1 Thessalonians Chapter 5: Knowing we are in the Last Days, Put on the Armour of God

Nov 19th, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Thessalonians Chapter 5: Knowing we are in the Last Days, Put on the Armour of God

1 Thess. 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

We will find subsequently that verses 1–4 were misconstrued by some of the brethren in Thessalonica. They thought Paul was hinting that the brethren were not in darkness because the day had already come. In studying the previous chapter, we used verses 1 and 2 of this chapter to prove that the Lord’s descent from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, as well as the dead in Christ rising first, are all figurative language. The brethren were not in darkness concerning the significance of those terms, but now, in this chapter, when Paul said the Day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night, they mistakenly thought he was hinting that Jesus was mysteriously present at that time.

Verse 1 is a startling statement, for it shows the Thessalonian brethren were quite advanced in understanding the times and seasons of the plan of God. Earlier chapters referred repeatedly to the parousia, and the brethren were enthused with the hope of the Second Advent of Christ and the reward for the suffering they were enduring for his sake.

1 Thess. 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

They also knew “perfectly that the day of the Lord [the Second Advent] so cometh as a thief in the night.” They were correct in their understanding of that subject, but they had to be taught that it would occur at a later date.

1 Thess. 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

This verse has been misunderstood. First, who are the “they” and the “them”? The pronouns refer to the nominal system. Daniel 2:43, pertaining to the smiting of the image, also uses “they” for the nominal system. “And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” The clay portion of the image pictures the nominal system. Very often the pronouns “we” and “they” are used in connection with chronological applications, the “we” referring to true Christians. Here the two pronouns are “ye” and “they” to show the contrast between the truly consecrated and the nominal system, respectively.

When will the nominal system say, “Peace and safety”? That will be their message when they are united in the hour of power. The type of Belshazzar’s Feast portrays this setting. The Babylonians knew they were being besieged, but they had a false sense of security. Being well stocked with food and having broad protective walls, they were confident they could hold out. They never dreamed that Cyrus would enter the city under the walls by diverting the river Euphrates.

“Peace and safety” is a theme that is sometimes used in emergencies. It is felt that a united front produces security, as indicated by two common sayings: “United we stand; divided we fall” and “There is safety in numbers.”

The very fact the nominal systems will say “Peace and safety” suggests there will be a threat— they will be under siege, as it were—but they will feel confident. Isaiah 8:11–13 admonishes, “For the LORD spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” When the froglike spirit comes out of the mouth of the beast, the dragon, and the false prophet systems, the message will be, “Cooperate with us.”

The nation of Israel will also experience a false peace and sense of security when they are dwelling with unwalled villages with increased cattle and goods (Ezek. 38:11,12). In other words, the nominal people of fleshly Israel will be in a relatively defenseless mode and yet be confident because of a previous experience.

“Then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” The term “sudden destruction” pertains to the fall of Babylon. “Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her” (Rev. 18:8). (Note: These three plagues are not the same as the seven plagues of Revelation 16.) Notice that “death” occurs first and that “mourning” and “famine” are aftereffects of the death.

Another sudden picture is the smiting of the image in Daniel 2. The Hebrew has the thought of “in an instant.” The entire image—not only the clay and iron feet but all of the other component parts as well—will be destroyed suddenly, at once, as a result of the impact of the stone. In addition, the Flood came suddenly in Noah’s day, and the Flood is a picture of the Time of Trouble at the end of the age.

The Scriptures seem to indicate that the period of trouble will last for about 3 1/2 years, which is “sudden,” occurring in an instant, when compared with the thousands of years in the pages of history. A time factor is denoted by the stone’s smiting the image on its feet, i.e., at the end of the age. The feet were composed of iron and clay—materials that do not adhere well to each other, especially if the miry clay becomes dried, as was the implication in the picture. In other words, there will be an inherent weakness in the coming Church-State union. While Daniel 2 shows the whole image being destroyed, starting with the feet, other pictures provide more

details to show that the destruction will not occur in a 24-hour day. The Book of Revelation, which pertains to religious instruction, shows that when the beast and the false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire and brimstone, the dragon will still exist. Other pictures as well show a sequence of time, even though the entire destruction will be “sudden.” The Jehu picture furnishes great detail, starting with the killing of the kings of Israel and Judah, who represent the political aspect of Catholicism and Protestantism, respectively (2 Kings 9 and 10). Who did the killing? Jehu. And who was Jehu? Although anointed earlier, he became the king of Israel (Europe in antitype) by murdering Jehoram and Ahaziah. After the kings were killed, Jehu caused Jezebel to be thrown out the window. Then Jehu went down the line with the killing: from antitypical cardinals, priests, etc., down to the worshippers themselves. Thus a time period, though short, was involved.

The Book of Revelation continues where the Jehu picture ends. The ten kings who rule for one hour will at first support the whore and then turn against her. “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast…. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire” (Rev. 17:12,13,16). In other words, Jehu represents the ten horns who do not support the whore and are instrumental in pulling down the system. Therefore, the Jehu account is a picture of the destruction of the nominal system, the fall of Babylon the great, and events related to that destruction.

Jehu will come into power and be instrumental in destroying the nominal system. Then, after a little time interval, the civil component will be dealt with, and the fall of statehood will mean a condition of anarchy. Jehu, a nonreligious system, will act with strength to demolish the religious system. Then will come the fall of civil governments. The climax of the destruction of the civil aspect is Jacob’s Trouble. While the nations are experiencing dire trouble, the last system that seems to be in order will be the nation of Israel: “For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee [natural Israel], and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isa. 60:2). While the nations are in anarchy, Israel will feel secure in its own “peace and safety.” However, the confidence in the “cattle and goods” and “unwalled villages” will be a false confidence. Israel’s prosperity will be momentarily darkened, as it were, to give opportunity for the Lord’s glory to shine forth. The momentary darkness will occur when the hordes of Gog and Magog come down and threaten to wipe out Israel, but then God will deliver natural Israel through His own instrumentality: saviors (plural) who come from Mount Zion (Obadiah 21). The time period when Jerusalem is taken, the houses are rifled, the women are ravished, and half the city is taken into captivity will be very short, perhaps only a month (Zech. 14:2).

Remember, Satan is behind the dragon power, and he will attack this last vestige of authority in a final attempt to derail the establishment of God’s Kingdom down here. The Adversary wants his own kingdom on earth, but God will frustrate his purpose and deliver Jacob out of trouble. At that time there will be no head of gold, etc.—the image will have fallen—even though some of the nations will still exist by name. For instance, the change of the name Persia to Iran was relatively recent under the Shah. Babylon is represented today by Iraq, and Saddam Hussein likes to think of himself as Nebuchadnezzar the Second. He was trying to rebuild the city of Babylon, but first the war with Iran and then the embargo placed on the country have halted the rebuilding effort. Therefore, Iraq, Iran, Greece, and Rome will all fall. In the interim period starting with the fall of Babylon and extending to the deliverance of the Holy Remnant from Jacob’s Trouble, the entire image will be smashed, and the stone will replace it and grow and grow until it fills the whole earth.

Verse 3, then, is referring to the first phase of the sudden destruction, the destruction of the nominal system: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” But notice that the sudden destruction will come “as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” For many years, talks were given that this “travail” was a period of labor. While it is true that “travail” does refer to a woman’s labor in childbirth and it consists of a series of pains that get increasingly severe until the actual birth takes place, the Greek word is in the singular. The Diaglott interlinear correctly has “the birth pang” (singular).

Therefore, the word refers to the last pain that immediately precedes the birth. Verse 3 should read, “Then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as the birth pang comes upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” This corrected translation harmonizes with the thought of sudden destruction, namely, a single pain and only a very short period of time. Others have taught that this period is 40 years long, 50 years, 60 years, etc. Since we are living in 1998, to believe that the image was smitten in 1914—and thus to believe that the period of travail began there—would mean the destruction covers, at the very least, a period of 84 years, which is not a short or sudden destruction. On the contrary, we see the smiting of the image as a future event that covers a very short period of time of three years or so. Verse 3 is packed with information, and all of the terms need to be identified.

1 Thess. 5:4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

The Apostle Paul imparted a lot of knowledge to the Thessalonian brethren, but nothing compares to what is available here at the end of the age. They knew nothing about the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, for example. The Book of Revelation had not even been written at the time Paul penned these epistles, and John was not banished to the Isle of Patmos until years later. Surely Paul did not discuss Hazael, Jehu, and other end-of-the-age pictures with the Thessalonians. He was telling them that with the persecutions they were receiving, they should just hold on, for God was not unfaithful to recognize their suffering. Moreover, when the Second Advent would come, they would then be honored for their steadfastness. That was the gist of his message of comfort and exhortation. They misconstrued that message to mean that the Second Advent was then occurring.

1 Thess. 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

The pronouns in the next several verses are interesting and significant: ye, we, and us are contrasted with they. All profess faith, but the “we” class are of the true Christian faith and the “they” class are not. “Ye are all the children of light, and … of the day: … not of the night, nor of darkness.”

1 Thess. 5:6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

The Thessalonians erroneously thought Paul was hinting that they should be awake because the Day of the Lord had already come. Because they understood that Jesus would come silently as a thief, that he would not be perceived with the natural senses, and that perception would come through the doctrinal understanding of events, it is easy to see how they would apply this added warning about being children of light to themselves in regard to the Second Advent. Despite the utmost care in stating matters, Paul was misunderstood (and this can happen to us too).

Some Bibles insert dates that the two epistles to the Thessalonians were written, and the date for both epistles is the year AD 54. The fact that Paul wrote both letters in the same year shows the urgency with which he had to correct their misunderstanding. When he realized that they had misconstrued his message, he responded quickly to straighten out the misconception.

1 Thess. 5:7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

The “sleep” reminds us of the Wise and Foolish Virgins Parable, which follows Matthew 24, the narration of what was to occur down through the Gospel Age and during the Second Advent with signs to watch for. Then comes the Parable of the Ten Virgins, in which all of the virgins slumbered and slept.

Paul emphasized the word “sleep.” In 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14 he talked about the sleep of death, which the Thessalonians also misunderstood. There are two distinct thoughts. (1) One pertains to the sleep of death—the dead saints were resurrected prior to the living ones at the end of the age. (2) Here in Chapter 5, the “they” class sleep in regard to the “day of the Lord.” This is a spiritual slumber of not hearkening to prophetic truths. But in misunderstanding, the Thessalonians wondered whether Paul was hinting that they were sleeping. “Is Paul exhorting us to wake up?” they wondered.

Being “drunken” ties in with Belshazzar’s Feast. The Babylonians were asleep regarding what  was happening. They thought their strong walls were a cause for celebration.

Paul used striking logic and contrasts: night versus day, darkness versus light, sleep versus watchfulness, and drunkenness versus soberness.

1 Thess. 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.

Why is a “breastplate of faith and love” part of the Christian armor? A breastplate is close to the heart. Confidence in God and enlightenment based upon His Word are precious to the Lord’s people, protecting them. If the heart goes astray, the Christian cannot do battle. This verse is a reminder of Ephesians 6:11–17, which tells us to put on the whole armor of God so that (1) we may be able to withstand the wiles of Satan (2) in the evil day. The devil is loose, not bound, in the evil day. Special armor is being supplied in the Harvest period. God’s Word is the real armor, but the Studies in the Scriptures are an aid to understanding the significance of God’s Word. Having the armor is one thing, but putting it on and applying it to stand in the very end of the age is another thing. Paul gave a dispensational fulfillment, a fulfillment not just for the individual Christian down through the age but particularly as a group at the end of the age, for there will be an attack by the Adversary.

The “whole armour,” as stated in Ephesians, is as follows: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:13–17).

Both the Ephesians text and verse 8 mention the helmet and the breastplate. Here Paul said the helmet instills the “hope of salvation,” which is more than just an intellectual understanding of truth. It is a real hope! Both accounts bring in faith, hope, and love. Love is the culmination. Before one can have hope, he must have faith; then comes hope—and finally love.

The “breastplate of faith and love” in verse 8 is called the “breastplate of righteousness” in Ephesians 6:14. More than just the imputed robe of Christ’s righteousness, the Ephesians breastplate is the application of the understanding of righteousness in the Christian walk, which creates strength of character. Being close to the heart, the breastplate pertains to moral conduct and thinking, to heartfelt desires to please God. Feeling and emotion are involved. The ribs of the chest literally protect the heart and help to deflect blows, for the heart is very sensitive and can be easily pierced. The ribs are also protective armor for the lungs, which are very fragile. Thus the rib cage, which is built into the human anatomy, is like a breastplate.

Faith here (as opposed to natural faith) is an exercised faith, a developed fruit of the spirit, a strong and living faith. Faith, love, and righteousness should all be applied and developed by the Christian. We are told to add to our faith virtue (developed righteousness, the application of righteous principles in daily living), leading ultimately to Godlikeness, or love.

The opposite of faith is doubt, which Paul was trying to combat. God calls individuals not to destruction but to reward them with life, honor, and glory. Those of the Gospel Age who are more than overcomers will become kings and priests. Those who are overcomers will get life, security, and a spirit life. Paul wanted to encourage the brethren.

What does a helmet protect? The head, the brain. And what does the brain do? It thinks. Therefore, the helmet (or head) pertains to doctrinal instruction, theory, and knowledge, whereas the breastplate (or heart) pertains to the application of righteousness, making righteousness a part of our anatomy.

1 Thess. 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

We should always keep in mind that we have been uniquely blessed in that God called us. The blind world is in darkness, but we are in the light. Like the Thessalonians, we know about the times and the seasons. With present truth through the ministry of the Pastor, we have been blessed with information. Paul was saying in effect, “Knowing these things, you have remained in the truth and are faithful to it; you have not gone back into the nominal systems or the world; you are still soldiers of Christ.” His encouragement to the Thessalonians should be an encouragement to us.

We have been appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. All others, by implication, are appointed to wrath, to the Time of Trouble. In the period of wrath and destruction that is coming, the world will be in trouble but not Second Death trouble.

However, some of the consecrated, some professing Christians, will be in Second Death trouble, and the Great Company will experience trouble to awaken them to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. The latter will not feel the assurance that they have been faithful, but they will be assured that God still loves them when they are given the message of consolation: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). The Great Company will realize they have lived into the trouble not because of their faithfulness but because of their negligence. Thus there will be a sensation of displeasure in the Time of Trouble to a greater or lesser degree depending on the class. Paul urges the consecrated to be faithful so that they can live together with Jesus.

1 Thess. 5:10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

This verse can be understood two ways. From a pragmatic standpoint, whether we are alive and awake or whether we die, we should be comforted with the thought that God and Jesus are for us. However, the fact that Paul put the “wake or sleep” together signifies something else. By reading the epistles in one sitting rather than going verse by verse, we would get the tie-in immediately. Paul was referring to 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain [we who are alive and awake at the Second Advent, we who are living during the parousia] shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” Paul was saying that whether one is of those who are alive and awake at the time of the parousia (not at the time Paul wrote the epistle) or whether one was of those who would die and sleep in Christ to be awakened from death in 1878, “we should live together with him.” In other words, these words of comfort were meant to be a blessing to the whole Church—not just to the Thessalonians but to us now as well.

Jesus died so that whether brethren slept in death in him or remained until his presence, the hope is to be “together” (in place) with him. The Greek word hama can mean place and/or time depending on context. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, it means both.

We should have a personalized love for Jesus. We wait for the “Son from heaven” so that we may “live together with him” (compare 1 Thess. 1:10). The Thessalonians had a great desire to be with the Master, who had died just a few years before. Now, 2,000 years later, we should have that same burning desire.

1 Thess. 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

This verse sounds like the last verse of Chapter 4: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Paul was saying, “Be faithful so that whether you sleep in death or remain alive to the return of Christ, you will live with him.” Actually Paul knew that all of the Thessalonians would sleep, but he used words in such a way that he was not committed, for there were things not lawful for him to utter. The value of his carefulness in choosing words makes these epistles pertinent to us too, for some of us will be alive when Jesus comes to take the feet members to the marriage.

Not only were the Thessalonians to comfort one another, but they were to continue to edify each other as family. They were very zealous and courageous despite the persecutions they received, and their reputation spread quickly throughout other areas. Paul was thrilled with their condition up to this point.

When Paul criticized the Thessalonians, he always added a constructive aspect. Within the ecclesia some were contentious. Others had problems living with one another in the truth. The Thessalonians were fighting these tendencies and trying to live in harmony, so Paul was urging them to keep up the good work. Otherwise, in time they would give up and allow the ecclesia to fall apart. The wrong attitude would be, “I will live in isolation if I have to.” However, if isolation happens through no fault of our own, that is another matter. We should not try to be separatists and isolate ourselves, but occasionally circumstances force some to do so. The general rule is to bear with one another and to try to continually grow in grace, truth, and knowledge. We must not let the Adversary distract us.

1 Thess. 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

1 Thess. 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Verses 12 and 13 pertain to elders in both office and experience and to veterans in the truth, who have stayed in the narrow way for many years. They should be recognized in proportion to their faithfulness. The Thessalonians were also being instructed to recognize Timothy and Silas as Paul’s helpers. These two were superior to the Thessalonian elders, for they had been longer in the way. Timothy and Silas labored among them, helping and admonishing. Hence they were to be esteemed “very highly in love for their work’s sake.”

We are reminded of when Jesus said, “If you do not believe in me, at least believe in my works.” This was practical advice. Those who found fault with his teaching because it was different from the Mosaic Law should have observed his character. Jesus was wholly dedicated to doing God’s will. He left his profession as a carpenter; traveled from place to place; frequently slept on the ground; healed the blind, the lame, and the sick; was considerate; etc.

All of these things should have made the people listen before they judged. A person should at least be given a hearing. A fool “answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Prov. 18:13). Therefore, brethren should respect one another in regard to service in the truth.

Paul instructed them to “be at peace” among themselves for the following reason. When doctrinal differences arise, brethren who have certain understanding and are very zealous tend to be less calm and less reconciled to those differences than brethren who are not as exuberant and positive. If brethren are not disciplined, the same zeal and spirit that led to their faithfulness and boldness in declaring the gospel to the public could tear apart the ecclesia. Therefore, special counsel was needed to the effect that Christ died for all of them.

The theme of being at peace among themselves was mentioned often. Paul did not want the Thessalonians to destroy each other. However, to be at peace does not mean to compromise principle. In most cases, we can maintain personal integrity and still be patient, forbearing one another. Only when something that is contrary to the Scriptures is condoned by a group do we have to take a stand. For example, being permissive in regard to adultery and fornication must not be tolerated, for the Scriptures say, “Let it not be once named among you” (Eph. 5:3).

Other matters may be important to us as individuals, but we have to weigh that importance before we go at one another.

Q: With those who feel very strongly about their understanding of Scripture and cannot see it our way, and vice versa, it is better to have separate ecclesias. We recognize that they are striving to be faithful, but to meet regularly in an atmosphere of continual difference of opinion is not conducive to spirituality. Wouldn’t it be advisable to speak our piece and then try to find another ecclesia?

A: Yes, we should meet where we do not feel spiritually inhibited or where our conscience is not constantly impinged upon by a strong leader with whom we do not agree. However, in many cases we can just express, “I have difficulty seeing it that way,” but if the difference is made an issue and our relationship with the Lord is held in question, then we should look elsewhere for brethren to meet with. We have often said that if we found a better place, we would go there, even though we are usually leading the meeting here. We should go where we spiritually prosper.

Comment: If we leave an ecclesia for spiritual reasons, it is important to leave with a proper attitude, for we are all brethren. Such experiences are for our growth. The fact that the Pastor wrote two different ways on certain issues is for our character development.

Reply: Yes, we cannot feed on garbage and discontent but must think positive as new creatures. If we are always thinking on criticism instead of trying to understand truth more, if we are in the critical mode all the time, then we are feeding on thorns and thistles instead of vegetables, lilies, and the good things that are necessary for building up one another. Taking a stand has its place, but we do not do that every day. Our objective is to come to the full stature of a man (or woman) in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:13). There is always room for improvement, and that is what we should be looking for in ourselves.

1 Thess. 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

In verse 13 Paul said to “be at peace among yourselves,” but now he told us to “warn them that are unruly [disorderly],” which would be taking a strong attitude. In some classes, an individual is disorderly or boisterously out of order right in the meeting, especially if the study is conducted by a brother who is very weak. For instance, a brother may have certain ideas or a gripe that he wants to introduce into the study or thinking at every meeting. Such attitudes and actions are disruptive. Grievances should be considered, but we cannot grow if we feed on them continually and have a continual diet of thorns and thistles.

Here, then, in verse 14 are two different, or opposite, types of behavior: warning those who are unruly and yet, on the other hand, comforting those who are feeble. Paul was saying, in effect, that to the strong we must be strong, and to the weak we should be weak (that is, lenient and considerate). We are to meet strength with strength, and weakness with weakness.

We cannot deal gently with those who are continually aggressive, with those who are aggressive by nature, or we will get nowhere. In fact, the unruly take advantage of gentleness.

Therefore, Paul said, “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew” (1 Cor. 9:20). In other words, he confronted the Jews as much as possible.

“Support the weak, be patient toward all.” We are instructed to be patient toward all, toward the strong as well as the weak. But how are we patient with the strong? Although we should meet strength with strength and warn the unruly, we should not throw them out right away but must have forbearance. However, if the situation becomes intolerable, one of two things should happen: either the unruly party must leave, or we must leave. Otherwise, we cannot grow, so a change becomes necessary. Patience should be exercised toward the strong until we see over a period of time that unruliness is their character. Some individuals are very aggressive and think they are defending truth, but if they act this way time after time, something must be done, i.e., separation.

Sisters have an additional problem or disadvantage when they are in the right because they cannot be elders. As Paul said, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (1 Tim. 2:12). The Pastor suggested that sisters use the question method, which is a gentle method, but if they get nowhere with that approach, they should meet elsewhere for their spiritual growth and development.

Other examples of unruliness would be sponging or being too blunt or coarse in dealings with the brethren. The unruly elements should be cautioned, in love, to exercise moderation.

This exhortation on the responsibility to warn, comfort, support, and be patient is for all of the brethren, not just the elders. It is a communal responsibility of one toward another. If a wrong tendency is nipped in the bud (early), the wound will be less severe to heal.

“Comfort the feebleminded” is a very consoling text regarding those who do not have the capacity for intellectual development that others have. Brethren should be recognized up to the level of their capacity. Faithfulness to God and our consecration vows, faithfully following the teachings of Christ, and being humble are requirements for all, but sometimes an individual is not required to attain a certain degree of development. Paul’s admonition implies that some in the body of Christ will not be as advanced in doctrinal understanding as others. On the other hand, some very advanced in doctrinal understanding may not be in the body because of not properly exercising themselves. God does not call morons, however, so there must be some capacity for reasoning. Despondency is an example of feebleness. There are different degrees of responsibility.

“Support the weak.” We are to support those who are weak in faith, those who are spiritually weak. An example of “weakness” is thinking one cannot eat certain foods for conscience’ sake. Conscience and faith are closely allied. It takes time to put on the helmet of the hope of salvation and the breastplate of faith and love. Some can do this more quickly than others.

“Be patient toward all.” Paul was a marvelous character. Earlier in this epistle, he likened himself to a nursing mother and to a father. His tender disposition can be seen. Those who are bold and zealous may find fault with others less developed and seemingly less courageous, but the deficiency should be analyzed. If it has to do with feeblemindedness or being spiritually weak, those brethren should be comforted and supported. If their desire is to do the Lord’s will, that should be recognized and nurtured as much as possible. They should not just be brushed aside. Also, allowances must be made for babes in Christ—and even for differences in babes. Some progress more slowly than others, and we should exercise patience with these and not put a certain level of expected development on them. There are differences in temperament and background.

Having patience applies to both the strong and the weak. Patience has to be exercised both ways, but aggressiveness should not get out of hand. The feebleminded have to be comforted, and the too aggressive have to be curbed. That is the responsibility of the class, one to another.

1 Thess. 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

This is a problem with the flesh. If we get in an argument and the other party speaks evil, the tendency is to speak evil in return. Especially in this contentious mode, one must be extremely cautious not to get caught up in the contention himself. The Adversary would love to sidetrack energy by having brethren render evil for evil against each other. On rare occasions a strong expression, such as a curse or a derogatory statement, has been uttered right in the meeting.

There was even an occasion where one brother slapped another—the flesh took over as in the world. Paul was not talking about a “mosquito bite” that we scratch, but if someone hits us with a blow, we should not turn around and retaliate in the flesh but should turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:39). On the other hand, we should not let another brother walk all over us. The point is to try to exercise restraint and patience, but patience does have its limits, or bounds.

We should be cautious and patient and not too impulsive. We should think before we act. “Ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” In verse 14, the supplied word “men” is probably not the correct thought, but here in verse 15, it seems to be proper.

Verses 16–22 give important advice in capsule form.

1 Thess. 5:16 Rejoice evermore.

There are many good things to feed and grow on in the truth. Rejoicing should be our normal attitude. “God is love”; that is, His disposition or character, generally speaking, is very loving, patient, and benevolent (1 John 4:8). Of course He can get angry, but anger is not His normal attitude. The Christian, too, should be gentle, kind, and patient but not have a puttylike disposition without backbone. The apostle was giving advice for the normal behavior of a Christian. Circumstances in which we do not exercise “normal” behavior should be thought out and not impulsively acted upon.

1 Thess. 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

The thought is to continue to rejoice and to keep on praying. We should not cease either one. To “pray without ceasing” is an attitude or bent of mind, for we do not literally pray every instant.

1 Thess. 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

“In every thing give thanks.” The thought is to be amenable to providence, for not all experiences are pleasant. The Morning Resolve contains the thought “I will neither murmur nor repine at what the Lord’s providence may permit, because ‘faith can firmly trust Him, come what may.’” For example, without this admonition Christians might not give thanks for their persecutions, especially over a long period of time.

“For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” We are reminded of the text “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:3). In verse 18 Paul was referring to the fact that the persecuting experiences were permitted by God for the ultimate good of the Thessalonian brethren. Therefore, they were to receive them thankfully, for “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). There is an added blessing if we receive the experiences thankfully and are exercised properly.

1 Thess. 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.

We are not to quench the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, but we must quench, moderate, and control an unholy spirit, or attitude (malice, for example). In a number of ways, we could extinguish or throw cold water on the Holy Spirit.

Comment: We could quench the Spirit through wrong moral conduct, through improper thought processes, or in any way that we allow the flesh to take over.

Let us consider some ways in which the Holy Spirit can be quenched either in ourselves or in others. We should be careful that neither happens.

1. In the midst of a spiritual discussion or when a noble thought is being expressed, to tell a joke or do something distracting that breaks the trend of thought or causes others to miss good advice is dangerous. In fact, one can lose his calling and election in one act on one occasion if that act is very offensive to God.

2. We should not allow ourselves to get into an evil environment but must make straight paths for our feet (Heb. 12:13). If we go into a smoke-filled room, the smoke will cling to our garments. Spiritually speaking, if we get into a bad environment, whether in the world or in the truth, it leaves an effect. The longer we stay in that environment, the longer the Holy Spirit is being quenched. The old man (or woman) in the mind is fighting the new creature. When we have to make a decision that is helpful to the Holy Spirit and our growth as a Christian, the flesh might say, “But you will have to give up something very pleasurable.” We should want to go wherever there is an environment that is constructive to the new creature, but the old mind fights us. For example, one might rationalize, “If I do such and such, I will lose my eldership.”

Or a truth may be too strong for an occasion. The Book of Proverbs informs us that a fool tells all he knows. “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards” (Prov. 29:11). Just because we know a certain truth does not mean we should tell it. No, we must be judicious. Some truths are so powerful that uttering them under the wrong circumstance would lead others to consider us dangerous. We do not have to disclose everything we know, but at the same time, we want everyone to know. Therefore, a teacher’s motive and desire should be to want his students to know the truth as well as he does, but the teaching should be done judiciously. Similarly, the motive and desire of a true doctor is not money or fame but to make another person as healthy and whole as he is. Our motives and attitudes are very important.

3. Conscience should not be violated.

4. Excessive worldliness is harmful to the new creature, although there are times when we have to consider the rights of others.

5. Presumptive sinning quenches the Spirit.

6. Failing to live up to our covenant of sacrifice quenches the Spirit.

7. We should not quench a spontaneity of feeling moved to do something, such as giving a testimony or writing a letter to a brother or sister who is going through a trial. Suppression or procrastination of expressing a good thought or doing a good deed to help another can quench the Spirit and make our later effort less effective. If our mind is made up to do something, we should do it. Another example is getting a sudden thought in regard to helping a brother or sister. If we fail to follow through, we may be failing to help one who is going through a trial we are unaware of.

8. Failure to pay our vows is another area. If we say, “If I had such and such, I would do soand- so to help another,” and then subsequently do get the such and such but fail to extend the help, we may be quenching the Spirit.

Some brethren have more energy and directness of thought than others. For example, some can sit and talk for hours and hours, but if doing so taxes the energy of another, the weaker one should be considered. In regard to lengthy discussions into the wee hours of the morning, it is good to reflect on just how much can be absorbed. Sometimes it is better to limit a discussion.

1 Thess. 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.

It is profitable to think of this verse in two ways: despise not prophecy and despise not teachings. Especially here in this epistle, which contains a lot about prophecy, that thought should be included in the admonition. “Despise not instruction” is another way of expressing this verse, and the instruction includes heeding times and things in season for the end time. We should be particularly interested in prophecy about the end of the age because of the day in which we are living.

We should not neglect study or hearing the thoughts of elders. Since those who are given to works might neglect study, there is a danger in putting too much emphasis on works.

Enlightenment is needed too. We must be sure we are expending energy the way the Lord wants us to. We need to be balanced. Our feelings and activities have to be properly channeled.

1 Thess. 5:21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

When a new thought is expressed and we see the circumstance and that the thought is worth considering, we should ask, “Is the thought in harmony with the Scriptures? Is it proper?” No teacher is perfect, so we must be discerning when a thought is not supported by Scripture. On the other hand, we should not dwell on one error (perhaps a garbled statement) made by a teacher. Some will damage another’s reputation because of just one statement that is uttered, and the speaker may not even be aware he made the statement. When a person speaks extemporaneously, unintentional words are bound to be expressed from time to time. Thus circumstances have to be considered.

Holding fast to that which is good gives us a more benevolent attitude toward our experiences in that we will not expect everything to be ideal and perfect. Where we see progress and get some instruction and benefit, we should be thankful. We can hold fast to the good and just not accept the other. In other words, we should hold fast only to that which we can prove to be good.

Moreover, our proving and holding fast should be progressive throughout our Christian walk. We are not to blindly accept everything we hear. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try [prove] the spirits [doctrines, teachings] whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

The literal thought in the Greek may be to abstain from all forms of evil, but the word “appearance” covers both cases. If we abstain from the appearance of evil, then we are also abstaining from evil. We should avoid the appearance of evil as far as is reasonably possible, for sometimes it is not possible. For instance, a state auditor may be required to go into a saloon to check the books. If someone sees him exiting, that would appear to be evil, but he is just doing his job. A general rule is to stay away from any circumstance that could be  isconstrued as evil, but there are exceptions. In other words, what about a circumstance that will appear evil, but you know it is not? In such a case, we should not refrain from the appearance of evil but go ahead and do what is right, even though it would wrongly be considered evil by others.

1 Thess. 5:23 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.

Our attitude at the present time—that is, until death extinguishes our life—should be to try to preserve that life blameless as far as it is in our power to do so. To love the Lord our God with all our mind, soul, body, and strength is the proper attitude. If faithful, we will be given a different body in the resurrection. In the present life, we are to wash any spots we get on our imputed robe of righteousness. God does not look on us as human beings but as new creatures in Christ with our blemishes being covered. As Paul said, “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh” (2 Cor. 5:16). However, just as an open wound can bleed through material to the outside of a garment, so sin or evil can permeate and go through the robe of Christ’s righteousness to the outside where it is seen as a spot on the robe that covers the body of filth.

The spot has to be washed and cleansed. Moreover, taking care of the spot means taking care of the body that produced the spot.

From another standpoint, this verse is a reference to the whole Church. The spirit and body and soul of the Church should be “preserved blameless unto the coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul was considering the Church as one body under their Head, and his hope and desire was for all of them to be faithful unto death. He hoped that the spiritual body and relationship would be preserved and transferred into the Kingdom. He was saying in effect, “O that all of us might be of the Bride! I hope to see all of you there at the presence of the Lord.”

Although Paul was writing to the Thessalonian church, the same principle has applied all down the age, namely, that Jesus will have a mystical body and that the body will be preserved unto his presence and the transference of the members of the body to be with him.

1 Thess. 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

As was stated in verse 9, God’s motive is that we will “obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” God is faithful to us, so it remains for us to be faithful to Him.

1 Thess. 5:25 Brethren, pray for us.

1 Thess. 5:26 Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

A “holy kiss” is with those of the same sex: brother to brother and sister to sister. “Kiss” can mean “touch,” so especially with brothers, it would be cheek to cheek.

1 Thess. 5:27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren.

What did Paul mean by charging them to read the epistle to all of the holy brethren? If there were, say, 20 brethren in the class, the epistle could not be passed around to all of them, for some could not read, some would keep it too long, and it might become damaged. Therefore, Paul meant that the elder (or elders) had a responsibility to read the epistle to all of the consecrated. The contents of the letter were not meant for just the brother to whom it was addressed but were to be made known to all of the brethren.

1 Thess. 5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

1998 and 1981 studies

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  1. In my study on this topic, the Greek term “logizomai” is the English term for “reckon/impute/credit/etc,” (all terms are basically equivalently used) and when I look up that term in a popular Protestant Lexicon here is what it is defined as:

    QUOTE: “This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.”

    The Protestant Lexicon states this term first and foremost refers to the actual status of something. So if Abraham’s faith is “logizomai as righteousness,” it must be an actually righteous act of faith, otherwise (as the Lexicon says) “I am deceiving myself.” This seems to rule out any notion of an alien righteousness, and instead points to a local/inherent righteousness.

    The Lexicon gives other examples where “logizomai” appears, here are some examples:

    Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude [logizomai] that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Rom 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted [logizomai] as a gift but as his due.

    Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon [logizomai] ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Rom 8:18 For I reckon [logizomai] that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

    Notice in these examples that “logizomai” means to consider the actual truth of an object. In 3:28 Paul ‘reckons’ faith saves while the Law does not, this is a fact, the Law never saves. In 4:4 the worker’s wages are ‘reckoned’ as a debt because the boss is in debt to the worker, not giving a gift to him. In 6:11 the Christian is ‘reckoned’ dead to sin because he is in fact dead to sin. In 8:18 Paul ‘reckons’ the present sufferings as having no comparison to Heavenly glory, and that is true because nothing compares to Heavenly glory.

    To use logizomai in the “alien status” way would mean in: (1) 3:28 faith doesn’t really save apart from works, but we are going to go ahead and say it does; (2) 4:4 the boss gives payment to the worker as a gift rather than obligation/debt; (3) 6:11 that we are not really dead to sin but are going to say we are; (4) 8:18 the present sufferings are comparable to Heaven’s glory.
    This cannot be right.

    So when the text plainly says “faith is logizomai as righteousness,” I must read that as ‘faith is reckoned as a truly righteous act’, and that is precisely how Paul explains that phrase in 4:18-22. That despite the doubts that could be raised in Abraham’s heart, his faith grew strong and convinced and “that is why his faith was credited as righteousness” (v4:22). This is also confirmed by noting the only other time “credited as righteousness” appears in Scripture, Psalm 106:30-31, where Phinehas’ righteous action was reckoned as such.

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