We can tell from the reading that Paul is greatly in love with the church and the people in Thessalonica. It is obvious that they are being persecuted not only by man, but Satan has camped out in town too. However, this church remains a model for other churches. Just like when we read Galatians, Paul is addressing false teachings on the heels of his departure. SO Paul repeats the standards of living a life according to the Lord and comforts them on the “fallen asleep”.
See many Christians had been persecuted to the point of death, and false teachers are spreading word that the dead will miss the second coming of Christ. Paul here does not use the words Life/Death since Jesus used them to mean the eternal states, so Paul refered to the believers who have passed as: “fallen asleep”.
Take a quick look at 1 thess 4:17, underline the phrase “will be caught up together”. This ONE of two places in the whole bible that the Rapture is clearly stated! The Latin vulgate uses the word rapiemur which is a verb translated Rapture! (You know I loves me a little rapture talk!)
2 Thessalonians is another letter from Paul clarifying some of the first. See Paul had said that the second coming of Christ will come without warning…etc. And false teachers and prophets were telling them that it already happened and they missed it. Sound stupid? Well it’s not. Look at half the crap people believe these days, But in 2 thes 2:2 (Hey 2:2:2) Paul let’s us know that it has not happened and there is still a rising of Satan that will occur claiming to be God himself. (This could happen in 1000 years or tomorrow but it will be a surprise so don’t try to point fingers on current events, yes we will recognize the season and signs but to point exacts you are fooling yourself)
SO in conclusion of this read I want to peel out the 15 exhortations from 1 thess 5
- Live in Peace with each other
- Warn those who are idle
- Encourage the timid
- Help the weak
- Be Patient with everyone
- Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong
- Be kind to each other
- Be joyful always
- Pray continually
- Give thanks in all circumstances
- Do not put out the Spirit’s fire
- Do not treat prophecy with contempt
- Test everything
- Hold on to the good
- Avoid every kind of evil
My thought of the day: These letters are to Believers who are being persecuted. These are in the Bible to comfort us in our modern day persecution. The Bible clearly says that if we are truly going against the world and truly living as Christ would call us to we WILL be persecuted. So if you are dealing with persecution for work, fiends or a family member take comfort in this. COntrary, if you are not dealing with it at all, take to consider you may look too much like the World. (let me get my mirror out). You may not look like a CHrist Follower so there may not be persecution.
We are reading 2 books today! I am sure you paid attention that one of the towns Paul visited was Thessalonica. Paul founded a church there after a very brief visit on his second missionary journey. In the Macedonia area, this town was very large, second to Athens, with a population of about 200,000. Why was this town so crowded? Remember when I described several times the “Dispersion” (Diaspora) after the Jews were released from exile, well this area was very wealthy and rich in culture so many Jewish descendant migrated there rather than back to Jerusalem. However it seems the church was predominantly Gentile.
This is a time of great persecution to the believers. There were zealous Jews, and Roman authorities that would torture a believer in Christ. I remember hearing once a story in church about Christians were dipped in tar, tied to stakes and then lit on fire to light up the gardens in the Palaces. Professed believers in Christ risked being stoned, beat, crucified and tortured. Paul knew this well since he once sat on the council that voted FOR it. He now stood on the other side of the Cross.
This letter was to encourage the believers of Thessalonica AND to assure them of Christ’s return. Actually, Christ’s return will be mentioned over 20 times in just todays’ read. Paul gives us a way of living that will prepare us for the Second coming of Christ with exhortations and ends with benedictions and prayers.
We have a hope. Not we hope, we have A HOPE that Christ will come back and we as believers will spend an eternity in his presence.