1 Thessalonians

(1 Thessalonians 1:1) Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 1:2) We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

(1 Thessalonians 1:3) Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

(1 Thessalonians 1:4) Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

(1 Thessalonians 1:5) For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

They heard the words of the gospel and experienced its power. Certainly the gospel has the power to affect people's hearts and move their minds. Paul refers to the character and holy lifestyles of himself and the others with him. Perhaps it was thought in the culture of the day that living in holiness was impossible and required a miraculous intervention of God.

The gospel came to them in assurance and deep conviction. In other words, Paul truly believed it and communicated this conviction to them. He probably mentioned his being taken to the third heaven to be instructed by Jesus himself; surely that would have impressed them. The apostles were regularly healing people so it is likely this is also what is meant by the power of the Holy Spirit. But something in the souls of those hearers of Paul was moved enough to cause them to change their lives and give them over to Jesus — but this is what occurs for every believer, even without miracles.

(1 Thessalonians 1:6) And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

(1 Thessalonians 1:7) So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

(1 Thessalonians 1:8) For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

(1 Thessalonians 1:9) For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

(1 Thessalonians 1:10) And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

(1 Thessalonians 2:1) For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

(1 Thessalonians 2:2) But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

(1 Thessalonians 2:3) For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

It seems to me that the words "clean" and "unclean" are commonly misunderstood.

(1 Thessalonians 2:4) But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

(1 Thessalonians 2:5) For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

(1 Thessalonians 2:6) Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

(1 Thessalonians 2:7) But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

(1 Thessalonians 2:8) So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

(1 Thessalonians 2:9) For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

(1 Thessalonians 2:10) Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

Paul considers the behavior of Church leaders to be supremely important. I take it even one step further; Church leaders who are not holy and orthodox and qualified to lead the flock should be rejected — they are not Church leaders at all.Just as Hitler was not truly the leader of the German people but a tyrant and usurper, so also, unholy bishops and popes throughout Church history were not Church leaders. We should reject them as teachers and defenders of the faith. They may have had powerful roles in the political history of the world but they were not Church leaders. This is the area in which the Catholic system implodes as the modern Catholic Church must insist that such as these were infallible teachers and defenders of the faith and that they passed-on the faith to subsequent generations.

The apostles ordained bishops to be the next generation of Church leaders but they simply did not have in mind that the kind of leaders that would lead the Church in subsequent generations would be considered as valid Church leaders.

Paul fully understands that those he preaches to will judge whether or not he is qualified by his behavior; and they are justified in rejecting his message if he is not qualified. Why, then, today are we so accepting of unqualified Church leaders? They have ruined the Church. These are people who were torturing Christians and burning them at the stake, who allowed pervert priests to rape children, who milked the flock for money so they could fulfill their dreams of having glorious Church buildings, who enslaved whole populations, and treated Christians like animals and without human dignity in uncountable ways. And what about modern pastors who teach false doctrines and work their all-volunteer staff to the bone?

(1 Thessalonians 2:11) As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

(1 Thessalonians 2:12) That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

(1 Thessalonians 2:13) For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Paul is pleased that the people understood his preaching and teaching to be infallible.Some object to calling anything infallible, but what good is teaching if it is not true and if we cannot be certain it is true? That apostolic teaching is infallible is a cornerstone of Christianity. Notice that the spoken word which the people heard when listening to the apostles preach and teach is the word of God. At that time there was no Bibleas the final authority for Christian faith; it was apostolic teaching which was the authority. It is just as true today as it was then that apostolic teaching is the final authority for Christian faith. Thus, the doctrine of Sola Scripturais false.

Paul mentions that he prays without ceasing and thanks God without ceasing. In this verse he refers to others with him who also thank God without ceasing. It is possible to breathe without ceasing or to be alive without ceasing, but how is it possible to do anything else without ceasing? Surely he must mean to say that he prays and thanks God often throughout the day and night.

God's word effects change in the hearts of people; it works in them. God's wordis living and so it effects change just as all living beings change the world around them, whether it be in the physical world or the spiritual world. In the very act of moving our bodies we change the physical world around us. In the spiritual realm our soulsinteract with other spirit beings and change them as our ideas, desires, will, feelings, etc. impinge upon them; they must react to our soul's motions.

(1 Thessalonians 2:14) For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

(1 Thessalonians 2:15) Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

(1 Thessalonians 2:16) Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

(1 Thessalonians 2:17) But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

(1 Thessalonians 2:18) Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

(1 Thessalonians 2:19) For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

(1 Thessalonians 2:20) For ye are our glory and joy.

(1 Thessalonians 3:1) Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;

(1 Thessalonians 3:2) And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

(1 Thessalonians 3:3) That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

(1 Thessalonians 3:4) For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

(1 Thessalonians 3:5) For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

(1 Thessalonians 3:6) But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:

(1 Thessalonians 3:7) Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:

(1 Thessalonians 3:8) For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

(1 Thessalonians 3:9) For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;

(1 Thessalonians 3:10) Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

(1 Thessalonians 3:11) Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

(1 Thessalonians 3:12) And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

(1 Thessalonians 3:13) To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

(1 Thessalonians 4:1) Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

(1 Thessalonians 4:2) For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 4:3) For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:

(1 Thessalonians 4:4) That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

(1 Thessalonians 4:5) Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:

(1 Thessalonians 4:6) That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.

(1 Thessalonians 4:7) For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

(1 Thessalonians 4:8) He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

(1 Thessalonians 4:9) But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.

(1 Thessalonians 4:10) And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

(1 Thessalonians 4:11) And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;

(1 Thessalonians 4:12) That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

(1 Thessalonians 4:13) But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

(1 Thessalonians 4:14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

(1 Thessalonians 4:15) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep.

The sequence of events...

  1. The Church age in which people die and go to purgatory or heaven.
  2. Then, the time of the end.
  3. Christ gathers those redeemed who had died previously. Presumably, these are resurrected at that time.
  4. Then, Christ gathers those who happen to be alive on earth at the time of his second coming. Presumably, these are resurrected at the same time. This is the rapture.
  5. Then Christ comes, bringing these with him.

A related passage.

(1 Thessalonians 4:16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

(1 Thessalonians 4:17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Jesus comes with clouds.

(1 Thessalonians 4:18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

(1 Thessalonians 5:1) But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

(1 Thessalonians 5:2) For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

Since they are waiting for Christ's coming, this implies that he comes at their death; that everyone encounters Christ at death and they are received into the kingdom of heaven at that time.It doesn't make sense for them to be exhorted to wait for Christ's coming if it occurs thousands (millions?) of years after they have died.

(1 Thessalonians 5:3) For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

(1 Thessalonians 5:4) But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Paul uses light and darkness as metaphors for truth and error, or, God's kingdoms vs Satan's kingdom, playing off of the phrase "day of the Lord".But he then mixes up the metaphor with the real image;this is common in Paul's writings.

(1 Thessalonians 5:5) Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

(1 Thessalonians 5:6) Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

I doubt if Paul is using the word "sober" to mean only not drunk and not prone to excessive use of alcohol. But in the next verse he clearly refers to drunkenness. This is why it is hard to understand Paul's writings:he has a confusing writing style. We have to know ahead of time what he means so we can interpret it properly.

(1 Thessalonians 5:7) For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

Here Paul has abandoned the metaphor of day and night.He merely comments on activities people perform at night. We must be careful not to declare all things humans do at night as sinful and wicked: only metaphorical sleep (ignorance) and actual drunkenness are bad.

(1 Thessalonians 5:8) But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

(1 Thessalonians 5:9) For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

(1 Thessalonians 5:10) Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

(1 Thessalonians 5:11) Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

(1 Thessalonians 5:12) And we beseech you, brethren, to know [respect] them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

(1 Thessalonians 5:13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

These two verses seem to be addressed to the congregation at large regarding their leaders (elders and deacons?) These leaders are to be respected and esteemed because they have charge over them and work on their behalf.

The congregation at large is to be at peace and unity. Certainly this also applies to the leaders.

The role of Church leaders is to keep the peace and to correct those who are not living up to the demands of a Christian life.

I can't imagine attending a Church in which the elders admonish the members. I have seen Churches like this and they seemed very cult-like. Perhaps Paul is merely referring to generic instruction and correction in sermons, as well as disciplining in extreme cases of unruliness.

(1 Thessalonians 5:14) Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded [timid], support the weak, be patient toward all men.

This seems to be written to the leaders (elders?) instructing them how to deal with certain kinds of Christians in the congregation. There is a familiarity expressed here which I've never seen in any Church I've been to. To have this kind of fellowship requires that the leaders are very involved with their congregations, much as we would see in a house church.I believe one problem with the early Church is that the leaders became too distant from their congregations as they became involved with politics.

Verses 13 and 14 begin exactly the same way, but the audience is clearly different. Perhaps Paul does this on purpose so he can call both groups brethren.

(1 Thessalonians 5:15) See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

(1 Thessalonians 5:16) Rejoice evermore.

(1 Thessalonians 5:17) Pray without ceasing.

(1 Thessalonians 5:18) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

I wonder how it is possible to give thanks for bad things that happen? The answer is that if we see things the way God sees them, and if we see the ultimate outcome (the new heavens and new earth),we can thank God for everything. Certainly it is easy to give thanks to God for the really great things that happen; and we should remember to do this. But during a catastrophe...? Perhaps Paul is not referring to these kinds of events. Perhaps the proper thing to do then is to cry out to God in our pain and anguish.

Should we thank God that Lucifer rebelled against God and tempted Eve, resulting in eternal damnation for those who reject God's grace of redemption? Should we thank God that the Nazis murdered millions of people? No matter what happens we at least have to thank God that he is God, and to trust his plan and purpose. It is easy to intellectually say that everything is for the good, but it is hard to justify this idea in the face of personal tragedy. Sometimes we must force our will to trust God and his goodness — and call out to him when we can't.

(1 Thessalonians 5:19) Quench not the Spirit.

(1 Thessalonians 5:20) Despise not prophesyings.

The early Church rather quickly stopped having prophets and became based on rules and rites. I guess Paul's warnings weren't heeded by the early Church, probably because they were too busy gaining political power and fighting with each other about who would rule which city, and about doctrines.

(1 Thessalonians 5:21) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

(1 Thessalonians 5:22) Abstain from all appearance of evil.

(1 Thessalonians 5:23) And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This verse clearly defines when the coming of Christ occurs: it occurs at death. (Christ also comes at his second coming, but that is not what is spoken of here.) Notice that the body is preserved until Christ comes. Since the body does not survive after death, Paul is speaking of death. This means we should each one of use expect to encounter Jesus Christ at death.This is so obvious from this verse I'm surprised no one else noticed it.

This verse mentions body, soul, and spirit. Some make much of the reference to both soul and spirit. Throughout church history there have been those who claimed the soul dies along with the body and only the spirit survives death. But since the spirit is given only to believers when they receive salvation, this implies that non-believers are annihilated at death. There are other views about this — many Charismatics think it to be supremely important that we make this distinction between soul and spirit. But there are passages that indicate there are only two aspects to human life: physical (the body) and spiritual (soul, spirit, intellect, will, emotion, etc.)

This verse teaches we can lose our salvation. The audience of this verse is believers, but it is possible that not all will remain blameless; some will lose their salvation and be worthy of blame and condemnation.

God is a God of peace. When we are angry or unruly, we are not at peace. Why should we not be at peace when God is a God of peace? Sadly, some pastors teach that righteous anger is a virtue; I think they do this to justify their addiction to anger and rage.

God can sanctify us completely and we can be blameless. We are to become perfect.

(1 Thessalonians 5:24) Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

(1 Thessalonians 5:25) Brethren, pray for us.

(1 Thessalonians 5:26) Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

(1 Thessalonians 5:27) I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.

Paul is again speaking to the leaders, asking them to read this letter to the congregation. Presumably, letters such as this were delivered by a messenger to the leaders of the Churches (not to the congregation at large). Paul seems to be worried that these Church leaders might think the letter was just for them, but it was also for the whole community.

Unless they made a copy of this letter, they would only be able to read it publicly one time. I suppose they would do whatever they could to detain the messenger who delivered the letter to stay while they made a copy.

(1 Thessalonians 5:28) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

King James Version