I THESSALONIANS 6
FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM FROM PAUL
This will be the last essay on I Thessalonians. We will not take up the book of II Thessalonians. First, because much of it is a repetition of Paul’s admonitions in I Thessalonians. Also, because there are obscure references in this book, upon which the best of Bible scholars are disagreed concerning their meaning. We do not want to get into such obscure references in our studies. This series does not pretend to be a commentary. Rather, do we wish to pick out certain concepts, found in the text, which will help us in our spiritual growth. For this reason, we do not wish to study obscure passages, or those that require a knowledge of the language, or of deep scholarly treatment.
At the beginning of chapter 5, Paul responds to the concerns of the Thessalonians that some of their loved ones had died, and the Lord still had not come. Paul assures them that at the coming of the Lord, those who have died in Christ will be raised, and the Christians who are alive will join them to meet the Lord in the clouds (in the air), and so be ever with the Lord. This answers those who propose an earthly Kingdom at the end. The Bible nowhere says that the Lord will ever set foot on the earth. We will meet Him in the air. He also gives an answer to all who try to predict when the end of time will come. He says that no one will know, because He will come as a thief in the night, or when we least expect Him. In another place, Jesus said only God knew when the end would be, and even Jesus himself did not know.
Finally, in chapter 5, Paul gives a quick list of admonitions, which will enrich the life of any Christian, if they are understood and adhered to. The impact of these will still give a blessing to any Christian who will follow them. First, Paul says, “Rejoice always”. You must realize that Paul was writing to people who were beset with persecutors on every side. Most of these people were Gentiles, and the Jews, who rejected Jesus as the Messiah, did not believe any Gentile could be a child of God. Also, the Orthodox Jews opposed Christians with great fervor. Paul was regularly assailed by such Jews, and even thrown in prison, or mobbed by the violent opposition of these Jews. Therefore, for Paul to say, “Rejoice always”, carried a tremendous lesson. It said to these people, that no matter what difficulties they had to face, the prize at the end of the road was worth it all. No matter how miserable you may be, it is temporary, and the goal for which you have hope is eternal. So, if you belong to Christ the King, rejoice! To every faithful Christian, the message is the same.
Then Paul says, “Pray without ceasing”. No more wonderful admonition could be given than this. It does not mean to walk around
muttering a prayer all the time. It means that God lives in every Christian, and you should talk to Him often, and consult Him at every decision you are called to make. When Peter, on Pentecost, promised that all who accepted Jesus would receive the Holy Spirit, it meant that, with your sins taken away by the blood of Christ, then God, who is Perfect, can dwell in your heart. In the II Corinthian letter, Paul says very clearly, “The Lord is the Spirit”. Paul is simply saying for you to make Him your constant companion, and consult Him at every turn. Live as though you were in the presence of the Father, for, as a Christian, you are! “The Lord is the Spirit”, and He and God are One”. “Pray without ceasing”, talk to the Lord often, know that He is with you, and will help you face every trial.
The last four admonitions of Paul that I would like to stress are, “Quench not the Spirit”, i.e., listen to the Spirit of God that dwells within you, and do God’s will, instead of following your own desires. Then, “Despise not prophesyings (teachings)”, i.e., never stop being taught. No one ever gets to the point where there is no more to learn.
“Prove all things”, i.e., take nothing that religious teachers tell you for granted. Check it out with the Word of God. As the Bereans, “search the scriptures daily, to see if these things are true”. This would change the religious practices of many people. Finally, “Abstain from every appearance of evil”. He is here making every Christian responsible for the effect his life has on others. If it looks wrong, then you will not be proclaiming the truth to others. The best sermons are not preached from pulpits, but in the lives of those who follow all the teaching of Jesus Christ, in their lives.