Thursday, March 25, 2010

1 Thessalonians 3

1 thess 3 - Passage Lookup - New International Version -

The more I read this epistle, the less hard Theology I find and more basic survival and encouragement prevails. Paul is not instructing the believers as much as he is encouraging them to continue in the basic faith. One must grow and develop in the stage they currently find themselves in before they can take on more.

Verses 1-5. Here, as in every location, stresses the importance of Godly role models and leadership. Timothy was sent to the believers to strengthen and encourage the believers. In other words, to make sure that they had a grasp of the basic things on the faith and to make sure that they can continue on believing in Christ.

Note also that God overcomes in every situation. Perhaps Satan won a battle here or there. In fact, the very presence of persecution was a victory for Satan. But he has not, nor ever will win the war. Christ emerges victorious in every circumstance, even in Thessalonica.

Verses 6-11. It becomes obvious through these verses that Paul truly invested a lot of Spiritual stock in the people of Thessalonica. He truly cared for them and wanted what was best for them. In fact, Paul expressed this sentiment many times in his epistles. God's workers should be invested in God's people. It should never be the other way around. That is not to say that the assembly should not support God's laborers, but God's people should not be enslaved to them. Paul, and his company, was excited to see the church in Thessalonica make progress.

Verses 11-13. Paul wants to go and see the church. There is nothing like personal discipleship. One can read letters, books and blogs, but there is no better way to learn than at the feet of someone who knows more than you do. Perhaps there is someone who can teach you something about the scriptures. Perhaps there is someone you can teach about the scriptures.

The trademark of God is His love. The trademark of Christ is His act of love. The primary fruit of the Spirit is love. The greatest of the three: Faith, Hope and Love is Love. A true believer who is not suppressing God's interactions with him should exude love. Love for the believers. Love for the world. Paul wants to see love overflowing in the assembly.

Now Paul prays for strength. Strength is needed in this world. The believer needs to grow and gain strength so they can take on deeper things.Further, the believer needs to grow and gain strength so they can grow closer to the image of God's Son, Jesus Christ. The believer is being sanctified, and the only way to fuel that process is by growing in strength. Knowing God through His word and communication. Application to daily life. Confession and repentance when he fails.

Again, Paul closes the chapter (actually the editors ended the chapter) with a reference to the return of Christ. It is a sure thing. We want to be found faithful to Him upon His return. Is the goal to be fully sanctified when He returns? I would say yes. Is anyone going to be fully sanctified on this earth? I would say no. But that does not provide any excuse for anyone to neglect the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1 Thessalonians 2

Paul takes some time in this portion to defend himself and his authority in preaching the gospel. Paul uses one major weapon to do this: his testimony.

Paul repeats phrases like, "you know how we dealt." By doing so, he relies on his impeccable presentation, free from impure motivation or any semblance of wrongdoing. We should behave the same way. We should be able to tell coworkers and schoolmates the exact same thing. And they should have no evil charge against us.

Paul states that he has been entrusted with the gospel. That is, entrusted to keep it as it was revealed to him -- to preserve it. Paul did not change the gospel to suit his needs. He prented the gospel that meets man's need.

Further, the goal is not man, man's praise or their own betterment. The goal is Christ, first and foremost. There is no other goal but to please God Himself. May I be so pure in my service to the King.

Next, Paul uses the family model to illustrate his relationship with the Thessalonians. He uses children, Mother, Father and later on Orphan.

Verse 7. Paul states that they behaved like children before the Thessalonians. That is to say, they were not aggresive. Verse 6 states that they had authority to assert their prerogatives. But they didn't. They decided to be meek and take the low place while presenting the truth in love.

Verses 7-9. Paul then flips the script with the next metaphor which likens the Thessalonians to children and himself as their mother. Here, he is explaining how he took on a nurturing role, encouraging growth by making sure the environment was the best he could make it for them.

Verses 10-12. Now Paul takes on the aura of a father. A father who urges his son to do better, thus making him proud. And the greatest thing the Thessalonians could do is live lives worthy of God.

Verses 17-20. Finally, lest he be accused of thinking himself above the Thessalonians, Paul considers himself an orphan when separated from the believers. He truly considers them as brethren, and separation from them is difficult. Paul genuinely means it when he calls the believers his joy and crown.

Perhaps there are people you should commit to more fully in the local assembly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

I find it interesting that this entire epistle, save for the final two verses, is written in the third person. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy are speaking together, as one, to the assembly in Thessalonica showing solidarity (unity) in leadership. This is important as is serves as a model for the Church. We are to be one. But more importantly, our leadership should be on the same page. That is not to say that the leaders need to be clones of one another, but the leadership should be close enough to one another that they know how each other thinks and feels concerning a situation, and they can work together as one.

This unity could also prove to be important given the history of the founding of the Church at Thessalonica. This was a Church that underwent grave persecution by Jewish leaders. Judaism is an ancient religion with a strong foundation (both numerically and spiritually). Paul, Silvanus and Timothy working together could have provided a strong support system for the believers, letting them know that there is a global body of believers fighting the good fight with them. In fact, this truth remains even today. Christianity is a strong religious system with many believers in many countries. This provides security of doctrine and great support for one another.

After a typical Pauline greeting complete with Grace & Peace, Faith, Hope & Love, the writers dive into assurance in verse 4. Knowing: it is a great fact that the believer can rest assured in the promises of God. He can know them.

The first thing we can know that we are loved of God. He sent the ultimate sacrifice when He sent His Son to die for us. We are greatly loved by God. We can know this, we can rest in it.

The second thing we can know if that God has chosen us. Now, without getting into the Theological implications of predestination, we know that there are a few reasons why God would choose us. He would choose us because He finds pleasure in us. He would choose us because He desires to bless us. He would choose us because He desires fellowship. In other words, God places a certain value on mankind and this value compels Him to choose man. We are not given enough details to know if He has only chosen a few men or all men and how that reflects on His character.

How do we know these things? How can we rest assured in these promises? We know because God came with sufficient power to save us: verse 5. He came with full conviction -- He really wanted to show our need. If He came only with partial or fleeting conviction, then we may not really think we need Him.

We also know these promises are true because they are lived out in good examples. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy acted as ambassadors to the Thessalonians, and they proved how blessed a life lived for Christ could be. Not only so, but in persecution, the Thessalonians learned the Joy of the Spirit which can flow through the worst of circumstances. This, in turn, made the Thessalonian believers out to be examples to all of Greece of how a steady believer should behave (indeed their fame had spread across the region) -- all this in relatively new Christians. All this was made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It has been said that each chapter in the epistles to the Thessalonians contains an eschatological reference and it comes here in verse 10. In this reference we find the promise of final redemption, salvation from the wrath to come. This is ultimate rescue from judgement and glorification. The wrath of God will destroy all of creation. However, those who trust in Christ will be glorified like Him. Remember, Christ was raised and never saw corruption. We have that promise in store for us as well.

Intro to Thessalonians

Acts 17:1-15 - Passage Lookup - New International Version -

Keep in mind that Thessalonica was a vibrant metropolis. The population, scholars say, reached 200,000 civilians. That constitutes a major city. Hence, there were a lot of people and a lot of ideas floating around.

In that large population there were a lot of Jews. The Jews apparently had great influence on the city as we read in Acts. So much so, that they were able to raise a legal ruckus against the new Christians and persecute them mercilessly. This persecution forced Paul to leave without building the strong foundation that he had customarily built in other places he evangelized in.

Note that Paul has his comfortable starting point in verse 2. Paul likes to start by preaching in the temple. This is no wonder because of his background, Paul knew the Jewish religious like the back of his hand. He was experienced in it.Why not use your strengths and training (education) to further the kingdom?

Note also in verse 2 that Paul reasoned with the hearers. He engaged them. He explained to them. One must be familiar with their subject matter before they can engage and reason with others on it. How well do we know the scriptures? Are we able to reason with others concerning Christ? We should be so familiar with Him (and His Word) that we can speak of Him comfortably in every situation -- especially those situations we excel in.

In verse 4 we have the initial conversion of the crowd: some Jews, God-fearing Greeks (ie. those who had converted to Judaism) and not a few women. I find it interesting that women have been mentioned a lot in the book of Acts as the initial place where Christianity took hold and in the epistles as leaders of the assemblies in the various evangelized cities. This is a significant alteration of the common view of women in the ancient world. Women were second / third class citizens in the ancient world, but in Christ, all are equal and significant.

The large city turned violent against Christianity and a peculiar statement is found in verse 6. Luke uses a peculiar description for "city officials" that was not common in the literature of archaeology. In fact, many have cited the use of this word as evidence that Luke may have been fabricating things. Ancient Thessalonica was located on the site that current Thessaloniki now stands. Recently, an arch was found with an inscription using the very word Luke used in this passage. It is a verification of the historical accuracy of the account Luke delivers in Acts.

The charges pressed against the believers in the town were, of course, ridiculous reaches on the theology and practice of Christians. While Christ is the ultimate authority for Christians, we are also clearly commanded to be subject to earthly rulers in all moral leadership. Civil disobedience is not a common occurrence, it is the exception. And such disobedience should be done in a peaceful manner.

The account of the Bereans is important because of the reaction the Thessalonians had -- pursuit. The Thessalonians pursued Paul and Silas to Berea and persecuted the Christians there. In short, Thessalonica was hostile to Christianity because of the Jews. So rather than attempting to infiltrate Christianity, they openly opposed it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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