I Thessalonians

I Thessalonians 5:12-28 Life In The Community.

Paul once again turns his attention back to the day to day life of the church. In this passage we find a gem with reference to the pastoral ministry, a reference not often referred to but one which speaks directly to the need for a paid full-time ministry (Cf. I Cor. 9:9; I Tim. 5:18). First of all, these are men whose work or labour, is the ministry of the word to the saints (v. 12a). Secondly, as such, they have a position of authority in the body (v. 12b). Finally, as ministers of the word, it is their solemn duty to admonish the saints (v. 12c). For these reasons they are to be esteemed “very highly in love for their work’s sake” (v. 13a). Even though this is the duty of the saints, Paul admonishes them to show such esteem out of love.

Paul also admonishes them to be at peace among themselves, no doubt to also make the work of these ministers less difficult for them (v. 13b Cf. Mk. 9:50). In seeking to live at peace with one another, this cannot be a false peace which overlooks another’s behaviour. We are all called upon to “warn those who are unruly” (v. 14a Cf. II Th. 3:6-7, 11). There are also the fainthearted who need comfort, and the weak who need our support (v. 14b Cf. Heb. 12:12). Above all, we need to be patient with everyone, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us-not rendering evil for evil (v. 15 Cf. Lev. 19:18; Mt. 7:12; Lk. 6:31; Gal. 6:10). We also have an obligation, especially in the body, that everyone else follows this rule as well.

There are also three things that are God’s will for every saint every moment of every day. Firstly, we are to “rejoice always” (v. 16), not necessarily for the difficult or evil things that come upon us, but rejoice that in every situation God gives us the strength we need, and His manifold mercies are new every morning (Cf. Gal. 6:10). Secondly, we need to “pray without ceasing” (v. 17 Cf. Eph. 6:18). Of course this cannot me every second, rather Paul means that in every situation and every concern that we have, we ought not to cease going to God for help and wisdom. Finally, in everything we need to give thanks, because all that we have comes to us only because of His mercy (v. 18a). This is part of what it means to be “in Christ” (v. 18b).

It was also important that they not “quench the Spirit,” in particular, that they did not “despise prophecies” (vv. 19-20 Cf. I Cor. 14:1, 31; Eph. 4:30). However, as Paul and others wrote elsewhere, this does not mean that these prophets and their prophecies should not be tested (v. 21a Cf. I Jn. 4:1). Some were genuine and therefore good, and some were not (v. 21b Cf. Phil. 4:8). Rejecting what was false was a moral and ethical responsibility, to “abstain from every form of evil” (v. 22). “Paul admonishes the Thessalonians not to despise legitimate prophecy; both Silas and Paul were “prophets” (Acts 13:1; 15:32). Nevertheless, claims to divine prophecy must be tested and not accepted uncritically (2 Thess. 2:2; cf. 1 Cor. 14:29)” (NGSB p. pp. 1899-1890).

Finally, in Paul’s concluding admonishments and blessings, he describes the full scope and nature of sanctification. It is not a pagan battle between soul and body, body and soul together must be sanctified, and it is the Lord’s will to do this “completely” (v. 23 Cf. 3:13). It is also His will that we be preserved in this process that we might be “blameless” when we appear before Him at His second coming. We can be fully confident that this will happen, because one of His essential attributes is that He is faithful and will thus do it (v. 24 Cf. I Cor. 1:8-9; Phil. 1:6). In praying without ceasing, Paul also asks them to pray for him and his co-workers (v. 25). They should also greet each other as family, and make sure that this epistle was read to all (vv. 26-27). Finally, we must never forget that it is all of His grace, which we need (v. 28).

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