1 Thessalonians 5:12–28 comment (0)
January 29, 2009
By Robert Olsen
Related Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
DO YOU GET ALONG WITH OTHERS?
1 Thessalonians 5:12–28
At the end of this letter, Paul squeezed in exhortations to the believers in Thessalonica.
Respecting Leaders (12–13)
Paul encouraged his readers to give proper recognition to their leaders in the church. This was not a command to flatter the church leaders. Instead Paul was emphasizing the importance of esteeming those in positions of leadership. Too often, we focus on criticizing in the church. We might criticize the music, length of the service or shortcomings of other members, visitors or the pastor. Instead of peace within a congregation, there is discord. Still it is important for believers not to tolerate any and all behavior of their leaders. It is our duty as believers to point out sin in love according to the proper method. But it is also important to judge our impulses and opinions to make sure they are in line with the commands of God (Are we acting in love? Are we concerned for our own welfare or that of others?). We can bring important issues to our leaders; this is part of their job. But we must be discerning as to what important issues are. Imagine the amount of work for the pastor if we bring every thought to his attention. Understand the leaders of the church have many important duties. If we detract from these, then they are rendered ineffective.
Reaching Out to Others (14–15)
Instead of hoping ill-behaved Christians would change on their own, Paul encouraged the believers in Thessalonica to reach out to other believers who were not living according to the teachings of God. Paul told the Thessalonians to warn those who were lazy. Apparently there were people in the church who quit doing anything in waiting for the Lord’s return. Instead of being productive, they neglected their responsibilities. He also wanted the believers to comfort their brethren. Those who were struggling with depression or fear of persecution needed to be reminded of their eternal hope in Christ. Likewise we need to offer encouragement to those who are struggling in our churches today. There are many people in today’s churches who are overcome with fear, depression and despair. They need to be reminded of the hope and joy we have in Christ.
Lastly Paul reminded the Christians not to repay evil for evil. People desire justice and retribution; it seems natural to want revenge. But the mark of a Christian is that we do not seek revenge. When we realize that God forgave us while we were still sinners living in complete contrariness to the gospel, we realize that we have no right to seek revenge. In forgiving others, we are living as witnesses in a world where forgiveness is often lacking.
Responding to God and Ridding Yourself of Sins (16–22)
In this section, Paul gave eight imperatives that are for the Church in general but also apply to each believer. It is always possible for Christians to rejoice because of the love of God we experience. We should be in prayer constantly because God cares about us and desires that we seek Him in all circumstances as well as give Him praise. We should give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for us and we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose. Therefore everything in our life is meant for our good in the long run, so we are able to give thanks. Christians should not ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit but be open to Him and all teachings of the Bible. At the end of this section, Paul told the believers to stay away from all forms of evil, which is good advice for us today as well.
Referring to Prayers (23–28)
At the end of the letter, Paul encouraged them to live blamelessly in waiting for the coming of the Lord. He reminded them of Christ’s faithfulness to make believers righteous before God because of the atoning work He performed on the cross. Paul asked for their prayers, which reminds us again of the importance of praying for others and having others pray for us. Lastly he reminded the Christians of the grace of Christ, which enables us to live for God.