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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Friday, August 28, 2020

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (L 07)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                     Published: August 28, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
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Welcome y’all to HBS.

Announcements

I rarely employ this feature of HBS, but when something important needs to be brought to your attention this is where I post the note, as it were.  I haven’t taken a “real” vacation in many years, so next week I’m going to do that very thing.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be away, but while I’m away please know the HBS website never closes.  At present there are almost five hundred Bible lessons so studying those ought to keep you busy and in the Word until I return, unless the Lord comes to take us away before then.   

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Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5.

Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus (Timothy), our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: That no man should be moved (to quit the faith) by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.  For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.”

According to the Acts 17 account Paul labored three weeks establishing the church at Thessalonica: “Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,” (Acts 17:1-2).  Many people in the church believe he was in Thessalonica much longer than that; they surmise he stayed in the city 3 to 6 months and perhaps longer.  I mention this because churched-people tend to get hung up on minute details such as this.  Why a new church might be formed simply because people cannot agree on something this slight.  This is why I remind the group from time to time not to major on the minors.  The Bible might not always tell us what we “want” to know, but it most certainly tells us what we “need” to know.

Moving on, why was Paul so eager to return to Thessalonica remembering that he was treated discourteously there?  Twice in the text above we read he “could no longer forbear,” so he sent Timothy to encourage and strengthen them, and to bring him news about how they were faring under persistent persecution.  Yet, as far as the record is concerned, no messenger had come to him with alarming news about the Thessalonian assembly.  What had happened to make him so concerned about the state of their faith?  The answer is found in Acts 17:5-10.  Paul had just been humiliated and run out of town.  So, he was concerned this maltreatment at the hands of the Thessalonian Jews might have shaken their faith.  Believe me when I say it’s no small thing to witness your spiritual leader being thrown out of town by an angry mob.  If that’s how they treated God’s apostle, what’s in store for them?  But Paul was no stranger to outraged people and violence in fact he was accustomed to it and not disturbed by it.  We see evidence of this truth by the fact that he immediately entered the synagogue at Berea preaching Jesus was the Christ (Messiah): 

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few”(Acts 17:10-12).  

Then we have Paul’s testimony in 1 Thessalonians 2:2 about the similar harrowing event that had brought him to Thessalonica: “…even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.”

Paul realized the risen Lord’s statement, “how great things he must suffer” carried weight (Acts 9:16), but the Thessalonian Believers had not fully realized this themselves.  His shameful expulsion from their city had undoubtedly left them shaken, especially with “all the city in an uproar,” and the house of Jason assaulted merely on suspicion of harboring the fugitive apostle and his companions (Acts 17:5-9).  But there was yet another reason for his concern.  These same Jews from Thessalonica, when they knew that “the Word of God was preached of Paul at Berea…came thither also, and stirred up the people” (Acts 17:13).  At this time Paul was safely out of their reach in Athens, Greece but he knew they had returned to their own city and would now intensify their persecution of the young Thessalonian church he had reluctantly left behind.  Little wonder then that he lost no time in dispatching Timothy, his trusted co-worker, to their side, to assure them that “…no man should be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. “For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know” (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4).

How well they had come to “know” this first-hand and how they must have welcomed Timothy upon his arrival and rejoiced over Paul’s communication written with a personal touch (1:1-3) because as Paul said, they are “our glory and joy” (2:20). 

Finally, Paul wanted them to understand that “these afflictions” (persecutions) came as a result of living for Christ in the Dispensation of God’s Grace,” and not as a result of experiencing God’s wrath in the Tribulation, which some were saying.  It is true, says the apostle, that we are appointed to “afflictions,” but know this “…God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).  

God’s in the business of saving people in this dispensation and our apostle Paul is the wise masterbuilder of that organic organization called the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-17).  It is evident from the context that the “wrath” they were “not” appointed to is the wrath of the Tribulation.  Consider this, “God has not appointed us (true Believers) to wrath, but God has appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Since the Thessalonians were already saved, this can only refer to the completion, that is, the fulfillment of their salvation at the Rapture.  Paul confirms this point of view by a similar statement in Romans 13:11: “…for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”  What’s more, 1 Thessalonians 5:8 describes the finishing touch, as it were, to our spiritual armor as “the hope of salvation.”  What else could this phrase refer to but “that blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), the completion of our salvation?  When we trusted Christ, we were immediately saved from the penalty of sin, and we are today being saved from the power of sin.  But at the Rapture we shall be saved from the very presence of sin and I expectedly look forward to the day and so should y’all.    

Timothy Paul’s Companion and Coworker

Verse 3:1-2.

Wherefore when we could no longer forbear (to practice patience or self-control), we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; And sent Timotheus (Timothy), our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

Paul’s decision to send Timothy to Thessalonica and to remain alone at Athens was no small tribute to his abilities and his character.  According to Acts 17:16-17, the pagan city of Athens was wholly given over to the worship of idols: “Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.  Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.”  The One true living God wasn’t exactly overlooked, for Paul found a synagogue there, but Acts 17:16-17 explains that when Paul “saw the city wholly given to idolatry” he “Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.”

As we’ve seen, it was Paul’s custom to go first to the Jewish synagogue in city after city, but in this instance there was a greater reason for doing so.  The Jews were obviously not interested in evangelizing these pagan idolaters, the proof of this was visible  all over the city, so it would appear that they are the prime examples of Paul’s truth in Romans 2:24: “the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you…”  Israel’s superior privileges should have produced a corresponding lifestyle, but they did not, so the pagans knew not the One true living God. 

But Paul did not merely dispute with the Jews in the synagogue he went out to do for the pagan gentiles what the Jews could not have done, he preached the mystery of God’s grace to them.  Acts 17:16-17 clearly says, “(He) disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily…” where the Athenians gathered not only to buy and sell but also to argue their various ideas or earthly philosophies.   Think this through.  Athens, Greece, the world’s great seat of intellectualism was also the center of idolatry with all its accompanying superstitions and fear, not to mention the excesses of immoral living that accompanied idol worship, stands as a testimony to the folly and futility of “the wisdom of this world.”  The apostle James rightly said the wisdom that “descendeth not from aboveis earthly, sensual, devilish (James 3:13-18).

With all their vaunted wisdom the Athenians could not even settle on a god to worship.  One worshipped this deity and another some other god.  So great was the confusion that Pliny said in Nero’s time Athens contained over 3,000 public idols in addition to an untold number of idols in people’s homes.  Petronius said (perhaps with tongue in cheek) that it was easier to find a god to worship in Athens then it was to find a man you were looking for.  So, to be clear, Athens was overcrowded with idols and altars to false gods, and it was here that Paul, God’s bondservant, a man who loved the Word of God and loathed idolatry, and who lived morally “in all good conscience,” had decided to remain alone (by alone I mean to say absent of his ministerial companions for certain people who had believed his message on Mars Hill had clung to him- Acts 17:34); so that he might send Timothy back to Thessalonica to help and encourage those persecuted saints. 

Here I need to point out the fact that the “learned men” of Athens, who could not even agree on which false god to worship, would not listen to Paul’s “word of truth and soberness,” but ridiculed him, while someone there on the platform chided God’s apostle saying, “There, there, that was fine; well hear you again sometime,” inferring that Paul’s behavior resembled that of a child speaking out of turn.  So “Paul departed from among them.”  But here’s the thing, these men who believed themselves to be “intellectuals” were not interested in that which is most vitally and urgently important, i.e., their present standing before the One true and living God and their  eternal state. 

In respect to the goings-on in Athens, how different the situation was at Thessalonica.  There the people responded to Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) in faith and were saved and as a result those Believers were despised and persecuted.  Because Paul was concerned that some of these tested Believers might desert the faith he sent Timothy, a well-tested man of God, a “good soldier of Jesus Christ,” and one whom they knew, to encourage them.  Paul called him, “our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ,” sent to “establish you, and to comfort (encourage) you concerning your faith. 

His comforting message was, “no man should be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto” (3:2-3).  Because the Thessalonian saints were spiritually immature and Paul well knew that Satan would seek to discourage them, he sent Timothy back to them lest Satan, the great tempter, tempt them to give up the battle and all Paul’s labors would, “be in vain.”  Here we note Satan cannot undo their salvation.  Once saved, always saved unless you believed in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2).  Paul’s thinking was that “a great multitude” had come to know Christ Jesus as their Savior and rejoiced in the fact, and he didn’t want this grace movement to come to naught because they feared persecution.

Before we move on let’s not fail to learn the lesson God has for the Believer, in Christ. Paul had forewarned the Thessalonian saints of persecution because he knew that, “…all who that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).   To be clear, “all” might not suffer physical persecution, for Satan uses various means to discourage us.  Sometimes it is physical in nature and we’re seeing this in more than a few countries around the world today, China and North Korea come immediately to mind, but I’m not leaving out the USA because numerous people have been killed while attending worship in Christian and Jewish assemblies, if that’s not physical persecution then what is.  But more often than not those who live godly lives will encounter an icy stare, a cold shoulder, the silent treatment, ridicule, rude gossip, slander, and so on.  Which is more difficult to bear physical suffering or emotional abuse?  That depends on who you’re asking, I think. 

In Closing, let’s look back a 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4: “That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

Paul’s message is applicable for every true Believer today.  He gloried in the Thessalonian assembly “for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:4).  The Body of Christ, a.k.a. God’s Church is hated by the world.  Persecutions and tribulations go hand-in-hand with the Body of Christ living in enemy territory (2 Timothy 3:12).  Make no mistake Believers will suffer tribulations and trials during the Dispensation of God’s Grace (3:4), but we will not go through the seven-year Tribulation (1:10, 5:9).

As a result of the Thessalonians reacting to adversity with “patience and faith,” Paul wrote: “…we ourselves glory in you in the (grace) churches of God…” (2 Thessalonians 1:4).  Let’s be clear, Paul did not glory in the outward accomplishments and successes of that church, but instead in what the Lord of glory was doing in and through them.  How so?  Paul gloried in their “patience,” or steadfastness and cheerful endurance.  They patiently and bravely endured persecution for their faith.  In short, their “hope” had not been extinguished.  They were still looking ahead and looking up for the Lord’s glorious return in the clouds.  They refused to bow to the pressure and desert their faith in Christ Jesus.  What’s more, they faithfully took a stand for the truth of God’s Word.  So then, the Thessalonian church was a church to glory in and be thankful for.  It was not the kind of church that is popular with the world or that wins the favor of the world by its glitz (the ability to entertain), compromise, and size.  It was a church that was maturing in faith and knowledge of Christ, abounded in the love of Christ, and endured the world’s persecution with courage and conviction (assurance) that the Lord of glory would indeed keep His promises.  In that sense, it was a God-honoring church, to be sure, as such a church would be today. 

(To be continued)

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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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Friday, August 21, 2020

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 (L 06)


Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                     Published: August 21, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
***********************************************************************************************
Welcome to HBS.

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ
(1 Thessalonians 1:1)

And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

Many people from around the world have joined our Bible study in the past few weeks so I want to acknowledge them and send greetings their way.  In addition, I ask that y’all pray for the safety and welfare of those who attend this Bible study from countries that have literally banned God and the Bible and are punishing those who continue to practice their faith.  Their courage and tenacity in the face of intense opposition is inspiring to say the least, especially since many of us suffer so little for the cause of Christ yet we complain so much.

For the benefit of those who are relatively new to this study, and others, I offer this brief re-introduction to 1 Thessalonians.

1 & 2 Thessalonians were written by our apostle Paul circa 52 AD.  They hold the distinction of being the first two letters he authored to a small group of converts in Thessalonica who had believed Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and were saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).  In  Acts 17 we learn Paul visited the synagogue in Thessalonica on three successive Sabbaths using the O.T. Scriptures to prove Jesus was the Christ (Messiah).  Although his ministry was successful to the extent that he won both pagan gentiles and Jewish converts to Christ, he encountered fierce opposition from the Jews, for the most part, who resented the fact that he offered salvation to the gentiles without first requiring they become Jews.

Because of the intense opposition and persecution Paul reluctantly left the city.  He regretted leaving them before his labor was finished, but he hoped that he might visit them again in the near future but Satan hindered him (2:18).  He sent his companion and fellow laborer Timothy to encourage and strengthen the group and then report back to him on their present condition (3:1-2).  When Timothy returned to Paul with the good news that the members of the church were standing firm in the faith in spite of the persecution, Paul’s anxiety lessened and he penned this letter from Corinth, Greece. 

I believe wholeheartedly in the use of timelines in your Bible study, so with this in mind, let’s trace the movements of Paul and his companions that relate to the Thessalonian correspondence:

Paul, Timothy, and Silas founded the house church in Thessalonica on the apostle’s 2 missionary journey after establishing the first house church on Greek soil in Philippi (1 Thessalonians 1:1).

Paul and Silas fled from Thessalonica to Berea.  Since Timothy is not mentioned (see Acts 17:10), it’s possible he stayed in Thessalonica, but he might have returned to Philippi and then rejoined Paul and Silas in Berea (Acts 17:14).

Paul fled to Athens, Greece from the persecution of the Jews in Berea, leaving Silas and Timothy there (Acts 17:14).

Paul sent word back instructing Silas and Timothy to come to him in Athens (Acts 17:15; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2).

Timothy rejoined Paul at Athens and was sent back to Thessalonica (3:1-5).  Since Silas is not mentioned, it has been speculated that he returned to Philippi when Timothy went to Thessalonica. (3:1-2).

Paul arrived in Corinth, Greece “in weakness and in fear, and in much trembling” (Acts 18:1; 1 Corinthians 2:3).

Silas and Timothy came to Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:6).

Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians and sent it to those Believers.  About six months later he sent 2 Thessalonians in response to further information about the status of those saints and to address certain issues within the church.   
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Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20.

The Persecuted Church

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.  Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.  For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicingAre not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”

As our timeline indicated, Paul wrote this letter while in Corinth, Greece.  He left the opposition and persecution in Thessalonica only to encounter more opposition at Corinth from the gentile factions in that church and the Jews in the city.  So, Paul’s anxiety and concern for the Believers in Thessalonica.  The past few months had been a period of intense persecution for himself and for those Believers he had left behind wherever he preached the revelation of the mystery.  At Philippi he and Silas had been cruelly treated and forced to leave the city leaving behind them a newly founded house church which they were not permitted to encourage and strengthen.  At Thessalonica, their next stop, many people were converted to Christ Jesus, but the opposition against Paul was bitter and unrelenting to the degree that he and Silas barely escaped with their lives, leaving behind them another persecuted church.  The missionaries next stop was Berea and again more than a few people were won to Christ, but the unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica had pursued Paul to Berea and stirred up much opposition against them.  However, this time Silas and Timothy stayed behind to encourage the brethren in this the third persecuted grace assembly.

Satanic Interference

The words “taken from” in verse 2:17 emphasize the fact Paul did not want to leave them.  The brethren had sent him away under the cloak of darkness with haste (Acts 17:10), realizing if he were slain the cause of Christ would lose its leader.  But Paul’s “heart” was still with the Thessalonians, for he “endeavored the more abundantly” to see their faces again.  He tried to return to the city, but every time he tried Paul said, “Satan hindered” him (2:18).  With that declaration Paul identified the source of the opposition he faced.  I’ll take advantage of the opportunity here to teach, again, the greatest deception the devil has achieved since the dawn of time is getting people to believe he does not exist.  But Paul makes it clear not only does he exist his goal is destroy anything that is of God.  In other words if you’re for God, Satan has you and your testimony in the crosshairs, so to speak. 

But before you begin thinking thoughts of doom and gloom please know God has a plan for each Believer’s life; a plan that is for our good and His glory.  We should not forget, however, that Satan has a plan for the Believer’s life as well.  His designs naturally run contrary to God’s for he is intent on destroying our lives and testimony for Christ through sin, false beliefs, and poor decision making.  Paul’s mention of “the wiles of the devil” in Ephesians 6:11 teaches us that Satan has strategies, methods, and schemes to make us stumble in our walk.  But Satan can’t undo your salvation (Colossians 3:3).  Like a thief, he can also rob you of your joy in Christ and your assurance of salvation.  So, as the gospel of the grace of God was hindered by Satanic opposition in Paul’s day, so too is “the prince of the power of the air” hindering God’s Church and the preaching of the mystery today (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2). 

After establishing the church at Thessalonica, Paul had tried “once and again” (2:18) to reconnect with them, but it didn’t happen.  The reason, Paul wrote, was that “Satan hindered us.”  The Greek word for “hindered” can mean making a road impassable.  In the context of athletics, it meant cutting someone off or tripping them during a race.  In a military context, it meant cutting a trench in front of an advancing army to prevent their progress.  Satan does the same thing in the Believer’s life; he blocks their path, cuts them off in mid-stride to trip them up, and impedes their spiritual progress (growth).

We do not know what Satan did to keep Paul from returning to the saints at Thessalonica, but we do know that Paul attributed the obstruction to Satan himself. However, on this side of the issue, we see how even Satan’s hindrance was part of God’s divine plan for Paul’s life and the lives of every Believer that came after him.  God allowed and used Satan’s opposition and brought good out of this roadblock which Paul perceived as something dreadful.  As He did with the Cross of Christ, God accomplished His own purposes, using the devil to do so.  How so?  The consequence of Paul’s inability to go to Thessalonica was the very thing that brought Paul to write this letter; a letter that eventually became part of the N.T.  This letter, in turn, has resulted in glory to God and, for the past 2000 years, untold multitudes have benefited from Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians and have been blessed by its divine truths re: “our blessed hope” of the Rapture (4:13-18), to name just one.  It was because Paul faced a satanic roadblock in his life that we have 1 & 2 Thessalonians.  We do well to remember this anytime we face a blocked road or barrier in life that we perceive as bad, because God is able to bring something good out of it for His glory and our blessing (Romans 8:28-29).

Moving on, it was at Athens, Greece that Paul and his message were ridiculed from the beginning, but in that account I find no real opposition from those people.  Again, some believed his message but others ridiculed him and walked away not wanting to hear it (Acts 17:16-34).  

Before I end this section please understand the fact that Satan hindered Paul from returning to the converts in Thessalonica by no means indicates he is more powerful than God for God permitted Satan’s interference for the strengthening of those saints in Christ and that’s exactly what happened.  The persecution they endured strengthen their faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).  Just remember, at no time, does God relinquish His throne of glory.  He’s in charge 24/7/365!

Paul’s Crown of Rejoicing
Verses 19-20.

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”

This is the only passage in Scripture that I can find which indicates so clearly that at the coming of Christ at the Rapture we Believers will rejoice over other Believers whom, by God’s grace, we had a hand in leading to Christ Jesus, or have in some way helped them spiritually.  This stands to reason, for in Luke 15:10 we learn the angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner repents.  Therefore, we Believers also rejoice and give thanks to God when we learn the seeds of faith we sowed in an individual’s life were nurtured by God (1 Corinthians 3:6-9) and that person believed God and was saved.  Faith in what God has said always precedes salvation (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 22; Galatians 3:6). 

Here I need to address a concern a lot of people walk around with and that is they think a loved one’s salvation is dependent on them and if their child, husband, relative, etc. does not respond to their leading then they are to blame.  My ex held this view much to my dismay.  She told me often that she led her children to church just about every time they turned the lights on there.  She read the Bible to them regularly, spoke about spiritual things, and tried her best to make them understand, only to discover their lack of interest in the things of God.  In other words, they didn’t want to hear it.  She was disappointed and discouraged and carried the burden of defeat every day of her life. She told me more than once she was done with that, but secretly, I believe she wanted the credit.  My response never changed.  I told her God is Sovereign and the author and perfecter of our faith.  It is not enough to know the truths of scripture intellectually; we need to believe them in our heart.  We need to fully trust in the sovereignty of God for He alone is in the business of saving people and He alone causes the increase.  Our role in salvation is simply to convey his message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

One day future our Lord and Savior having brought “many sons unto glory,” will rejoice and say, “Behold I, and the children which God hath given Me” (Hebrews 2:10-13).  He, of course, was “the captain of their salvation.”  He poured our His life’s blood to redeem them from the penalty of sin.  Thus, it is fitting in recognition He should be “crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:9).  Like Christ and our apostle Paul those to whom, by God’s Grace, we have brought spiritual light and blessing, will surely be our “crown of rejoicing” in that day.   Paul declared one day our Lord shall “come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe,” and then adds parenthetically, “(because our testimony among you was believed)” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10.  May our testimonies contribute to the Lord Jesus Christ’s “everlasting glory:”

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Paul's spontaneous outburst of worship and praise, in this passage, came after he had pronounced a truth that should rejoice the hearts of all God's children: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.

The Church” is the Body of Christ and in this verse it is the power of God, working through “the Church” that is being praised because of Christ Jesus our Lord, and how this rejoices the heart of the apostle Paul.  The work that God has done in each of our lives is going to be used by the Father as an everlasting testimony of His goodness and grace. 

In the previous chapter, Paul reminded us that because of God's great love for us, He is “rich in mercy” for despite being dead in our transgressions, He made us alive, together with Christ and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies.  May we never forget that it is not because of anything we have done that we are saved, but by God's amazing grace alone (Ephesians 2:4-5).  It is by faith in His sacrificial death, burial, and glorious resurrection that we are redeemed from the slave-market of sin and blessed with eternal life in the heavenlies.  For God “…hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:6-9). 

God the Father is going to use those who are saved by grace through faith (alone) as an everlasting demonstration, to the angelic hosts and generations of mankind, of His great love, mercy, goodness, and grace.   So then, I ask you, should this not rejoice the heart of every member of the Body of Christ?  Should we not join Paul in bringing glory to God forever and ever, amen?  That’s another rhetorical question.  I believe you know the answer.  May we never forget that our salvation has nothing to do with us; it is not our works, our kind acts, or generous giving that has saved us and forgives us of all our sin past, present, and future (Colossians 2:13), it is the unmerited free gift of God.

So let’s be clear our salvation did not come because of the good works we have done. The fact of our salvation is that we are God’s workmanship.  We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, i.e., good deeds, “which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

May the truth of our salvation and the good works that we perform through the power of Christ bring everlasting glory to our Lord and Savior, in the same way, that the Lord Jesus gave honor and glory to the Father during His time on the earth.

(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved
























Friday, August 14, 2020

1 Thessalonians 2:7-16 (L 05)


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Established November 2008                                     Published: August 14, 2020

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
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Welcome to HBS.

Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 2:7-16.

Paul’s Conduct (continued)

But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.  For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, has a father doth his children, That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (2:7-12).

Verses 7-8.

“But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

After reading that passage I am reminded of something I learned while teaching the Bible to school-age children and teenagers and my adult Bible students in their living rooms.  It was an eye-opener and a game changer.  I learned before you can teach someone you have to first reach someone.  What does that mean?  Well, in a nutshell, I liken this saying to something my mother used to tell me, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”  Scripture defines that even more so in 1 Corinthians chapter 9.  Please take the time to read the entire chapter, but for now we’ll drop in at verse 19.  This is where Paul speaks of his proper conduct among all men:

“…For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you” ( 9:19-23).

Staying in 1 Corinthians, flip a few pages to the right to chapter 13 and drop in at verse 13.  Hopefully, this looks familiar to y’all.  This is one place you’ll find Paul listing the three grace virtues that are to be practiced by every true Believer:  And now abideth faith, hope, charity (agape love, i.e., brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence), these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

In 1 Corinthians 13:19-23 we see Paul’s charity come to life, i.e., it became visible.  We also learn that Paul was a “servant,” to all willing to be “all things to all men” to “gain some.” (See 1 Corinthians 4:1-8 and Ephesians 3:1-9).  Some folks have misinterpreted that passage in a way that makes Paul appear to be inconsistent in his testimony.  They teach Paul had two ministries, one to the nation of Israel and one to the gentile nations.  So, when he was among his countrymen, he subjected himself to the Law of Moses, but when among gentiles he enjoyed his liberty in Christ Jesus totally apart from the Law.  But think this through.  If while among the Jews he reverted to Judaism and placed himself back under the do’s and don’ts of the Law, and then the following week when he mingled with the gentiles, he neglected to keep the Sabbath holy, and ate porkchops for brunch, what would happen once that information got back to the Jews?  Would they not rightfully say, “I’ll never listen to that man again.  Last week with us he was so careful to be subject to the ordinances of the Law.  But as soon as he left to be with the gentiles, he ignored the Law of Moses.  Therefore, he is two-faced; it was nothing but a charade.”

If you understand what you’re reading in the book of Acts and Paul’s epistles then you know he’s not inconsistent and those who hold the view I just mentioned should more carefully examine the Bible passage noting the word “as” in verses 20-22.  Paul said, “as a Jew…” and “as under the Law” etc.  Paul did not place himself back under the Law, but he did recognize their religious convictions and sensibilities, so that when he was with his countrymen he could sympathetically refrain from offending them.  Paul asks us to do likewise.  If you invite an unsaved Jewish friend to brunch, I pray you choose not to order a ham and cheese omelet.  But that also applies to anyone who might be offended by something you do.  For instance, some people believe it’s sinful to drink alcohol, so to keep from offending them the correct thing to do is refrain from ordering a two martini lunch.  As Paul said, “To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak:  Paul’s not talking about being weak physically, he means “weak” in the sense that he didn’t flex his spiritual muscles among those who are “weak,” as it pertains to the truth of God.  He dealt with each person “gently.”  Again, Paul did this for their sake and “for the gospel’s sake.”  Think this through.  The old adage “First impressions are lasting impressions” certainly applies.  When you meet someone for the first time you’re most likely to get but one opportunity to impress or “reach” them, so you want to put your best foot forward, as they say, if you want to win them over.     

Now, that carefully chosen word “gently” is the ideal segue to 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 so let’s turn back there and read the passage together: ““But we were (what?) gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

What does the word “gentle” mean?  At this point in time, Paul was already a spiritual giant in terms of being God’s called apostle to the gentiles entrusted with the saving message of His mercy and grace.  But did he go around flaunting his spiritual muscles, as it were, hardly.  The word “gentle” here means, “exercising God's strength under His control, i.e., demonstrating power without undue harshness.”  Where the truth of God’s Word was concerned Paul could, by God’s grace, be bold as a lion but in his dealings with the Thessalonians and others his “entrance” was as “gentle” as a lamb.

Bible students asks questions and seek answers from the Bible, so with that in mind  what does the word “nurse” mean?  Having worked at a hospital for 29 years, I know what a nurse is and does, but why did Paul choose that term here?  Did he mean a nurse to the children committed to her care or a nursing mother and her children.  Inquisitive minds desire to know, so at this point I picked up my Greek Concordance and found the Koine Greek word for “nurse” is anatrephó (pronounced: an-at-ref'-o); Strong’s Greek #397, meaning, “to nurse up, nourish, to rear, bring up, educate.  So then, Paul means to say as a mother imparts wisdom to her children, labors day and night for them without expecting anything in return, and would be willing to give up her life for them, so Paul, not only imparted the gospel of God’s grace to these converts, he was willing to labor night and day and suffer various degrees of persecution, and if need be, give up his life for them because, “ye were dear unto us” (2:8), or as he put it in verse 2:7, he was, “affectionately desirous” of them.   That thought takes us to verses 2:9-10 and again emphasizes the teaching principle “to teach someone you need to first reach someone.” 

For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.  Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:” (2:9-10).

Here Paul means to say while they labored among them “night and day,” they behaved honorably.  Using Paul’s analogy of a loving nursing mother, in like manner, Paul and Silas’ conduct among the Thessalonians was exemplary and above reproach. 

Remember what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 2:1: “For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance (coming) in unto you, that it was not in vain:  In vain” means their
ministry among the Thessalonians was not missing the proper motivation.  You see, Paul and Silas’ opposition not only attacked their message they sought to discredit the messenger in saying their ministry was wrongly motivated but those accusations were groundless and couldn’t stick.  For in the next verse Paul said, “But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were (what) bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.  This statement verifies the purity of their ministerial work and the message they boldly proclaimed even after being “shamefully entreated” at Philippi.  I dare say any con artist would seek other means of acquiring money or whatnot after suffering the persecution Paul and Silas endured, but Paul who was “bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God” pressed ever onward despite the stubborn opposition.       
 
Therefore, Paul dis not patronize the Thessalonians.  Instead he nurtured (educated) them in the faith as a loving mother nurses her children and tends to their individual needs.  Said differently, Paul had “put on Christ” in order to reach these folks.  If you were here for our study of Colossians, then you ought to be aware of what this means. For those of you who were not here I’ll explain.  In Colossians chapter three Paul told the Colossian saints to “put off their own way of life.”  But this means more than just  stop doing those things that are contrary to God’s expressed will:  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” (Colossians 3:8-9).

Instead, Paul encouraged them to live in a completely new and different way – in the way of Christ.  The following verses explains what this looks like: “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:12-17).

Paul reached the Thessalonians by receiving each one of them without prejudice and rejoiced in the fact that they were fellow members of the Body of Christ (1:2-4).  As their spiritual father, he took a personal interest in them.  He was sympathetic to those who needed a “gentle” word of encouragement,  he was there for those who needed reassurance, in providing for his own needs he removed this burden from them, etc.  In short, Paul practiced “charity” amongst these folks, i.e., he sought their highest good, in spite of the “contention” in order “to save some.”

Verses 2:13-16.

Cause and Effect

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.  For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

Verse 2:13.

“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”

That verse brings to mind the difference between law and grace when it comes to cause and effect.  Under the law, the Jews were told, Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deuteronomy 5:33).

That was the Law in a nutshell.  Under the Law, God said, “Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:5).  We know that God meant they would live eternally if they kept His statutes, because when the Lord was asked what to do to inherit eternal life, He quoted Leviticus 18:5 (Luke 10:25-28).  You see, under the law, men were saved by faith plus works, the specific works of observing the statutes and judgments of the law.  That meant keeping the 613 commandments found in the Talmud, such as, circumcision, keeping the Jewish feast days holy, bringing animal sacrifices, and so on. 
  
But while the law said “walk…that ye may live,” God’s grace presents a different cause and effect, as we can see from the words of Paul: “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).  Do you see the difference?  If the Jew kept the whole Mosaic Law perfectly, then walking in God’s statutes caused the effect of eternal life, but to break one commandment meant you broke them all (James 2:10-20).  But under God’s grace, the eternal life we are given by faith, minus works of any kind, should cause the effect of walking “worthy of the vocation with which you have been called” (Ephesians 2:8-9, 4:1).  Do you see the difference?

It was for this cause Paul said, “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (2:13).

The word of men” can come and go without having any effect in your life, but if you truly believe God when He said you have eternal life “in the Spirit,” shouldn’t this truth dictate how you live your life from here on out?  That’s a rhetorical question; I believe y’all know the answer. 

1 Thessalonians 2:13 isn’t the only place in Scripture where Paul gives thanks to God “without ceasing” for those who have come to know Christ Jesus as their Savior.  Paul was in the business of saving souls and in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 he speaks of it saying, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicingAre not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?  For ye are our glory and joy.”

In that passage Paul calls those who will be in the presence of Christ Jesus at His coming in the clouds for His Church his “crown of rejoicing.”  Since an unsaved person cannot be in the presence of the Lord, those who are there are most certainly saved.  This is why the “crown of rejoicing” is called the souls-winner crown.  For this labor of love, this burden for lost souls, is the greatest thing you can do for another person while on earth.  It’s the one gift that keeps on giving day after day, and it’s the one gift that everyone needs.  Case in point, the Lord suffered and died to “bring many sons unto glory” (Hebrews 2:10) and will one day be able to say with great joy, “Behold I, and the children which God hath given me” (Hebrews 2:13).  Paul, in a lesser way, will one day be able to say the same thing, for soul-winning is rewarding, not only in this life, but in the life to come.  Two O.T. passages confirm this principle:

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; And he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).  

Sadly, most Christians show little interest or concern regarding the Judgment Seat of Christ.  They live as though they will never stand before the Lord and give an account of their walk (life).  By the time they take this matter seriously it will be too late.  But did you know in his letters Paul speaks of the following three crowns:

The Imperishable Crown (1 Corinthians 9:25)
The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
The Crown of Rejoicing ( 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

I don’t believe these are literal crowns that will be handed out, but rather they are honors bestowed upon those saints who earned them.  Paul, for example, led many at Thessalonica to a saving knowledge of Christ.  He rejoiced that they had been delivered from pagan idolatry to worship the true and living God (1:9).  The Bible says the angels rejoice when one sinner is saved (Luke 15:7, 10), since that’s the case, surely heaven will reverberate with a glorious shout, something akin to the sound heard in the football stadium when a touchdown is scored, upon the completion of our redemption.  In that day, the Lord is going to publicly acknowledge all those who, like Paul, had a burden for lost souls.  So then, Paul’s implying that a crown/honor will be bestowed on all those who had a role in someone’s salvation or contributed, in some way, to their spiritual growth.    

Verse 2:14.

For ye, (y’all) brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:”

This verse speaks of the persecution the Thessalonians “suffered” for their faith in what God had said in this Dispensation of Grace.  Paul likened it to the suffering of “the Jewish churches of God in Judea.”  Now, two things ought to be crystal clear: 1) The world-at-large despises God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His message of grace.  They simply do not want to hear it.  The Thessalonian Believers soon found this out.  2) God’s Grace is evident and a factor in every single dispensation, but in the Dispensation of Law the churches in Judea were not grace churches (assemblies) they were kingdom churches: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:5-7).

So, as the Thessalonians had received the Word of truth from Paul and Silas it saved them and worked in them and through them effectively.  In contrast, in ancient Greece there were more than few notable Greek philosophers, but did anything they say or write save anyone from God’s wrath to come – not so much.  This brings to mind Paul’s  remarks in 1 Corinthians 1:20-21: “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?  hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

The genuineness of the Thessalonian Believer’s faith reflected that of Paul and Silas: “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost (Spirit).  So that ye were ensamples (examples) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” (1:6-7).

Verse 2:14 tells us the Thessalonian Believers had suffered persecution from their own countrymen, even as the kingdom churches of God in Judea.  That being said, it was mostly the Jewish unbelievers who stirred up the gentiles against the gentile Believers.  At Philippi, it would seem the persecution arose directly from the pagan owners of the healed demon-possessed girl.  But at Thessalonica it was the Jews who “set all the city in an uproar” charging the Believers with violating Caesar’s laws (Acts 17:5-7).  And then again in Berea it was the Jews from Thessalonica who “came thither also” and stirred up the people against Paul, Silas, and Christ (Acts 17:13).

Verses 2:15-16.

Divine Judgment Upon the Persecutors and the Comforting of Paul

“(So it was the Jews) Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us;
Here Paul offers words of comfort to the saints at Thessalonica who were suffering persecution by saying they were not alone.  The Lord Jesus Christ faced persecution daily, and the Jewish Believers in Judea faced it long before them.  Paul and his companions were also persecuted; so, it goes with the territory, so to speak. 

Here also Paul wrote his own countrymen (the Judeans) had killed the Lord Jesus Christ.  But Paul knew full well they were not the only ones with blood on their hands.  The Romans had a decisive hand in it and share in the guilt and shame (Psalm 2:1-3).

Verse 2:15b.

and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

Paul also comforted them with the reassurance that they were the ones pleasing God.  This was necessary because they were persecuted by religious people and might be wondering if these other religious people were in fact right with God in their persecuting, in other words, they were doing the will of God.  Paul made it quite clear this was not the case, “…and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

Verse 2:165a,

Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: (until Christ Jesus comes to take away His Church).”

Here Paul revealed what had offended the Jewish persecutors so much.  They were outraged that gentiles could be saved without first becoming Jews.  This exclusive attitude filled “up the measure of their sins.”  The Jews’ opposition therefore to the work of the missionaries among the gentiles in Thessalonica was not due to the fact that they were seeking to convert gentiles.  Their fierce opposition was due to the fact that Paul and Silas offered salvation to gentiles without requiring them to first become Jews.

Verse 2:16.

“…for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

That expression parallels Genesis 15:16.  Often God allows His people to suffer the indignation of others simply because He is longsuffering toward the sinner, “not willing that any should perish.”  Consequently, some will acknowledge God and what He has said while others remain right where they are, outside of Christ, and deserving of condemnation.

Paul comforted the Thessalonians by assuring them God would indeed take care of their persecutors, “For vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord” (Romans 12:19).  When Christian vigilantes forget this truth and proceed to take matters into their own hand, they often disgrace themselves and “the cause of Christ” in the process.

(To be continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved