"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Saturday, June 5, 2021


~ by James Fire

For another great teaching in 1st Thessalonians (and 2nd later on), check out pastor Pat Lazovich from Calvary Chapel Sierra Vista!

INTRODUCTION: We will be going through some of the epistles of Paul the apostle, beginning with 1 Thessalonians. Currently, we already have 2 Thessalonians on TTUF (from a Men’s Retreat that was conducted a few years ago); we will then proceed to the pastoral epistles: 1 and 2 Timothy and lastly Titus. As they all begin with the letter ‘T’ I thought the title of this series appropriate.

Most scholars believe this epistle represents the first one that the apostle wrote (around 49-54 AD; though some believe Galatians to be the first), and among the earliest writings of the New Testament. These two epistles to the church of Thessalonica have extremely pertinent doctrine contained in their pages; they are also full of exhortation, commendation, and admonition, and not without some doctrine of significance as well. Let’s examine more about this city and the men of GOD called to minister there. . .

For some historical background on Thessalonica, go here.
The apostle founded this church while on his second missionary journey. 

For an overview of all three of his mission trips, check out this site
For an interactive tour of Paul and company, check out this awesome site! 

The first time we encounter this city is in ACTS 17:1-9; prior to Paul visiting this city, he had a vision of a man from Macedonia, beseeching him for help (ACTS 16:9). Up until that time, Paul was intent on pursuing ministry in Asia Minor (a Roman province which is now modern day Turkey), but once the LORD directed him into Europe, specifically Thessalonica in Greece, the apostle obeyed. 

ACTS 17:1-4
1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ." 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas

Three Sabbaths could be anywhere from two to three weeks; the apostle wasted no time in explaining and demonstrating the ministry of Christ (the Messiah) and His subsequent resurrection. When one examines these two epistles to the Thessalonians, it’s quite amazing how much Paul taught them (because he recalls to their memory those things in his writings) and what he teaches in these letters. 

Some were persuaded of the Gospel including a “great multitude of devout Greeks” (Hellenized Jews) and some women who were leaders in the community.
He taught them how Christ must suffer the crucifixion and die for the sins of the world as he did the Corinthians (1 COR 15:3).

There are some that try to disparage and discredit Paul’s apostleship (Judaizers of his day tried to, just as Judaizers today), as being contrary to the Gospel that Christ preached, but nothing could be further from the truth. We must consider their audiences: Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Jews (who are “the lost sheep of the house…”) of Israel as the long awaited Messiah; Paul’s audience was primarily to the Gentiles of the church, so the perspective is somewhat different, with a different focus and on destinies, but the Gospel itself is essentially the same message from both.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ
There was warm, sweet fellowship among these brand new believers in Jesus, and Paul lavished the love of Christ upon them, feeding them the Word, praying with them, and encouraging them – quite the blessed time! But then, as usual. . . 

ACTS 17:5-9
5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, "These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 "Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king--Jesus." 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. 9 So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go

Because of their blindness of heart, something that afflicted the Jewish people when they didn’t acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah (MATT 23:26; JOHN 9:40-41; ROM 11:25), those “Jews who were not persuaded [were envious]” (as were most of the religious leaders in the days of Jesus; see MATT 27:12,18) and were determined to ruin the ministry even to the point of ending Paul’s life (and at one point previously, they thought they succeeded at both (ACTS 14:21; 2 TIM 3:11)!

So while these Jews are in fact the elect and beloved of GOD, and this gift and calling is without any change of mind on GOD’s part, they became enemies of the church (ROM 11:28-29) and were relentless in their persecution of the saints and of Paul particularly. So before it became too hot and heavy, the saints at Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas away, secretly by night to Berea (ACTS 17:10).

Sometime later, Paul sent Timothy to encourage and strengthen the church there. On his return, the young protégé reported such good news to his fatherly mentor, that he felt led to write this epistle (1 THESS 3:6-7). 

The main theme of this epistle is one of hope, in the midst of persecution, hardships and trials, our Blessed Hope is the arrival of the LORD Jesus Christ (TITUS 2:13)!

We can break down this epistle in the following OUTLINE (Borrowing from the Thompson Chain Bible):

PART ONE: The Commendatory Section
    Chapter 1.
    (1) the salutation: vs. 1.
    (2) the commendation of the church:
        (a) for its faith and loving service: vs. 2-4
        (b) for the spiritual receptivity: vs. 5-6
        (c) for exemplary influence: vs. 7-8
        (d) for abandonment of idolatry and for spiritual hope: vs. 9-10

PART TWO: The Reminiscence Section
    Chapter 2.
        (1) As courageous, sincere, God-fearing, truthful, and unselfish: vs. 1-5.
        (2) As humble, gentle, affectionate, industrious, irreproachable, and paternal: vs. 6-12.
        (3) He refers to the teachableness and sufferings of the church: vs. 13-15.
        (4) References to the apostle’s desire to visit the church and his glorying in them as his
    crown of rejoicing: vs. 16-20.

PART THREE: The Messenger Section
    Chapter 3.
        (1) The sending of Timothy to strengthen the church: vs. 1-5.
        (2) The favorable report of his messenger and its comforting and joyful result: vs. 6-9.
        (3) Paul’s earnest prayer that he might visit the church and aid them in their spiritual  development: vs. 10-13.

PART FOUR: The Hortatory (Exhortations) Section
    Chapter 4.
        (1) Exhortations concerning personal and social purity: vs. 1-8.
        (2) Exhortations in respect to brotherly love and industry: vs. 9-12.

PART FIVE: The Future Hope Section
    Chapter 4 cont’d. The LORD’s Coming
        (1) The comforting hope for the bereaved: vs. 13-14.
        (2) The order of the resurrection/rapture: vs. 15.
        (3) The manner and accompanying events of Christ’s appearance: vs. 16-18.
    Chapter 5.
        (4) The time of the Advent is unknown: vs. 1-2.
        (5) Unexpected by unbelievers: vs. 3.
        (6) Children of light should be ready: vs. 4-8.
        (7) Safety for believers at this time: vs. 9-11.

PART SIX: The Duty Section
    Chapter 5 cont’d. & Conclusion
        (1) Exhortations concerning the practical duties of Christian life: vs. 12-22.
        (2) The closing charge and benediction: vs. 23-28.

Now onto 1st THESSALONIANS Chapter One 

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have these three men: ministers, and servants (doulos – “bond slaves of Jesus Christ”).
Paul who was formerly Saul of Tarsus (a free city of the Roman Empire), upon whom was conferred Roman citizenship (as were all who were free born in that city; ACTS 22:28), learned and highly educated Jew of the tribe of Benjamin (which would account for his ‘hardcore personality, as the Benjamites were known for this along with their warrior mentality), schooled by none other than Gamaliel himself (ACTS 22:3; for more of his qualifications, see PHIL 3:4-6; 2 COR 11:22-28).

Then we have Silvanus (also known as Silas) the prophet (ACTS 15:32) who accompanied Paul and Barnabas to deliver the letter on whether or not Gentile believers were to follow the Law of Moses as determined at the Council at Jerusalem (ACTS 15 – their answer was, “no” with some few exceptions). He was Paul’s replacement for Barnabas (after these men had a falling out because of Barnabas’ nephew John Mark; ACTS 15:36-40) and proved to be a valiant ally of Paul’s through thick and thin. He was commended by the apostle Peter as being “a faithful brother” (1 PET 5:12).

And then there is young Timothy, Paul’s beloved ‘son in the faith’ (1 TIM 1:2) whose father was a Greek; his mother, a Jewess (ACTS 16:1) was named Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois – both were believers (2 TIM 1:5). Paul laid hands upon him along with the presbytery, praying for spiritual gifts (1 TIM 4:14). He eventually came to pastor the church at Ephesus (2 TIM 4:22) and was accounted “faithful in the LORD” (1 COR 4:17). Paul was completely confident in these two men when he had to remain behind or go ahead and leave the ministry in their hands.

The saints that Paul was ministering to were located in two distinct locations: the one was Thessalonica; these same saints were also located somewhere else – “in GOD the Father and the LORD Jesus Christ”.

This is in accord with the words of our LORD Jesus Christ as He prayed to the Father in JOHN 17:21-23. The church is therefore distinctly unique from all other associations and bodies in all of their worldly varieties. We are the body of Christ, indwelt by the very Spirit of GOD and so closely associated with the LORD Jesus Christ (and more so, “in Christ” see EPH 1:1,10,12, 20 just for starters!) that when Saul was persecuting His church, the LORD said to him:

ACTS 9:4b
…Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?

We who are joined to the LORD by means of the spiritual rebirth are “one” with the LORD (1 COR 6:16-17,19-20); just as man and wife become one, so too with our Blessed Bridegroom with us, the bride of Christ! 
If we would appreciate this truth as deeply as we ought, I think the grip of sin and the lures leading into such would greatly diminish (1 COR 6:15,18)! This oneness doesn’t mean that we share in the Deity of Christ, only that we have a bond of loving communion in a unification of fellowship as we partake of the Spirit of GOD and grow in the quality of holiness that is Christ’s own nature.
See 2 COR 7:1; EPH 4:13; 2 PET 3:18.

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God

There is something about ‘firsts’ – a first car, a first home, a first love, a first child that is special to us, and our fondest memories revolve around these. This was the first church that the apostle ministered to, the first opportunity to pour into the saints his substantial knowledge of the Scriptures. His love and tender attentiveness is evident in these passages.

His offering of thanks to GOD for them was given with joy abundant, and these saints were remembered with longing when he was absent from them. His prayers were fervent and voluminous without a doubt, and greatly efficacious (JAMES 5:16). No ministry can grow prosperously if it’s not showered in prayer!

Paul takes note of their work, their labor and patience as they are all motivated by faith, love, and hope – a trio of godly virtues we have seen before:
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity

For your consideration, this three-part series FROM the MIND of FIRE:

The preeminence is given to charity (the Old English word for love, which in the Greek is agapeo – that kind of love wholly devoted to the object of love and willing to give all, even to the point of pain and suffering. This is nowhere demonstrated as supremely and as perfectly as the LAMB of GOD’s expression of love and the sacrifice of Christ in His Passion on the Cross (EPH 5:2), as well as the heart of the Father (1 JOHN 3:1) Who was willing to make such an offering for us sinners.
HEBREWS 6:10-12
10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises
Each of these virtues is associated with the actions and, or attitudes of the saints there in Thessalonica: 

Their work was according to faith, accounting that such was not without power. As we work, we do so by faith, believing that the LORD will indeed be working with us (MARK 16:20), and that such work will be effective in expanding and edifying the Kingdom. Without faith it’s impossible to please GOD, and so, if our labor is to please Him, this must be accomplished by faith as well.

Their labors were motivated by love (agapeo), the only motive that counts in the Kingdom of GOD according to 1 CORINTHIANS 13. And faith functions by the love of GOD as well (GAL 5:6). We might not labor as deftly and perfectly as we would like due to our own failings, but if we operate in GOD’s love, I am convinced that this will reap great reward when we stand before Christ on that Day of the Bema Seat Judgment. 

In regards to the Bema Seat Judgment of Believers, check out Lambert Dolphin’s articles here: PART 1, PART 2, PART 3  

Think about it in human terms – your child surprises you with a breakfast, but the eggs are runny, the toast is burned, and the coffee has grinds in it. But what’s more important to you? What touches your heart more than a perfectly prepared breakfast? The truth that your child loves you so much, that they made this heartfelt demonstration for your sake.
Is GOD our Father’s heart any less than this?

And as we are diligently about our Father’s business, we work with fervency and industry because of the hope of One Day beholding our precious Savior and greatly desire to hear His commendation of “Well done, good and faithful servant” (MATT 25:21)! 

This blessed hope is one waited for, with patience; and this word intimates the kind of patience that endures in the midst of turmoil and trouble, pain and persecution, hardships and harassment – and is not at all deterred because of the hope of Christ’s soon return as the Holy Judge Who will visit every iniquity with pure justice, rendering equity according to the (wicked) deeds of men.

To the Hebrews, the apostle applies these triplicate virtues in a somewhat different way:
The work and labor are done in the love of GOD (vs. 10) as he attributed in his epistle to the Thessalonians; yet hope is described with assurance here (vs. 11) – a steadfast unshakeable conviction according to truth, with an unfatiguing expectation to the very end, of the LORD’s return. And faith is described (in vs. 12) with diligence and patience, just as hope is coupled together with patience in 1 THESS 1:3 whereby we claim the promises in GOD’s Word of Truth!
(See also 1 THESS 5:8 – in this case, they involve spiritual warfare and the armor of GOD)
“…patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God...”

The very fact that GOD has chosen us, we who are the elect, according to His own grace, and by that same empowering grace with which He saved us, He shall work in us the nature of the LORD Jesus (PHIL 2:13) in order to accomplish all that He has ordained for us (EPH 2:10). 

Knowing that we minister in the sight of our Father GOD is greatly encouraging. What child isn’t thrilled when they are accomplishing the task set for them by their parents, and while working look up to see the approving smile on their father’s face?

5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit

There are some who preach of contention and selfish ambition with pretense (PHIL 1:16,18) and others will preach fearlessly in good will (PHIL 1:14-15). The fruit is determined by the heart, whether we seek to work by the power of the Spirit (1 COR 2:4) and with kindred spirit as the LORD ministered, or if we seek to work by our own power and for our own glory, with hidden motives (which Paul shunned at every turn; 1 THESS 2:3; 2 COR 4:2). 

Paul’s ministry in the Word came in the power of the Holy Spirit; this is indeed the “anointing” which GOD blesses us with, those who are clean vessels (2 TIM 2:21), walking in the Spirit (ROM 8:1,4; GAL 5:16,25), obedient to His will (ROM 6:16; HEB 5:9;1 PET 1:2) and to none other than these. Such anointing has the impact and effectiveness through GOD’s vessels because it’s the same Spirit Who operates in the Word of GOD that operates in the minister:

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe

It was with such integrity that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy exhibited that they could with confidence exhort the saints to follow them, just as Paul followed the LORD (1 COR 11:1).

There is nothing that can be compared to the Gospel in affecting and transforming people’s lives! There are countless numbers of people who have given themselves over in radical fashion to different causes or movements or religion. We see such radical behavior with those converted to Socialism, to Islam, to White/Black Supremacy, etc. But these movements or belief systems only accentuate and amplify the flesh in people; their own works testify to this. Look what’s being done in their names and you will see the works of the flesh: violence, hatred, oppression, envy, strife and brutal treatment against any who refuse to submit to their views and beliefs.

For those who experience the transformative power of the Gospel, their behavior does a 180’ turnabout, and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (compare GAL 5:19-21 with GAL 5:22-24). Even the most idyllic of morals and religious conviction gets tainted and corrupt, just because the wicked-hearted people of this world (JER 17:9; MATT 15:18-20) that adheres to them are corrupt.

And yet the church of the LORD Jesus Christ is not exempt either, because there is corruption evident to one degree or another among Christians in the body of Christ. The difference is that while the religions and movements of man increase in corruption, those who truly have the power of the Gospel – by the Spirit of grace working in their lives, are decreasing in corruption and increasing in holiness and godliness!

See the TTUF article, Are You HOLY or HOLEY? 

Even in the midst of affliction, as was the case in Thessalonica; who were severely persecuted by their countrymen who were given over in their worshipful fervor to pagan gods, just as Jews persecuted the church, comprised of their kinsmen, at Jerusalem (1 THESS 2:14) there is “the joy of the Holy Spirit”! In Nehemiah 8, we learn that “the joy of the LORD will be [our] strength”. 

Joy through suffering is the main theme of the epistle to the Philippians. This joy of the Spirit runs contrary to circumstances and reason – an inexpressible jubilance in the midst of conditions that would break most of humanity with despondency and grief (1 PET 1:5-9; note esp. vs. 8: “unspeakable” in the sense of one’s inability to express with words the depths of something – in this case, the joy that comes from GOD!)

Yet these saints were blessed because they repaid such persecution with kindness and prayers and goodness (MATT 5:10-12).

7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything

So the examples of the apostle and his fellow laborers were followed by the saints in Thessalonica, whose witness rippled out to the entire regions of both Macedonia and Achaia and beyond without Paul having to bear witness of it!

This world needs to see the Gospel in action; they need to witness genuine Christianity as the LORD intends, without hypocrisy or religious show. The pure simplicity of godliness that’s real and active in the hearts and lives of us who claim to be disciples of Christ. This is a life that’s on display not with mere words (as in “cheap talk”) but in demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit! 

This is not only sorely needed as a faithful witness to this fallen world, but also as an encouragement and education for those babes and young in the faith who look to us as their examples. 

We learn best by example, don’t we? – which was one of the primary reasons GOD the SON took on flesh and dwelled among us – so we could behold the glory of a holy life (JOHN 1:14; HEB 7:26), performed in “the likeness of sinful flesh” (ROM 8:3) yet without sin (HEB 4:15). 

There is a lot of criticism for the expression by St. Francis of Assisi and no doubt with considerable justification: “Preach Christ, and if you must, use words.”

Well, we must use words, mustn’t we? How else can the Gospel be effectively communicated if not with words of wisdom, not that man teaches, but the Holy Spirit (1 COR 2:12-13)? 

However, likewise – we must not with words alone preach Christ and a life that’s exempt of the fruit of the Gospel, that is, a sanctified and good life that is observable to the lost!
This world has seen enough phony, plastic Christianity rife with hypocrisy.
I think that’s probably what Francis had in mind when he said what he said.

While here on Earth, the LORD Jesus Christ set aside His glory and leaned wholly upon the Holy Spirit’s anointing (ACTS 10:38), so that we likewise can lean upon Him, and not resort to our sorry and paltry power than can only render defeat!
20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain

ROMANS 15:13
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come

Again, the works of the flesh includes idolatry (GAL 5:20). We were created with a need to worship and if we refuse to worship the LORD GOD, Creator of heaven and earth, then we will worship something else. In ancient times we worshiped idols of wood and stone. Today, modern man is too sophisticated for such nonsense, and so we worship wealth, and pleasure, and intellect and hedonism. What must be understood is that you will become like that which you worship!

Worship Jesus, and you will become more like Him, child of GOD! Worship anything else (and anything that has a higher affection and priority in our lives than Jesus is by definition an idol – and it’s sin; such idolatry must be rejected and repented of!) and you will become like that. Such things are unworthy of our worship because in the end, they will prove faithless. Only the LORD Jesus Christ is worthy of our worship, for He is the true and living GOD – the Son. 

The Thessalonians rejected and repented of the idolatry that they committed and turned from these to serve GOD. For this, they were persecuted by the idolaters of their hometown who let loose the fullness of their wrath upon the church there. 

Yet Paul encourages the saints, that though they may suffer, they have that certain and absolute hope of the LORD Jesus Christ Who will come and deliver them – and us – from the wrath that is to come. You will find in each one of these chapters of 1st & 2nd THESSALONIANS a reference to the coming again of the LORD Jesus Christ.

This is a specific time of wrath mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, and in this epistle twice, not counting this reference (1 THESS 2:16 and 1 THESS 5:9). This is the wrath of the Lamb of GOD (REV 6:16-17; note that the people of Earth recognize that this is the wrath of the LAMB, which is poured out upon them well before the sounding of the 7th Trumpet – just a note for any ‘mid-tribbers’). Paul confirms the church’s exemption from this time of wrath in ROM 5:9; 9:22.

We are often asked, what makes us deserving of escaping this prophetic time ahead when the church has been persecuted since the beginning? Why should we expect deliverance from persecution?
Answer: we shouldn’t. 

It’s promised to all who live godly in Christ Jesus (2 TIM 3:12). This time of the wrath of the LAMB of GOD is not about persecution, though GOD’s saints will be more heavily persecuted during that time, than any other time in history.

But GOD’s wrath is poured out upon those who reject Jesus and don’t obey the Gospel (2 THESS 1:7-8) – and that’s hardly descriptive of the bride of Christ, right? Otherwise, how could the church be rightly identified as such?

The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in us (ROM 8:11); and He will, just as He has already, infuse us with His life to the degree that our mortal beings will be able to endure any affliction or persecution or hardship. Should we ever be martyred for the sake of Christ, we have every hope of the resurrection with as much certainty as the truth that He is risen!

Here ends Chapter One of this TTUF Study, Crossing the T’s – 1 THESSALONIANS! Next time, Chapter Two where Paul remanences on his time he shared with the saints there.

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