1 Timothy

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Contents:

INTRODUCTION
OUTLINE
NOTES

NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 1 Timothy. This study is taken from that book with significant modifications mainly dealing with organization and method aligned to Bible principle and teaching. The study is also available online in audio at: 1 Timothy

DATE. One commentator notes: “The date of 1 Timothy turns upon the question of the two imprisonments of Paul. If there were two, then it is clear that 1 Timothy was written during the interval. If Paul endured but one Roman imprisonment, the Epistle was written shortly before Paul’s last journeyed to Jerusalem.”

INTRODUCTION

1 Timothy is a book about church order.

1 and 2 Timothy and Titus belong together. They are called “The Pastoral Epistles” because they have to do with local churches. These pastoral epistles are in contrast to, for example, the epistle to the Ephesians. There, Paul speaks of the church as a body of believers who are in Christ and the glorious, wonderful position that the church has. The institution of the church is made up down here on earth in local assemblies, in the local churches.

For a church to be a New Testament church, there must be certain identifying features. A local church must manifest itself in a certain way in order to meet the requirements of a church of the Lord Jesus. For one thing, she must be under the Lord Jesus only.

The three epistles were written to two young preachers who worked with Paul—Timothy and Titus. They were part of his fruit. They were led to the Lord through his ministry. He had these men with him as helpers, and he instructed them as to the local church.

In these epistles Paul deals with (1) the creed of a church and (2) the conduct of a church. For the church within, the worship must be right. For the church outside, good works must be manifested. Worship is inside; works are outside.

In 1 Timothy, chapter 1 deals with faith, the faith of a church, its doctrine. Chapter 2 is the order of a church. Chapter 3 concerns the officers of a church. Chapter 4 describes the coming apostasy. Chapters 5 and 6 tell of the duties of the officers.

In 2 Timothy, Paul deals with the afflictions of a church in chapter 1 and the activity of a church in chapter 2. Then the apostasy of the church and the allegiance of the church in chapters 3 and 4.

So there is creed on the inside of a church and conduct on the outside. Within is worship and without is good works.

In Paul’s day a church, the local assembly, did not have a building. They generally met in homes and probably in public buildings. In Ephesus Paul used—probably rented—the school of Tyrannus.

In order to be a local assembly, a church must have certain things that characterize it. It must have a creed, and its doctrine must be accurate. Two verses summarize Paul’s message in these epistles:

“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1 Ti. 1.3).

A church must also have correct doctrine:

1 Timothy 3.15

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3.15).

A local church is made of believers who are members of the body of Christ. They need leadership and they need someone to sweep the building and turn on the heat and cooling. There must be officers who must meet certain requirements. The church should function in an orderly manner and manifest itself in the community by its good works.

Paul tries to convey in these epistles that the men who are officers must be spiritual. No system will function unless the men who are in the place and position of authority are right. If they are wrong, the system will not work.

Paul emphasizes 2 aspects of the spiritual officer: he must be a man of faith, and he must be motivated by love. Without those two, the officer can’t function no matter how much ability he has.

What this means is that the authority of officers is no authority at all. He means that Christ is the Head of the church, and the Holy Spirit is the One to give the leading and guiding in the direction. The officer is never to assert his will in anything. He is to find out what the will of God is. That means he will have to be a man of faith.

He will also have to be motivated by love. That does not mean he is to be a man-pleaser. That means he is to carry through the will of Christ in the church. It is his job to make sure Christ is the Head of the church. How many officers of churches think they are spiritual but have no idea that they are to carry out the will of Christ, probably because they never sought the will of Christ. Such men attempt to serve their own wills because they think their wills are right.

Christ is the head of a local church. In the first verse, Pauls says, “the Lord Jesus Christ.” He is the Lord. That means He is Number One.  He said, “You call me Lord, Lord, and you do not the things I command.” A lot of people call him “Lord” today in churches, and they are not following Him at all. Church officers are to carry through the will of Christ, His Commandments, His desires, and His principles.

Dr. McGee did not think organization of a church  mattered as long as the men were right. However, the men cannot be totally right if church method and organization violate Bible principles. For example, a spiritual man cannot operate totally spiritually in a church which is organized according to man’s, not God’s, principles. And departure from God’s principles starts a downhill slide toward apostasy. A church organized as a legal entity (corporation, 501c3, 508, unincorporated association, etc.) does not have the Lord Jesus Christ as the head of the church and cannot be a New Testament church.

OUTLINE

I. THE FAITH of a Church, Chapter 1
A. Introduction vv. 1, 2
B. Warning Against Unsound Doctrine, vv. 3-10
C. Personal Testimony of Paul, vv. 11-17
D. Charge to Timothy, vv. 18-20

II. PUBLIC PRAYER and WOMAN’S PLACE in the Churches, Chapter 2
A. Public Prayer for the Public and Public Officials, vv. 1-7
B. How Men Are to Pray, v. 8
C. How Women Are to Pray, vv. 9-15

 III. OFFICERS in a Church, Chapter 3
 A.Requirements for Elders, vv. 1-7
B. Requirements for Deacons, vv. 8-13
C. Report of Paul to Timothy, vv. 14-16

IV. APOSTASY in the Church, Chapter 4
A. How to Recognize Apostates, vv. 1-5
B. What the “good Minister” Can Do in times of Apostasy, vv. 6-16

V. DUTIES of OFFICERS of the Churches, Chapters 5, 6
A. Relationship of Ministers to Different Groups in the Local Church, Chapter 5
B. Relationship of Believers to Others, Chapter 6

NOTES:

Chapter 1
(The faith of a church)

The emphasis here is a warning against false teachers in the local church. the gospel of the grace of God is central in doctrine and concerns the person of Christ. At first, the apostles regulated church order, soundness of faith, and discipline. The approaching of the end of the apostolic period made necessary that a clear revelation should be made for guidance of the churches. In chapter 1, legalism and unsound teaching are rebuked.

1_Ti.1.1-2INTRODUCTION (vv1, 2)

vv1, 2 Paul asserts his apostleship “by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.In Ep. 1.1 he says, “Paul, and apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” The commandment and will of God are the same, but not exactly synonymous. All the commandments in the Bible reveal the will of God. [E.g., pray (1 Thess. 5.17, 18; etc.]. However, since we don’t have the sum total of the commandments in Scripture, the will of God is a much broader term than the commandment of God. Remember, man is not saved by obedience to the will of God.

God found a way that HE might  be just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Acts 13:38-39  “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” The law of Moses was a ministration of death; the law condemned them. The law wasn’t given to save us, but to reveal that God is holy and that you and I are not holy. The way God saves us in the way of the cross. Christ is the way.

God commanded Paul to be an apostle. He was a soldier under orders—not by commission, but by commandment. No one laid hands on Paul and made him and apostle. The Lord Jesus personally gave him the authority. Jeremiah had this same kind of authority.

Any man who is going to speak for God today needs to do it with authority or he ought to keep quiet. Paul spoke with the authority of God.

“And the Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope.” The only other time the Bible says Christ is our hope is in Colossians 1:27 “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Jesus died to save you. He lives to keep you saved. Some day his will take you to be with Himself and consummate the salvation. He is our faith when we look backwards; He is love when we look around us today; and He is our hope as we look ahead. But it is hope all the way through life.

Timothy (the Greek means “dear to God.”)  was dear to God and to the apostle Paul. We read of Timothy in Acts, Ephesians, and Philippians. He had a good reputation. Acts 16:2-5 “Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” As he worked with Paul, he became one in whom Paul had the utmost confidence, while others in the churches proved to be false brethren who deceived him.

Pastors need loyal, faithful friends in the churches they pastor. Paul had those he did not trust, but he trusted Timothy. Philippians 2:19-23 “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.  For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state.  For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s. But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”

Paul led Timothy to the Lord and they were very close.

“Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Paul has used grace and peace before in his intros. but we have another word here: mercy. It was the Old Testament sacrifice that made the holy and righteous and just throne of God into a mercy seat.

When one comes to God, he does not want justice—justice condemns a man before God. He needs mercy. God is rich in mercy, but He saves you by His grace. God is merciful to everyone, but one must come to Him by faith. Then God will save you by His Grace.

Grace, mercy, and peace is a little trinity. Love is that in God which existed before He could care to exercise mercy or grace. God is love; Mercy is that in God which provided for the need of sinful man. Grace then is that in Him which acts freely to save because all the demands of holiness have been satisfied. Therefore, because God is merciful, you can come to Him, and by His grace He’ll save you. You cannot bring anything, because it would only be filthy rags to God.

A do-gooder things he does not need the mercy of God, that his own good works will save him. A do-good salvation will do you no good when you need it. The salvation God provides will enable you to do good, the kind of good which is acceptable to Him.

So 1 Timothy is intimate and personal, but it also has to do with the affairs of the local church, the body of believers as it manifests itself in the community.  Every believer should be a member of a local New Testament church.

“God our Father.” God is Paul’s, Timothy’s, every believer’s Father. Believers are all part of the family of God.

“Jesus Christ our Lord..” Anything that is done in the local church needs to be done in the name of Christ and at His command. He is the head of the church; He’s the Lord.

1_Ti.1.3-7

WARNING AGAINST UNSOUND DOCTRINE vv 3-11

Your creed must be right before your conduct can be right. It is almost an impossibility to think wrong and act right.

v3 Paul wrote the Galatians that there was no other gospel. The Judaizers there were preaching another gospel. Paul said there was one gospel and that there is one doctrine. How does that fit your postmodern Christianity, your Catholicism, your Protestantism, your Mormonism, your JWism, etc.?

Doctrine means the teaching of the local church. Following the Day of Pentecost, it is recorded that “they continued in the apostles’ doctrine. (1) The apostles’ doctrine, (2) fellowship, (3) prayers, and (4) the breaking of bread, or the Lord’s Supper are four fingerprints of a New Testament church. A church is not a true church of Christ if its doctrine is not the apostles’ doctrine. By the way, the apostles’ doctrine covers many things to the church.

There are non-essentials which believers and churches can disagree on without losing fellowship. However, we must hold to the apostles’ doctrine, basic truths of the faith such as the doctrines of the church, separation of church and state, the deity of Christ (Paul was absolutely clear on this; for example, see verse 1), repentance, faith, believer’s baptism

Paul explains he has left Timothy in Ephesus as he is in Macedonia. If the teaching of a church is not right, it is not a church. Timothy was to remind the Ephesians to teach no other doctrine.

v4 “Neither give heed to fables” (myths). Ephesus was heartland to the mystery religions of that day, all based on myths. This could possibly mean the philosophy of Philo, an outstanding and brilliant Israelite who spiritualized the Old Testament; e.g., he taught that the book of Genesis is a myth. Religious modernism is not new. 

“Endless geneologies” could refer to the false teaching that the church is just a continuation of Judaism, that it is just one genealogy following another and not a matter of God dealing with man in different dispensations.

Also, the Greeks at that time were teaching demiurge, a teaching which became a part of the first heresy within churches which was gnosticism. They taught that there are emanations from a divine center. The original created a creature, and the creature created another creature below him, and he created another, and then another, and so on down the line. They wanted to fit Jesus somewhere along that line as one of the created creatures. (Is this similar to Mormonism?)

“Which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith.”

v5 “Charity out of a pure heart.” Paul again uses intimate expressions in writing to this young preacher that you will not find in his epistles to the churches. He tells Timothy that what is taught in a church should produce love out of a pure heart.  A “pure heart” is in contrast to our old nature.

Three things should manifest in a church: (1) Faith (in God and in His Word). (2) Love (active concern for others which means you won’t gossip about them or in any way bring harm to them. Faith and love should be lived out in the life of a church. Love for the Lord Jesus is utmost, followed by love for others. A church who organizes ever partially under another head (incorporation, 501c3, etc.) does not love the Lord Jesus. Don’t talk about love if you betray the Lord. Love is action. (3) “A good conscience.” Don’t disregard you conscience when it tells you you have wronged another. These three wonderful graces should be manifested by believers in a local church.

v6 “Vain jangling” means empty chatter, beautiful words, flowery language. Some people will butter you up and pat you on the back, but it means nothing. It is all just talk, and sometimes may be the result of ulterior and impure motives.

v7 There are those who teach error, and they do it with assurance. They reject the Word of God and do not know what they are talking about.

v8 Now Paul warns against legalists who taught that the law is a means of salvation and sanctification after salvation.

The law condemns us. It reveals to man that he is a sinner in need of a Saviour.  Under it, the best man in the world is absolutely condemned, but under the gospel, the worst man can be justified if he will believe in Christ. The sinner cannot please God (is unable to do good works): “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Ro. 8.8). No man can meet God’s standard.

Good works cannot produce salvation, but salvation can produce good works. One is saved unto good works. See Ep. 2.8-10.

“we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully.” The law reveals the will of God–it is morally excellent.

vv9, 10 The law was not given to the righteous man, the one who has been made righteous because of his faith in Christ. “Thou shalt not kill” is given to the lost, the murderer at heart. The law is for “whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons….” God brings those who have repented toward God and turned to Christ in faith for salvation from their sins into the family of God and to a plane of living higher even than that given in the law. Those who are saved are above and beyond the law. The law is given to control the old nature, the flesh. Under law, man never kept it, he couldn’t measure up to it, and he broke it continually. Under grace, a man is brought into the family of God, and he is not going to murder or lie. If he does, he is out of fellowship with God; the Holy Spirit within him is grieved.

“Any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.” Paul adds this in case he had left out something. It covers any and all sin he may have omitted in his list.

PERSONAL TESTIMONY OF PAUL

v11 The gospel of the blessed God was committed to Paul’s trust.

v12 Paul emphasizes the Lordship of Christ. “He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” All believers are in the ministry. Every believer has some service to perform for the Lord.

v13 Paul before was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious. But he “obtained mercy, because [he] did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

v14 “Christ came into the world to save sinners.” When you give your testimony, don’t tell people how wonderful you are or all you have accomplished. “Of whom I am chief.”

v15 He needed mercy to become a minister. “That in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pettern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

v17 This is a tremendous doxology “King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God.” To Him, “be honour and glory for ever and ever.” Again, Paul teaches the deity of Christ, the “King eternal” is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the “only wise God.”

CHARGE TO TIMOTHY

v18 This charge to “son Timothy” is not only practical, but also reveals a wonderful personal relationship. Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son. “According to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare. You should never fight a warfare if your heart is not in it, unless you are fighting for a real cause and intend to get the victory. Paul did not want Timothy to make a shipwreck of the faith as others were doing.

v19 “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.” There is a real danger for us in our human inconsistencies and failures. We are not living in an ivory tower, as some Christians think they are. But for those who are walking the sidewalks and rubbing shoulders with rough humanity and the problems of the world, we find that there are inconsistencies and failures in our lives. The danger we face is accomodating our faith to the world. When we fail, when there is an inconsistency in our lives, we ought to go to Him and tell Him that we have fallen short and haven’t measured up.

v20 2 Examples of apostates (Hymenaeus and Alexander) whom Paul mentions elsewhere and doesn’t have much good to say about either one of them. 2 Timothy 4:14: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works.”

“Whom I have delivered unto Satan.” Paul was exercising what was his prerogative and position as an apostle. This is an authority the apostles had which we do not have. See 1 Co. 5.3-5; see also, for the authority of an apostle, Ac. 5.1-11 (Ananias and Sapphira).

Chapter 2
(Public prayer and woman’s place in the churches)

1_Ti.2.1-2Public prayer is prayer for the public and for public officials. This prayer is to be made in the assembly, within the homes and/or privacy of believers. See vv1, 2. Many years ago, a famous Senate chaplin was asked “Do you pray for the senators?” He replied, “No, I look at the senators, and then I pray for the public.” That is what Paul says we should do.

“That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Any government is better than no government. An evil, corrupt government, if it really governs, is better than anarchy. Even today in America, there remains a semblance of law and order. Civil government was ordained by God to control evil men. We ought to give thanks for it. Many of us fall short of praying for our government in order that we might continue to live quietly and peaceably. For more on this, see The Biblical Doctrine of Government.

vv3, 4 A second reason we should pray for government is in order that the gospel might continue to go out to the lost. Paul was beginning to suffer persecution by civil government leaders, and he said they were to pray for them. It was “good and acceptable in the sight of God” for them to pray for them. Why? Because it was God’s will that all men be saved.

Dr. McGee does not believe that any true pastor is called to recommend a candidate for office.   He believes we are to pray for those in office. He wants, as I do, a man in office who is going to make it possible for the Word of God to continue to be given to the lost.

v5 “For there is one God.” The Romans worshipped many gods. Today people worship many gods. For some, their gods are pleasure, entertainment, etc.

“And one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” In the Old Testament, Israelites went to the temple and could go to God through many priests. Now, there is only one mediator, and He is not a human being down here.

We need a mediator, and we have one, the great High Priest. He is God and is able to save to the uttermost. He has also become man and can hold my hand. He understands me. He is a daysman, a Mediator. He puts His hand in mine. He also holds on to God because He is God. Christ is the only way. He will bring you right through to God if you will turn to Him.

v6 You and I were lost sinners and Christ was the ransom, the “redemption price.”

v7 Paul says he was “ordained a preacher, and an apostle.” He is also the one to teach the Gentiles.

HOW MEN ARE TO PRAY”

v8 “Pray everywhere, holding up holy hands.” This was practiced in the early church. It revealed the dedication in the lives of those praying. “Without wrath”–all sins have been confessed. Don’t come in prayer with anger in your heart, or a bitter spirit, but with all your sins confessed. “Without doubting.” Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” We are to come to God in prayer in faith.

HOW WOMEN ARE TO PRAY (DRESS AND THEIR PLACE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH)

vv 9-16 One note on this: A woman, brought sin into the world, but a woman also brought the Lord Jesus, the Saviour into the world. No man provided a Saviour, a woman did. However, each individual woman is saved by faith, the same as for a man. A woman is to grow in love and holiness just as a man is.

Chapter 3
(Officers in the churches)

REQUIREMENTS OF ELDERS (vv1-7)

v1 In the early church, the pastor was never called “reverend.” He was called (1) a presbyter or elder; (2) pastor or shepherd; (3) bishop, or an overseer; (4) a minister. “Reverend” means terrible, or that which incites terror. It is a name which applies only to God. Dr. McGee’s position is that elder and bishop refer to the same person; that elder refers to the person who holds the office and that bishop refers to the office that is held. A bishop in the early churches never had authority over other bishops or elders or over churches. Even Paul never referred to himself as the bishop of a church. Therefore, according to Dr. McGee, the minister is one who is to serve the church, not rule over it.

In v2 we are given the positive requirements of an elder. An elder must be blameless in that he will not be guilty of anything that he might be accused of. Dr. McGee says he was accused of many things, but was guilty of none; and he did not answer the false accusers and accusations. Dr. McGee believes “husband of one wife” means that the pastor is to be married. He believes Paul’s wife had died. Dr. McGee believes that the primary meaning of this verse is that the bishop or elder is not to have 2 wives. Polygamy was common in Paul’s day. “Vigilant” means temperate. “Sober” means sober minded or serious. He means business. This does not mean that he cannot have a sense of humor. “Of good behavior”: orderly in conduct; not doing questionable things. “Given to hospitality”: the type of fellow who invites others out to lunch. “Apt to teach.”

v3 negative qualifications.

v4 has the authority over his own home, without being a dictator.

v6 Not a (novice) recent convert lest lifted up with pride he falls into the condemnation of the devil.

v7 Good report of those who are without (lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. If he has a bad reputation outside the church (does not pay his bills, is untrustworthy, or is a liar) he is not a candidate to be an officer in the church; he is really a candidate of the devil.

REQUIREMENTS OF DEACONS (VV8-13)

Deacon or minister is a general term for servant or worker. In v9 “the mystery of the faith” means the revelation of the gospel of Christ. The early church “continued in the apostles’ doctrine.” The apostles’ doctrine was “the faith” of the early churches, as it should be for all churches since. v10: “Let these also first be proved.”

v11 deals with wives of deacons.

REPORT OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY (VV14-16)

1Ti.3.16v15 is the key verse of the epistle: 1 Timothy 3:15 “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” If the officers of a church do not represent the truth, the church has no foundation, no prop, and it cannot hold up the truth of God.

v16 probably constitutes on of the earliest creeds of the church. 1 Timothy 3:16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” Jesus was God in the flesh. He was manifest in the flesh, but justified or vindicated in the Spirit in His resurrection (“sown a natural body; raised a spiritual body.”).

Chapter 4
(Apostasy in the churches)

HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE APOSTATES (vv1-5)

v1 “That in the latter times.” Dr. McGee feels that this refers to the days of the churches beginning immediately after the life of Paul. The apostasy had begun even at that time. While Paul was at Ephesus, he had warned them that there would come wolves in sheep’s clothing that would deceive the believers. The first great church was the Coptic church in Africa. That church went off into heresy and departed from the faith. The “latter times” here does not have the 2nd coming of Christ in view; Paul was speaking of what lay just ahead for the church in his day.

“Some shall depart from the faith.” Heretical teachers will mislead a great company of people. Apostasy has grown and will continue to grow.

“Depart” means to stand away from. Those who apostatize are ones who have professed at one time to hold to the faith, but now they have departed from it. Thus, there cannot be an apostasy in paganism, since pagans never professed to hold to the faith. The apostasy comes from within organized churches among those who profess to the faith and then depart from it.

“Giving heed to seducing spirits.” “Seducing” means wandering, roving and it comes from the word vagabond or deceiver or seducer. Satan is all those things. They give heed to satanic spirits.

“Doctrines of devils.” Christians are told to “try the spirits whether they are of God” because there have gone out into the world these seducing spirits (1 Jn. 4.1). The test that we should apply is the creed in 1 Ti. 3.16: “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit.” The only way of salvation is through the death of Christ, and it is by this truth we can test the doctrines of demons today.

There is a small segment of those who claim to be believers who are placing a great emphasis on demonism. They are very interested in the subject and are reading everything they can about it. I think that we are seeing a real manifestation of the spirit world today, but the best thing you and I can do regarding the devil is show him a clean pair of heels. We should not be a bunch of heels, sticking around and getting ourselves involved in all of this. Paul warns us against being seduced by the doctrines of demons. We should stay clear of them, testing each spirit by its acknowledgment that God was manifest in the flesh and that we are justified by the redemption he wrought for us on the cross.

v 2“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” The apostate will pretend to be very pious and very religious. Dr. McGee says he has come to be very suspicious of this pious position taken by super-duper saints who claim to have something special. The truth will make you humble, because the first thing you will find out is how little you know.

“Having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” Believers should be tenderhearted. There is far too much talk about sex in many churches today. Some things happening in churches, says Dr. McGee who passed away in 1988, that made his hair curl; things are being said and done, he says, that could be done unless your conscience has been seared with a hot iron and you have gotten away from the Word of God. [Note. We saw that with Jack Schaap at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana and many other churches, past and present.] It is important in the plan and purpose of God that a church have a tender conscience and not stoop to such low levels.

WHAT THE GOOD MINISTER CAN DO IN TIMES OF APOSTASY

v6 “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things.” Timothy is to warn believers about the apostasy and false teachings that were to come into the church.  “Thous shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” Paul has in mind Timothy, a teacher of the Word of God. All believers are ministers. “Nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine.”  This is how a believer grows.  “Whereunto thou has attained.” Paul said Timothy had attained unto the things he mentioned and commended him for it.

Paul will not mention more things Timothy should avoid: v7 “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables.” “And exercise thyself unto godliness.” v8. “For bodily exercise profiteth little.” It took a rugged individual to do all the walking Paul did. He is not downgrading physical exercise. His emphasis on physical exercise is because the Ephesians were a people given over to games and athletics. America is that kind of nation. Put things in the right perspective. “But godliness is profitable unto all things.” Once we get our new body, it won’t matter whether you’ve exercised this earthly body or not. Godliness pays off in eternity.  A Christian who lives a careless rather than a godly one will pay for it even in eternity. The physical ends with the end of this life, but godliness is carried over to the next.

v9 emphasizes the polint Paul just made.

v10 “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach.” It will cost you something to stand for Jesus. “Who is the Saviour of all men.” “Specially of those that believe.” You can turn Him down if you want to. Christ is the Saviour of all men, but only those who believe will be saved (See Jn. 3.16, 1 Jn. 2.2).

v11 “These things command and teach. v12 “Let no man despise thy youth.” Timothy was young. “But be thou an example of the believers.” Timothy could keep people from despising his youth by not acting like a young fool. The important thing is not your age but whether you are an example “in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

v12 “Til I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” One can grow only by reading the Word of God. A growing minister will make a growing church. We are to grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ. The only way to do so is by reading the Word.

v14 “Neglect not the gift that is in thee.” The Spirit of God gives every believer a gift. “Which was given thee by prophecy.” Paul had predicted what this young man would do. “With the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.” Laying on of hands never communicates anything; it indicates partnership in the ministry. Every minister who is ordained should have hands put on him. by those who are partners with him; this is quite meaningful.

v15 “Meditate on these things.” Be diligent in your study. There is no excuse for a Christian not to study the Word of God. “Give thyself wholly to them.” Reading and studying the Word of God means more than reading a chapter with one eye closed and one both feet in bed or in the morning when you are half awake. You would not study mathematics, science or some other secular subject like that. The Word of God is worth of all you can give it, and we can never give it as much as we should have. “That thy profiting may appear to all.”

v16 1 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” God have mercy on the minister who is not giving out the Word of God. That is a frightful sin. It would be better to be a gangster that to be a man who is supposed to give out the Word of God and does not.

Chapter 5
(Duties of the officers in the churches-Chapter 6 also deals with this matter)

1Ti.5.1-4v1 “An elder.” In the early church the “elder” was an office, but the word used here refers to the individual. Dr. McGee believes he has both aspects in mind: the mature child of God, and a man who occupied a certain office. Paul means both for the simple fact that an elder was an elder–an older man.

“Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father.” Timothy was not to rebuke and elder puclicly, but he was to entreat him privately. Timothy, a young man, was to be very tactful  in his relationship to these older men. He was not to take the position of a know-it-all or of a dictator over these older men. He was to encourage them and have a world privately with them if he though it was necessary.

“And the younger men as brethren.”

v2 “With all purity.” A minister of a church should be very careful with his relationships with the opposite sex. Nothing can destroy the spiritual life of a church more than this kind of experience. The new morality cannot and will not work in a church.

v3 Paul now speaks to the Pastor’s relationship with widows. “Honour.” The thought is of value being attached to something. The early churches were very careful to take care of their widows. “Honour widows that are widows indeed.” The churches were not to honour widows haphazardly or sentimentally. The deacons were to investigate to see who were truly widows, where the need was, and how much need there was.

1Ti.5.8Paul now goes into this in specific detail in vv4-16. v8 The widow is to be taken care of by his own flesh and blood. v9 Widows under 60 could still work. v10 Before helping a widow, check out her past to make sure she meets these standards. Don’t help everyone who comes along. v16 Each family should support their own widows, so the church can concentrate on widows who are without family and are in real need.

v17 The early church took financial care of their teachers, the good teachers a little more.

v18 Paul quotes from De. 25.4 and Luke 10.7.

v19. The pastor and every member of the church should refuse to let anyone whisper into his ear any gossip about the pastor or a church officer. People should prove their accusations by at least 2 witnesses. You should have the facts before you talk. When you have the facts, you should seek to correct the problem by going to the proper authorities.

v20 “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” Dr. McGee believes that if a church member sins and it does not concern the church body, it should never be brought out into the open, nor should it be confessed publicly. However, when a leader of the church, an officer in the church, sins, and it has hurt the church, then it is time to call names. It may also be time to drop his name from the roll of membership. Great harm can be done to a church by sin in the life of its leaders, and this is the way it should be dealt with.

v21 Timothy is to treat everyone in the church alike. Even if the man has given him money or gifts.

v22 “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” Officers are to be installed by the laying on of hands (1 Ti. 4.14). Laying on of hands indicates partnership in the ministry. “Suddenly”: not to be done to a neophyte, someone recently converted. If we exalt a young Christian to the position of a teacher before he is thoroughly grounded in the Word, the theology he teaches is apt to be weird theology. The Word is to be taught by men who are built up in the faith. Our mistake is that we often interpret some sort of experience as being the test of spiritual maturity. An experience that contradicts the clear teaching of the Bible is not from God at all. There were many young converts in the Ephesus area and it was serious business for Timothy to select the teachers and appoint them to teach the Word of God.

“Neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.” In other words, “Don’t compromise, Timothy. Don’t let someone talk you into letting a young convert teach. You will be a partner in sin if you do. Make sure the teachers are anchored in the Word of God.

v23 Use wine as a medicine for your stomach’s sake and other infirmities.

v24 Some men’s sins are judged here and now. But if God doesn’t judge him immediately it doesn’t mean he is not going to judge. Paul wrote to the Corinthians where there were some who were not commemorating the Lord’s Supper in the proper manner. He said, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (1 co. 11.30). Paul went on to say, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” (1 Co. 11.31). When a Christian sins, he should judge himself. Not just feel sorry for his sin but deal with it. If he has hurt somebody, he is to make it right, and turn from that sin. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Co. 11.32). God judges the world. A believer will judge himself, or God will judge him. If you judge yourself, it is settled. If not, He will judge, either in the here and now or before the judgment seat of Christ.

v25 The same principle applies to good works.

Chapter 6
(Duties of officers in the churches concluded)

RELATIONSHIPS OF BELIEVERS TO OTHERS

vv1-2 “Servants.” Paul deals with the relationship of capital and labor. The Christian should render a full day’s work for whomever he is working. If he has a Christian boss, it brings the relationship to a new level above any kind of contract. They are brethren. Yes, Christianity gets out into the workshop.

vv3-5 There are some proud men in the ministry, and they cause  trouble. Pride always causes trouble. Pride is a constant danger–pride of place, pride of race, pride of face, pride of grace. Some people are even proud they have been saved by the grace of God. But Christians have plenty to be humble about–we have a very sordid and sorry background. We are saved by the grace of God.

1Ti.6.7v6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

v7 A rich man died. The heirs asked how much he left. The answer, “He left it all.”

vv8-9 Riches will not bring satisfaction.

v10 The love of money [not money] is the root of all evil.

1_Ti.6.11-12v11 This lists the virtues a man of God should pursue.

v12 “Fight the good fight of faith., lay hold on eternal life,…” Make sure it is clear you are a child of God.

 

 

 

A Study of 2 Thessalonians

Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.

Click here to go to study of 1 Thessalonians

Contents:

DATE
OCCASION
THEME
OUTLINE
NOTES

NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 2 Thessalonians. This study is taken from that book. I have made modifications since I do not believe in Dr. McGee’s timing of the Rapture and some other details. The study is also available online in audio at: 2 Thessalonians

DATE A.D. 52-53. The second epistle followed shortly after the first epistle.

OCCASION

Paul’s first letter had given rise to further questions, and Paul is attempting to answer them in his second letter. There was circulating in the Thessalonian church a letter or report, purported to have come from Paul, which was inclined to disturb the Christians. This false report claimed that Christ had already come and had already gathered out the church to Himself, and that the world was then living in the judgments of the “day of the Lord.” These people were being persecuted as was shown in the first epistle. They were suffering for the Gospel’s sake, and it was easy for them to believe that they had entered the great tribulation period, and that all of the believers (not only the dead) had missed the Rapture. Paul attempts to allay their fears by writing this epistle and stating definitely that “our gathering together unto him” is yet future” (2 Thess. 2.1), and that “the day of the Lord” has certain forerunners which must come first: the apostasy and the “man of sin” must come first. Therefore they could reasonably believe they were not in the great tribulation.

Paul says that the outward organization of the professing church is going to go into total apostasy. The Lord asked, in a way that indicated a negative answer, “… when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” He will not find faith when He comes again. The organized churches will be in total apostasy. The organized “church” is the great harlot in Revelation 17.

The time of the great tribulation and the pouring out of the wrath of God to follow will be “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be” (Mt. 24.21). After the great tribulation, “shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not giver her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken;  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mt. 24:30-31).

THEME

2 Thessalonians emphasizes the return of Christ in Judgment and His setting up of His kingdom here on earth.

The hope of the Old Testament saints was an earthly hope. They were looking for their Messiah to come and establish a kingdom here upon this earth—which would be heaven on earth. The expression “kingdom of heaven” means the reign of the heavens over the earth.

OUTLINE

I. PERSECUTION of Believers Now;
     Judgment of Unbelievers Hereafter (at the coming of Christ), 1.1-12

  1. Introduction, 1.1, 2
  2. Persecution of believers and Fruits of It, 1.3-7
  3. Judgment of Wicked at Coming of Christ, 1.8-12

II. PROGRAM for World in Connection with Coming of Christ, 2.1-12

1. Rapture
2. Day of the Lord; Introduced by Total Apostasy and Appearance of Man of Sin, 2.2-5
3. Mystery of Iniquity Working Today; Man of Sin Restrained by the Holy Spirit, 2.6-8
4. Lawless One to Appear in Great Tribulation Period, 2.9-12

III. PRACTICALITY of Coming of Christ, 2.13-3.18

1. Believers Should Be Established in Word, 2.13-17.
2. Believers Should Be Established in Walk, 3.1-7
3. Believers Should Be Established in Work, 3.8-18

NOTES:

Chapter 1
(Persecution of believers now and
judgment of unbelievers hereafter (at the coming of Christ))

v1.1: Paul identifies two of his co-workers who are brethren with him. This tells us something about Paul’s character. A man who had been a proud young Pharisee had become an humble follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and a servant and apostle of His. “Unto the church of the Thessalonians.” Paul believed in the local church. The position of that church was “in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This makes a true local church very important. Members of a true New Testament church can manifest Christ (since the Holy Spirit indwells the members) in the local neighborhood, in the community, in the town, the state, the nation, and the world showing forth the life of God. Paul had no doubt about the deity of Christ. Not all “churches” are “in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

v1.2 Grace comes first. One who is saved has experienced the grace of God. Salvation is God offering you, a hell bound sinner, the gift (you pay or do nothing for a gift) eternal life if you trust Christ. That is grace.

“Peace.” It is the peace that comes when you know that your sins are forgiven. Peace comes only from a supernatural source—from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”; it is supernatural.

PERSECUTION OF BELIEVERS AND FRUITS OF IT (1.3-7)

vv3,4. “Charity” here is love, God’s kind of love. In verses 3-4 we have that little trinity that Paul uses: faith, love, and patience. This again is the work of faith” which Paul mentions in 1 Thess. 1.3. Saving faith produces works, and it will produce a love in the heart for God’s children. If you are a child of god, you will have to love me whether or not you want to, and I’m going to have the love you. It is a wonderful arrangement as long as God’s children honor it. It hurts deeply the heart of a loving believer when a brother or sister does not love him/her.

The “patience in v 4 is not the patience of waiting in a traffic jam, or waiting for a light to turn green. It is the patience that is willing to live for God and accept whatever He sends your way, knowing that all things do work together for good. It is the patience that has as its goal coming not God’s presence someday. This enables you to get over the rough places that come into your life.

2Thes.1.7-10“Tribulations” are afflictions. The Patience and faith of these Thessalonian believers was unshaken as they were enduring a great deal of trouble, persecutions, and afflictions. 1 Peter 4:12: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” 1 Peter 4:13: “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

v5. Our suffering prepares us for our eternal state.

v7. The Lord Jesus is coming in judgment.

JUDGMENT OF THE WICKED AT THE COMING OF CHRIST. VV. 1.8-12

vv 8-9 The Bible speaks little of heaven. It is so wonderful we could not comprehend it. God does not want us to be so heavenly minded we are no earthly good. He wants us to keep our noses to the grindstone. He has a purpose for our lives on earth which He wants us to fulfill.

2Thes.1.11-12Scripture says less about the condition of the lost than it says about heaven. The HS has drawn a veil over it since it is so awful. There is enough about hell in Scripture to give us a warning. Hell, though is an awful reality. Quoting what is said here: He is coming “1:8: In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

vv10-12 “That the name of Christ may be glorified in you.” Somehow I am more impressed with the little woman lying flat on her back in a hospital or in her home—yet has a radiant testimony for Christ thereby glorifying Christ—than I am by the testimony of one whom “God made a business success.”

Chapter 2
(The program for the world in connection with the coming of Christ to earth)

v1 The gathering together is the Rapture.

v2 The OT often mentions the day of the Lord. It begins with night. Joel tells us it is darkness and not light. It is a time of judgment. “Not by word, nor by letter”: Apparently someone had been circulating by letter or by oral word among the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord had come. There are always those super-duper saints that imagine that they don’t need to study the Word of God. They imagine that they get their information directly from dreams or visions or special revelations. I admit that it is much easier to get your information in a telephone conversation than it is to go to school or study the Bible, but it won’t come straight from God. A special revelation had come to the church at Thessalonica, something brother Paul had not told them.

“Not by letter as from us.” Supposedly, the letter was from Paul, Timothy and Silas.

The word they circulated was “The day of the Lord is at hand.” This had caused a problems with the Thessalonian believers. They were enduring persecution.

The day of the Lord speaks of the period preceded by, as Peter wrote, “Acts 2:20: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:” Peter is saying that the Day of Pentecost was similar to the day Joel described in Joel 2. Joel 2 describes it in some detail. Because of Joel’s prophecy, the orthodox Jews in that day believed that there was a day coming when God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh—on the Day of Pentecost  it was not poured out on all flesh. The day of the Lord is yet future.

Peter says the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (also, 1 Thess. 5.2). But He will not come as a thief in the night for the church (1 Thess. 5). True churches and believers are to be awake and waiting for Him. 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” Again, this did not happen on the Day of Pentecost.

Revelation 6:17 “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” This begins the outpouring of the wrath of God. Believers will not go through the wrath of God. Notice that Re. 6.9-11 speaks of those slain “for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held” (v9) (during this period of Great Tribulation prior to the outpouring of the wrath of God). Re. 6.11 states: “Revelation 6:11 “And white robes were given unto every one of them [those who had already been martyred]; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

2Thes.2.3-4v3 The day of the Lord will not come until (1) “There come a falling away first,” and (2) “that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” Neither one of these has happened yet. There are two kinds of falling away that will take place. 1st, the organized “church” will depart from the faith (that is apostasy). There will be total apostasy when the Lord comes, and that cannot take place until true churches and believers are removed. The Lord asked, “Luke 18:8  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” When He says “faith,” He means that the body of truth which He left here. The answer is no. There will be total apostasy because of two things: (1) the organization of the church has departed from the faith—it has apostatized, and (2) there has been another departure, the departure of the true church from the earth. The departure of the true church leads into the total apostatizing of the organized church. The day of the Lord cannot begin—nor the day of God’s wrath on the earth—until the departure of true believers and true churches. Note. This last paragraph is from Dr. McGee. I will be studying this out more when I get back to the study of Revelation. I am not sure I agree.

We see the total departure of the organized church pictured as the great harlot in Re. 17.

The second thing that must happen is that the “man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” He is revealed after the wrath of God is poured out. John calls him antichrist (John is the only one who uses this term). He is a subject of the OT. He will be Satan’s man. This is the man who will put the Roman Empire back together again. He will become a world dictator. He will deceive the world.

v4 Paul tells us more about him. He will claim to be god. In Re. 13, we find that the beast out of the sea (the antichrist) brings together western Europe and put it bac together again. When he does this, he will show himself as God. The world will think he is Christ.

v5 Paul did not hesitate to talk about these things. Some say a preacher should not, how sad.

2Thes.2.7-12MYSTERY OF LAWLESSNESS WORKING TODAY, RESTRAINED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

v6 The HS is the only one who can withhold evil in the world today.

v7 The mystery of iniquity was already working in Paul’s day and continues to work. The enemy has sown tares in the world. The tares and wheat are growing together—the word of God and iniquity are growing together.

Iniquity continues to get worse and worse, but the HS will not let Satan go all the way in this age. When the HS is “taken out of the way,” it will be like taking the stopper out of the bottle—the liquid of iniquity will pour out all over the world in that day. The HS will have a different mission when He is “taken out of the way.”

v8 2 Thessalonians 2:8 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.” He will be a world dictator. No one can stop him. No power—only the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom—can stop him. The believers who are on the earth cannot stop him.

“The Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth,” that is, the Word of God. All God has to do is speak.

Christ’s 1st coming had 2 episodes: 1st began when He was born a little baby, and the 2nd at 30 when he began His ministry by walking into the temple and cleansing it. Christ’s 2nd coming will have 2 episodes: “He calls believers to meet Him in the air and He comes to earth to establish His kingdom.” At time the antichrist shall be consumed and destroyed with the brightness of His coming.

LAWLESS ONE TO APPEAR

v9 This is the antichrist, Satan’s man, the man of sin, the lawless one. “Power” means physical power whose source is supernatural. He will be a healer and miracle worker. We should fear that miracle workers are from Satan. That is why is so important to get our eyes off men and on Christ, to walk by faith in Him.

“Signs” means tokens. They have the purpose of appealing to the understanding. This man will have signs that will appeal to the scientific world, politicians and the religious world. People who are not rooted and grounded in the Word of God will fall for all kinds of signs.

“Lying wonders” will affect observers. People all over the world will be talking about the man of sin in a positive way as to what he can do. Why will they fall for his lying wonders?

v10 Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

v11 God will let the world believe a lie. Like with Pharaoh, whom God forced into a situation which revealed whot was already in his heart. Many so-called believers today are closed to the truths of God’s Word. So God will send them “strong delusion.” Why? Because they would not receive the truth.

People who have stopped going to churches where they heard the gospel or who do not study their Bibles are wide open to the cults and the “isms” of our day. That is why so many cultists go around knocking at doors. When people reject the truth, they believe the lie. God is separating the sheep from the goats. If people will not receive the love of the truth, God sends them a “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

v12 God is going to judge those who have rejected the truth. If someone tries to present the truth from the Word of God to you, then you are wide open for anything that comes along to delude and deceive you. You will never be able to go into the presence of God and say, “I never heard the truth.”

PRACTICALITY OF THE COMING OF CHRIST

Now Paul moves to the practical side of the epistle. In the light of the knowledge of future events, the believer should live a life that demonstrates that he believes in the coming of Christ. Believing that Christ will come will be manifest in 3 different ways: it will affect his attitude to the Word, his walk, and his work.

BELIEVERS SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED IN THE WORD.

vv13-14 These 2 verses give the total spectrum of salvation: all the way from the past, the present, and down into the future. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we shall be saved. It is all the work of God.

“Chosen you to salvation.” This is clearly taught in Romans 8 (See Ro. 8.28-31; Paul is writing the same thing here.). It simply mean that it does not surprise God when you choose Christ. There is another side of the coin. “Whosoever will may come” (There are many verses to the effect in the Bible). The “whosoever wills” are the chosen ones, and the “whosoever won’ts are the nonelect. John 7:37 “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” If you won’t come, the reason is not because you are not elected. It’s because you’re not thirsty. If you are thirsty, then come to Christ.

“Through sanctification of the Spirit.” “Chosen to salvation” looks back to the past. This looks to the present. You are sanctified both as to position and to practice. Positional salvation is established when you accept Jesus Christ as your own Saviour (you are in Christ) and that is past tense. Practically, you are to grow in grace.

“Belief in the truth.” That means the believer is going to study the Word of God.

“To the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is future. 1 John 3:2: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Colossians 1:27: “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That looks forward to the future.

v15. The Word enables the believer to stand and be stable.

vv16-17 The Lord Jesus Christ brings comfort and consolation to our hearts. He does this through His Word. That will establish us in every good word and work. The study of the Word of God will lead to the work of the Lord. The Word of God will also edify us. We will be “stabhished” so we are not carried away with every wind of doctrine.

It is the Word of God then that will lead you to do the work of God. It is deceitful to talk about how much you love the Lord if you do not study his Word and apply it. If you really believe Christ is coming, you’re going to be busy working for Him. You are going to give an account someday.

Chapter 3
(Theme: The practicality of the coming of Christ (continued))

2Thes.3.1-2Here in chapter 3, Paul says there are certain responsibilities that we have as believers. Paul said to the Ephesians: “”Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” He is saying the same thing to the Thessalonian believers.

BELIEVERS SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED BY THEIR WALK

vv1-2 The Word of God enables the believer to walk before the wicked world. The Word establishes a believer in his walk.

“”Pray for us.” All believers should pray. Every work must have prayer behind it if it is to succeed.

Paul had a unique ministry. He was a missionary, he was an evangelist (as we think of evangelists today), he was a teacher of the Word. He had led the Thessalonians to the Lord, taught them, and now he is acting as their pastor in his letters.

“That the Word of the Lord may have free course.” Paul is not only instructing them in the Word, but he is attempting to comfort them and to counsel them.

He is also enjoining the to pray. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ as they seek to glorify God. Pray for others whom you know who are seeking to glorify God. Pray for your pastor. Paul asks prayer that he “may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.” Many times, wicked men come into a church. A pastor and other church members need to be delivered from such men. The spreading of the Gospel can be hindered more by people in a church than by anything else. In churches, there are a lot of saints and a lot of “aints.” The “aints” can give the pastor a rough time.

“For all men have not faith.” They do not hold to the doctrines of the faith. The foundation of a church rests upon the doctrine which the apostles have given to the churches. If we really love Christ’s appearing, we will prove it by our relationship to the Word of God and by our walk through this life.

v3 The Lord never lets the believer down. He is faithful. He will “stablish you.” Right now, the home, the church,, and the lives of believers are in disarray. A believer can be established by coming to the Word of God and letting it have its influence in his life. The Lord operates through His Word. The Word of God will keep you from evil. “The Bible will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the Bible.”

v4. Christians are commanded to do certain things. There were 22 commandments in 1 Thess. 5. Paul had confidence in the Thess. church.

v5. The believer is to walk in the “love of God.” Only the Spirit of God can make God’s love real to us. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. “Into the patient waiting for Christ.” This does not mean that you are to argue about being premillennial or pretribulational or postribulational or amillennial, but that you are be patiently waiting for Christ.

v6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;The believer is not to go into the bar and sit down with the drunkard and have a beer with him as we witness to him.

v7 Rather, we are to follow those who behave not themselves disorderly.

BELIEVERS CHOULD BE ESTABLISHED IN THEIR WORK

The Thessalonians were walking in a right relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were being persecuted for it. Paul comforted, instructed and encouraged them. Paul now lets them know that he also is undergoing persecution.

v8 On his first missionary journey, Paul paid for what he ate. He would not let anyone pay him for his missionary work among them. He took no love offerings. When he was establishing churches, he supported himself by tentmaking.

However, after the churches were established and Paul had come back to visit them a 2nd and 3rd time, he did receive an offering from them. He made clear to the Galatians that they should give. He thanks the Philippians for their gift. He took an offering on his 3rd missionary journey for the poor saints in Jerusalem.

There are a lot of fanatics. … However, if you believe Christ is coming, you will work for him.

v9. Paul is saying that as an apostle who led them to the Lord and established a church among them, he had the right, the authority, to claim an offering. However, he did not as an example to the believers in Thessalonica. that they might not be led to some fanatical position.

v10. A believer who is looking for the Lord to return is not a dreamer; he is a worker. No work—no food. This is the rule laid down by the apostle.

This epistle deals largely in prophecy, but almost half of it is given over to that which is practical. We are to mesh and gear prophetic truth in to our living down here so that it is practical and working. We are to work while we wait.

v11 There were busybodies among them, disorderly, working not at all. They were causing trouble in the church. It takes just one bad apple to spoil the ointment. They were busy as termites and just as effective as termites in the church at Thess.

v12 Paul commands them that are such to work quietly and eat their own bread. That doesn’t sound very spiritual or theological, does it? But it is practical.

v13 Be not weary in well doing.

v14-15 People ought to withdraw from troublemakers in the church. Admonish him as a brother.

vv16-18 The end of the letter which Paul wrote w/his own hand. Ends w/a benediction.

END

A study of 1 Thessalonians

Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.

Click here to go to Study of 2 Thessalonians

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul’s 1st epistle, the emphasis is upon the rapture of believers, the coming of Christ to take His church out of the world. The fact that the coming of Christ is a purifying hope should lead to sanctification in our lives. 1 John 3:3: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

 Contents:

  • Selected audio teachings on 1 Thessalonians and link to more through audio teachings online.
  • Occasion of the Writing
  • Theme
  • Purpose
  • 11st OUTLINE
  • 2nd OUTLINE
  • Abbreviated notes.

NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 1 Thessalonians. This study is taken directly from that book. The study is also available online in audio at: 1 Thessalonians. 

Selected audio teachings on 1 Thessalonians and link to more through audio teachings online:

The trinity of faith, hope, and love (Click to go to study). “Remembering without ceasing (1) your work of faith, (2) lobour of love, and (3) patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1.3. This trinity is marvelously explained in this teaching by Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Learn both the abstract and the concrete meanings of this trinity and how they relate together where the rubber meets the road. Paul here gives 3 graces of Christian life. The past is the work of faith. The present is a labour of love. The future is the patience of hope.

Turning to God from idols. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10: “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” The church in 1Thess1.9Thessalonica turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. See v. 3. Work of faith (turned to God from idols), labour of love (to serve the living God), patience of hope (to wait for His Son from heaven). Paul preached Christ and they turned to God from idols (not they turned from idols to God). When they turned to God, that is the work of faith; that is what faith did. John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” When they turned to God, they automatically turned from idols—that is repentance. The turning from something is repentance. You can’t turn to Christ without turning from sin. Jesus Christ saves from sin. When a man turns to Christ, he turns from his sin. The message of repentance needs to be preached to the church, as it was preached to the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3. The Thessalonians were now serving God, the labor of love. You cannot serve Christ unless you love him. See Jn. 14.15. If you do not love Him, forget trying to serve Him. Waiting for His Son from heaven doesn’t mean sit down and relax. It means get busy for the Lord. A believer is to labor in love.

 For excellent and more audio teachings on Thessalonians, click: J. Vernon McGee teaches on 1 Thessalonians.

Occasion of the Writing
(Apparently, it was at Corinth that Timothy and Silas come to him and brought him word concerning the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:6). Timothy also brought some questions to Paul, problems troubling the believers in Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first epistle in response to their questions, to instruct them further and give them needed comfort.)

Thessalonica was located 100 miles west of Philippe and about 50 miles north of Athens. It was right in the center or the heart of the empire and was the chief city of Macedonia. The city is still in existence and is known as Salonika.

The church in Thessalonica, established on Paul’s second missionary journey, was a model church. 1 Thessalonians 1:7: “So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” This church was a testimony to the whole area that we would call Greece today. Paul speaks of this church as being an example to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.

You will recall that Paul and Barnabas separated on the 2nd missionary journey. Paul took Silas with him, and along the route he picked up Timothy and Dr. Luke. He revisited the churches in Galatia and then attempted to make a wider circle in the densely populated area of Asia Minor, known as Turkey today. Dr. McGee thinks he intended to carry on his missionary work there, because in his 3rd missionary journey he did make Ephesus his headquarters and did what was probably his greatest missionary work. But on his 2nd missionary journey, the Spirit of God put up a roadblock and would not let him go south. He attempted to go oup into Bithynia, but again the Spirit of God prevented him. He couldn’t go north, and he couldn’t go south. So he moved to the west and came to Troasa to await orders. He had the vision of the man of Macedonia, so he crossed over to Philippi. He found that the man of Macedonia was instead a woman by the name of Lydia, a seller of purple—she probably ran a department store there. Paul led her to the Lord along with others of the city. Thus, a church was established at Philippi.

Then Paul went to Thessalonica, and we are told in chapter 17 of Acts that he was there for three Sabbaths. So Paul was there a little less than a month, but in that period of time he did a herculean task of mission work. Paul was an effective missionary—he led multitudes to Christ there. And in that brief time he not only organized a local church, but he also taught them the great doctrines of the Christian faith.

Now Paul had to leave Thessalonica posthaste due to the great opposition to the gospel. He was run out of town and went down to Berea. The enemy pursued him to Berea, and again Paul was forced ot leave. Paul left Silas and Timothy at Berea, but he went on to Athens. After some time at Athens, he went on to Corinth. Apparently, it was at Corinth that Timothy and Silas come to him and brought him word concerning the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:6). Timothy also brought some questions to Paul, problems troubling the believers in Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first epistle in response to their questions, to instruct them further and give them needed comfort.

Theme
(Paul presents the second coming of Christ in relationship to believers as a comfort, and this forms the theme of the epistle.)

Although Paul had been in Thessalonica less than a month, he had touched on many of the great doctrines of the church including to second coming of Christ. It is interesting that Paul did not consider this subject to be above the heads of the new converts. Yet there are churches today that have been in existence for more than 100 years whose members have but a vague understanding of the rapture of the church and the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom here on earth. The Thessalonian church was not even a month old, and Paul was teaching them these great doctrines!

The apostle had obviously emphasized the second coming of Christ for believers and had taught that the return of Christ was imminent. For during the period of time since Paul had left, some of the saints who had come to know and believe in Jesus Christ had died, and this had naturally raised the question in the minds of the Thessalonians as to whether these saints would be in the rapture or not. Paul presents the second coming of Christ in relationship to believers as a comfort, and this forms the theme of the epistle. The emphasis is in sharp contrast to Christ’s catastrophic and cataclysmic coming in glory to establish His kingdom by putting down all unrighteousness seen in Revelation 19.11-16.

Purpose

The epistle has a threefold purpose: (1) to confirm young converts in the elementary truth of the gospel. (2) To condition them to go on unto holy living. (3) To comfort them regarding the return of Christ. Paul’s message offered a marked contrast to the paganism and heathenism which was present in Thessalonica.

1st OUTLINE

  1. The Chritian’s Attitude toward the Return of Christ, Chapter 1 (to serve … to wait vv. 9, 10)
  2. The Christian’s Reward at the Return of Christ, Chapter 2.
  3. The Christian’s Life and the Return of Christ, 3.1-4-12.
  4. The Christian’s Death and the Return of Christ, 4.13-18.
  5. The Christian’s Actions in View of the Return of Christ, Chapter 5 (Note 22 specific commands to Christians beginning at v.11.)

2ND OUTLINE

  1. Coming of Christ is an INSPIRING HOPE, Chapter 1
    1. Introduction
    2. Gospel Received in Much Assurance & Much Affliction, vv. 5-7
    3. Gospel Results: Turned from Idols to God; Wait for Coming of Christ, vv. 8-10
  2. Coming of Christ is a WORKING HOPE, Chapter 2
    1. Motive and Method of a True Witness for Christ, vv. 1-6
    2. Mother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Comfort), vv. 7-9
    3. Father Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Charge), vv. 10-13
    4. Brother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Challenge), vv. 14-16
    5. Reward of a True Witness of Christ, vv. 17-20
  3. Coming of Christ is a PURIFYING HOPE, 3.1-4.12
    1. Timothy Brings Good Report of Thessalonians, vv. 1-8
    2. Paul Urges Thessalonians to Continue to Grow in Faith, vv. 9-13
    3. How Believers Are to Walk, 4.1-12
  4. Coming of Christ is a COMFORTING HOPE, 4.13-18
    (What Death Means to a Christian;
    What the Rapture Means to the Church)
  5. Coming of Christ is a ROUSING HOPE, Chapter 5

Dead Believers are Asleep in Jesus
Living Believers are Awake for Jesus
Call to be Awake & Alert in View of Christ’s Coming, vv. 1-10
1. Call to be Awake & Alert in View of Christ’s Coming, vv. 1-10
2. Commandments for Christians, vv. 11-28

SOME ABBREVIATED NOTES

 Chapter 1
(The Coming of Christ Is an Inspiring Hope)

  1. 1.1: Paul humbly identifies himself with the brethren, Timotheus and Silvanus. He was not aloof, separated and segregated above all the others who were working for Jesus Christ. Remember this. The preacher is to be right down among you. No clergy and laity. There are 2 situations in a church which are dangerous. One is a pastor who tries to exalt himself. The other is a layman who tries to be an authority on the Bible and has not really studied the Bible (the total Word of God from beginning to end, but has gone off on a tangent. Grace comes first, then the peace of God.
  2. 1.2: Paul prayed for all the churches he had founded. He had a tremendous prayer list….
  3. 1.3: Paul associates 3 Christian graces: Faith, hope, and love. Paul takes these 3 words and puts them into shoeleather. See Dr. McGee, 1 Thessalonians for a tremendous study on this. Faith is the response of the soul of man to the Word of God…. When a man responds to the Word of God, he walks by faith, not by sight. (2. Co. 5.7). When one loves the Lord Jesus, serving Him is a “labour of love.” Labor is not labor when it is a labor of love. If serving the Lord is a great burden to you, give it up. The Lord does not want it to be like that. Love to God is expressed in obedience. The patience of hope is waiting for His Son from heaven; that is the “blessed hope.”
  4. 5. It’s the word of God, not weak men, which has power. Weak men giving out the word of God will have an effect. The Spirit of God can cause the Word of God to penetrate hearts and lives and transform people. F=”Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Ro. 10.17.
  5. 6. The word was rec’d in much afflication (ther was suffering, persecution, and heartache). But there was joy in the Holy Spirit also.
  6. 7, 8. The church at Thess. were examples to all other churches. Their reputation had spread.
  7. 9-10. The church in Thessalonica turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. See v. 3. Work of faith (turned to God from idols), labour of love (to serve the living God), patience of hope (to wait for His Son from heaven). Paul preached Christ and they turned to God from idols (not they turned from idols to God). When they turned to God, that is the work of faith; that is what faith did. John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” When they turned to God, they automatically turned from idols—that is repentance. The turning from something is repentance. You can’t turn to Christ without turning from sin. Jesus Christ saves from sin. When a man turns to Christ, he turns from his sin. The message of repentance needs to be preached to the church, as it was preached to the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3. The Thessalonians were now serving God, the labor of love. You cannot serve Christ unless you love him. See Jn. 14.15. If you do not love Him, forget trying to serve Him. Waiting for His Son from heaven doesn’t mean sit down and relax. It means get busy for the Lord. A believer is to labor in love.

Chapter 2
(The Coming of Christ Is a Working Hope)

No matter when you believe Christ is coming, believer, the important question is, “How does your interpretation affect your life?’

v 1. “in vain” means empty, without results.

v 2. “Contention” means conflict or agony.

v 3. “Deceit” means error. “Uncleanness” means sensuality. “Nor in guile”—he did not use wrong methods or lower his standards to accommodate the prejudices and passions of the old nature….

v 4. “Allowed” means tested or approved. God allowed him to be put in trust with the Gospel.

v 5. Paul never used flattering words or a “cloak of covetousness.”

v 6. Paul never sought position or honors.

Mother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Comfort), vv. 7-9. Paul was as tender as a woman in his dealings with the church at Thessalonica. Like a mother, Paul loved these people. He labored over them night and day because he loved them. When work is motivated by love, it does not seem like work anymore (as with mother who takes care of her husband and baby).

Father Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Charge), vv. 10-13. Paul had a duty to God (“holily) and to man (“justly”). “Unblamably” means that no charge could be maintained against the apostle and his companions. “Exhorted” means Paul came to the side of them, to help, to entreat, and to convict them (v11). “Comforted” in v11 means “to persuade.” Paul “charged” them (v11). This has a note of severity in it—it involves discipline. He was not a Preacherette giving a Sermonette. “Walk worthy” … (v12). Live in light of eternity (v12). the Word should go out and be received as the Word of God—if it does not, it will not work in you (v13).

The Word of God, like salt, stings when it gets into a fresh wound of sin in the life of an individual. The Word is also light—men who do evil love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Paul is teaching in this chapter that the church of God should mirror the family of God down here on earth. A church should be a revelation of God to the community just as a family should be. The relationships of husband, wife, and child in the home should reveal the threefold aspect of the love of God and Christ for the world. A child in a home needs to experience both mother-love and father-love. Father-love disciplines. Children are not to be comforted only.

Brother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Challenge), vv. 14-16. The brother-side of the ministry within a church is represented by the child in the family. Suffering draws you together and brings you together. They were brothers in suffering. Suffering is a cement that holds brothers together. If suffering came to the church, it would draw brothers together and bring revival. Why don’t we pray for conditions that bring revival—that is suffering and persecution?

Reward of a True Witness of Christ, vv. 17-20. When one is in Christ, he is a brother to all those who are in Christ (v17). Paul had the spiritual discernment to see that it was Satna’s strategy that kept him from going to Thessalonica (v18). One of the great things Paul anticipates when Christ comes to take His church will be the opportunity to see these people he has led to the Lord (vv19-20)

Chapter 3
(The Coming of Christ Is a Purifying Hope)

The great theme of 1 Thess. is the rapture of the church. The great them of 2 Thess. is the revelation of Christ, that is, His coming to earth to establish His kingdom. Paul is teaching practical doctrines, meaningful to life. The coming of Christ will change your life, affect your life-style.

“Wherefore” ties this chapter to what Paul talked about in the last chapter: the family relationship that exists in the church. He had been a mother, father, and brother to them. Paul is frustrated in not being able to return to them. His is a labour of love. Love seeks the welfare of another.

Because of his love, Paul sent Timotheus back to them (“our brother and minister of God”) v.2. “Our fellowlaborer in the gospel of Christ.” Do-gooder “Christians” want the social gospel. But the Word of God brings more good-doing than any social gospel. Do-good liberals actually encourage immorality and license. They haven’t delivered kids from drugs or lifted up  mankind. A believer’s sphere is to be the gospel of Christ; that will produce a whole lot of good. “To establish you…”: Paul sent Timothy to do this—to hold them up v.2. “To comfort you concerning your faith”; “Comfort” means encourage.

v.3-4: “no man should be moved (disturbed) in the midst of afflictions.  See also, Jn. 16.33. ‘”Tribulation” is trouble that all of us are going to have. Believes are going to suffer—they are not going to escape trouble. We won’t miss the storms, but we will go through them and He will go with us.  See also 2 Ti. 3.12 (“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”) and 1 Pe. 4.12-19. If there is no cloud in the sky, no ripple on the sea, and everything is smooth and nice, you might question your salvation.

Paul feared that Satan was giving them a bad time, as Satan was giving him a bad time v.5. Another purpose of afflictions is to test the genuineness of belief. There are true believers and a lot of counterfeit believers.

Timothy gave Paul a good report about the church at Thess. v6. This comforted Paul v7. Even if a believer has trouble, it is going to work out for his good.

Paul urges continuing growth vv10-13. Joy is associated with life v.9. Sorrow is associated with death. But sorrow increases the capacity of the heart for joy. Paul wanted to return to them and teach the Word of God v10.-11. “Abound in love” v12. “Abound means exceed. In this epistle, love is seen in action—“labour of love.” “To the end”—love has a purpose; it is not an end in itself. “He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness—the desired end of their love v.12. “At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” v13.

Chapter 4
(The Coming of Christ is a Purifying (3.1-4.12) and a Comforting Hope (4.13-18))

vv1-12 How believers are to walk.

v2 The Ten Commandments have no part in the sinner’s salvation nor are they the standard of Christian conduct. The purpose of the Commandments is to bring us to the cross. They are like a mirror which lets us see that we are sinners. However, there are commandments for believers. In chapter 5 are 22 commandments for believers.

v3 Three kinds of sanctification in the Bible. Positional: Christ has been made unto us sanctification. We are accepted in the Beloved. Practical: the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce a holiness in our walk. Total: Will occur in the future when we are conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Sanctification means “to be set apart for God.”

vv13-18 The coming of Christ is a comforting hope. This section teaches the imminent coming of Christ. “Imminent” does not mean the immediate or soon coming of Christ. Paul never uses an expression like that. He did not want people to assume it would be in their lifetime or shortly afterward. When we say that the coming of Christ is imminent,, we mean that it is the next event on the agenda of God’s program. We don’t know how far away the coming of Christ is. Paul believed the coming of Christ could come in his lifetime. He did not say or believe that  He would come in his lifetime. Paul called the coming of Christ for his church the rapture see v. 17). “Caught up” and “rapture” mean the same thing.

Paul taught the new Thessalonian believers prophecy and other advanced doctrines.

Paul obviously taught Christ’s imminent coming. Paul was answering their questions. One was, “Had the believers in Thessalonica who had already died missed the rapture?” This question would not have been pertinent at all if Paul had not taught them the imminent coming of Christ, if Paul had not taught them that Christ could come at any moment. For Paul’s answer, see vv. 13-18.

v14. There are 3 kinds of death in Scripture. Physical death (separation of the spirit from the body). Spiritual death (separation from God. Adam died spiritually, was separated from God, the day he ate of the forbidden fruit. Ep. 2.1.). Eternal death (eternal separation from God. This is the second death spoken of in Re. 20.14.).

Chapter 5
The Coming of Christ Is a Rousing Hope

In C5, we see the Christian’s actions in view of the coming of Christ.

CALL TO BE AWAKE AND ALERT IN VIEW OF CHRIST’S COMING VV1-10.

v1 The believer is looking for a Person, not for times of seasons. The Lord does not come as a thief to the believer. You don’t look for a thief. However, the Lord Jesus does come like a thief to the world.

v3. The day of the Lord will come suddenly. The pronoun here changes to “they.”

One definition of the day of the Lord: a period of time which begins with the [outpouring of the wrath of God] and runs through the millennial reign of Christ here upon the earth. Many passages of Scripture speak of this: (e.g., Isaiah 13:9 “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.”) It starts out as a day of wrath: Isaiah 13:10 “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” Joel 1:15 “Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.” Joel goes on in C2 to describe it as a “day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness.”

The coming of Christ to take the family of God out of the world is not even mentioned in the OT. It is there by type, of course (as, e.g., the experience of Enoch and Elijah both of whom were taken up alive to be with the Lord.). This glorious, wonderful truth that the Lord Jesus is going to take a company of people out of this earth to be with Himself was revealed the 1st time in the Upper Room when He said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3). Paul developed it in 1 Thess. 4.

In 1 Thess. 5, Paul is speaking of something that was well known in the OT. “When they say peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” It is going to be a big surprise to the world. The big lie in 2 Thess. 2 is the promise of peace and safety. Jesus warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

vv4, 5. The rapture does 2 things. (1) Ends this day of grace in which we are today. (2) It begins the day of the Lord.

v6. Because that blessed hope could take place at any time, we should not be sleeping Christians. Christians are instructed to “Watch and stay sober.” We have a duty to perform.

vv7, 8. We are also to put on the breastplate of faith and love; and the helmet of the hope of salvation. This speaks of the soldier’s duty and is a call to that kind of duty. The breastplate of faith and love is to cover the heart, the vital part of the body. This is the 3rd time faith, love, hope have appeared in this epistle. The faith spoken of is saving faith, and saving faith produces works. Faith is past (for the believer), love is present, and the “hope of salvation” is that blessed hope of the future which is the consummation of our salvation (1 Jn. 3.2: “  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”)

v9 “God hath not appointed us to wrath,…” “But to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

v10. Whether we die first or live until His coming, we shall live together with Him.

THE TWENTY-TWO COMMANDMENTS FOR BELIEVERS IN A CHURCH:

v11: Wherefore, comfort yourselves together….. The first commandment is to “comfort yourselves together,” which means to encourage one another in the faith. The second commandment is to “edify one another.” The Thessalonians believers were already doing that, Paul says. “Edify” means to build up one another. Believers in a church should be a team, edifying each other with the Word of God.

v12, 13. These 3 commandments seem to belong together. “”Know” or understand those who teach the Word of God. It means we should recognize them. When Paul wrote this, he had been with them (the church at Thessalonica) less than a month. He had won them to Christ and taught them. A church had been started. There were no believers there before Paul arrived (Acts 17.2,3). Certain of them would have been given the gift of teaching, some of preaching, and some of helping. Every believer has gifts or a gift bestowed on him by God, and that gift is to be exercised in the body of believers to build up the body of believers. As is the general case, some believers have the attitude, “Where did he get the idea that he could teach me?” So Paul is telling them that church members should respect those to whom God has given certain gifts and look to them for admonition.

We still have the problem today that very few people in a church pay any attention to the teachers that God has given them. If they believe every word of God, then why cannot they obey it? The problem is many times that believes do not know what is between the covers. It is hypocritical to say you believe it and then be ignorant of what it says.  Therefore, those who are preaching and teaching the Word of God should have the attention of believers.

The fourth commandment is “to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”

The fifth commandment is “to be at peace among yourselves.” These all come in one package. You can’t have everybody running a church (or any kind of organization). There must be a certain one with authority. There needs to be one who is the leader and who is followed. He should lead to make sure that every member of the body functions fully in the exercise of his gifts. With that arrangement, you can have peace. But when everyone is trying to play his own tune, you have anything but harmony and peace.

v14 gives the sixth through the ninth commandments.

Sixth: “Warn them that are unruly.”  This would naturally follow the fifth commandment. The unruly are those who are out of step.  They are loners who want to do their own little thing rather than suppor the work which God is doing. Warn them.

Seventh: “Comfort the feebleminded.” The feebleminded are those who are afraid to move out for God, not those with mental problems. They need encouraging. Put your arm around such an one and encourage them: “Brother, the Lord is with you and will bring you through, and I am with you and am praying for you.” Sometimes all of us get discouraged and become “feebleminded.”

Eighth: “Support the weak.” These are those who are weak in the faith. They are little babies, not able to march with the rest. So help them, lift them up, and carry them along.

Ninth: “Be patient toward all men.” This means, don’t lose your temper. This is hard with ungodly, unholy, cantankerous, unsaved people who are definitely trying to trip us or to abuse us in some way.

Tenth: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man.”

Eleventh: “But ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” The pagan does evil in spite of good. You get the other fellow before he gets you. the refined, cultured, educated world does good to those who do good to them. The politician is a good example of this. You take care of your own. Luke 6:33 “And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.” The Christian standard is higher. We are to do good to those who do evil to us.

[The next three go together]

Twelfth: “Rejoice evermore.” This does not mean to be happy. Paul is  not talking about happy hour. “Happy” is not a New Testament word. This is a joy in the Lord as Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). The child of God has no right to go around with a sour puss, to be cantankerous. That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.—love, joy, peace. If you cannot rejoice, begin reading the Word of God and calling on God to put joy in your heart. He will do it.

Thirteenth: “Pray without ceasing.” Have a constant attitude of prayer and pray regularly.

Fourteenth: In every thing give thanks.” This means give thanks in all circumstances and all the time. “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This is the will of God for you: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything.

Fifteenth: “Quench not the Spirit.” How do you quench a fire, which is one figure used for the Holy Spirit? You dampen it down and don’t let it burn. You refuse to do the will of God. You are not listening to the Holy Spirit and to let Him guide and lead you. You and I quench the Holy Spirit when we take matters into our own hands.”And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). You cannot grieve a thing; you grieve a Person. The Holy Spirit is a person, and He is grieved by our lives. He is quenched when we step out of the will of God.

Sixteenth: “Despise not  prophesyings” (that is, the teaching of the Word of God). Do not look down on Bible study as something that is beneath you. Do not be indifferent to the Word of God. One’s ministry (if it is for God) does not last long without Bible study.

Seventeenth: “ Prove all things.” Don’t be taken in. Don’t be a sucker. Don’t be misled just because somebody sends you a picture of pathetic looking orphans. Don’t contribute to things you know nothing about. Don’t fall for some promotion job. Investigate anything to which you give your support. Christians ought not to be gullible. This also means that we are not to be taken in by flattery. There are many deceivers in this world.

Eighteenth: “Hold fast that which is good” meaning that which is true and genuine.

Nineteenth: “ Abstain from all appearance of evei.” If there is any question in your mind whether something is right or wrong, then it is wrong for you.

Note. Man is a triune being (verse 23: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Sanctify you wholly”—not perfectly, but to a place of maturation. We should not continue to be babes in Christ. You can depend upon God: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (Verse 24).

Twentieth: “Brethren, pray for us” (Verse 25). Pray for those who give out the Gospel.

Twenty-first: “Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss” (Verse 26). Just make sure it is a holy kiss. In our culture, a warm handshake will do.

Twenty-second: “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren” (Verse 27).

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Verse 28). And to you, my beloved.

The Loveliness of Jesus

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The Loveliness of Jesus
by Dr. J. Vernon McGee.
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Article: “The Loveliness of Christ” by…:

“Yea, He is altogether lovely.” Song of Solomon 5:16

All other greatness has been marred by littleness; all other wisdom has been flawed by folly; all other goodness has been tainted by imperfection. Jesus Christ remains the only Being of whom, without gross flattery, it could be asserted, “He is altogether lovely.”

Perfect Humanity

First, of all, as it seems to me, this loveliness of Christ consists in His perfect humanity.

In everything but our sins and our evil natures, He is one with us. He grew in stature and in grace. He labored and wept and prayed and loved. He was tempted in all points as we are — sin apart.

With Thomas, we confess Him Lord and God. We adore and revere Him. There is no other who establishes with us such intimacy, who comes so close to these human hearts of ours: no one else in the universe of whom we are so little afraid. He enters as simply and naturally into our twentieth century lives as if He had been reared in the same street with us. He is not one of the ancients; He is one with us.

How wholesomely and genuinely human He is! Martha scolds Him. John, who has seen Him raise the dead, still the tempest, and talk with Moses and Elijah on the mount, does not hesitate to make a pillow of His breast at supper. Peter will not let Him wash his feet, but afterwards wants his head and hands included in the ablution. They ask Him foolish questions, and rebuke Him, and venerate and adore Him in one breath. And He calls them by their first names, and tells them to fear not, and assures them of His love. In all this He seems to me altogether lovely. His perfection does not glitter; it glows. The saintliness of Jesus is so warm and human that it attracts and inspires. We find in it nothing austere and inaccessible, like a statue in a niche. The beauty of His holiness reminds one rather of a rose, or a bank of violets.

Jesus receives sinners and eats with them — all kinds of sinners: Nicodemus, the moral, religious sinner, and Mary of Magdala, “out of whom went seven devils” — the shocking kind of sinner. He comes into sinful lives as a bright, clear stream enters a stagnant pool. The stream is not afraid of contamination, but its sweet energy cleanses the pool.

Perfect Compassion

Moreover, Christ’s sympathy is altogether lovely. He is always being “touched with compassion.” The multitude without a shepherd, the sorrowing widow of Nain, the little dead child of the ruler, the demoniac of Gadara, the hungry five thousand — all these represented suffering, and whatever suffers touches Jesus’ heart. His very wrath against the scribes and Pharisees is but the excess of His sympathy for those who suffer under their hard self-righteousness.

Did you ever find Jesus looking for “deserving poor”? He “healed all their sick.” And what grace there is in His sympathy! Why did He touch that poor leper? He could have healed him with a word as He did the nobleman’s son. Why, for years the wretch had been an outcast, cut off from kin, dehumanized. He lost the sense of being a man. It was defilement to approach him. Well, the touch of Jesus made him human again.

A Christian woman, laboring among the moral lepers of London, found a poor street girl desperately ill in a bare cold room. With her own hands she ministered to her; she changed her bed linen, procured medicines and nourishing food and a fire, making the poor place as bright and cheery as possible. And then she said, “May I pray with you?”

“No,” replied the girl, “you don’t care for me. You are doing this to get to heaven.”

Many days passed — the Christian woman unwearily kind, the sinful girl hard and bitter. At last the Christian said: “My dear, you are nearly well now, and I shall not come again, but as it is my last visit, I want you to let me kiss you,” and the pure lips that had known only prayers and holy words met the lips defiled by oaths and unholy caresses — and then, my friends, the hard heart broke. That was Christ’s way.

Perfect Humility

Again, Christ’s humility is altogether lovely. Can you fancy His calling a convention of Pharisees to discuss methods of reaching “the masses”? He, the only one who ever had a choice of how He should be born, entered this life as one of “the masses.” What meekness, what lowliness! “I am among you as one that serveth. He “began to wash his disciples’ feet.” “When he was reviled, reviled not again.” “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Can you think of Jesus as posing and demanding His rights?

Perfect Gentleness

Further, Christ’s gentleness is altogether lovely. It is in His way with sinners that the supreme loveliness of Jesus is most sweetly shown. How tender He is, yet how faithful; how considerate, how respectful! Nicodemus, candid and sincere, but proud of his position as a master in Israel, and timid lest he should imperil it, “comes to Jesus by night.” Before he departs, this master in Israel has learned his utter ignorance of the first step toward the kingdom, and goes away to think over the personal application of the truth, “they loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” But he has not heard one harsh word, one utterance that can wound his self-respect.

When He speaks to that silent despairing woman, after her accusers had gone out, one by one, He uses for “woman” the same word that He used when addressing His own mother from the cross.

Follow Him to Jacob’s solitary well and hear His conversation with the woman of Samaria. How patiently He unfolds the deepest truths, how gently yet faithfully He presses the great ulcer of sin which is eating away her soul! But He could not be more respectful to Mary of Bethany.

Even in the agonies of death, He could hear the cry of despairing faith. When conquerors return from far wars in strange lands they bring their chief captive as a trophy. It was enough for Christ to take back to heaven the soul of a thief.

Perfect Poise

Finally, Christ is altogether lovely in the perfect equipoise of His various perfections. We could speak at length of His dignity, of His virile manliness, of His courage. In Him, all the elements of perfect character are in lovely balance. His gentleness is never weak. His courage is never brutal. My friends, you may study these things for yourselves. Follow Him through all the scenes of outrage and insult on the night and morning of His arrest and trial. Behold Him before the high priest, before Pilate, before Herod. See Him browbeaten, bullied, scourged, smitten upon the face, spit upon, mocked. How inherent greatness comes out! Not once does He lose His self-poise, His high dignity.

I close with this word of personal testimony: This is my Beloved and this is my Friend. Will you not accept Him as your Saviour and likewise discover His loveliness?

Is He not altogether lovely?