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1 Thessalonians 1:1-10



Apostle Paul wrote both letters of 1st & 2nd Thessalonians, to the church in Thessalonica. When Paul and his companions visited Thessalonica in AD 49/50, it was already a well-established city with a long history.  Cassander, one of the army officers of Alexander the Great, had founded the city in the 4th century BC. He named it after his wife, Thessalonica, who was Alexander’s half sister.  It became the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia.  Today as Thessaloniki, it is the second most important city of Greece.


Luke tells us in Acts 17 how Thessalonica was evangelized.  It happened during Paul’s second missionary journey.  Silas was his chief missionary partner from the beginning.  In Lystra, he invited a young man called Timothy to join them.  In Troas, Luke was added to the team.  So Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke were the four missionaries who went to the Europe.  After a remarkably successful mission in Philippi, Paul, Silas and Timothy moved on to Thessalonica while Luke stayed back.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy, as a missionary team, evangelized Thessalonica.  The Church in Thessalonica is only a few months old.  Its members are new born Christians, freshly converted from either Judaism or Paganism.  Their Christian convictions have been newly acquired.  Their Christian moral standards have been recently adopted.  They are tested by persecution, but Paul was very much confident because he knew that it was God’s church.


Paul, in this passage, talks about the subject of Christian Church. He explains what kind of people we are as the members of the Body of Christ. This study will help us to know who we are and our privileges as members of Christ’s church. 


1. We live in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (v.1a): The real source of our life is God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ together. Two New Testament metaphors explain this usage: The first developed by Jesus and the Second by Paul. Jesus used the example of vine and the branches in John 15. Paul used the example of limbs and the body in 1 Co. 12:12. That is the kind of relationship with God.  Just like branch remains in the vine and bare fruit, we remain in Christ. Just like the limbs join together and make one body, we are different parts, but make one body of Christ. 1 Co. 12:12 says, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.”  The Church must live in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We must acquire our life, strength and stability from the true source. Jesus said, “I give not life, but abundant life.” John says in 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”


2. We experience God’s Grace and Peace (v. 1b): What is grace? Grace is God’s active love that finds us in need.  It is something that we don’t deserve, but God gives us.  What is this Peace?  It is definitely not the absence of conflict.  It is the fullness of health and hope in Christ in the midst of problems.  God’s grace is the one, which confers peace and sustain it in our lives.  These are qualities that are given to God’s children.  Others may get peace, but not everlasting peace or not in abundance.  The church not only experiences these, but also confers them upon others.  Thus, the church is a peace-making agent. We as the members of this church must show people the real source of grace and peace.  We are called to be gracious and make peace in the community.


3. We are distinguished by Faith, Hope, and Love (vv. 2, 3): Paul did three things here: (a) He always thanked for them all. (b) He mentioned them in his prayers. (c) He continually remembered them before God. Thus Thanksgiving, Prayer and Memory belong together. Paul says that Thessalonians had the three most eminent Christian graces.  What are they? FAITH, LOVE & HOPE.  We must notice two aspects of these Christian qualities: (i) Each is outgoing: Faith is directed toward Go.  -Love is directed toward others. Hope is directed toward future, specially, the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Similarly, Faith rest on the past.  Love works in the present.  Hope looks to the future.  Every Christian without exception is a Believer, Lover and a Hoper. (ii) Each is Productive - These three have concrete, practical results: Faith Works.  Love Labors.  Hope Endures.  A true faith in God leads to good works. James 2:26 says, “Faith without deeds is dead.” A true love for people leads us to labor for them. We serve people because we love them.  A true hope that looks expectantly for the Lord’s return leads us to endurance, which is patient fortitude in the face of opposition.  We can say that this verse is a brief definition of true Christianity.  The whole of Christianity is summarized in these three words. As the members of the church, are we distinguished by these three qualities in our lives? They are Faith, Love, and Hope.  As believers, we must have a strong faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; we must love others, thereby we must serve them; and we must have great hope in the Lord so that we will have endurance.


4. We are Loved and Chosen by God (v. 4): We are loved and chosen by God. What an assurance is it! We are chosen because God loved us.  Our election is based on God’s love (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). God’s love and election is very clear in Deuteronomy 7:7&8 when he said to the people of Israel: “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”  How wonderful it is to know that our God loves us!  Each one of us are loved by our God and chosen by him. Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  Dear people of God, you must know that we are chosen as God’s own people.


5.  We receive and Transmit the Gospel (vv.5-9):The Gospel is words in its content – written records of God’s revelation. The Gospel is powerful in its effect – like a double-edged sword it penetrates the hearts and minds of people. The Gospel is confident in its presentation – It brings conviction in people.  The Gospel is with the Holy Spirit in its ministry – It ministers to the felt needs of people and transforms lives.  Thessalonians welcomed the message in spite of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit and they became a model to all other believers.  Then the gospel sprang out from them. Mission is like we breath, without which we have no existence as the body of Christ.  Since we have received the truth, it is our responsibility to transmit this truth to others.  God wants us to be a channel of blessing to others.  He wants us to make his name known everywhere so that people may know that He is the Lord and Savior of their lives.


6. We serve the Lord and wait for His coming (v. 9-10): Serving is active. Waiting is passive. In Christian term, serving is getting busy for Christ on earth. Waiting is looking for Christ to come from heaven.  We must work for the Lord and Serve him while waiting for Him. We are called to serve the living and true God.  Thus, working and waiting belong together. Two truths about the one we wait for: (a) He is the one who is raised from the dead - His resurrection assures that he will return. (b) Rescues us from the coming wrath - He has already saved us from sin and idols, but his return makes sure our final stage of salvation. Apostle Paul assures us of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to receive his church that is eagerly waiting for the Lord in 1 The. 4:16-17. How privileged is His Church! The Lord is going to come to receive us as the members of His Church.  Are we ready to go with Him?  Are we eagerly waiting for His return?  The Lord wants us to work on the earth, and at the same time He wants us to wait for His coming.  May the Lord help us to faithfully serve here on the earth and eagerly wait for His return!



As we live here let us continue to live in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let us continue to experience God’s Grace and Peace.  Let us be distinguished by Faith, Hope, and Love.  Let us be confident that we are Loved and Chosen by God.  As we continue here as the members of Christ’s Church, let us receive the gospel with great enthusiasm and preach the Gospel with much passion.  Finally, may the Lord help us to serve Him and wait for His return!


(Philip, Mathew, “The Christian Church,” Subhashitham, Vol. 02, Issue-04, April 2006)






1Thessalonians 2:1-16



Paul, in 1Thessalonians 2:1-16 talks about Christian service.  All those who are members of the Church are supposed to engage in Christian service.  Let us see how we can serve both the gospel and the church from this passage.


1.      As believers, we must serve with absolute transparency (v.1a)

We see in v.1 the phrase ‘you know.’ This phrase is repeated four times in this passage.  It talks about Paul’s confidence among believers.  They were the witness to his ministry among them.  The Church in Thessalonica knew Paul very well, specially, about what he did among them.  That simply shows that Paul was transparent in his life and approach.  He says in Chapter 1: 5, “You know how we lived among you for your sake.”  There was much honesty and integrity in their service to the Thessalonians.  His life was absolutely open before God and fellow beings.

Our lives must be transparent when we serve the gospel and the church.  How do others evaluate our lives?  Is there anything that is mysterious and hypocritical in our attitude and approach to the people among whom we serve?  Is our life an open letter so that others can read?


2.      We must serve with a purpose (v.1b)

Paul says, “Our visit to you was not a failure.”  It was because Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was not without a purpose.  The Lord was able to accomplish that purpose in Thessalonica.  What was his purpose?  It was to preach the gospel in Thessalonica and there was no other purpose for him.  He was not a failure in his purpose.

There must be a definite purpose when we serve the gospel and the church. That purpose is the transformation of individuals, families and communities.  We must have that goal in our life when God appoints us in different places.  We must be witnesses to the Lord wherever we are.  We will become a failure if our purpose is different from that of Christ.  We are not a failure when we do accomplish God’s purpose.


3.      We must serve in spite of strong opposition (v.2)

Paul writes, “We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi  This suffering of Paul and his team is seen in Acts 16:19-40.  Philippi was a Roman colony and a leading city of the district of Macedonia.  Before Paul, Silas, and Timothy came to Thessalonica, they stayed several days in Philippi.  Luke was also with them.  A lady called Lydia and her household was baptized because of their ministry.  Once they met a slave girl who had a spirit of predicting the future and thereby earned a lot of money for her owner.  Paul did cast out her spirit.  The owners seized and dragged them before the authorities.  They were severely stripped and beaten and thrown them into prison.  After the miraculous escape, the authorities sent them out of the city.  Thus they came to Thessalonica.  So Paul was deeply hurt by the way he had been treated in the city of Philippi.  Paul says in this verse again, “but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.  In Thessalonica also Paul had met strong opposition and that is explained in Acts 17:1-9. Strong oppositions and afflictions did not deter Paul from preaching Christ.  It gave him courage to go on preaching whatever the consequences might be.


When we serve the gospel and the church, there are sufferings and insults.  There will be strong oppositions.  Today we face the same situation in different parts of our own country.  Christian missionaries are beaten up, falsely accused and under life threat.  We must be ready to bear all these for the sake of Christ.  Matthew 5:11-12 says, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”


4.      We must serve with pure motives (vv. 3-6)

Paul says that the message that preached to them did not come from error or impure motives.  Those who preach with impure motives are false teachers and they teach error.  Paul’s motive was not impure- no evils like, pride, greed, ambition or popularity.  He further says, “nor are we trying to trick you.”  What did he meant by ‘trick’?  The Greek word is ‘a hook’ for catching fish.  It simply means Paul made no attempt to induce conversion by offering money or other material benefits.  Many preach Christ out of envy and greed.  Many do Christian ministry for money, power, and fame – they build their own kingdoms.  When we serve the gospel and the church, we must get away from the temptation of being powerful, spectacular, popular and wealthy. We notice the prevalence of individualism among ministers and priest in today’s church.  Stardom and individual heroism, which are such obvious aspects of our competitive society, are not at all strange to the church.  We are here to preach the gospel and persuade people to the Kingdom, and not to convert people by imposition.  The Holy Spirit who works in the hearts of people will convince them of their sins and transform their lives. We must do any service as if we are doing it for the Lord.


Paul further says, “We are not trying to please men, but God.”  There are people who serve just to please their family members, or pastor, or higher authorities.  Pleasing God must be the supreme motif in our life.  We have examples of people in the Bile who pleased God – Enoch – he received the testimony that he pleased God; David – a man after God’s own heart. Apostle Paul did the ministry not to please men.  He didn’t have to please men for three reasons (v. 4):  (1) He was approved by God – His approval comes from God and not from any human institution.  God tested and found him fit for His ministry.  Doing God’s service is a divine approval.  (2) He was entrusted with the gospel – he was sure that it was God who entrusted this good news to him. So he was a good steward of the gospel. We as Christians are asked to do good to others by our God. (3) He was tested by God – It is God who tests our heart and knows our hearts – attitude, emotions, thinking and decisions.


Paul says again, “You know we never used flattery, nor put on a mask to cover up greed.”  Flattery is false appreciation to gain the favor of others.  A mask here means pretending to serve while in reality wishing to be served.  Flattery and mask are illicit ways of using others to build up ourselves.  As Christians we should avoid these both.


He further says, “We were not looking for praise from men.”  Paul never expected praise from people, nor he waited for applaud.  As believers we should not wait for people’s appreciation. If we do so we will be disappointed since people are generally ungrateful.  We should always seek for God’s commendation and testimony.  


Finally he says, “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you.”  Paul never wanted to be a burden for the Thessalonians.  He never wanted to give an impression that preaching the gospel is for monetary gain.  There were traveling magicians and fortunetellers during Paul’s time.  He did not want to be classified as one among them.  At the same time he exhorted many times that those who preach the Word must live by it.  The church members have a responsibility to take care of the needs of those who lead them ( 1 Cor 9:3-14; 2 Cor. 11:7-11).  This is a right of the apostle/pastor, but he did not want to take advantage of such a right.   Christians should not fight for the rights and privileges. No person or organization or church can meet all our needs.  Only God can supply all our needs and we must learn to trust the Lord.  As we serve the gospel and the church, we should never be a burden to people.  So what are the impure motives? In Paul’s language, wrong teachings, playing trick, pleasing men, using flattery and mask, looking for praise from men, seeking financial gain and greed, and being a burden to people are some of the impure motives.  All those who practice these things serve not with a pure motive, but with impure motive.


5.      We must serve with gentleness, care and love (vv. 7-9)

Paul wrote, “We were gentle among you.” Gentleness – on one side we see the apostolic authority and on the other side, we see Christian gentleness.  Jesus was gentle and humble.  It shows our attitude in work.  We should never be rough and proud in our service to others.  We must humbly serve others for the sake of the gospel.  Christian ministry must never be operated on the basis of demands and commands, but on the basis of love and appeal.


He further says, “Like a mother caring for her little children.”  Mother’s care for her baby is so great.  A mother holding her baby in her hand is so sensitive to its needs, comes down to its level, uses its language, and plays its game.  She becomes childlike with her baby.  Our God is like a mother!  Many Christians and leaders today become both self-centered and autocratic.  As God’s children, we must serve with much care for the people.

Paul again said, “We loved you so much…”  Love means sharing our lives with people.  Paul not only preached to them, but also lived what he preached.  He was affectionate as well as sacrificial.  The love for them not only motivated Paul to share his life with them, but also to work hard for them.  He says in v. 9 that they worked night and day with much toil and hardship.  Probably they preached by day and labored by night.  Paul was a tent maker.  He was doing it deliberately to avoid being unduly dependent on them financially.  Greeks despised manual labor and viewed it as fit only for slaves, but Paul was not ashamed of doing any sort of work that would help further the gospel.  When we serve the gospel and the church our love should result in hard work.


6.      We must serve with the qualities of the Kingdom of God (vv. 10-12)

Paul tells, “How holy, righteous and blameless we were among you.”  Paul is talking about three qualities:  (1) Holy – seems to refer to ourselves being devout, pious and pleasing to God.  (2) Righteous – refers to our dealings with our fellow-beings.  (3) Blameless – refers to our public reputation.  Paul saw these qualities as part of his parental duty.  So he continues in v. 11, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children.”  He advocates the educational role of the father – mother cares and feeds and father educates.  Paul emphasizes not paternalism, but the ministry of a father as encouraging, comforting and exhorting.  Being holy, righteous, and blameless are the qualities of the Kingdom.  So he gives us the exhortation in v. 12, that is, to live a life worthy of God who calls you into His Kingdom and glory. The Kingdom of God has both a present manifestation and a future glory.  He appealed to the Thessalonians to live a life worthy both of their dignity now and of their destiny at the end.  When we serve the gospel and the church, we need to keep the dignity of the Kingdom in our life and the destiny in our mind


7.      We must serve with thankfulness to God (v.13)

Paul had a habit of thanking God always.  He was thanking God for others.  As we serve the gospel and the church, we must thank God in all circumstances whether good or bad.  Here Paul was thanking God by seeing the way Thessalonians received the Word of God.  They heard the gospel from Paul, Silas and Timothy.  How did they receive the Word of God when they heard from them?  They accepted the gospel, not as the word of men, but as the Word of God.  By using the phrase, ‘as it actually is,’ Paul claims that what they preached was the very Word of God.  We are familiar with the claims of the Old Testament prophets that they were bearers of the Word of God.  They introduced their oracles with formulas like, ‘the Word of the Lord came to me,’ ‘listen to the Word of the Lord,’ ‘Thus says the Lord.’  Today we rarely hear such words!  Here in v.13 is a comparable claim by a New Testament apostle.  The Gospel he preached was the Word of God.  Paul knew who he was (He was the apostle of Christ) and He also knew what his message was (His message was the Word of God). 


Paul says, “The Word of God, which is at work in you who believe.”   The Word of God is at work in the lives of people who believe.  Paul saw the transforming power of God’s Word in the lives of Thessalonians because of 3 things: (1) The message came from God.  (2) It came through the apostles.  (3) They believed it and it changed them.  When Thessalonians heard the gospel they understood it as God’s Word and it began to change their lives.  So God can work only in the lives of people who really believe in Him.  How then can one believe?  It is the work of the Holy Spirit.  If we appeal to the Holy Spirit, He will reveal God’s will in our lives.  He will guide us in all truth.  We must be thankful to God for His Word given to us. We must thank God when we see the Word of God changes People’s lives.  Thus we will be able to serve the gospel and the church with gratitude.


8.      We must serve by becoming imitators of God’s people  (v.14-16)

Paul talks about the effectiveness of the gospel in the lives of believers.  They became imitators of God’s churches in Judea.  Judean churches were probably the first to be planted.  Thessalonians accepted God’s Word just like the Judean churches.  As we serve the gospel and the church, we must become imitators of all those who walk in truth, belong to God and live in Jesus Christ.  They became imitators not only in accepting the Word of God, but also in their suffering for it.  What kind of suffering does Paul talk about?  We see in v.15, “…the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus, prophets, and also drove us out…”  From Luke’s narrative in Acts 17 and 18, we know that it was Jewish opponents who chased Paul out from Thessalonica to Berea and there from to Athens.  Later he arrived in Corinth and wrote 1 Thessalonians.  It was the Jewish opposition that led him to take the drastic step of turning to the Gentiles.  In v.15, Paul talks about 5 things against the Jewish opponents of the gospel. (1) They killed the Lord Jesus Christ – This talks about the Jewish involvement in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  (2) They killed the prophets – Throughout the OT history, the Israelites had persecuted their own prophets. Stephen declared this fact to the Jews just before his death (Acts 7:52).  (3) They drove the apostles – including Paul.  (4) They displeased God – talks about their rejection of Messiah.  (5) They were hostile to all men.  How they became hostile to all men?   That is what we see in v. 16. The Jewish people attempted their best to stop the apostles from preaching the gospel and so to stop the Gentiles from being saved.  The Jews had not only killed the Messiah and persecuted the prophets and the apostles, but also were obstructing the spread of the gospel and so the work of salvation.  As a result of their hostility, Paul says that their sin reaches its full measure.  So they became the object of God’s wrath. 



Friends, even in our ministry today we will come across such people who will always prevent us from preaching the Gospel.  They even preach in their conventions and admonish their followers not to entertain any evangelist in their homes and not to buy any Christian literature.  They are afraid of their people getting saved.  So we live in a world where many reject Christ, many oppose the gospel, and hinder people from being saved.  Remember God’s judgment is hanging over such people and is just about to fall upon them.  In the midst of all these, we must renew our commitment.  As Christians, we have a double commitment: (1) Our commitment to the Word of God.  Our message comes from God.  We don’t invent it.  We are only stewards entrusted with it and commissioned to proclaim it.  We have a commitment to keep it without any adulteration and to proclaim it as it really is.  (2) Our commitment to the body of Christ.  We must have a commitment in terms of loving the people and in terms of serving them.  We should not look for people who fail, but always look for God’s people who are victorious in their lives and ministry.  Let’s follow the example of apostles and prophets who went ahead of us.  At the same time let’s examine our own lives and ministry whether there are some good things that others can imitate. Let others see our positive attitude in suffering for the sake of Christ.  May the good Lord help us to become the channel through which many may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ!


(Philip, Mathew, “The Christian Service,” Subhashitham, Vol. 02, Issue-06, June 2006).





1Thessalonians 2:17-3:13


Paul, in 1st Thessalonians. 2:17-3:13 talks about his concern for the Thessalonians.  As God’s people we must be concerned about the things of God.  Let’s see how Paul expressed his concern for the Church in Thessalonica.  This study will help us to learn how to express our concern for God’s Church?


1. Paul expressed his concern for the Thessalonians in his very thought about them (2:17a)

The phrase used there is ‘torn away from you.’  It simply means that he was separated from them.  It gives us the idea that he had no pleasure of leaving the city, but painfully and forcibly he had to leave them suddenly.  It does not mean that he had abandoned the church, nor had any concern about them.  He assured them that it was in person and not in thought.  In another way we can say that ‘it was out of sight, but never out of mind.”  Paul was not always thinking about the difficulties and oppositions he faced in Thessalonica.  Rather, he was always thinking about them, thanking God and praying for them.

It is always good and desirable that we keep good thoughts about people. How can we maintain good thoughts about someone?  We must have the spirit of Jesus, which is, forgiving and forgetting. Wherever we are, remember that there are a lot of good things than bad things.  We must learn to think positively and thank God for all what happens to us.  How about our concern for the work of God, the church of God, and people of God?  It we are little bit thoughtful about the work of God, we will be able to thank God for all what is happening around us in the mission world.  If we are thoughtful about the people who toil for the Lord in different parts of this world, we will always be compelled to pray for them.  Paul was concerned about the church in Thessalonica, because he had good thoughts about them.


2. Paul expressed his concern for the Thessalonians in his repeated effort to see them (2:17b - 20)

Paul writes about his intense longing to see the Thessalonians.  The phrase ‘again and again’ shows that he made repeated attempts to visit them. The apostle blames the devil for the failure of his attempts to return.  It is written in v.18 – ‘Satan stopped us’ – other translations say, ‘Satan thwarted us,’ ‘Satan prevented us.’ Satan’s purpose is to prevent the preaching of the gospel.  Definitely, Satan has all the means to prevent Paul coming to Thessalonica.  Still Paul talks about his concern for them in vv. 19-20.  He talks about his hope, joy and the crown.  Thessalonians are his joy in this world and hope in the world to come. They are the crown or the fruit of his labor. This attitude shows that Paul is still concerned about the church in Thessalonica. Just like Paul, there must be some efforts to express our concern for God’s people.  What are some of the attempts? Visiting churches, meeting with God’s people, encouraging and facilitating others’ growth, etc. are our concerns.  Praying for the Church at large is an expression of our concern. Giving and helping is an expression of our concern.  As God’s people there must be repeated attempts to express our love and concern for the Church.


3. Paul expressed his concern for the Thessalonians in sending Timothy to them (3:1 - 5)

When Paul saw that it was impossible for him to return to Thessalonica, he sent Timothy to them to spread the gospel. He sent Timothy with a three-fold purpose:  The first was to strengthen and encourage them in faith.  The second purpose was that no one would be unsettled by the trials. The third purpose was to find out about their faith, how it was standing the stain.  Paul was afraid whether the tempter would tempt them to renounce their faith.  Paul again refers to the devil because he knows his devices. So Timothy’s duty was to strengthen and encourage the new converts, to remind the believers that suffering for Christ was a part of Christian life and to come back with news of how they were doing.  Paul’s concern must be our concern for the Church at large.


4. Paul expressed his concern for the Thessalonians in rejoicing over the good news about Thessalonians (3:6 - 10)

Just before writing this letter, Timothy brought the good news about the church in Thessalonica.  Paul had been overjoyed by Timothy’s good news.  What was the good news?  1. Good news about their faith and love; 2. Their pleasant memories of the visit of Paul and his team; 3. Their desire to see Paul again.  What was Paul’s response when he came to know that they stand firm in their faith?  1. He was happy and encouraged; 2. He thanked God for them; 3. He began to pray for them night and day for the increase of their faith.  What would be our response when we hear about the spiritual growth of our fellow brothers and sisters?  What would be our response when we hear about the growth of our neighboring churches and mission organizations?  Are we able to rejoice, thank God for them, intercede for them?  If our response is the same that of Apostle Paul, that means, we are concerned about Christ and His work.


5. Paul expressed his concern for the Thessalonians in praying for them (3:11 - 5)

We see Paul’s earnest and continuous prayers for the Thessalonians.  He is praying for three things: First, God may clear the way for Paul and his team to visit them again.  Paul’s prayer was answered. After five years he visited Macedonia twice towards the end of his third missionary journey (Acts 20:1-3).  Secondly, the Lord may make their love increase and overflow for each other. He prays that their love may increase in themselves – that is for them.  It may overflow for each other – that is for the Christian community.  Then for everyone else – that is for the whole human race.  Thirdly, the Lord may strengthen their hearts. Why they needed to be strengthened in their hearts was that they may be blameless and holy when the Lord returns.  Paul’s prayer was very much unselfish!  He always prayed for others.  Our prayers must be the prayer of Apostle Paul when we intercede for others.  May the dear Lord help us to have the same concern in our lives in matters of the church of God!


(Philip, Mathew, “The Christian Concern.” Subhashitham, Vol. 02, Issue-08, August 2006.)

Bible Study...4




 1Thessalonians 4:1-12

In 1Thessalonians 4:1-12, Paul talks about Christian behavior. The Apostle teaches the Thessalonians as to how they must live according to the Gospel.  In order to live according to the Gospel, he urged them for three things:


1. Paul urged them to Please God (4:1-2): Apostle Paul acknowledged Thessalonians’ attitude of pleasing God.   He urged them to do this more and more.  ‘Pleasing God’ is the foundation on which Christian ethical behavior is built. The goal of our lives is to ‘Live in order to please God.’  Jesus himself said in John 8:29, “…for I always do what pleases him.”  That was the goal of His disciples too.  Paul has already affirmed his own decision to please God in Gal. 1:10.  That was his ambition and prayer for his friends also.  In Col. 1:10, he prayed for the Colossians that they may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way. The terrible alternative is to ‘displease God’ or grieve the Holy Spirit.’ (Eph. 4:30).  How can we claim to know and love God if we do not seek to please him?  How to live a life that is pleasing to God?  Jesus said, “My food is to know the will of my father.”  Knowing the will of God will help us to live according to His will.  There comes the question: how to know God’s will?  To know the will of God, we need to understand what he says about what we should do.  God speaks to us primarily through his Word.  So we need to read God’s Word and understand what he wants us to do.  Ask twice or thrice before doing something whether Jesus would like it.  Whether Jesus would like if I think like this/go there/look there/speak this.  We can definitely know through his Word what exactly we need to do. It is because God’s Word addresses every human problem/every walk of life. Then God speaks to us through our inner conviction.  So we must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit for his guidance.  How is it possible? It is possible through prayer and meditation. In our prayer we must allow the Lord to speak to us than we speak to the Lord.  The Lord wants us to please him in every way. Is it possible? It is possible for the one who trusts in God.  God’s grace is there that is sufficient for us to live a life that is pleasing to God in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation.


2. Paul urged them to sanctify themselves (4:3-8):  Paul says that it is God’s will that you should be sanctified.  So we know God’s will through his Word – that it is not God’s will if I do something which will pollute my life.  As a first thing to purity, he admonished them to avoid sexual immorality.  Paul was writing from Corinth to the church in Thessalonica.  Both cities were famous for their immorality.  In Corinth, there was a Greek goddess of sex and beauty, called Aphrodite.  The Romans sent her servants out as prostitutes to roam the streets by night.  Thessalonica, on the other hand, was particularly associated with the worship of deities called the Cabiri, in whose rites ‘gross immorality was promoted under the name of religion.  Many men in these cities could not limit themselves to their wife as their only sexual partner.  Sexual laxity was common there. Immorality was always associated with idol worship.  Christians were living in the midst of such a culture.  So Paul writes to the believers to be aware of this and abstain, not from the sex with their legitimate partner, but from sexual immorality.  In many cultures and countries today, even where monogamy is officially favored, violation of this norm is increasingly tolerated.  Sex is the good gift of a good Creator, but it is has become twisted and distorted by the fall.  So our sexual energies need to be rightly channeled and carefully controlled.  Paul writes two fundamental, practical principles to guide his readers in their sexual behavior. (1) Sex has a God-given context, that is, heterosexual marriage.  (2) Sex has a God-given style, that is, holiness and honor.  New International Version of the Bible says, “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable”.  Revise Standard Version of the Bible records, “Each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in passionate lust like the heathen”.  There is a world of difference between lust and love, sex within the context of marriage and outside of marriage. One is lust and the other is love.  One is selfish and the other is unselfish.  One is wrong and the other is right. One is exploitation and the other is self-giving.  One is taking advantage and the other is holy and honoring.  It is written that God will punish people for all such sins. 


Here Christians are called to behave in a completely different way because we do know God, because He is a holy God, because He is our God, and because we want to please Him.  First, God’s call is to holiness. Second, God’s will is our holiness.  Thirdly, God’s Spirit is a Holy Spirit.  Fourthly, God’s judgment will fall upon all unholiness.  Therefore, without holiness it is impossible to please God.  Thus Christians are urged to sanctify themselves in a wicked world.


3. Paul urged them to love one another (4:9-12):  Paul moves on in this section from chastity to charity, from the control of illegal sex to the importance of work.  There was a group of people who wanted this teaching (1 Thess. 5:14).  The idle people are not unable to work, but actually unwilling.  They are admonished to work with their own hands and make a living.  Paul teaches brotherly love here.  His argument is that to work for one’s own living is a mark of love, because then we do not need to depend on the support of fellow Christians.  It simply means that we should not become parasites on the body of Christ.  To continue in brotherly love, Paul gives a three-fold appeal:  (1) Lead a quiet life, which is for their daily life that it might win the respect of outsiders.  (2) Mind their own business, so that they might not unnecessarily interfere in others’ business. (3) Work with their own hands, so that they might not be dependent on anybody.  He wants them to command the respect of unbelievers and not to be a burden on their fellow believers.   


In our passage, Paul addressed two areas of Christian behavior: (1) Sex/marriage; (2) Work. Both are creation gifts, and instituted by God in Genesis chapter 2.  Both are still parts of everyday human experience.  We see a Christian perspective in these areas.  The desire to please God must overtake the desire to please ourselves.  The love of others must displace the love for oneself.  May the dear help us to please Him more and more, to love one another more and more, and to sanctify overselves more and more.  May God bless us with His Word!

Bible Study...5


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:


Paul in 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 talks about Christian hope. One of the things people are greatly afraid of is ‘death.’ Death of our dear ones is a painful experience for all of us. Thessalonians began to mourn for their dead like pagans around who had no hope. Paul says that we are not like people without hope.  What gives us this hope? It is the gospel - the good news of hope. Paul here particularly talks about how one can overcome the problem of bereavement. We can overcome the problem of bereavement:


1. By knowing about our life after death (v. 13): Three things are mentioned here: (1) We should not be ignorant of those who fall asleep. The term "asleep" is used to describe a believer who has moved from his earthly body to his heavenly body. It is their rest and they have retired out of this troublesome world, to rest from all their labors and sorrows, and they sleep in Jesus.  (2) We should not grieve like the rest of the people – ungodly people.  It is because they do not have a hope of eternal life.  We have a joyful and confident expectation of eternal life through Jesus Christ.  (3) The rest of the people are without hope. They view death with horror, as the end of everything.  We as Christians, have a most sure hope, that is, the hope of eternal life after.  So we should moderate all our joys and our sorrows on account of this promise.


2. By knowing the fact that they shall be raised up from the dead (vv. 14-15): Thessalonians thought that those among them who died would miss their place in the great events when the Lord comes. Paul assures them that those believers who are dead will be alive when Christ returns. The assurance of our hope is that Jesus died and rose again.  The doctrine of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ are a great remedy for the fear of death and excessive sorrow for the death of our dear ones.


3. By understanding our state and condition that shall be glorious and happy at the second coming of Christ. (Vv. 16-17): The “Rapture” of the saints is clearly referred here. The appearance will be with all his spectacle and power. Three things will accompany: (1) With a loud command—the shout of a king, and the power and authority of a mighty king and conqueror.  (2) With the voice of the archangel -an innumerable company of angels will attend him. (3) With the trumpet call of God - this will awaken those that sleep, and will summon the entire world to appear. Two things will happen: (1) The dead in Christ shall raise first.  (2) Those who are alive will be transformed. Our present mortal body must put on immortality, and these bodies will be made fit to inherit the kingdom of God.  This change will be in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Co. 15:52).  All the saints shall meet together, and remain together for ever; but the principal happiness of heaven is this, to be with the Lord, to see him, live with him, and enjoy him, for ever. This should comfort the saints upon the death of their friends, that, although death has made a separation, yet their souls and bodies will meet again.


4. By encouraging each other with the gospel of hope (v. 18): The primary purpose of this passage is to urge mutual encouragement. Paul exhorts us that we should comfort one another with these words. We must attempt to support one another in times of sorrow.  We are not supposed to deaden one another’s spirits, nor weaken one another’s faith, but should comfort one another.


Friends, what a glorious hope we have in the gospel.  Let us live in the light of eternity. As responsible members of the church and society, let us plan like Christ is not coming for the next five years, and live like He is coming today.  Nothing, not even the death of our dear ones, should take us away from the focus of Christ’s coming.  May the Lord help us to live in the light of His coming!

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