Evening Bible Study
Paul would be challenging the Thessalonians to grow in the areas of
holiness, love, and in their hope of Jesus’ return.
We now wrap up the letter with some final exhortations to Thessalonians.
Keep in mind, Paul had only spent a month with them.
In a sense, this letter is like a “New Believers Class”.
What kinds of things would Paul consider important for the Thessalonians?
:12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and
are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
:13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.
:12 recognize those who labor among you
Elements of Leadership
Even though there’s a sense in which we are all members of the body of
Christ, and that we are all priests to God, there is an element of organization
that God has given to the church.
Leaders are an older brother who is perhaps a few years older than you, who
can teach you how to beat the video games.
And yet your older brother isn’t your “king”, he’s just
your older brother.
Paul says these folks are “over you in the Lord”
are over you – proistemi –to
set over; to superintend, preside over; to be a protector or guardian
Paul uses this word to describe how
leaders are supposed to lead:
12:8 NKJV) he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he
who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
A leader is dependable, someone who you can count on to
If you want to be a leader in the church, be someone who
can be counted on.
Paul says these leaders “labor” among you.
Not just “over” you, but among you.
labor – kopiao – to grow
weary, tired, exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief)
Stepping up to serve others is not a cakewalk. It is hard work. You can expect to get tired.
Paul says these leaders “admonish”.
admonish – noutheteo
(“mind” + “to put”) – to admonish,
The word is all about what we might call “counseling”.
It’s about nudging people in the right direction. It may involve saying some hard things,
warning people about their behavior.
It’s interesting that even though the church is made up of new believers,
there were some who were just a step ahead of the rest.
Paul tells the Thessalonians how to treat their leaders.
He says to “recognize” them.
When someone is putting themselves out there to serve
others, it’s important to recognize that God is at work.
Paul says to esteem them highly in love.
Think well of them.
October is “Pastor Appreciation Month”
Just in case you are unaware, I’m not the only pastor around here. I’m not the only leader in the church.
We have quite a few people in our church who would fall into Paul’s
description of leaders, and they’re not even all men or someone with the title
Can you think of some of these leaders?
Dave Dunagan, Daniel Grant, Debby Cathers, David Ritner,
David Cathers, Manuel Castro, Sarah Cathers, Dan Looney, Joy Looney, Laurie
Dunagan, Lisa Schwimmer, Warren Fassbinder, Ron West, Greg Bird
I’d encourage you to think about taking time to say “thank
:13 Be at peace among yourselves.
Our passage is filled with what seems to be miscellaneous unconnected
exhortations. I’m not sure this is
connected with the previous verses, but it sure seems to be connected with what
follows. Perhaps this is a poor verse
I wonder if there was a little bit of strife in the church.
Paul wants them to get along with each other.
:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the
fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
:14 warn those who are unruly
warn – noutheteo – to
admonish, warn, exhort.
This is the same word translated “admonish” in verse 12. We suggested the idea of “counseling”, though
it may have a serious tone to it.
unruly – ataktos (“not” =
“ordered”) – disorderly, out of ranks
(often so of soldiers)
This word was used in Greek society of those who did not show up for work.
Though we are to “warn” the unruly, it’s not always a fun thing to do.
You will often get one of two responses, either a wise response, or a
foolish one. If the person is a “wise” person, they will respond and change. If
they are a “fool”, they won’t change.
We will see this many times through the book of Proverbs.
NKJV) Rebuke is more effective for a wise man Than a
hundred blows on a fool.
:14 comfort the fainthearted
fainthearted – oligopsuchos (“little”
+ “soul”) – fainthearted
It describes those who are tempted to lose heart, to drop out, to quit.
These folks don’t need to be “warned”, they need to be comforted.
:14 uphold the weak
uphold – antechomai – to
keep one’s self directly opposite to any one, hold to him firmly, cleave to,
paying heed to him
The weak are those who are having a hard time even standing.
They might not even need words, just someone to pay attention to them.
:14 be patient with all
be patient – makrothumeo –
patience with difficult people; to be patient in bearing the offenses and
injuries of others; to be mild and slow in avenging
Amy Carmichael was a gal from Ireland who went off to be a missionary in
India around 1900, serving there for 55 years.
“If I have not the patience of my Savior with the souls who grow slowly; if
I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully
formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
The Calvary she speaks of isn’t Calvary Chapel, but the cross at Calvary
where Jesus died for us.
Perhaps all these things (warn, comfort, uphold, be patient) are all
elements of what it takes to “be at peace” with each other (vs. 13).
Recognize the need
Some people need a swift kick in the rear. Others need a supporting hand
around their shoulder. Sometimes I don’t have a clue what a person really needs.
We need to learn to see needs and respond correctly.
:15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what
is good both for yourselves and for all.
:15 no one renders evil for evil
There’s an old bumper sticker that read, “Don’t get mad, get even”
There’s something in our nature that likes that idea.
I think it really comes out in me when I’m on the road.
The other day I had been on the freeway for a couple of
hours, and I just wanted to get home. But
sure enough a couple of idiots would cut me off in a lane, or do some other
kind of stupid thing.
At times like that I wish I had ordered the missile
accessory on my car so I could just push a button and blow the guy up.
Video: Car Destroyed by missile
There was a story
about a truck driver who dropped in at an all-night restaurant in Broken Bow,
Nebraska. The waitress had just served him when three swaggering,
leather-jacketed motorcyclists—of the Hell’s Angels type—entered and rushed up
to him, apparently spoiling for a fight.
One grabbed the hamburger off his plate; another took a handful of his
French fries; and the third picked up his coffee and began to drink it. The trucker did not respond as one might
expect. Instead, he calmly rose, picked
up his check, walked to the front of the room, put the check and his money on
the cash register, and went out the door. The waitress followed him to put the
money in the till and stood watching out the door as the big truck drove away
into the night. When she returned, one
of the bikers said to her, “Well, he’s not much of a man, is he?” She replied, “I can’t answer as to that, but
he’s not much of a truck driver. He just
ran over three motorcycles out in the parking lot.”
Paul wrote to the Romans:
NKJV) —17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the
sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with
all men. 19 Beloved, do
not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is
written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore “If your
enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so
doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be
overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Note that in our passage, Paul clarifies that we are to act this way “for
It’s not just Christians we are to treat like this, but non-believers as
Paul then gives a list of eight “imperatives”, or commands to the
These are things that we are all to do.
:16 Rejoice always,
:16 Rejoice always
The Christian life should be a life characterized by joy.
But sadly, it often appears the Christian has a face that’s filled with
anything but joy.
Paul and Silas found it possible to have joy in the strangest places.
In the city of Philippi, they had been arrested, beaten and thrown into
jail because they had cast a demon out of a slave girl.
(Acts 16:25 NKJV) But at
midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the
prisoners were listening to them.
“singing hymns” describes singing songs of praise.
And this was just weeks before they met the Thessalonians.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is known as his letter of “joy”
Yet he wrote it in a Roman prison.
He wrote them,
4:4 NKJV) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
We may not be always able to rejoice in our circumstances
(“hooray, a broken leg!”), but we can rejoice because we know the Lord, and He
King David wrote,
(Psalm 16:11 NKJV) You will
show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your
right hand are pleasures forevermore.
It’s being in His presence that brings us the best joy.
If our lives aren’t filled with joy, I wonder if something might be wrong.
Perhaps we’ve filled our lives with too much stuff and we’ve not spent the
time we need in God’s presence.
:17 pray without ceasing,
:17 pray without ceasing
I don’t think this means going to a church and kneeling down to pray and
never getting up again.
I don’t think this means driving down the freeway with your eyes closed because
I think this is talking about making your whole life a running conversation
with God. Talk to Him throughout your whole day.
:18 in everything give thanks;
:18 in everything give thanks
I think we sometimes confuse the words with this verse:
NASB95) Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
I tend to do all thing without thanks, and in everything I
Sometimes it seems all I ever do is look for what’s “wrong” in a thing and
then complain about it.
Complaining and grumbling were the characteristics of the Israelites as
they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.
God wants us to learn to be thankful.
I think thankfulness is an expression of faith.
I trust God enough to tell him I’m grateful.
:18 for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
:18 this is the will of God
It’s one of the big questions people have when they come to church.
They want to know what God’s will is for their life.
Usually it’s about a question about who to marry, what job
to take, or where to live.
God would rather that we start a little closer to home, with issues of the
We’ve already seen Paul give us a sample of what God’s will is:
4:3 NKJV) For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should
abstain from sexual immorality;
These last three verses also work together to express God’s will for us:
Like purity, these are issues of the heart.
When you are looking for what God’s will is for you, perhaps rather than
asking about the “thing” you’re concerned with, start with the state of your
I have this notion that if your heart is in the right place, the rest will
work itself out.
Solomon wrote it this way:
3:5–6 NKJV) —5 Trust in the Lord
with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your
ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Paul has five more “imperatives”, or commands.
:19 Do not quench the Spirit.
:19 Do not quench the Spirit
quench – sbennumi – to
extinguish, quench; of fire or things on fire; to suppress, stifle
We want to be careful that when the Holy Spirit is setting something on
fire, we’re not getting out the extinguisher.
Sometimes this phrase is a bit over used. I think that sometimes when a
person says this, what they’re really telling me is that I’m not doing what they
want me to be doing, not necessarily that I’m not doing what the Spirit
At the same time, I need to be careful that just because the Holy Spirit is
making me uneasy or uncomfortable about something, that I don’t try to stop
it. Be open to what the Holy Spirit
wants to do.
Here’s one of the ways we can quench the Spirit:
:20 Do not despise prophecies.
:20 Do not despise prophecies
despise – exoutheneo – to
make of no account, despise utterly
The gift of prophecy is a special ability to allow God to speak through
It’s being able to say, “I think that God is trying to say this…”
The problem with prophecy is that it can be easily abused and
Jeremiah lived during the end of the kingdom of Judah, as the Babylonians
would come in, wipe out Jerusalem, and haul everyone off to Babylon.
It was kind of the “wild west” of prophetic times.
There were plenty of men calling themselves “prophets” who were simply not
speaking for God.
While Jeremiah was continuing to speak for God and warning the people that
the city was about to be wiped out, there were others telling the people that
everything was going to be okay.
Even though they often contradicted the things that Jeremiah would say,
Jeremiah wasn’t automatically opposed to what they said.
One such prophet was named Hananiah.
While Jeremiah had prophesied that the nation would be
“under the yoke” of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 27), Hananiah had a different
prophecy, that God was going to stop Nebuchadnezzar.
28:6 NKJV) and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! The Lord do so; the Lord
perform your words which you have prophesied, to bring back the vessels of the Lord’s house and all who were carried
away captive, from Babylon to this place.
Jeremiah replied, “I hope so!”
But he also reminded the people that when God speaks, the
thing actually has to happen.
After Jeremiah left the room and was heading home, God
spoke to him and told him that Hananiah was not speaking for God, and that
Hananiah would die within the year for misleading the people. And he did.
I like Jeremiah’s openness to the possibility that God was speaking.
Be careful that you don’t let a bad experience with “prophecy” affect you
and you end up not hearing when God does indeed want to speak.
I think the next verse speaks much to how we handle something that seems
:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good
test – dokimazo – to test,
examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not)
This is a word used for the testing of metals to see if they are genuine or
Don’t just believe everything you hear. Everything needs to be tested.
That’s what Jeremiah did with Hananiah’s prophecy (see above).
The moment you begin to accept everything someone says to you without
testing it, you are opening the door to be led astray or abused.
You need to test the things that I say.
Paul gave the Corinthians instructions about their times together:
14:29 NKJV) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
Just because a person has a place of authority or says they are speaking
from God doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t test all that they say.
When you find something that’s “good”, then you need to hold on to it.
Toss the rest.
My pastor used to say, “Chew the chicken and spit out the bones”.
:22 Abstain from every form of evil.
:22 Abstain from every form of evil
form – eidos – the
external or outward appearance
I’ve had more than a few unmarried couples tell me how they are living
together, but that they either sleep in separate bedrooms or separate beds.
To be honest, not only have I grown to the point where I don’t believe it
at all, nobody else believes it either.
I doubt their non-Christian co-workers believe it.
I think that sometimes folks can get too extreme in this, so that they
don’t even want to do anything with an unbeliever.
:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your
whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord
:23 sanctify you completely
Sanctification is the process where God helps us grow in holiness, in
God wants His holiness to permeate our lives.
This is God’s continual work in our lives until the day that we meet Jesus.
:24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
:24 faithful, who also will do it
At various stages of my life, this was the verse that I clung to.
After I graduated from seminary, during the years I waited to be in full
time ministry, I clung to this.
During the years I served as an assistant pastor, knowing that God had
called me to one day be a senior pastor, I clung to this verse.
God is faithful. You can count on Him.
When He calls you to do something, He will see that it’s done.
NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good
work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
:25 Brethren, pray for us.
:26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
:26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss
This isn’t the only passage that mentions this. (also Rom. 16:16; 1Cor.
16:20; 2Cor. 13:12)
Note that it’s a “holy” kiss.
There’s no room for anything impure here.
I have a video to explain.
:27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy
:27 read to all the holy brethren
Just like the entire Bible, this wasn’t meant for just a few, but for the
:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.