July 19, 2015.
Daily Reading: I Thessalonians 4-5.
Background: I Thessalonians 1-3.
Concepts and Connections.
1. A life pleasing to God: As Paul begins to finish his letter to the Thessalonians, he calls them here to live a life that is pleasing to God, noting two things in particular that the Thessalonians should pay attention to in order to do this. The first is to abstain from sexual immorality, which seems to be one of the constant themes any time a piece of advice or command is given to churches or converts (see Acts 15:19-29, 21:17-26, I Corinthians 6:12-20, Ephesians 5:3 and Colossians 3:5-6). Paul reminds the Thessalonians here that we are called to holiness, no longer to live in the lives of passion as the outsiders do, which the church was likely surrounded by (it is not much different today in that regard). Note the emphasis on this teaching, as Paul says that whoever disregards this disregards not man, but God. The second thing that the Thessalonians were to pay close attention to was brotherly love. Paul notes that they don’t need anyone to remind them of this because they were very good at it, but he encourages them to love one another all the more. Note the importance that is placed on brotherly love here and throughout the New Testament. We should too learn to live quietly and peacefully, walking in wisdom towards outsiders just as Paul says here. It is hard to overestimate the harm a few foolish words can do to our portrayal of Christ to the world.
2. The second coming: In the latter section of this chapter, Paul encourages the brethren in Thessalonica concerning loved ones who were in Christ who had died. He did not want them to grieve as others do who do not have hope. The good news that they had received of Christ was that just as Christ raised from the dead, so to would those who were in Christ when He came again. Paul extends this comfort to the brethren here as hope for the resurrection when they would be reunited with those who had gone on before and live with our Lord eternally. What a day that will be.
1. The day of the Lord: Paul continues his thought from the previous chapter on the second coming of the Lord. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (see also Matthew 24:36-51) and will catch many off guard who had not been waiting and anticipating the coming of the Lord. However, Paul tells the church here that they don’t need to worry, because they were no longer children of darkness as the world, but rather were children of the light and of the day. They would be ready if the Lord came back in their lifetime, for they had put on Christ. His second coming would not be a time for alarm for them, but rather a time of rejoicing. We too can take encouragement in these words, being vigilant and sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and helmet of the hope of salvation (see parallel to Ephesians 6:10-20).
2. Closing remarks: In his closing remarks, Paul focuses on giving many bits of advice about what they should do to live lives of love, peace and unity, always looking to show kindness to one another. He tells them to respect their leaders and fellow laborers, and accept admonishment. He tells them to be at peace, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted and help the weak. He advises patience and condemns revenge. There is an emphasis on doing good, joy/rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving. The Thessalonians were to not take everything they heard as simply truth, but to test all things and hold on to what was good (there may have been some in the church that were despising spiritual gifts, as Paul says not to quench the Spirit or despise prophesies), abstaining from all forms of evil. Finally, he looked to the Lord Jesus Christ to establish and strengthen the brethren, keeping them blameless until He comes again. These things are quite applicable to our spiritual lives today, and we should read over his final instructions here carefully to ascertain their application for ourselves.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Leviticus 13-15.
The Lord give you wisdom.