, the Siamese twins of the New Testament. They always appear in the same order; first grace then peace, because you cannot have the peace of God until you know the grace of God. When Paul was a Pharisee, he had a legalistic relationship with God. If he meticulously kept his rules, he would be accepted by God, or so he thought. Jesus told a story about a Pharisee and a publican who went to the temple to pray. It was not the Pharisee who was justified but the publican, for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Once the scales fell from Paul’s eyes, he found that we are saved by grace through faith. Grace means ‘unmerited favor’. The publican asked for mercy and he received it. He did not do anything to merit God’s favor. He simply received it as a free gift. The Pharisee thought his careful keeping of the law merited God’s favor but in truth he fell short. Unfortunately, a lot of Christians have a similar legal relationship with God. They feel if they do the right things, God accepts them. If they do not, then they have fallen out of favor. They may even need to ‘get saved again’. When you understand new covenant grace, however, you understand that Jesus not only died for the sins you committed before you got saved, but for all the sins you would ever commit throughout your entire life. The closer you get to Jesus the less you want to sin. Things you used to find attractive lose their allure. Please allow me to illustrate:
When I was a child we visited some relatives who lived on a lake. There was a hole in the ice and my dad told me not to go near it, but I disobeyed him. I wanted to see how close I could get to the hole without falling in. When I got too close to the hole I fell through the ice. I was so scared that I was going to get in trouble, much more scared than I was of drowning. It turned out that my dad did not get mad at me, even though he fell through the ice too while he was fishing me out of the lake. God tells us not to sin for the same reason my dad told me not to go near the hole in the ice. He doesn’t want us to die; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. How much more merciful is our heavenly Father when we disobey Him than my earthly father? [H]is mercy endureth for ever. The people in the Bible who spoke to God and had God speak to them were ordinary people like you and me. God wants to have a relationship with you the same way He did with Paul and the other people we read about in the Bible. Jesus calls us friends when we obey Him. (John 15:14) When we disobey Him, we confess and repent and He forgives us, even if we have to confess and repent 490 times. (Matt 18:22) Actually there is no limit. Jesus told Peter to forgive 490 times but there is no limit on how many times Jesus will forgive us. He’s patient. The same way that my dad was simply happy that I did not drown, God is happy that you repented and came back to Him again because He loves you.
Once you receive the grace of God, you experience the peace of God. Before Jesus went to the cross He told his disciples, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27) He was preparing to go to the cross to pay the price for their sins and they were arguing about who was going to be the greatest, but He was patient with them. He forgave them. He knew they would do better later. He is patient with us too and He gives us the same peace when we receive it by grace through faith. We cannot earn it. We cannot receive it through understanding our circumstances. God’s peace passes understanding. (Phil 4:7)
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
Paul was a man of prayer. He was always praying for people.
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;
Faith, hope, and love are each key to our walk with Christ, but love, the more excellent way, is the greatest of these. Although we are under grace, Jesus gave us a new commandment: This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12) He also commanded Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matt 5:44) For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Gal 5:14) God is our neighbor too so that covers everyone. When you love people, you do not need a law to tell you not to mistreat them. When you love God, you naturally desire to spend time with Him and endeavor to please Him.
4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
Although he was only able to spend a few weeks with them (Acts 17:2), Paul wasted no time in weening the new believers in Thessalonica off milk and getting them started on meat. Paul was not able to do this with every church he started. (1 Cor 3:2) Election is a tricky doctrine. Some teach that it is ‘unconditional’, but they added that word. Election does have conditions, one of them being that we seek God by faith and not by works. (Rom 9:30-32) Election is based on God’s foreknowledge. (1 Pet 1:2) This does not mean God knows what you are going to do, although He does. It means He knows you personally. Just as in Spanish, there are two kinds of ‘know’ in Greek. God knows his own before they are born because God is outside of our time domain. (Jer 1:5; cf Rom 8:29)
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord [cf Ps 25:9], having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
Paul arrived in Thessalonica with his back bloodied from a beating in the Philippian jailhouse. Yet he does not mention his own affliction, he mentions the affliction the Thessalonians were facing. The same people who drove Paul out of town were persecuting the new believers. They were probably persecuted by others as well. (1 Thess 2:14)
7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.
8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.
The Thessalonian Christians had their sandals on. They were evangelists. Luke said the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians (Acts 17:11), but it would seem that the Thessalonians quickly caught up with them and became a model church.
9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
The Roman world was steeped in idolatry. For a citizen of Rome, each day began and ended by offering something to an idol. The living and true God is the Trinity. In these opening verses Paul gives honor and praise to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The clearest verse on the Trinity is 1st John 5:7. It is also the most attacked verse in the Bible. The reason that 1st John 5:7 has been attacked so much is found a few verses later in 1st John 5:20: This is the true God, and eternal life.
10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
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Paul ends the chapter with the Resurrection. The Resurrection is one of the central foundations of the Christian faith. Without it we have nothing.
….Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
….And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Finally, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they (and we) will be delivered from the great tribulation period. This is good news. Gospel means good news. If we have to go through the great tribulation period that would be bad news. With the way things are continuing to accelerate, I especially welcome the good news that Jesus has delivered from the wrath to come. In other words, Paul taught the Thessalonians pre-trib theology. Paul will develop this further as we continue in 1st Thessalonians.
As you have probably heard, Ghislaine Maxwell has finally been arrested. This woman could be the key to winning the civil war against the new world order. Jefferey Epstein could have been too, but that did not work out. It has been reported that Maxwell may go to the same jail where Epstein was found dead. Jefferey Epstein did not commit suicide and if Maxwell turns up dead too we will know why. Meanwhile, Germany is investigating 30,000 potential suspects in a pedophile probe. I believe these two news items represent our last chance for respite. I believe that if we, the human race, do not do something about the elite new world order pedophile syndicate, God will remove his church and let loose with his wrath. I don’t know this, but I believe this. I believe the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah that came up before God was the molesting of children. If we do not fix this God will. Fortunately, Jesus has delivered us from the wrath to come. God delivered Lot out of Sodom before He destroyed it and He will deliver us too.
….Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.
Coronavirus Update: From Dr Ron Paul:
Unfortunately our mainstream media is only interested in pushing the “party line.” So the good news that millions more have been exposed while the fatality rate continues to decline – meaning the virus is getting weaker – is buried under hysterical false reporting of “new cases.”
Unfortunately many governors, including our own here in Texas, are incapable of resisting the endless lies of the mainstream media. They are putting Americans again through the nightmare of forced business closures, mandated face masks, and restrictions of Constitutional liberties based on false propaganda.
In Texas the “second wave” propaganda has gotten so bad that the leaders of the four major hospitals in Houston took the extraordinary step late last week of holding a joint press conference to clarify that the scare stories of Houston hospitals being overwhelmed with Covid cases are simply untrue. Dr. Marc Boom of Houston Methodist said the reporting on hospital capacity is misleading. He said, “quite frankly, we’re concerned that there is a level of alarm in the community that is unwarranted right now.”