Southern Christian University

A Study of I Thessalonians #1

James A. Turner 

Please read all the references. They will help you to get a deeper understanding.

I would like for us to begin and study The Epistles of Paul in the order that they were written with the exception of the epistle to the Hebrews. We know definitely that he wrote thirteen of the New Testament epistles. If we count Hebrews, and I surely believe that it should be counted as his epistle that would make fourteen of the New Testament epistles. 


I and II Thessalonians marks the beginning of his writings of those New Testament epistles.  Notice in the salutation that Silas and Timothy are with him. They joined him in his work at Corinth when Paul was on his second missionary journey.  (Acts 18: 1-5; II Corinthians 11:9), and I Thessalonians 3:6 shows that Paul wrote I Thessalonians immediately after they joined him in the work at Corinth. We read about the establish -ment of the church at Thessalonica in the first nine verses of the seventeenth chapter of Acts.  There Luke tells us that he went into the Jewish synagogue at Thessalonica as “his custom was”, and he reasoned with the people in the synagogue for three Sabbath Days ‑‑ reasoning with them, of course, from the Old Testament scriptures. He was “opening and alleging that it behooved the Christ to suffer and rise again from the dead and this Jesus whom I proclaim unto you is the Christ.” In other words his emphasis in the synagogue at Thessalonica was the primary emphasis of Paul and the other apostles everywhere.  He was emphasizing the primary facts of the gospel, the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4), and that in Christ there is redemption. In order for a person to be saved he must hear, believe, and obey these facts in a form of the death, the burial and the resurrection of Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 10:11-14; Romans 6:3-7). There are many preachers today who are teaching contrary to what the Bible teaches in regard to what an unsaved sinner must do in order to be saved. I have heard preachers give excellent Bible based lessons until they try to tell an alien sinner what he needs to do to be saved, and then in substance some say, pray this prayer with me, “ O Lord I confess unto thee that I am a sinner. Lord Jesus come into my heart and save me. I thank you Lord for my salvation!” Such teaching is not what the Bible teaches that an alien sinner, one who is not a Christian, must do in order to be saved. 


In Romans 10:13 Paul quotes a part of Joel’s prophecy concerning the time when God would “pour forth of my Spirit upon all flesh  (meaning Jews and Gentiles, and that when that time comes), and it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Joel 2:28-32).  This reference was quoted by the apostle Peter in that first gospel sermon that he preached on the first Pentecost, after the resurrection of Christ, and was in part fulfilled on that day (Acts 2:16-21).


In Romans 10:13-15 Paul first quotes Joel 2:32, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.. (Then he asks the questions) How then shall they call on him in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher.”  (Thus Paul is saying in substance that a sinner cannot call on the name of the Lord in such a way as to be saved until he is taught how to)“call on the name of the Lord.”


In I Corinthians 15:1-4 he shows that a sinner must hear and believe the primary facts of the gospel in order to be saved. Some of the Corinthians were saying, “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (I Corinthians 15:12). So Paul begins that great chapter, about the resurrection, by saying, they had been saved by believing and of course obeying, the primary facts of the gospel that he had preached to them. He says, “Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which also you received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he has been raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:1-4). So an alien sinner can not  call upon the name of the Lord” in a way to be saved without hearing and believing the primary facts taught in the scriptures about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Jesus said, “except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). A sinner must also repent. Again Jesus said, “except you repent, ye shall all in like manner perish” (Luke 13:3); and “but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent” (Acts 17:30). A sinner must confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said, “Every one therefore who shall confess me before men him will I confess before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32); and “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).


So after a sinner hears and believes the facts of the gospel, repents of his sins, confesses Christ before men, then he should be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). There are many references that teach that baptism is essential to salvation. Romans 6:3-7 teaches that baptism is a likeness of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ” or  “are ye ignorant brethren that all we who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death:(meaning death to sin and a separation from sin) “that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” (Meaning a spiritual life in Christ (John 5:24-25). “For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that the old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that died is justified from sin.” So it is at the point of baptism that a believing, repenting, confessing sinner is “justified” and saved from sin!


It is at the point of baptism that the alien sinner applies the blood of Christ that cleanses him from all sin. No sins are forgiven apart from the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, (Hebrews 2:9; Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20). But, the sinner must take those steps necessary to apply the blood. Baptism is a likeness of the death of Christ, and his blood was shed in his death upon the cross of Calvary (Matthew 26:28; John 19:33-34).


Today we sing the good scriptural song, When I See The Blood. The chorus says, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The song is first based on Exodus 12:13. After a Jewish family had killed the Passover lamb which was a type of the lamb of God (John 1:29; I Peter 1:18-20; I Corinthians 5:7; Revelations 5:1-14) they were instructed to “take of the blood, and put it on the two side- post and the lintel on the houses” (Exodus 12:7), and Exodus 12:13 is talking about the blood applied, “and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”


Suppose that some of those Jews had reasoned, it is not necessary for us to apply the blood to the lintels and doorpost of their houses? Would God have passed over such houses without killing the first born of man and beast in that house like he did in all the houses of the Egyptians? We know the answer! In like manner God does not pass over and forgive sin apart from the sinner doing those things necessary to apply the blood of Christ. The alien sinner applies the blood at the point of scriptural baptism. I John 1:7-9 tells how Christians apply His blood for their cleansing, “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


Two references say that baptism puts one into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27 and Romans 6:3-7) and one that says, that baptism puts one into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13), which is the church, (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). Can men be saved outside of Christ and outside of his church? He purchased the church with his blood (Acts 20:28), and he sanctified it and cleanses it “by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).


Now think of the countless thousands of people in our American society who are saying that baptism is not essential to salvation! Such teaching is man- made doctrine rather than the Lord’s doctrine. Jesus said that the doctrines of men are vain (Matthew 15:3-9). They could not save men during the time of his earthly ministry and they cannot and will not save men today.


But, the word of God is still the seed of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:11), and the gospel is still God’s power to save (Romans 1:16) and Jesus is still the author of eternal salvation “unto all them that obey him “(Hebrews 5:8-9); and, God still reigns, and in what ever city the seed is sown and the gospel is preached sincerely and correctly the kingdom of God and Christ will be enlarged! Many fields are still “white already unto harvest “(John 4:34-36).  “ but the laborers are few.” Will you please pray that, “the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38)?


Notice that Luke records the result of his teaching in those three Sabbath Days, Acts 17:4 “and some of them were persuaded”.  That would mean some of the Jews in the synagogue were persuaded and consorted with Paul and Silas, and “of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women, not a few”. The devout Greeks would be those Greeks that had turned from idolatry and were worshiping with the Jewish people.  I think the same thing would be true of the chief women, probably wives of important officials.  This is Gentile country.  So the church, at Thessalonica, is first made up primarily of devout Greeks or devout Gentile people with some Jews, but verse four indicates only a few of the Jews were persuaded.


If we were just left with what is recorded here in these nine verses, we might decide that Paul stayed there only three Sabbath Days, but in I and II Thessalonians all the evidence in those two epistles show differently.  Paul stayed there long enough to teach them on a number of different subjects. Notice that the reading here in Acts would leave room for that.  Paul started staying with Jason.  The unbelieving Jews, were moved with jealousy and they took vile fellows of the rabble, and assaulted the house of Jason” where Paul was staying, hoping to find Paul and Silas.  They were not there, but they laid hold on Jason and certain of the other brethren and carried them before the rulers of the city and said, These that have turned the world upside down or come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus Well, I am confident that they were not very much concerned about the decrees of Caesar.  The primary thing is that these Jews were unbelieving Jews, and they did not want Paul preaching the truth of the gospel.

Evidently the brethren recognized the great danger for Paul and Silas for verse ten says, "And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who when they would come hither went into the synagogue of the Jews” (Acts 17:10).  The Jews in the synagogue at Berea were much better people than those in the synagogue at Thessalonica. Luke tells us that these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, and that they received the word of God with all readiness of mind, examining the scriptures daily, whether these things were so.”  Paul was using the Old Testament scriptures in preaching to them about Jesus so they could examine the Old Testament scriptures and see if he was teaching the truth.  They found out that he was. Luke says, “Many of them therefore believed, and also the Greek women of honorable estate, and of men, not a few.”  So many of the Jews in the synagogue at Berea believed, along with the Greek women of honorable estate, and of men, the Greek men, Gentile men, not a few.  Notice that the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica are very determined and when they learned that Paul was preaching the gospel at Berea they went over to Berea and caused trouble. They caused such trouble that Paul was sent away by night from Berea.


Now, there are several things in I and II Thessalonians that show, I think clearly, that Paul stayed there more than three Sabbath Days.  First, those verses about him being in the house of Jason would leave room for him teaching Gentiles from the house of Jason, but notice that in I Thessalonians 2:9 he speaks of how he had worked night and day that he might not be a burden to anybody; and along with that in Philippians 4:15 and 16 where Paul talks about how that when he left Macedonia Philippi that no church had a fellowship with him in the matter of giving and receiving, but them only, and they had sent once and again to his needs at Thessalonica. It was about a hundred miles from Philippi to Thessalonica, and so this indicates that he was longer than three Sabbath Days for the church at Philippi to send once and again to Paul's needs while he was at Thessalonica. 


He also had taught them on a number of different subjects, plus he had wanted to return to them but Satan had hindered him. "But we brethren being bereaved of you for a short season in presence not in heart:  Endeavoring the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire because we would fain have come unto you.  I, Paul, once and again and Satan hindered us”  ( 1 Thessalonians 2:18-19). We will talk about that passage further as we study the book. In chapter 3:13 we see that along with chapter 4:13 through 5:11 he had talked to them about the second advent of Christ, but they had gotten mixed up about some of his teaching about the second coming of Christ. In 3-13 he says, “to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” In chapter 4:13 through chapter 5:11, indicates that he had taught them a number of things about the second advent of Christ.  Does this not imply that he had stayed there for a considerable period of time?   In chapter 4:1‑8 he had taught them to turn from sexual immoralities and he further exhorts them to do so in these verses. He had taught them to love one another and They were showing their love toward all the brethren that were in all of Macedonia(4:9-10).  He had taught them to be good workers. "But we exhort you brethren that you abound more and more and that you study to be quiet and do your own business and work with your own hands, even as we charged you, that you may walk becomingly towards them that are without and may have need of nothing” (4:11).


So while he was there, he had taught them to work for a living. In this first epistle, he emphasizes again that they should “work so they would have need of nothing.” In other words earn their own living, by that they would be walking becomingly toward them that are without that they might have a good report of those who were not members of the church.  In II Thessalonians 3:10, we read that he had taught them that those who would not work were not to eat. "For even when we were with you this we commanded you if any will not work neither let him eat."  And then he gives further instructions.  So he had taught them about a number of different subjects, which strongly implies that he was there longer than three Sabbath Days.  Something maybe even more definite was how that the people were telling Paul that they had turned from idols to serve a true and living God (I Thessalonians 1:8-9). The report that Luke gives there in Acts 17:4 is about the work in the synagogue, and some of the Jews believed and a number of the devout Greeks and women of  high estate.  So the church at first was made up primarily of devout Greeks, but by the time of the writing of

I Thessalonians, it looks like it is made up primarily of those that had been idolatrous Gentiles (1:8-9). 


Well, we'll not try to do more in regard to an introduction.  Let's just begin the reading and study of the epistle.  "Paul and Silvanus (or Silas) and Timothy unto the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grace to you and peace.”   Notice the appropriate way in which he addresses the letter. Paul uses “grace” and “peace” in the salutations of all of the thirteen epistles that we definitely know are his. “Grace” is the Greek salutation, “chares” and “peace” is the Jewish salutation, “shalom” The letter, of course, is from Paul; but Silas and Timothy are with him at the time of the writing, so he includes them in the salutation but it is addressed to the church of the Thessalonians.  The primary way that the church is referred to in the New Testament is just the church.  The word church, means God’s called out people.  There were no denominational churches at this time, so the appropriate way to address the letter unto the church of the Thessalonians, God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  What belongs to God belongs to Christ, and what belongs to Christ belongs to God.  So the church is God's church, Christ's church, and he says grace and peace to the brethren who make up this church. So writing to churches made up of Gentiles and Jews, it was very appropriate to use both greetings, the Greek and the Jewish greeting.  Then he says, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” I believe that if a person would just sit down and give a good reading of all the epistles of Paul, he would recognize that Paul was a man of prayer. He was concerned about his brethren everywhere, all the brethren that he knew, and even those he had not seen by face but had heard about them, he prayed for. So he says here “we are giving thanks always for you all.”  And I think surely that would include Silas and Timothy.  So in one respect they are included in the epistle. 


“Making mention of you in our prayers remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope and in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father” (1:3).  Of course, that does not mean that he was praying twenty-four hours a day, but he prayed on a regular basis.  Without ceasing or to continue steadfastly in prayer, it does not mean that we are to be praying twenty-four hours a day.  One of the sayings that our brethren have used for many years is that we should always be in the spirit of prayer. I am not sure that when we are really working, that we've got our mind on prayer at all. To better understand the meaning of “pray without ceasing or continue steadfastly in prayer”, let us think of Acts 2:42, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles teaching and fellowship and the breaking of bread and in prayers."  Well, the breaking of bread is the Lord's Supper, and they were not partaking the Lord's Supper every day of the week, but just as often as they were supposed to take of the Lord's Supper, they did so.  They continued steadfastly in the apostle's teaching and fellowship and breaking of bread and in prayers.  In Psalm 55:17 we read that David prayed in evening, and morning and noonday.  After Daniel learned that his enemies had “hood winked” King Nebuchadnezzar to sign a decree if any man worshiped any God or any person except the king for a period of time they would be thrown to the lions. “He kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10). He was continuing steadfastly in prayer. 


Paul, Silas and Timothy were "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love (1:3)." Those two things are surely joined together.  There is not going to be much work of faith or labor of love unless they are joined together, they compliment each other. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”(Romans 10:17).  Paul had taught them the word of God.  They had believed it and obeyed, and that faith was working in them.  So they had the great faith that caused them to rise up and work for the Lord. It was a real labor of love, and patience of hope.  A better word for patience for our day would be steadfastness.  The King James Version and American Standard use patience. My Bible does have steadfastness in a footnote. “ Steadfast -ness of hope.”  Hope, when it is used correctly, carries with it expectation.  Remember that hope is spoken of in Hebrews 6:18‑19, "Which hope we have is an anchor of the soul, both sure and  steadfast, and which entereth into that which is within the veil."  So without hope we will not remain faithful to the Lord, but these brethren had that steadfast hope, “which entereth into that which is with in the veil.”  Yes, they had that hope that would give them entrance into heaven, “whether as a forerunner Jesus entered for us.”


Sometimes we use the word hope when we are making a wish, but hope used correctly carries the idea that we are expecting to receive heaven at last.  So they were expecting to receive their eternal salvation at the end of the way.  "Patience of hope in our Lord, Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing brethren beloved of God your election."  Meaning that they had been called, by the preaching of the gospel to become children of God (II Thessalonians 2:14). Verse five, "How that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance even as you know what manner of men we showed ourselves towards you for your sake."  So he states that the gospel came unto them, not in word only but also in power. Is he not referring to some miraculous things that the Holy Spirit had done through him as evidence that he was being guided by the Holy Spirit. Of course, when they obeyed the gospel, they received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). He mentions that by it they had much assurance or they believed with all confidence.  "Even as you know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake, and you became imitators of us and the Lord having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit."  Verse six means that trouble had broken out against the church almost immediately. They were suffering for the cause of Christ, but they were receiving that affliction with joy, “with joy of the Holy Spirit.”  


Now, that may sound strange, but the Bible teaches us that we in time of tribulation and affliction, that we are to rejoice and be glad as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12).  Do you remember how the apostles, after they had been beaten and commanded not to teach anymore in the name of Christ, left the counsel rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name (Acts5:40-41).  In Acts sixteen after Paul and Silas were shamefully treated and beaten with many stripes and thrown into the innermost part of the prison, and their feet were made fast in the stocks, at midnight they were praying and singing hymns unto God.  So the children of God can rejoice and be full of joy in extreme circumstances.


These brethren became an example to all that believed in Macedonia and Achaia, two large Roman provinces. How did they do it? "Far from you sounded forth the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and in  Achaia, but in every place your faith to God is gone forth so that we need not speak anything."  So verse eight tells us that they had really been workers for the Lord.  They had sounded forth the word of the Lord in two great Roman provinces:  Macedonia and Achaia.  I believe they were quite different from most new churches of our day.  Sometimes it looks like we leave the impression with new congregations that they are really not supposed to do anything until they have a church building and a full‑time preacher and are really well‑established in a financial sense.  Well, according to  II Corinthians 8:1‑5, the people in Macedonia were in deep poverty and here we learn the Thessalonians were in great affliction or great trouble by persecution. They did not have a full‑time preacher, nothing said about a building, but they sounded forth the word of the Lord in Macedonia and Achaia. People were reporting to Paul,  “how you turned unto God from idols to serve a living and true God."  That would not properly characterize those that Luke speaks of in Acts17:4.  They were not idolatrous Gentiles, at this time the church is made up primarily of those who had been idolatrous Gentiles.  Verse ten reads, "And to wait for a son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivered us from the wrath to come. 

Chapter Two

For yourselves brethren know our entering in unto you that it has not been found vain."  In other words their work had been successful.  Well, it could have been in vain if they had not remained faithful to the Lord,   "But having suffered before and been shamefully treated as you know at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict."  You remember Acts sixteen, after Paul had cast out the evil spirit of the damsel that was going before them at Philippi that he and Silas were carried before the magistrates, and the magistrates rent their clothes off of them and had them beaten and thrown into prison, and the keeper of the prison was told to keep them safely. The jailor put them in the innermost part of the prison, made their feet fast in the stocks.  Their civil rights had been violated!  Both Silas and Paul were Roman citizens,  and according to Roman law a man surely was not supposed to be beaten, unless he had first been tried. Do you remember how that the magistrates sent word to the keeper of the prison the next day to let them go? Paul said, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men that are Romans, and cast us into prison; and do they cast us out privily?  Nay verily; but let them come themselves and bring us out” (Acts 16:35-37). So Paul did defend his civil rights to a small degree. If Paul had been a person to press his civil rights to the extreme, then he would have brought a case against those magistrates.  He surely had a legal right to do so. That very definitely is what  he is talking about.  Surely they were shamefully treated.  They had done nothing wrong and were beaten publicly, Roman citizens who had no trial whatsoever. (2:3).


 "For our exhortation was not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but as even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who proveth our hearts” (1Thessalonian 2:3).  So Paul wants to remind these brethren that he was a faithful teacher as an apostle of Christ, and, of course, Silas was a faithful man of God too.  It was the apostles that had been entrusted with the gospel. He is saying that we preached it not as pleasing men but God who proveth our hearts.  Now, verse four does not mean that Paul did not want to please men.  For in the ninth chapter of I Corinthians he says that he became all things to all men that by all means he might gain some.  Here he is simply saying, we preach what is right whether it pleases men or not.  We are not preaching just to please man.  Our primary goal is to preach as God has instructed.  Our preaching is to please God.  "For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:  Nor seeking glory of man."  So everything they did was for the welfare of the Thessalonians.  "Neither from you, nor from others, when we might have claimed authority, as apostles of Christ."  And he means that they could have called on them to support them, but they did not.  Further, he had been gentle to them like a mother to her own children.  "But we were gentle in the midst of you nursing, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children:  Even so being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not only the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us."  So Paul is saying that they not only were ready to preach the gospel to them in the right way, but they were ready to be used in every way for their welfare.


Verse nine, "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail:  Working night and day, that we might not be burden on any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”  Now, they were in deep poverty, and so Paul had to work for a living until the brethren from the church at Philippi sent him help at Thessalonica.  We find Paul in several different places having to work for a living. In chapter three of II Thessalonians, he tells one of the reasons for it, he wanted to give them an example. It looks like some preachers today think that working at secular work for part of their support instead of calling upon the brethren for all their support is the wrong thing.  Now, if the brethren are able to support the preacher, and then if he will use his time properly then all is well. “The Lord has ordained that they that preach the gospel should live of the gospel”  (1Corinthians  9:14). But Paul reasons in that chapter that he did not always use his right, and here he could have called on them for support, but he worked hard in order to have an opportunity to teach the gospel to them, “working night and day”.  In chapter three of II Thessalonians, he tells us that another reason why he did that was to give them an example. There are still communities today that need the example of preachers working to make a living.  Sometimes in the place where they need the example most is the place where the preacher thinks that he is somewhat above working!


Notice how he behaved himself while he was there. "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe."  Now, there are a number of references from Paul’s Epistles where he states how that he lived as a Christian in a way, very similar to verse ten here. Such references definitely show that he cannot be talking about himself as a Christian in Romans the seventh chapter, beginning with verse fourteen through the rest of the chapter, where in substance he reasoned, "I am carnal, sold unto sin. And what I want to do I can not do; and what I do not want to do, that I do."  And we will talk further about that, hopefully, when we get to that Book.  But he says here you know, you are witnesses and God also.  God is always looking on.  He knows how holy and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe.  That surely doesn't sound like he is carnal sold unto sin, does it?


"As you know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you and encouraging you and testifying."  There is a place for exhorting and  encouraging brethren to do the things they have been taught. Paul, like a father, to his own children exhorted them and encouraged them to do the things which he had taught them. "To the end that you should walk worthy of God who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory.  And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing."  And again, Paul was a man of prayer; he believed in praying every day and he continued to pray for the Thessalonians.  Verse thirteen, "And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing that when you received from us the word of message, even the word of God, you accepted it not as the word of man but as it is in truth the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe."  So they received the gospel in the very finest way.  They recognized that it was different from the word of men, that it was the word of God, and they received it as such.  And they received it in such a way that the gospel was working in them.  When people really believe the word of God to be the word of God, then that word of God works in them, which also worketh in you that believe.  Saving faith is always active faith. 


Verse fourteen, "For ye, brethren, became active imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus; for ye also have suffered the same things of your own countrymen."  In the latter part of the seventh chapter of Acts we read about the death of Steven, and how those who stoned Steven laid down their garments at a young man's feet whose name was Saul.  And then in chapter eight, “as for Saul he made havoc of the church committing both men and women to prison” (Acts 8:3). And the church was scattered abroad, and they went everywhere preaching the word.  So immediately after the gospel was taught in Judea among the Jewish people, there developed a persecution against the church.  Almost immediately at Thessalonica, the unbelieving Jews persecuted them and many of the Gentiles had continued that persecution. "Which are in Judea in Christ Jesus; for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen even as they did of the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and drove us out."  The Jews were responsible for driving Paul and Silas out of Thessalonica and then again at Berea.  "And please not God and are contrary to all man."  They were contrary to what's best for all men.  They would not believe the gospel themselves, and they tried not to allow the gospel to be preached to the Gentiles.  Verse sixteen, "Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, to fill up their sin always:  For but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost."  That word "uttermost", some of the versions read,  “It cometh upon them to the full”. In about twenty years the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.  During the last week of his ministry Jesus said, "Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that stonest the prophets and killest them that are sent unto her. How often would I have gathered thy children even as a hen that gathereth her chickens under a wing but you would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-38). Jesus left that temple.   Paul says that these Jews were bringing the wrath of God upon them to the uttermost. God’s wrath was involved in the destruction of Jerusalem, but that ultimate wrath of God will come in the Day of Judgment.


Verse seventeen, "But we brethren, being bereaved of you for a short season in presence, not in heart."  He continued to think about them and had endeavored to go back to see them, but Satan had hindered them.  "Endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire.  Because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us." Those unbelieving Jews, stirred up the Gentiles, they did not intend to let Paul come back to Thessalonica.  But he wanted to go back, and he planned, “once and again to go back, and Satan hindered us.” 


"For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glory?  Are not even ye before our Lord Jesus at his coming.  For ye are our glory and joy." 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 is one of several references, which show that there will be identity in heaven.  How could those brethren at Thessalonica be Paul's joy and crown of glory at the coming of Christ if he did not know that they were in heaven?  In Matthew 8:11, Jesus said, “Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."  Does that not mean that there will be identity in heaven? When Jesus was transfigured before Peter and James and John there appeared with him Moses and Elijah, talking to Him about his coming decease (Matthew 17:1-9).  They recognized them, and so there will be recognition in heaven.  And here Paul is saying if you are faithful to the Lord, our hope, our expectation is that you will be our joy, our crown of glory, at the coming of Christ, meaning the second coming of Christ. “For ye are our glory and joy.” In Philippians 2:16 Paul admonished the Philippian brethren to hold forth the word of life.  He says, "That I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." Paul is saying to the Philippians, I want you to be faithful to the Lord that I may have joy in the day of Christ that my work was not in vain. We will do well now to turn to I Corinthians chapter three.  Beginning with verse ten, Paul says, "According to the grace of God which was given unto me, as a wise master builder, I laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let each man take heed how he buildeth thereon.  For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."  Now, notice carefully.  "But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones."  That would represent a man's work being enduring. “ Wood, hay, stubble” would represent work that is not enduring. "Each man's work shall be made manifest:  For the day shall declare it."  What day is he talking about?  What day will declare a man's work, whether or not a man's converts, remain faithful to the Lord?  That would be the Day of Judgment.  "For the day shall declare it, because it is revealed in fire."  In other words that's testing time.  "And the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work shall abide which he built thereon, he shall receive a reward."  Now, what is the reward that a man will receive according to these references? It would be the joy of knowing that his converts are in heaven.  And look at verse fifteen, "If any man's work shall be burned." Meaning if his converts are not faithful and they are lost, he shall suffer loss.  He would not have that reward of knowing that his converts are there,  "But he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."  In other words if he has been faithful to the Lord; he is still going to be saved,  but if his converts had been faithful, he would have had that additional reward of knowing that they had been faithful to the Lord.


Back to I Thessalonians 3:1 reads,  "Wherefore when we could no longer forebear, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone."  Some writers raise the question of whether or not Timothy and Silas ever got to Athens before Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. Well, I believe this reference ought to settle that.  "Wherefore when we could no longer forebear."  We were so concerned about the Thessalonians that they just could not bear not knowing whether or not they were turning away from Christ because of the persecution.  We thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone.”  Paul sent word, by those who conducted him to Athens, for Timothy and Silas to come to him with all speed (Acts 17:15-16). So this verse shows that they did.  And Paul sent Timothy back to the church at Thessalonica.  "And sent Timothy, our brother, and God's minister in the gospel of Christ to establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith”.(3:2). To further encourage them to be faithful to the Lord and to teach them and further establish them in the faith of Christ.  "That no man be moved by these afflictions."  By the persecutions and all that they were enduring.  "For yourself know that here unto we are appointed."  Here is another subject that he had taught them while they were there.  That just as surely as you become Christians, you are going to be persecuted.  "For verily, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know."  So Paul had given them a lot of instruction while he was there.  And let all of us keep in mind II Timothy 3:12,  "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."  The Lord has ordained that we are to suffer persecution.  In Romans 8:17 ‑‑ Well, let me pick up with verse sixteen, "The Holy Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him." So our becoming “heirs of God and join heirs with Christ” at the end of the way includes suffering for the cause of Christ.  "Even as it came to pass and ye know."  It was very soon, after the church was established, that the trouble started against those new converts.  "For this cause I also when I could no longer forebear, sent that I might know your faith, and sent Timothy, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain”.(3:5)  Well, such conditions would cause many to fall away, wouldn't it? So Paul was very concerned.


At the time of Paul’s writing I Thessalonians, Timothy had just returned from Thessalonica with good news.  "But when Timothy came even now unto us from you and brought us glad tidings of your faith and love, and that you have good remembrance of us always, longing to see us, even as we also to see you."  Now Timothy and Silas joined Paul in those beginning days in his work at Corinth (Acts 18:5). Some of the newer versions read a little differently from the King James and American Standard Versions. Let me read Acts 18:5 from the New American Standard Bible. "And when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word:  Solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ."  In other words according to Acts 18:1-4 when Paul went to Corinth, he went there without support and preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath Day.  So he was a part‑time preacher, having to work for a living, and he was in the synagogue of the Jews each Sabbath Day until Silas and Timothy joined him. That's really according to this reading. “ But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.”  Acts 18:5 from the New International Version, reads: "When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ." 


That sounds like he quit his tent making when Silas and Timothy joined him.  Well, how could he have quit and started full‑time preaching? I think the answer is given in II Corinthians 11:7.  "Have I committed a sin in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, (sarcasm) because I preached to you the gospel of God for naught."  He did not take any pay of the Corinthians.  "I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, that I might minister unto you.  And when I was present with you, and was in want, I was not a burden on any man:  For the brethren when they came from Macedonia supplied the measure of my want:  And in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself."  And so at least when Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, they brought support. It is at least very logical that the reading of these more recent versions are correct, that Paul became a full‑time preacher when they came down from Macedonia and brought support.


Timothy had just come from the church at Thessalonica, and he and Silas had joined Paul in the work at Corinth.  Now, don't you think it would be a good educated guess that Paul had sent Silas back to the church at Berea.  Luke had stayed behind at that first church in the large province of Macedonia, at Philippi, and he sent Timothy to Thessalonica, and it is, at least logical, that Paul had sent Silas to the church at Berea. That would mean that each one of the three churches in Macedonia would have had a good teacher, at least for a period of time.  Luke stayed at Philippi until they were ready to carry the collection made up among the Gentile churches to Jerusalem (Acts 20:4-6).


"But when Timothy came even now unto us from you”.(3:6)  So that very definitely marks the time of writing.  Paul is on his second missionary journey at Corinth.  And the time would be about 52‑53 A.D.  "Came even now unto us from you and brought us glad tidings of your faith and love, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, longing to see us, even as we also to see you."  So Timothy brings Paul word that they remember Paul like Paul was remembering them and that they had good remembrance of him and longed to see him like Paul longed to see them.  "And for this cause brethren we were comforted over you and in all our distress and affliction through your faith."  They had real faith or they would not have been faithful under such circumstances (Matthew 13:20).  "For now we live, if you stand fast in the faith.  For what thanksgiving can we render again unto God for you, for all the joy where with we joy for your sakes before our God; night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith."  So Paul is thankful to God and expresses that thanks to God for the joy that they had brought him, and further that they were praying that they still might be able to see them and might “perfect that which is lacking in your faith”.  Of course, this would mean he would further teach them and instruct them in those matters that pertain to everyday Christian living. 


Verse eleven, "Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you."  So he is calling upon God and Christ to direct our way unto you.  He is asking God and Christ to see to it that they can return to the church at Thessalonica.  "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you."  Paul's love for them was abundant.  His love was abounding toward them.  And he says, "The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men."  Imitate the kind of love that we have.  Later on he talks about that they were showing their love, but he wanted them to abound.  "To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints” (3:13). This passage is surely talking about the second advent of Christ (Hebrews 9:27-28).


 Sexual immortalities were very common among idolatrous Gentiles of that day, more common than it is in the worst areas in American society today.  In the worship to their idol gods, they even had the temple prostitutes in some of the religions of men and women, in other words the homosexual and lesbian prostitutes. This was one of the ways that they kept those fine gold decked temples and kept everything going.  Not only was it not frowned on, but it was looked on as the proper thing. Can you imagine people being converted to Christ and coming out of such an environment where such immoralities were so common?  What an effort they would have to put forth to turn away from such things.  So Paul had instructed them while he was there, and again he is doing it here.  "Finally then brethren, we beseech you and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, even as you do walk that ye abound more and more.  For ye know what charge we gave you through the Lord Jesus.  For this is the will of God, even your sanctification that ye abstain from fornication; that each of ye know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor." 


Now, some of the newer versions have “his own vessel” meaning how to treat his own wife (4:1-4). I think the American Standard and King James reading is correct, thus he is talking about a man controlling his own body, that he is not to go the way of the lust and passion (Galatians 5:24). "Not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; that no man transgress and wrong his brother in the matter:  Because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we have forewarned you and testified”(4:5-6). He had taught them how that they were to turn away from those sexual immoralities while he was with them, and he further instructs them in these eight verses here to turn from lust and passion (Galatians 5:24) and not be guilty of sexual immortalities.  “Not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God”. In other words they just gave themselves to all of those things that would stimulate the passions and lust of the flesh.  "Even as the Gentiles who know not God.  That no man transgress and wrong his brother in the matter.”  Well, a man wrongs his brother by having an affair with his brother's wife.  Surely that is what he is talking about here that is wrong!  “The Lord is an avenger.”  The Lord takes vengeance on wrong doers. Hebrews 13:4 reads, "Let marriage be had in honor among all and the bed be undefiled for fornicators and adulterers God will judge."  Do you think that Hebrews 13:4 is a parallel to I Thessalonians 4:5-6?


Verse seven,  "For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification."  Anytime you read that word uncleanness in the New Testament, in the King James, and the American Standard Version, if you will give close attention, I believe that you will see that nearly every time that it is used, it is in that context of sexual immortalities.  It is surely not talking about needing to take a shower! The New International Version reads: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” The New American Standard reads, “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” He is saying do not be impure by going the way of any kind of sexual immortalities.  Verse seven, "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life."  In a holy life men exercise  control over the flesh, they “crucify the flesh with the passions and lusts there of” (Galatians 5:24). So Paul says, I taught you this while I was with you, and I am writing to you again that you make progress in this area.  Verse 8, "Therefore he that rejecteth, rejecteth not man, but God, who giveth his holy spirit unto you."  That's pretty plain, isn't it?  Don't think you are rejecting me!  Are there not a lot of people that reject certain teachings and they think they are rejecting the preacher, when actually they are rejecting the Lord?  And if you read the references given in the questions, you will be further impressed. 


Verse nine, "But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you:  For ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.  And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all of Macedonia."  That indicates that a good fellowship existed between the churches of Macedonia.  And they were showing their love toward all the brethren that are in all of Macedonia.  We do not have enough fellowship between congregations of the Lord today.  When you go over to the church nearest by, and most brethren there you don't know, what a shame!  Remember that brethren from one church are to encourage brethren of another church, and surely the brethren at Thessalonica must have been an encouragement to those at Philippi and to those at Berea.  "But we exhort brethren that you abound more and more” (4:10). Abound more and more in love.  There is always room for us to abound more and more in love.  Paul said to the Colossian brethren, “and above all things put on love which is the bond of perfectness (Colossians 3:14), I Peter 4:8 reads, above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins.” Love is the primary thing involved in being faithful to the Lord; therefore there is always room for us to abound more and more. 


Then verse eleven is about how that he wants them to make their own living.  "That you study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we  charged you.  That ye walk becomingly toward them that are without, and that ye may have need of nothing."  Some of the commentaries say that the Thessalonians had gotten so excited about the second advent of Christ, expecting Christ to come immediately, and they just quit their work.  That is not the case!  When you put the reading of these two epistles together, there was an element in that society that never had worked!  They had never gone to work!  Is not there an element in our society today that never has worked and they do not intend to work?.  Well, unless they get a little of the Lord's religion, they probably never will work. So Paul sees the need of their learning to make a living.  He had given them an example while he was there. 


Another reason why he needed to write this epistle, Timothy had evidently brought word to him about how that they were grieving because they had brethren to die, and somehow or other they had gotten the idea that they would be robbed of some of the blessings and glories that those that are living when Christ comes would enjoy.  And so in verses thirteen through eighteen, Paul is talking about two classes of people, the righteous dead and the righteous living.  In all there are four classes of people:  The righteous dead, and the righteous living, the wicked dead, and the wicked living.  And he is just discussing two classes in verses thirteen through eighteen.  And the chapter division, , is not very good because he talks about the wicked then beginning with chapter five.  "But we would not have you ignorant brethren, concerning them that fall asleep."  Asleep is used for death.. "That ye sorrow not, even as the rest who have no hope."  Well, those who do not have any hope in the resurrection, surely sorrow for their dead. Some of the people would cut off their hair and do other things to the body because of their sorrow because of  the death of their loved ones.  We read in the books of Moses how that they were not to do that, the Lord's people were not, but unbelievers did, it was characteristic of them.  Well, they had reason to have great sorrow.  They were not expecting victory at the end of this life. Paul says you should not sorrow like unbelievers.   He does not say not to sorrow but not to sorrow as those who have no hope.  Those who had fallen asleep in Christ, they had room for plenty of hope for them.  "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."  And look again at 3:13 “ at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with all of his saints.”  So these two verses say that when Christ comes he is going to bring his saints with him. Meaning what?  Meaning that he will bring the spirits of the righteous with him. 


In Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, the writer talks about when the ‘silver cord is loosed” or “the pitcher is broken at the fountain”, talking about death.  When death occurs, then what?  The body returns to the dust as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.  And Genesis chapter thirty-five in talking about the death of Rachel the writer says, "As her soul was departing for that she died”.  At physical death that which is eternal departs.  James 2:26 reads, "The body, without the Spirit is dead."  So the spirit leaves the body.  The spirits of the righteous goes to be with the Lord.  II Corinthians 5:6, Paul says, "We are of good courage and ready to be absent from the body and be at home with the Lord."  So there is a sense in which a child of God goes home to be with the Lord.  Well, I think that 4:14 surely means that when Christ comes he will bring the spirits of the righteous with him. 

We will plan on beginning our next class with I Thessalonians 4:14. Thank you for your good attention.