1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

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BeNiceLazyWe ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Brothers, pray for us.
Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.

I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Observation

  • The Thessalonians were to respect those they worked with and those who were over them.
  • The Thessalonians were to highly esteem those they worked with and those over them
  • The Thessalonians were to esteem them because of their work.
  • The Thessalonians were to be a peace with themselves.
  • The Thessalonians were to warn the lazy.
  • The Thessalonians were to encourage those who were discouraged and tired
  • The Thessalonians were to help the weak.
  • The Thessalonians were to help all of their Christian brethren.
  • No one was to repay evil with evil.
  • The Thessalonians were to always try and do good to everyone, Christian and non-Christian.
  • The Thessalonians were to rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances.
  • The Thessalonians were to pray constantly.
  • The Thessalonians were to give thanks regardless of the circumstances.
  • It is God’s will that we give thanks regardless of the circumstances, pray and rejoice constantly.
  • The Thessalonians were not to quench the Spirit.
  • The Thessalonians were not to distrust the prophecies
  • The Thessalonians were to test everything.
  • The Thessalonians were to keep that which was good.
  • The Thessalonians were to stay away from any kind of evil.
  • Paul prayed that God would sanctify the Thessalonians completely.
  • When the Lord comes, Paul wanted the Thessalonian to be blameless in spirit, soul and body.
  • Christ called the Thessalonians
  • Christ is faithful therefore; he will make the Thessalonians blameless in spirit, body and soul.
  • Paul wanted the Thessalonians to pray for him.
  • The Thessalonians were to greet each other with a holy kiss.
  • The Thessalonians were to read the letter from Paul to the entire church.

Interpretation

This passage is often seen as Paul saying, “Don’t rock the boat”. But there is much more to it than that.

Paul tells us that we are to respect those who labor and are over us in the Lord. We live in a culture that belittles and holds in low regard those who minister in the Lord’s name. The kingdom of God is so despised that pious teachers fall prey to our own evil desires. As a result, the word of God is not taught. We would rather hear motivational messages, pop psychology or humorous stories. As sinners we despise the word of God. Our sinful nature causes us to demand our teachers teach almost anything else. We bully, threaten and berate until pious teachers becomes nothing more than lap dogs.

Let me give an example. This occurred several years ago when I was helping a church create a Sunday School curriculum. Mid way through a member told the pastor the people were not interested in learning “that stuff”. “That stuff” consisted of 5 things. 1) How to study the bible, 2) How to pray, 3) Old Testament overview, 4) New Testament Overview and 5) Apologetics. They liked what they were doing and were unwilling to change. The pastor disbanded the whole project. Why? If the members of the church were not happy they would vote him out. The pastor was afraid of losing his job. The church got what they wanted. They did not respect those who were laboring in the Lord for them because they did not respect the word of the Lord.

Paul tells us here to respect those who labor in the Lord. They may need to tell us things we do not want to hear. But we need to hear those things to growth in the Lord.

We are not only to respect those in the church who have authority over us, we are to love them. Since the gospel itself is lovely, it is fitting that we esteem in love those who teach us. Yet congregations hate their pastors for trivial reasons or for no reason at all.

We are to be at peace with each other and with those who teach us God’s word. But being at peace does not mean turning a blind eye to a brother or sister who needs correction. The next sentence after Paul says “Be at peace among yourselves,” he says, admonish the idle.

Church discipline is more than correction. It is also encouragement and support. Paul tells us to encourage those who need it and help those in need of help. And perhaps the most difficult of all, at least for me, is to be patient with everyone. Everyone is a universal affirmative. There are no exceptions.

The duty to encourage and admonish belongs to the entire congregation. It is not just the duty of the pastor or elders. That is why Paul uses the term, brothers. He is addressing everyone.

Paul tells us also not to seek vengeance. This was counter cultural in Paul’s day and it is counter cultural toady. The popular claim “I don’t get mad I get even.” is wrong. The Old and New Testament speak against vengeance. (Psalm 35:12, Proverbs 20:22.1 Peter 3:9, Romans 12:17) Rather than seeking vengeance we are to do good to everyone. Paul does not allow for exceptions to everyone.

Paul tells us to rejoice always. But if that is all we read we ripped it out of its context. What immediately follows is, pray without ceasing. How are we to rejoice? Pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances. That is how we rejoice, by praying. We give thanks to God.

There are times when things happen that cause suffering. The reason we do not rejoice in those circumstances is we lose sight of Christ’s suffering for us. We fail to realize what Christ gave us. We were on a fast track to hell, when Christ reached down and saved us from ourselves.

That is why Paul tells us to pray. Prayers to God are a means of grace. God uses prayer to realign our minds. While we may not rejoice for all circumstances, we can rejoice in all circumstances. Even in the middle of suffering we have a reason to rejoices. Christ has given us new life. We use to be dead. Now Christ has made us alive. We have received the greatest gift of all.

Paul tells us not to quench the Spirit. How can we do that? The Spirit illuminates our understanding. The scripture calls the Spirit our light. We quench the Spirit when we ignore and do not accept His grace.

Paul does not mean we are to accept everything we on face value. We must test what teacher our teacher teach. It is not disrespectful to test a teaching. Respecting the teacher does not conflict with testing the teaching.  Paul says not to despise prophecies. We do not despise teaching when we test it.

The  Bereians in Acts 17: 10-15 are a good example of this. “They received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” In fact, Luke, in Acts 17:11, says they were more noble than the Thessalonians.

Paul concludes the letter with a prayer. Paul knows that all his teaching is of no value and no affect unless God touches and blesses it. So, Paul asks the God to sanctify the Thessalonians. Paul acknowledges that Christ will make us prefect. The glorification of the body and ultimate perfection, will occur when Jesus returns. (Phil 1:6)

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