Greetings in Christ! Earlier this week I was chatting with a friend who disciples Korean Bible students online and also periodically makes trips to South Korea to teach them in person. When I am talking to someone who clearly displays the fruit of the Holy Spirit in her communication* and conversation** one of the questions I often ask is, ‘What has the Lord been saying to you?’ When I asked my friend this question, she said, “Be like a child.” I found her answer to be very thought-provoking considering the times we are living in. A child (at least one with good parents) is not worried or fearful when she is with her parents. I remember once as a small child thinking I was lost in a mall while we were out of town. When I looked around I noticed that all the people walking near me were very tall. They seemed like giants. What if I couldn’t find my parents? I was suddenly overcome with fear, but only a few seconds later, I was with my parents again and all was right with the world. As long as we stay close to Jesus, we will not get lost in this world and He will protect us from anything that comes our way.
Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. — Jesus
Father, give us understanding as we read thy word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 2
1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
There are times when it is good to be contentious. Paul argued with all his might to save men’s souls. He endured a beating at Philippi (Acts 16:23) and several others as well because it’s that important. Those who think that God will not punish sinners who refuse to repent are in for a rude awakening on judgment day. If hell was not real why would Jesus have endured the cross? Why would Paul, not to mention the other apostles, have endured beatings and even chosen martyrdom over recanting?
Paul practiced what he preached. In Acts 16 when Paul had a chance to escape his jail cell in Philippi, he instead stayed to lead the jailor to Christ. (Matt 5:44; Rom 12:21; 1 Thess 5:15)
3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth [tests] our hearts.
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
Paul’s character was constantly under attack. He was forced to remind the Thessalonians how impeccable his conversation** among them was.
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they [the Jewish Christians in Judea] have of the Jews:
15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
Before Paul went to Thessalonica he was trying to take the gospel to other areas in Asia Minor but he was hindered from going to those places by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 16:6, 7) The Holy Spirit wanted him to go to Macedonia. Once Paul got there Satan could see what was happening and he hindered him from going back, probably using attacks from people he could easily sway. There are those who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Tim 2:26)
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
20 For ye are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 2
One of the things that really comes through in this chapter is Paul’s love of the brethren. He cared for them as a father because spiritually, he was their father. When you lead a person to Christ it is your responsibility to pray for her or him, at the very least. Paul did not profit off them but through his ministry but he was very profitable to them in a spiritual sense.
A couple of weeks ago, I received an angry email from someone who was upset because I said God loves Israel. He said I was spreading lies about the ‘synagogue of Satan’. I thought now would be a good time to look at the verses he cited and explain what they mean. Let’s take a closer look at verses 14-16 as well and see if we can unpack what Paul is saying here. Father, please help us rightly divide your word. Help us to speak the truth in love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Since Israel has, by and large, rejected the new covenant of grace they are still in their sins, but they will receive the new covenant eventually. Paul wrote extensively on this in Romans 9 – 11. Romans 9 shows Israel’s past. Romans 10 shows Israel’s present. Romans 11 shows Israel’s future: And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (Rom 11:26-28) With this in mind, let’s look at what the Bible says about the synagogue of Satan.
….I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
….Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
I see two different applications in these verses. Perhaps that is why there are two of them? The first verse, Revelation 2:9, is from Jesus’ letter to the church in Smyrna. Like each of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, the church in Smyrna was a literal church in Asia Minor, but also represents a specific period in church history. Smyrna represents the persecuted church from the late 1st century to 311 AD. During this time, there was not only persecution from Rome, but Jews who received Christ as their personal Saviour were also persecuted by the Jewish community. They accused Jewish Christians of not being Jews. This charge is still made by many Jews against Jewish believers today. However, the fact remains that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah prophesied in the Tanakh. According to the Bible, those who make such accusations are the ones who are not really Jews:
28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
The second verse, Rev 3:9, is from Jesus’ letter to the church in Philadelphia. Philadelphia represents the church from the late 1700s to somewhere in the 20th century, sometimes called the ‘missionary church’. Most of those who pioneered the modern missionary movement were of what we would call the ‘Reformed’ persuasion, although that does not necessarily mean the famous missionaries like William Carrey embraced each of the tenants of Reformed theology. One of these tenants is ‘replacement theology’, the belief that the church has replaced Israel. I believe that this is the second meaning of synagogue of Satan, when Gentiles say they are the real Jews. This would include the ‘ten lost tribes’ heresy, as well as hardcore replacement theology, the belief that God has replaced Israel with the church. The Reformers made great progress reclaiming sound doctrine and shedding old superstitions, but in some ways they did not go far enough. They still embraced replacement theology, a doctrine which was used to justify the killing of Jews in the Inquisition and the Crusades of Rome. Perhaps Jesus mentioned this in his letter to the church in Philadelphia (which represented a period when Reformed theology was popular) to help the people of that day understand that replacement theology is bad doctrine. Considering how most of the denominations have become ultraliberal, with their some of their successors even hosting drag queen story time for children, Jesus’ warning in Revelation 3:9 seems to apply in this sense. A key verse is 1 Corinthians 10:32:
….Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
1 Corinthians 10:32
It is often said there are two kinds of people in the world but according to the Bible there are three. You are either a Jew, a Gentile, or a member of the church. You can be a member of the church and still be Jewish, but technically once a Gentile receives Christ he is no longer a Gentile. The New Testament word for Gentile is the Greek word ethnos, which means non-Jew, or by implication a pagan or heathen. Once a Gentile receives Christ as his personal Saviour, she or he has been adopted into the commonwealth of Israel—not replaced it, but adopted into it. (Rom 11:17, Eph 2:12,13) A proper understanding of 1 Corinthians 10:32 is essential for rightly dividing the word of God. Confusing the church with Israel is a pitfall that has ensnared many a student of Scripture. Once you confuse the church with Israel it opens the door to all sorts of theological errors. The two are separate and distinct. God will keep all of his old covenant promises to Israel. God always keeps his promises. Once the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, God will turn the leadership roll the church has had in extending the invitation of salvation to a lost and dying world back over to Israel. (Rev 7) After the Second Coming, the times of the Gentiles will have ended. America will no longer be the leader of the free world, nor will any other Gentile nation. Jerusalem will be the capital of the world and a Jewish carpenter will be on the throne. In the millennium, Gentiles will be servants to the Jewish people. (Again, not the church, but Gentiles.)
1 For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.
2 And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.
3 And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee [the Jews] rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve,
We Gentiles who have received Christ are warned not to be highminded but to fear, to be patient with Jews who still aren’t there yet:
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
Some of the people connected to the new world order are indeed of Jewish blood, like Harvey Weinstein, Jeffery Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell (through her father), for example. However, there are also many Gentiles connected to the new world order. Bad guys come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Besides, one’s genes do not determine one’s faith. New world order kingpins with Jewish ancestry are no more Jewish than Carlo Gambino was a Christian. Gambino was baptized in the Catholic Church but that did not make him a Christian. It just made him wet. The new world order elite worship Satan, not the God of Israel. We are all sinners who need a Saviour. God has made a way for all of us to be forgiven. That way is the same for everyone, whether Jew or Gentile. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God is patient with us and we need to be patient with others as well, whether they be Jew or Gentile. I will not go so far as to say that everyone who subscribes to the doctrine of replacement theology is of the synagogue of Satan, but the Bible is clear that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.
Having said all that, let’s review verses 14-16, as they are closely related to what we have been discussing. In verse 14, Paul talks about the persecution Jewish believers in Jerusalem endured from other Jews. The early church (Gk ekklesia) began in Jerusalem and was made up of Jewish believers. In verse 16, Paul said the wrath is come upon them [the Jews that believed not and persecuted those who did] to the uttermost. Less than 20 years after Paul wrote that, Titus the son of Vespasian laid siege to Jerusalem. He surrounded the city starved them out. The siege started around the time of Passover so the city was full of people attending the feast. According to Josephus, 1.1 million died in the siege, the majority of which were Jews. Titus crucified Jews on the hills surrounding Jerusalem at a rate of 500 per day until there was no more room for scaffolds or wood to make them. Josephus even recorded an instance of a woman who ate her own child. (Cf Deut 28:57) I would say that constitutes ‘wrath to the uttermost’. However, the Amplified Version of the Bible added more to verse 16, undoubtably the result of the translators’ ‘replacement theology’:
….forbidding us from speaking to the Gentiles (non-Jews) so that they may be saved. So, as always, they fill up [to the brim] the measure of their sins [allotted to them by God]. But [God’s] wrath has come upon them at last [completely and forever]. (emphasis added)
1 Thessalonians 2:16 — Amplified Version
Not only did the Amplified Version translators ignore Jesus’ final warning in Scripture not to add to or take away from his word (Rev 22:18, 19), but they also inserted a Satanic lie into their ‘Bible’ making it appear as though God is all through with the Jews. While it is a historical fact that wrath came upon them to the uttermost, to claim that God is through with the Jews ‘completely and forever’ is a lie from the pit of hell.
In closing, let’s be mindful that God’s chosen people are still the Jews. As concerning the gospel, they [the Jews] are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (Rom 11:26-28) Father, we pray for You to continue to add to the congregation from among your chosen people daily such as should be saved. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray for a great worldwide awakening among Jews and Gentiles alike. We pray for You to send your Son quickly, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
* In the New Testament, there are four different Greek words that translate as communication: koinonia (fellowship, participation, or communion), logos (word or speech), homilia (companionship or association), and aischrologia (foul or abusive speech). This Bible word has a rich, wide range of meaning.
** The Bible word conversation (Gk anastrophe) means behavior. (Eg 1 Pet 3:2)
Coronavirus Update: Last week I mentioned the neurotic guidelines that California is imposing on churches. This week the California Department of Health decided to shut down churches indefinitely. According to new research, evidence that lockdowns work is weak at best. The media skews data in cases where lockdowns were light to make it appear that the lockdowns are effective. However, considering how the media have lied and consistently ignored facts that do not fit their narrative or just have just been wrong, their fervor in supporting lockdowns only adds more weight to arguments against lockdowns.