6. Keys to a Healthy Christian Community (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (35:57)

If you've been around churches for a while, you begin to see that many of them have sick or unhealthy community dynamics. Sometimes you even find factionalism, judgmentalism, and power plays of various kinds. We've got to get our church communities healthy if we expect to attract people to Christ and create an environment in which they can be discipled effectively.

Respect Your Leaders (5:11-13)

Verse 11 transitions from the passages about Christ's coming to a discussion of healthy Christian communities.

"11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect[188] those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves." (5:11-13)

The church is building up and encouraging one another, but from Paul's exhortation, they apparently have a problem with respecting leadership. This doesn't necessarily mean that they had bad leaders. You may have great leaders, but could have people in the congregation who covet power for themselves.

Such people speak ill of a leader behind his back and may act disrespectfully to his face. Their theory, often not thought through, is that if I can diminish the leader's respect and power, then I can increase my own influence. But it's a worldly view that seeks to increase one's own influence at the expense of another. The best and most godly way is for the leaders to work together, speak well of one another, and build up each other's influence. Leadership is not a "zero sum game." There shouldn't be just a single winner; everybody can win.

Paul points to the role of leaders of the congregation in three ways:

  1. They labor among you. "Work hard" (NIV), "labor" (NRSV, KJV) is kopiaō. In classical Greek it carries the idea of "to grow weary, tired, exhausted" with toil or burdens or grief. In the New Testament it mostly carries the extended meaning "to exert oneself physically, mentally, or spiritually, work hard, toil, strive, struggle."[189] Sometimes laypeople think that their pastor only works when they are present. Wrong!
  2. They "have charge of you" (NRSV), "are over you" (NIV, KJV). The verb is proistēmi, "to exercise a position of leadership, rule, direct, be at the head (of)."[190] The word is used of fathers managing families (1 Timothy 3:4, 12) and of exercising leadership in a congregation, here, Romans 12:8, and 1 Timothy 5:17. There are people -- sometimes we ourselves -- who don't like to submit to the leadership of others, but we are commanded: "Obey[191] your leaders[192] and submit[193] to their authority" (Hebrews 13:17, also 7). The opposite of submitting to God-placed leadership is rebellion.
  3. They "admonish you." The verb is noutheteō, "to counsel about avoidance or cessation of an improper course of conduct, admonish, warn, instruct."[194] Leaders are often the ones who provide correction to members who get out of line. It may be difficult, and sometimes unpopular, but gentle, loving correction is essential for a Christian community to remain healthy and mission-focused.

Paul's instruction, "Be at peace with one another" is a hint that there was disorder in the church because of the lack of respect for leaders.

Q1. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) What happens in a congregation when people don't show respect for their leaders? What happens when the disrespectful spread their disrespect? Will getting rid of the leader fix the problem, or is there something deeper going on here?
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Faithful Ministry (5:14)

"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." (5:14)

Now Paul speaks to the church in general. The pronoun "you" and the word "beloved" or "brothers" are in the plural. Note that the plural of "brothers," adelphoi, can refer to both "brothers and sisters," as the NRSV indicates. In verse 12, Paul referred to the role of leaders to admonish the church. Now he is more specific about the general approach to shepherding needed in Thessalonica. Verse 14 could even be a four-part guideline for pastoral ministry:

1. Admonish the idle. "Those who are idle" (NIV), "idlers" (NRSV), "them that are unruly" (KJV) is the adjective ataktos, which means, "not in the proper order." It is sometimes used of soldiers who are out of the ranks. Here it is used in the sense of "being out of step and going one's own way, disorderly, insubordinate," though some prefer the sense "idle, indolent."[195] Paul uses the adverb of this root (ataktōs) in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, where the context is people who don't work but are dependent upon others. So "idlers" is probably a more useful translation of what Paul was referring to in our verse. He had admonished them concerning idleness in 4:11-12. Perhaps "idlers" could be applied to the way people behave in church, too. Some people come to church only to be served, not to serve. They are takers, not givers. Everyone has at least one spiritual gift. It's the role of leaders to "admonish the idle," both in physical things and in spiritual ministry.

2. Encourage the timid.[196] The church has been suffering persecution, and some need to be encouraged to stand up rather than hunker down in order to avoid any criticism or persecution.

3. Help[197] the weak.[198] The weak referred to in light of persecution are probably those who are weak in faith, though the principle would apply to those who are ill or weak in other ways. The church is to encourage them and lift up their hands. Though we're not to help in such a way that we encourage an unhealthy dependence (4:11-12). Leaders often visit the sick, or encourage those with a special ministry to the sick to visit them.

4. Be patient with everyone. "Patient" is makrothymeō, "to bear up under provocation without complaint, be patient, forbearing."[199] Leaders, especially, must learn to be even tempered, even with those who don't deserve it. Make allowances for those who haven't grown in Christ as much as they should. Parents learn patience; so must church leaders.

Kind, Not Vengeful (5:15)

One mark of a healthy congregation is the absence of a judgmental spirit. In many churches, unfortunately, you sense a kind of spiritual pride in their own righteousness, and a condescending attitude towards those who are not as spiritual, or even outright secular. Our attitude reflects rather accurately how well we've matured in incorporating agapē love into our church life.

Part of this kind of non-judgmental, open love, is the absence of vengefulness -- a childish desire to get even.

"Make sure that nobody pays back[200] wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind[201] to each other and to everyone else." (5:15)

To the Roman church, Paul writes on this topic more expansively.

"17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:17-21)

Peter, too, commands the same kind of loving behavior when provoked.

"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:9)

Jesus was very clear that his followers must be forgiving (Matthew 6:12, 14-15; 18:23-35). People who must pay back every hurt are miserable, selfish, vengeful wrecks, not healthy Christians who take their cues from Christ himself.

Q2. (1 Thessalonians 5:15) What happens to people who seek revenge on those who hurt them? What happens when they neglect to forgive those who have wronged them? What happens in a congregation that has an unloving, superior attitude towards outsiders? How do these attitudes reflect on Christ? How can people or congregations get healthy after have been vengeful, proud, or unforgiving?
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Be Joyful, Prayerful, and Thankful (5:16-18)

The next key to a healthy congregation -- and personal life -- is spiritual enthusiasm. In this memorable passage, Paul commands,

"16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (5:16-18)

It almost sounds like a surface platitude until you begin to think about what Paul is saying.

Be Joyful Always (5:16)

"Be joyful[202] always" (NIV), "rejoice always" (NRSV), "rejoice evermore" (KJV) is a command to rejoice. This is not the same as a command to "be happy in spite of yourself." Or to "put on a good face." It is a command to continue to praise God and enjoy the presence of God, even when circumstances around you are adverse. When we stop finding joy in God, that means that our faith has been distracted and our focus has shifted from God to wallowing in our circumstances. Paul tells the Philippians:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4)

We are to rejoice always, all the time.[203] This means that putting our focus on God and finding joy in him is to be a continual life habit and pattern. Developing a practice of continual rejoicing is a worthy goal for your spiritual growth.

Pray Continually (5:17)

Pray continually![204] Some strands of the Eastern Orthodox Church seek to fulfill this command by repeating the "Jesus Prayer" thousands of times a day, again and again by rote until it is engrained in the mind.[205] But Paul's command doesn't mean mumbling prayers without stop during all our waking hours. It means that prayer should be an integral part of our lives, that we are constantly turning to prayer, rather than forgetting about talking to God for days at a time. Look at Paul's practice in this letter and elsewhere:

"We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father...." (1:2-3)

"And we also thank God continually because...." (2:13)

"Night and day we pray most earnestly that...." (3:10)

"God ... is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times...." (Romans 1:9-10)

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." (Ephesians 1:16)

"Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." (Ephesians 6:18)

"We have not stopped praying for you and asking God to...." (Colossians 1:9)

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." (Colossians 4:2)

The conclusion I reach is that continual prayer is the spiritual practice of shooting up prayers to God constantly -- perhaps every few minutes as you think of something to pray about. God wants us to learn a life of prayer, of talking to God constantly about whatever is going on in our lives, or about the thoughts he brings to our minds. Pray continually!

Give Thanks in All Circumstances (5:18a)

"Give thanks" is eucharisteō, "to express appreciation for benefits or blessings, give thanks, express thanks, render/return thanks."[206] There's a key insight in Paul's letter to the Philippian church:

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6)

So often we pray whining prayers, complaining, begging prayers, pleading prayers. What would happen if we started praying prayers filled with thanksgiving? What separates whining prayers from faith-filled prayers is thanksgiving. Thanksgiving turns us to look at all the times God has helped us in the past, his unchanging character, his marvelous promises -- and to thank God for them. We can't do that without increasing our faith. Thanksgiving is the language of faith.

Paul says to "give thanks in all circumstances."[207] Notice that it does not say, "thank God for all circumstances," but "in all circumstances." Sometimes we are in the midst of an evil attack. I think it's stupid to pray, "Thank you God that Satan is attacking me and causing me to be raped." We're not thankful for evil. But in the midst of evil we can give thanks to God for his sovereignty, for his power, for his presence, and for his final victory over evil. We win -- so we should always give thanks no matter what is going on.

This Is God's Will for You in Christ Jesus (5:18b)

  What is God's will for you right now? At the moment you may not know what the future holds or the answer to some crucial decision you need to make. But you can be sure about one thing -- how God wants you to act in the circumstances in which you find yourself.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (5:16-18)

Imagine what would happen if you -- or the people in your congregation -- were to put this into practice consistently. You'd grow healthy fast!

Q3. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) In your own words explain how a person can rejoice and pray continually. Are there any circumstances we might be in the midst of where we should not give thanks to God?
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Don't Quench the Spirit, but Test Prophetic Words (5:19-22)

Paul is sharing brief instructions as he concludes this letter. Here's one that leads to congregational health.

"19 Do not put out[208] the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil." (5:19-22)

John the Baptist said that Jesus would baptize "with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Luke 3:16b). The Spirit is a fire. He cannot be controlled or domesticated by us. When we try to restrain him or pour cold water over him and his working, we err.

Apparently, the Thessalonian church had had some bad experiences with people in the congregation prophesying things that didn't occur or that were doctrinally incorrect. They may have gotten to the point that when someone prophesied in the congregation, there was a negative feeling. Prophecies weren't appreciated, perhaps not allowed at all.

"Treat with contempt" (NIV), "despise" (NRSV, KJV) is exoutheneō, "to show by one's attitude or manner of treatment that an entity has no merit or worth, disdain." Here, probably, "to have no use for something as being beneath one's consideration, reject disdainfully."[209] When we begin to despise that true working of God through the Spirit because of our prejudices and doctrines, we're in the same danger as the Pharisees who wanted to destroy Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.

Prophecy in the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 14)

A careful study of 1 Corinthians 14 could be useful here. I'll just hit the highlights. The Corinthian church valued speaking in tongues, but didn't value prophecy very much, though both were utterances by the Spirit. In practice, the Corinthians were speaking in tongues out loud in a church gathering without interpretation, at the same time as they neglected the much more versatile and upbuilding gift of prophecy.

"He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified." (1 Corinthians 14:4-5)

As I have explained elsewhere,[210] prophecy in this context isn't the same as inspired preaching (though occasionally I've heard true prophecy in the midst of a sermon). Prophecy is the Holy Spirit speaking directly to the congregation through the mouth of a gifted believer. Prophecy, when it comes from the Holy Spirit, edifies or builds up the church. Prophecy can sometimes speak directly to an unbeliever who might be present and result in his salvation (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).

Paul includes prophecy as one element of the regular meeting of the church, here referred to as a "revelation."

"When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." (1 Corinthians 14:26)

Apparently people were interrupting each other and acting as if they couldn't control themselves, with the result that the service was disorderly (a problem that some churches have in our day). So Paul gives instructions so that prophecy can be given and evaluated in an orderly manner.

"Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace." (1 Corinthians 14:29-33a)

Notice that even when the Holy Spirit comes upon a prophet to prophecy, he or she can wait for the appropriate time to give the prophecy. It isn't a compulsive gift (though sometimes people without much experience with tongues or prophecy don't understand this). Note well that everything prophesied should not be taken as the "gospel truth."

"Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully[211] what is said." (1 Corinthians 14:29)

Test Prophecies (5:21-22)

This is the same thing that Paul is saying to the Thessalonian church:

"21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)

This word "test" (NIV), "prove" (KJV) is dokimazō, which we saw in 2:4: "to make a critical examination of something to determine genuineness, put to the test, examine."[212] In other words, when a prophecy is given, there should be a time of reflection. Perhaps some of the more mature Christians might comment on what God might be speaking to the group, how it fits (or doesn't fit) the Scripture. Instead of rejecting prophecy out of hand (as many churches do today), the group needs to reflect on it. Not everything that comes as a prophecy is pure from God. It goes through a human filter that sometimes introduces error. We need to be discerning.

It's also important to realize that prophecy doesn't trump or replace the Scripture. It is not at the same level. Prophecies are judged by Scripture. They should not replace the Scriptures or become an authoritative appendix for doctrine.[213]

But it is also important not to despise prophesying, as many churches do today. Let's get it right. We're open to the Spirit. We allow prophecy. But we don't adopt it as from God until we take time to reflect on it, test it by scripture, and make sure it doesn't lead us astray. When we find it to be from God, then we should "hold on to" it.[214] If, on the other hand, a prophecy contains error or evil, we should keep away from it.[215]

Q4. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 Corinthians 14) Why do churches sometimes despise or prohibit prophecy? What guidelines does Paul give here and in 1 Corinthians 14 to keep prophecy in a congregation healthy?
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May God Sanctify You and Keep You Blameless (5:23-24)

Now Paul winds down the letter with a beautiful benediction, a prayer for God's sanctifying power to immerse them completely.

"23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (5:23-24)

God is identified as "the God of peace." This is Paul's fourth reference to peace in this letter. In this chapter he has encouraged them to "live in peace with each other" as a congregation (5:13). He concludes 2 Thessalonians with a similar benediction of peace from "the Lord of peace."

We've seen a theme of sanctification and holiness in this letter (2:10; 3:13), especially in regard to sexual purity (4:3-8). Here hagiazō, "to make holy," has the connotation, "to eliminate that which is incompatible with holiness, purify."[216] We know that God sets us apart to himself and purifies once and for all through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins -- positional holiness. But here Paul is talking about purifying our character and lifestyle -- experiential holiness.

Paul prays that we might be sanctified "through and through" (NIV), "entirely" (NRSV), "wholly" (KJV). The verb is holotelēs, "pertaining to being totally complete, with implication of meeting a high standard, in every way complete, quite perfect."[217] So often we satisfy ourselves with a relative holiness ("I'm better than some others") or a partial holiness ("I'm better than I used to be"). But Paul calls the believers to a high, high standard of moral conduct and mental purity -- "wholly sanctified"! This is a theme verse for many from the holiness tradition, such as the Nazarenes, Wesleyans, Salvation Army, and some Pentecostal groups.

Now Paul describes the extent of this holiness further. In Greek this is one long sentence.

"May God ... sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (5:23)

He is saying that the holiness should not be just spiritual, or mental, or physical, but touch every part of your being! This is not partial surrender to Christ, but complete surrender to his cleansing and renewal.

Sometimes I have heard Christians get hung up on Paul's tripartite description of the totality of the person as "spirit, soul, and body" as if that is all there is. That the only proper Biblical way to describe the human being as spiritual, mental, and physical. People build whole doctrines around this phrase! The problem is that people are described in different ways in other passages of Scripture.

  • Psalm 16:19 -- heart, soul, body
  • Psalm 31:9 -- soul and body
  • Proverbs 16:24 -- soul and body
  • Isaiah 10:18 -- soul and body
  • Matthew 10:28 -- soul and body
  • Hebrews 4:12 -- soul and spirit, heart
  • Revelation 18:13 -- bodies and souls

While "spirit, soul, and body" gives us insights, let's not get too dogmatic about it. This is the only place in Scripture that we are described thus.

God's Keeping Power (5:24)

Look at this verse again:

"23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Paul prays that God will both sanctify them and keep them blameless! Paul's prayer is that in total they may be "kept blameless"[218] or "preserved blameless." The verb carries the idea of "to guard," then, "to keep unharmed or undisturbed."[219]

I've met some people who are consumed with fear that they won't measure up, or be able to resist temptation. That they are too weak. That their salvation somehow rests in their own strength and efforts to live a holy life. Wrong!

Our salvation is based not on our own efforts (Ephesians 2:8-9), but on the saving death of the Son of God who died for our sins. Praise the Lord! One verse talks about the partnership we have with God in this "keeping" process:

"... Who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:5)

There's a sense in which it is a cooperative venture. Our faith takes hold of God's power. But don't kid yourself or beat yourself up. God's power is great enough to keep you, to preserve you blameless, so that you will stand before God's judgment on that final day, with Jesus Christ at your side, and be judged righteous. Praise God. Consider these passages that underscore God's keeping power:

"The one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him." (1 John 5:18)

"Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name." (John 17:11a)

"He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

"... Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." (Ephesians 5:25b-27)

"... Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy...." (Jude 24)

Paul assures the Thessalonian church in our passage:

"The one who calls you is faithful[220] and he will do[221] it." (5:24)

  There are passages of Scripture that call us to ethical purity, and threaten us with damnation if we do not respond (for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). They are true; if you continue in rebellion against God you will not be saved! But you do have faith in Christ as your Savior. And this Savior is working in you to help you crucify the old nature and yield to the Spirit. You're not the person who should feel threatened. The person who continues in open and flagrant rebellion is the one who should imagine no assurance of salvation.

Ultimately, our salvation comes from God our Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. We trust in him and are saved.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

"The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (5:24)

Q5. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) If you met a true Christian who had no assurance of salvation, how would you explain to him or her God's power to protect and present them blameless before Christ at his coming? What is the problem of having no assurance of salvation? What is the problem of having a false assurance of salvation?
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Final Words (5:25-28)

Now Paul concludes with a request for prayer and the desire that his love and affection be conveyed to all the brothers and sisters in Thessalonica.

"25 Brothers, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss." (5:25-26)

Paul calls for prayer. The assumption behind this request is that prayer is important and effective.

"Kiss" is the noun philēma, a "touch with the lips, a gesture of affection or homage." It is usually devoid of erotic content in the Bible, and usually to show affection between family members. In Europe and the Middle East kissing on one or both cheeks is common. Of course, there's an erotic kiss (Song of Solomon 1:2), but Paul is distinguishing the kiss of affection and greeting from the erotic kiss by the word "holy." The "holy kiss" is found in Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; and 2 Corinthians 13:12, while Peter mentions the "kiss of love" (1 Peter 5:14).[222]

Now Paul commands the letter to be read.

"I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers." (5:27)

"Charge" (NIV, KJV), "solemnly command" (NRSV) is horkizō, "to give a command to someone under oath, adjure, implore."[223] Paul could be concerned that the letter may be delivered to a member of the church whose sin might be exposed in the letter. So he solemnly commands all to hear its contents read.

Paul concludes the letter with grace -- the very basis of our salvation.

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." (5:28)

Disciple Lessons

Paul has covered a lot of ground in this lesson, offering a number of keys to health in a congregation and in a Christian's personal life.

  1. Respect for leaders (5:12-13)
  2. Faithful ministry to the flock (5:14)
  3. Kindness rather than vengeance (5:15)
  4. Spiritual enthusiasm in joy, prayer, and thanksgiving (5:16-18)
  5. Freedom of the Spirit -- with discernment (19-22)
  6. A desire to please Christ and live holy lives (5:23-24)
  7. Prayer for Christ's mission (5:25)
  8. Love and affection for one another (5:26)
  9. Attention to Scripture (5:27)
  10. Focus on grace (5:28)

Prayer

Father, so many of our churches are unhealthy or off-balance. I pray that you would breathe fresh air and health into our congregations so that they might be healthy, safe places to grow in Christ and focus on your mission. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

"Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

End Notes

[188] "Respect" (NIV, NRSV), "know" (KJV) is oida, "to have information about, to know." But here the sense is "to recognize merit, respect, honor" (BDAG 694, 6), "to have regard for one, cherish, pay attention to" (Thayer 174, 3).

[189] Kopiaō, BDAG 558, 2.

[190] Proistēmi, BDAG 870, 1.

[191] "Obey" is peithō, "persuade, be persuaded." Here is carries the idea of "obey, follow," in other words, the action of one who is persuaded. We see this usage also in James 3:3 (horses obeying) and Romans 2:8 (obeying the truth) (BDAG 797, 3).

[192] "Leaders" (NIV, NRSV), "them that have the rule over you" (KJV) is hēgeomai, "to be in a supervisory capacity, lead, guide" (BDAH 434, 1). From this root we get our English word "hegemony," preponderant influence or authority over others." (Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary).

[193] "Submit" (NRSV, KJV), "submit to their authority" (NIV) is hypeikō, "to yield to someone's authority, yield, give way, submit" (BDAG 1030).

[194] Noutheteō, BDAG 679.

[195] Ataktos, BDAG 148, 1; Thayer 83.

[196] "Timid" (NIV), "fainthearted" (NRSV), "feebleminded" (KJV) is oligopsychos, "faint-hearted, discouraged"  (BDAG 703), from oligos, "little, small" +psychē, "souled."The related verb oligopseucheō occurs in the ancient papyri. Robertson comments, "Local conditions often cause some to lose heart and wish to drop out, be quitters. These must be held in line." (Robertson, Word Pictures). "Encourage" (NIV, NRSV), "comfort" is paramytheomai, "console, cheer up," especially in connection with death or other tragic events.  (BDAG 769).

[197] "Help" (NIV, NRSV), "support" (KJV) is antechō, "to have strong interest in, hence help someone or something" (BDAG 87, 2).

[198] "Weak" is asthenēs, of that which lacks strength, "weak, powerless." The word is sometimes used of the sick.

[199] Makrothymeō, BDAG 612, 2.

[200] "Pays back" (NIV), "repays" (NRSV), "render" (KJV) is apodidōmi, "to recompense, whether in a good or bad sense, render, reward, recompense" (BDAG 110, 4).

[201] "Be kind" (NIV), "do good" (NRSV), "follow that which is good" (KJV) is two words, agathos, "good" anddiōkō, which has the basic idea of "cause to flee." It can mean, "to persecute," but here it is used in a positive sense, "be in haste in order to find something, run after, pursue," figuratively, "strive for, seek after, aspire to something" (BDAG 254, 4b).

[202] "Be joyful" (NIV), "rejoice" (NRSV, KJV) is chairō, "to be in a state of happiness and well-being, rejoice, be glad" (BDAG 1074, 1).

[203] "Always" (NIV, NRSV), "evermore" (KJV) is the common adverb pantote, "always, at all times" (BDAG 755).

[204] The word "continually" (NIV), "without ceasing" (NRSV, KJV) is adialeiptōs, "constantly, unceasingly" (BDAG 20).

[205] For example, Anthony M. Coniaris, A Beginner's Introduction to the Philokalia (Minneapolis: Light and Life Publishing Company, 2004), pp. 48-53; Helen Bacovcin (translator), The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way (Doubleday, 1978).

[206] Eucharisteō, BDAG 415, 2.

[207] "In all circumstances" (NIV, NRSV), "in everything" (KJV) is two words, the preposition en, "in" and the extremely common adjective pas, "all, everything," here, probably, with the sense of, "everything belonging, in kind, to the class designated by the noun, every kind of, all sorts of" (BDAG 784, 5).

[208] "Put out fire" (NIV), "quench" (NRSV, KJV) is sbennymi, "to cause an action, state, or faculty to cease to function or exist, quench, put out." It can be used literally of fire, "extinguish." Here it is used figuratively, "quench, stifle, suppress" (Sbennymi, BDAG 917, b).

[209] Exoutheneō, BDAG 352, 2.

[210] See my article, "Understanding the Gift of Prophecy. I. Is Prophecy Preaching?"  www.joyfulheart.com/scholar/preach.htm

[211] "Weigh carefully" (NIV), "weigh" (NRSV), "judge" (KJV) is diakrinō, "separate, differentiate, here figuratively, "to evaluate by paying careful attention to, evaluate, judge" (BDAG 233, 3a).

[212] Dokimazō, BDAG 256, 1.

[213] I can think of two prominent groups that seem to have exalted prophecies and revelations inappropriately --the Seventh Day Adventists, with the writings of their founder, and especially the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, with the writings of their founders.

[214] "Hold on" (NIV), "hold fast" (NRSV, KJV) is katechō, "to adhere firmly to traditions, convictions, or beliefs, hold to, hold fast" (BDAG 533, 2b).

[215] "Avoid" (NIV), "abstain from" (NRSV, KJV) is apechomai, which we saw in 4:3, "to avoid contact w. or use of something, keep away, abstain, refrain from" (BDAG 103, 5). "Form" (NIV, NRSV), "appearance" (KJV) is eidos. It has the basic meaning of "form, outward appearance." Here it means, "a variety of something, kind" (BDAG 280, 2).

[216] Hagiazō, BDAG 1, 4.

[217] Holotelēs, BDAG 704.

[218] "Blameless" is the adverb amemptōs, which we also saw in 2:10. The adjective, amemptos, appears in 3:13, "blameless in holiness."

[219] "Kept" (NIV, NRSV), "preserved" (KJV) is tēreō. The basic idea is "to guard, keep watch over." Here it has the connotation, "to cause a state, condition, or activity to continue, keep, hold, reserve, preserve someone or something," here, "keep  unharmed or undisturbed" (BDAG 1002, 2b).

[220] "Faithful" is pistos, "pertaining to being worthy of belief or trust, trustworthy, faithful, dependable, inspiring trust/faith" (BDAG 820, 1aβ).

[221] "Do" is poieō, "make, do," herewith the idea of "to be active in some way, work, be active" (BDAG 839, 6).

[222] Donald K. McKim, "Kiss," ISBE3:44.

[223] Horkizō, BDAG 723.


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