2016-10-28 - 1 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ The Practicing Believer
Paul's List - Continued
The next set of three commands is identified by Thomas and some translations as tied to public worship. But this isn’t necessitated, as far as I can tell. While it is a new statement, it seems to flow consistently from what has gone before.
Paul identified the resources needed to live as the Lord required. The source of the power is the Holy Spirit. But the believer does not have to allow Him to function, and there seems to be a choice, or Paul wouldn't instruct the Thessalonians to stop quenching Him. Apparently these believers were hindering the work of the Holy Spirit, because the injunction is in the present tense. For us, I suspect that Paul could also command us to stop quenching the Spirit, for if we don't, then there is no way that we can comply with these commands.
The source of knowledge is to be the word of God, in this case through those whom He has chosen to speak. One who prophecies is one who gives out God's word. It may be that there had been abuse of the gifts, and therefore some Thessalonian leaders were essentially prohibiting their exercise. But Paul said that they were to not discount the prophets, but rather give them the place they deserved. Conversely, they were to test them, not accepting the statement of one considered a prophet just because he said he was one. They were to use the discernment - not to accept everything without question - but to examine what they were taught. Apparently, some had been teaching incorrectly about Christ’s return, as we can see from earlier parts of the letter. It may have been an unquestioning attitude towards the teachings of others that had led to the confusion and concern Paul had been responding to.
The result of all this is to be able to cling to what is good, what is true or genuine, and reject what is evil or false. It is the Holy Spirit and dependency on Him which empowers us to live as required. What a basis for praise, that God provides all we need to please and serve Him. We can do nothing out of our own strength - nor are we called to.
So Paul closes his letter of love and encouragement. He reminds the Thessalonians that it is God of peace who will sanctify them. It is through Christ’s work that we have peace with God. It is His shed blood that makes Him the God of peace when He deals with us. Sanctification is the way we are protected until Christ’s coming.
Finally, Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for “us,” which probably means himself, Silvanus and Timothy. The members of the body are to be greeted with a holy kiss, apparently a local custom in the church. It is unclear as to specifically what this meant.
This letter, then, was for all the body; all could receive the blessing in reading and applying its truths in dependency on the Spirit’s power.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.