Not As Pleasing Men

1Thessalonians 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 tries our hearts. 

‘Allowed’ [Greek: dokimazo] test. We were tested and then accounted worthy to be trusted with the gospel. Twenty-one facts about the teachings in this epistle: Not in vain (2:1, 13-20). Preached in mistreatment (2:2). Preached in boldness. Preached in great conflict. Did not use deceit (2:3). Did not foster corrupt passions. Did not use guile. Was trusted of God with it (2:4). Preached to please God, not man. Used no flattering words (2:5). Was not covetous (2:5; Luke 12:15). Did not seek human glory (2:6) and ministered without pay (2:6, 9). Was patient and gentle (2:14). Preached with great affection (2:15). Was ready to sacrifice life (2:16). Worked day and night (2:9). Lived what he preached (2:10) and was complete (2:11). His purpose was right (2:12). Gave unceasing thanks to God for results of the gospel (2:13-20).

‘Not as pleasing men.’ From Galatians 1:10 we have the warning that if we strive to please men we are not servants of Christ.

‘But God, which tries our hearts’ The secret of pleasing God is to have faith in Him because without it, it is impossible to please Him and when we go to God, we must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Exhortation

1Thessalonians 2:2-3 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as you know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile

‘At Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God.’ Paul here refers to the events of Acts 16:16-40 when Silas and he were placed in prison and the keeper of the prison and his house became followers of Christ.

‘Contention’ [Greek: agon] conflict, a contest for a prize, a struggle or a battle.

‘Exhortation’ [Greek: paraklesis] translated “intreaty” (2Cor. 8:4); “comfort” (Acts 9:31; Rom. 15:4; 2Cor. 1:3-4; 7:4, 7:13); “exhortation” (2:3; Acts 13:15; Rom. 12:8; 1Cor. 14:3; 2Cor. 8:17; 1Tim. 4:13; Heb. 12:5; 13:22); and “consolation” (Luke 2:25; 6:24; Acts 4:36; 15:31; Rom. 15:5; 2Cor. 1:5-7; 7:7; Php. 2:1; 2Thess. 2:16; Phm. 1:7; Heb. 6:18).

Three marks of true exhortation: [1] Without deceit. [Greek: plane] fraudulence; straying from orthodoxy or piety. Translated “deceit” (2:3); “deceive” (Eph. 4:14); “delusion” (2Thess. 2:3); and “error” (Matt. 27:64; Rom. 1:27, note; Jas. 5:20; 2Pet. 2:18; 3:17; 1Jn. 4:6; Jude 1:11). [2] Without uncleanness. [Greek: akatharsia] whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, and all other forms of sexual perversion (Gal. 5:19; Matt. 23:27; Rom. 1:21-32). We did not minister to your corrupt passions but enforced their mortification (Col. 3:5; Rom. 8:12-13). [3] Without guile. [Greek: dolos] lying, falsity. [Taken from delo], to take with a bait. Translated “guile” (2:3; John 1:47; 2Cor. 12:16; 1Pet. 2:1, 22; 3:10; Rev. 14:5); “deceit” (Mark 7:22; Rom. 1:29); craft (Mark 14:1); and “subtilty” (Matt. 26:4; Acts 13:10).

Not In Vain

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

‘Know our entrance in unto you’ – Twelve times he called attention to the Thessalonians showing what they know of truth: Know what manner of men we were (1:5). Know our entrance unto you (2:1). Know how shamefully we were treated (2:2). Know we did not use flattering language and were not covetous (2:5). Know how we exhorted, comforted, and charged you (2:11). Know that we were appointed afflictions for the gospel (3:3-4). Know what commandments we gave you by Jesus Christ (4:2). Know how to possess your vessels in sanctification and honour (4:4). Know perfectly about the day of the Lord (5:2). Know your true teachers (5:12). Know what withholds that the Antichrist might be revealed (2Thess. 2:6-8). Know how you ought to follow us (2Thess. 3:7).

Note the twelve “Know You Not’s:” That so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3)? That to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are – sin or righteousness; satan or God (Rom. 6:16)? That I speak to them that know the law – the Jews (Rom. 7:1; cp. 1Thess. 2:12-16)? That you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (1Cor. 3:16)? That a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1Cor. 5:6)? That saints shall judge the world (1Cor. 6:2)? That saints shall judge angels (1Cor. 6:3)? That the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor. 6:9)? That your bodies are members of Christ (1Cor. 6:15)? That he which is joined to a harlot is one body (1Cor. 6:16)? That your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20)? That they which run in a race all run, but only one wins the prize (1Cor. 9:24)?

‘That it was not in vain’ – A steadfast congregation was established (Acts 17:1-34).

Your Faith

1Thessalonians 1:8-10 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. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 

‘Sounded out’ [Greek: execheomai] to sound forth; publish. From Thessalonica went ministers preaching and confirming the Word of God in Macedonia, Greece, and many other places. Then, too, merchants went from Thessalonica to all parts, taking the news that the people had believed.

‘Your faith to God-ward is spread abroad.’ Their faith and power were matters of conversation among the heathen. If they had manifested only a formal confession of faith without the power they would not have been model saints for other congregations.

‘How you turned to God from idols.’ This shows that these converts were Gentiles who once served idol gods. They turned from these to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (1:10).

‘Living’ God is here called living in contrast to lifeless idols. He is called true in contrast to the whole system of idolatry which was false in its gods, worship, doctrines, promises, and prospects of eternal life.

‘True God’ – Seven major Christian doctrines here: Conversion – they “turned” (1:9; Matt. 18:3). True and living God (1:9; John 17:3). Against idolatry (1:9; 1Cor. 8:1-13). Jesus the Son of God (1:10; John 3:16). Second coming of Jesus Christ (1:10). Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Salvation from the wrath to come.

‘And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.’ This is the 1st New Testament prophecy in 1 Thessalonians and it is unfulfilled until Christ’s Second Coming.

Followers

1Thessalonians 1:6-7 And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 

‘Followers’ [Greek: mimetes] imitators. Follow or imitate us as we imitate Christ (1:6; 2:14; 1Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Eph. 5:1; Heb. 6:12; 1Pet. 3:13).

From 1 Peter 2:21-23 we learn that we were called to follow in Christ’s steps because He suffered for us and left us an example as to not live in sin, to have no guile or to revile when others revile against us; to threaten no one when we suffer, but to commit ourselves to Him that judges righteously. 

‘Affliction’ [Greek: thlipsis] not a disease, as usually understood, but tribulation. Translated “tribulation” 20 times; “affliction” in the sense of tribulation 18 times; “burdened” (2Cor. 8:13); “anguish” (John 16:21); “persecution” (Acts 11:19); and “trouble” (1Cor. 7:28; 2Cor. 1:4, 8). Not once is it used for physical sickness or disease.

‘With joy of the Holy Ghost.’ This is the true way to receive the Word of God. There is too little joy in new converts today. Perhaps they do not see a true demonstration of the power of God in others’ lives, as referred to in 1Thessalonians 1:3, 5; 2:13-14; 2Thessalonians 1:3, 11; 2:17; 3:1, 9 and Hebrews 2:4. ‘Ensamples’ [Greek: tupos] example (1:7; 2Thess. 3:9; Php. 3:17; 1Cor. 10:6, 11; 1Tim. 4:12; 1Pet. 5:3); pattern (Tit. 2:7; Heb. 8:5); manner (Acts 23:25); fashion (Acts 7:44); form (Rom. 6:17); figure (Acts 7:43; Rom. 5:14); and print (John 20:25). These believers became models or patterns for all congregations in Macedonia and Greece (1:7-8) – models, not only of patience in hope but in faith and power that worked effectually through all of them which believed (2:13-14; 2Thess. 1:11). They were also imitators of the apostle and the Lord (1:6), as well as of the congregations in Judea who also exercised the power of God (2:13-14; Acts 2:43; 3:6; 5:16; 6:3, 8; 11:21).

Also in Power

1Thessalonians 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 you know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

‘Gospel came unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.’ Four ways the gospel should be taught or learned: In word (1:5; Matt. 28:20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; 1Cor. 1:18-24); in power (1:5; Matt. 17:20; Mark 16:16-17; Luke 24:49; John 14:12; 1Cor. 4:20); in the Holy Spirit (1:5; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8; Rom. 15:18-20, 29; Heb. 2:4); in much assurance (1:5; Col. 2:2).

‘And in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.’ You know how we demonstrated the gospel in word, in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full assurance, and how we suffered in doing so (1:6; Acts 17:1-34).

Believers who are baptized in the Spirit (Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-11, 33, 38-39) must have new outpourings of the Spirit to maintain the fullness of God (Acts 4:31; John 1:16; Php. 1:19; 2Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 3:19; 1Jn. 4:13). Christ Himself lived in prayer and received many new infillings and fresh supplies of the Spirit and power to continue in all the fullness of God. As virtue went out of Him it had to be supplied again, as proved by the scriptures above and by the many times Christ prayed – as all men must do to maintain spiritual power in life. After Pentecost, the full endowment of power and full anointing of the Holy Spirit was made possible for all believers who lived in obedience to the Word of God (Gal. 3:13-14; John 7:37-39; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8,33).

Election Part 2

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

The word “election” is used in connection with Israel as a chosen nation with but one exception (1:4). In Romans 9:1-33 it deals with the choice of God in Jacob over Esau, and all such individual choices of God are based upon the disposition and attitude of the individual in conforming to Him and His will. Not even Jacob would have been chosen if he had behaved toward God as Esau did. One becomes a special subject of God’s dealings when he chooses to be and as long as he chooses to be. As long as one rebels against the choice all must make to be saved, no benefits of the election of God can apply to him.

The word “elect” also refers to Israel as the chosen nation of God in all scriptures other than Luke 18:7; Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:10; Titus 1:1 and 2 John 1:1, 13 where it can be understood as of all Jews and Gentiles who conform to the predestined plan of God. Thus, Scripture makes it clear that only those who meet the terms of such a plan become the elect of God to share the blessings thereof; and those who choose not to conform to it will receive the predestined curses of rebellion. These simple facts should answer all questions on election, predestination, foreknowledge and like subjects. Truly God is “just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26) and the Judge of those who doesn’t believe (Matt. 16:15-16; Luke 13:1-5; John 3:16-18; 1Tim. 2:4-5; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 22:17; etc.).

Four elect’s of God: Christ (Isa. 42:1; 1Pet. 2:6); All Christians (Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; Tit. 1:1; John 15:16; Eph. 1:4; 2:10; 2Thess. 2:13; 2Jn. 1:1, 13); Israel (Isa. 45:4; 65:9, 22; Matt. 24:21-31; Mark 13:22, 27; 1Pet. 1:2); Angels (1Tim. 5:21). Anyone chosen of God at any time, Jew or Gentile, is the elect of God (Rom. 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1Thess. 1:4; 1Pet. 5:13; 2Pet. 1:10). All men are called to become God’s elect or chosen ones and can be if they will choose God (Matt. 11:28-30; 20:16; John 1:12; 3:16-20; 6:37; Eph. 1:4; 2Thess. 2:13; Jas. 2:5; 1Tim. 2:4; 2Pet. 3:9; Rev. 17:14; 22:17).

Election Part 1

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

‘Election of God’ – Another Gentile group called the elect of God (Luke 18:7). No unconditional, eternal or personal election is meant here. It simply refers to the rejection of Israel as the gospel representatives and to the election of the Gentiles to take their place (Matt. 21:43; 23:37-39; Rom. 11:11-29). In neither case was the election absolute. All was conditional, as far as final salvation was concerned. Nothing was by personal merit. All were called to blessings, which, if properly used, would lead them to personal and eternal salvation. That these blessings and even the calling and election of either class could be abused, finally becoming useless and forfeited by them, is clear from the state of the Jews who, after being elected for 2,300 years, were now rejected and reprobate (Rom. 11:1-36).

In Scripture, there is not the slightest reference to an election of God whereby one person is chosen to be saved and another is not. There is no teaching that a man is saved because of God’s choice alone; there must also be the choice of the individual to meet God’s terms of salvation. It is the plan of God that is elected, chosen, foreknown, and predestined – not the individual or national choice of man to conform to that plan. The plan is the same for all alike, and everyone without exception is invited, chosen, elected, foreknown, and predestined to salvation, on the sole basis of the individual’s choice and total conformity to the gospel to the end of one’s life. Otherwise, one will be lost, and there can there be no exception to this divine plan. God’s part in salvation for all men has been completed, and whoever meets His terms will be saved. The whole program of salvation is simply that of becoming born again – becoming a new creature in Christ (Matt. 18:3; John 3:1-8, 14-18; 2Cor. 5:17-18) – and of living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world ever afterwards (Gal. 5:18-21, 24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1Jn. 1:7; 2:29; 3:5-10; 5:1-4, 18). If one sins after becoming born again he must repent and turn from sin again or he incurs the death penalty like all other rebels (1Jn. 1:9; 2:1-2). No man who lives or dies in sin will be saved (Matt. 7:19-21; Rom. 1:29-32; 8:1-13; 1Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Col. 3:5-10).

To be continued…

Give Thanks to God

1Thessalonians 1:2-3 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 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

‘We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.’ Being thankful for all things is a priority and state of being for all Christian. Thankfulness works against ingratitude and complaining (5:18; Col. 3:15; 1Cor. 10:10).

‘Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope.’ Three good things to remember here about these congregations: Work of faith … you turned to God from idols (1:3 with 1:9). Labour of love … to serve the living and true God (1:3 with 1:9). Patience of hope … to wait for His Son from heaven (1:3 with 1:10).

‘Work of faith.’ These believers had faith – not dead, speculative, or professing faith – but real, living, active productive faith (1:3, 5-8; 2:13-14; 2Thess. 1:3, 11; 2:17; 3:1, 9).

‘Labour of love.’ Their work of faith was backed by their labour of love. This is normal and the perfect scriptural pattern. The gifts should be exercised in love (1Cor. 13:1-13).

‘Patience of hope.’ This was the third of the great characteristics of these believers. Their program was Christianity in action and the verse could read, “faithful work, loving labour, and hopeful patience.”

Unto the Kingdom of God

Colossians 4:11-18 – And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me. Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, salutes you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he has a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house. And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou have received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it. The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.

‘Jesus, which is called Justus’ – Paul lodged with Justus, who is called Titus Justus in some MSS and versions in Acts 18:7. A man that was chosen to be voted on in Acts 1:23. It is not clear whether these were the same or two different men.

‘These only are my fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.’ Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Marcus, and Justus are all mentioned here; no doubt they were all fellow workers of Paul. The last three were of the circumcision, meaning they were Jews. This book was written in about 64 A.D.

‘Epaphras’ – He was a fellow prisoner of Paul in Rome and a minister of the gospel. He was one of the Colossian believers.

‘That you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.’ This seems to be the great desire of the early Bible teachers.

‘Laodicea’ – A city located in Phrygia, a few miles west of Colosse (Rev.3:14).

‘Hierapolis’ – A city of Phrygia near Colosse. It was called a holy city because of its many heathen temples of Apollo, Diana, Aesculapius, and Hygeia. All these gods were worshipped here.

‘Luke, the beloved physician’ Luke, wrote the gospel of Luke and was called the beloved physician because he took care of all Paul’s wounds (2Tim. 4:11; Phm. 1:24); and the “we” portions of Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1 – 28:16). He was a Jew and perhaps the Lucius of Romans 16:21 and Acts 13:1. If so, he was related to Paul.

‘Demas’ – A companion of Paul who later backslid and deserted the gospel work (2Tim. 4:10; Phm. 1:24).

‘Nymphas’ – A Christian of Laodicea who had a Christian congregation in his house. Not mentioned elsewhere.