Friday, April 30, 2010

1 Thessalonians 5

1 thess 5 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Paul opens this portion with a warning. The Lord's return will come suddenly. The Lord's return will catch many people off guard. Note that Paul does not claim that this passage is an end-all explanation of what will occur in the end times. This is simply a glimpse into the future, and an exhortation to remain faithful.

Notice the Gothic Dualism in Paul's exhortation as he contrasts the light and darkness, the day and night, the  awake and the sleeping. Obviously, one state is at an advantage over the other. The one in the light can see better than the one in the darkness. The one in the day is more aware of his surroundings that the one in the night. The one who is awake is conscious, the one who is asleep is unaware. Paul encourages the believers, saying that they have the advantage over their oppressors. One day, everything will be turned around. We will win in the end. They will be caught and their foolishness will be exposed for all to see.

But what are those things that we should be doing as awakened people who enjoy daylight? Paul closes the epistle with those instructions exactly. He says we should appreciate those who labor over us (12)--Church leadership. Appreciate them for their diligence and instruction. Look out for each other (14) and try to deliver what they need. Always find a way to do good (15) regardless of the situation you are in. There are three things we should always do: rejoice, pray and give thanks (16-18) because God wants us to. Be sensitive to the Spirit's continual leading (19-22). Don't ever be downcast, because God is working in you to improve you (23-24) and He will always succeed in the end.

That's the most encouraging word a believer will ever hear.

Friday, April 16, 2010

1 Thessalonians 4

1 thess 4 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

In this passage Paul exhorts the believers in an area they are failing in, encourages the believers in an area they are successful in and informs the believers in an area they are ignorant in. This is a model that would serve us well to incorporate if we find ourselves in a position where we are mentoring another believer. It is sometimes easy to find something wrong in another people, but it is a different story when trying to find a positive. Harder still is determining what a believer errs in ignorantly, or if they realize these beliefs fly in the face of solid teaching. In that case, the error becomes more than ignorance, it is insubordination to the Holy Spirit.

Verses 1-8. Here Paul takes on the task of correction. He informs the believers that sexual immorality is not pleasing to God. He goes beyond just rehearsing a list of dos and don'ts though, he tells the Thessalonians why. The reason is because God wills that we be sanctified. God wants our physical lives to be pure -- to be a reflection of what God has declared us to be on the inside. Our purpose is to be cleansed, not to indulge in filthy deeds. God does not give us rules without purpose. There is always some higher morality or lesson to be learned when God gives us a fact. In this case, it is the value God has for our bodies.

Verses 9-12. Paul makes sure he notes the love the saints have for one another. A genuine love. A pure love. A love taught them by God Himself. Again, love is not just good for it's own sake, it takes on a more dynamic role as a proper representation of Christianity as a whole. We are ambassadors for God, God is love, we should love as well. We should have love for all, beginning with the saints and continuing with all others.

Verses 13-18. Finally Paul acknowledges and corrects an erroneous idea that was believed by the Thessalonians; the belief that once one dies they are gone forever. For the believer, death is a resting place until God raises the body again. The metaphor of sleep shows us that death is no more of a challenge to our great God than a nap. Notice the point of this correction: comfort. Be comforted. Do not stress. Do not worry. Find comfort that in the end, God reigns supreme. That is the point of eschatology -- God's in control. I am a Pan-millenialist: I believe everything will pan out in the end because God is in control.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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