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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, July 31, 2020

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 (L 03) Faith, Hope and Love

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

Established November 2008                                     Published: July 31, 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 y’all to HBS. 

“ For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols (this is faith) to serve the living and true God (this is love); And to wait for his Son from heaven (this is hope), whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1:9-10).

If you recall awhile back I said we take a longer look at the three grace virtues faith, hope, and love (charity) so that’s why we haven’t moved on. 

Faith, Hope, and Love

 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love)” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

 In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul taught the supernatural communication gifts which God gave the early Church, i.e., prophecy, tongues, and the gift of knowledge, would cease once the Scriptures were complete.  After this, the Body of Christ would operate on the basis of the written Word of God, dispensationaly speaking of course, through the three grace virtues faith, hope, and love (charity).  Charity speaks of agape love that’s why he said of these three virtues the greatest is charity because it is the ultimate expression of love.  In layman’s terms, it literally means to seek one another’s highest good “alway,” that is, until the Lord comes for His Church and not just when you’re in the mood.  The best biblical example of agape love is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself for He suffered a horrible death that was not His to die for all mankind’s sake.   
The Completed Scriptures

 One of the things we learn from 1 Corinthians 13:13 is that Paul’s commission as the risen and glorified Lord’s apostle to the gentiles included completing the Scriptures (see  Romans 1:1-5; Colossians 1:25; 2 Peter 3:15-17).  Thus, the supernatural gifts of 1 Corinthians 13 ceased by the time Paul wrote his last letter to Timothy in 68 AD.  No one in the Church legitimately exercises these three spiritual gifts today.  They have been replaced by things far superior, namely, the completed Word of God and faith, hope, and love. 

 I reiterate, God saved Paul and appointed him to be the apostle of the gentiles (Romans 11:13).  Included in this commission was that Paul would establish something brand new, that is, “a new creature,” the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 3:1-7) made up of individual Believers.  This new program required new truths for “new wine cannot abide old wineskins” (Matthew 9:17).  The Lord revealed (by revelation) to Paul these new truths re: the Church to guide and manage it: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1).  These “mysteries” revealed God’s plan and purpose for His Church in the dispensation of the grace of God and were meant to “stablish” the Believer (to settle permanently in a state; to make firm; to establish; to fix) in the faith.  Furthermore, with the Believer’s practical sanctification in mind, God set forth our apostle Paul as “the pattern” for the Body of Christ to copy or imitate  (1 Timothy 1:12-16). 

The Grace Trinity of Faith, Hope, and Love

In addition to the blessing of the completed Word of God, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 of the blessings of faith, hope, and love for the Body of Christ is to live by these grace virtues.  Two other passages, both found in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, contain these virtues, which again points to the reason why we haven’t moved on in our study.  They are the following: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).  The phrases “work of faith, “labour of love” and “patience of hope” was the language of his prayer for the Thessalonian saints (1 Thessalonians 1:2).  This prayer reveals how Believers should pray today.  You see, part of copying Paul’s life most certainly includes imitating his prayer life, “ 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” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

Paul regarded faith and love as our “breastplate.”  A breastplate was designed to defend the soldier’s heart, the source of faith and love.  Hope” here refers to the soldier’s helmet an item designed to protect the head or the mind.  So, let’s be clear the “Hope of salvation” does not mean we are to hope our salvation is genuine and long-lasting.  I say this because the uneducated individual might view the expression “hope of salvation” with a question mark at the end of it.  It may cause them to think in terms of the earthly definition of hope, which generally suggests the idea of something yet to be received, thus it remains hoped for.  But elsewhere Paul wrote: “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Romans 8:24-25).  

Here Paul focused on something that has not yet been received.  How, then, can the Believer possess salvation (1 Corinthians 15:2), and yet “hope” for it?  The answer is to be found in the fact that words may be used in different senses in the Scriptures.  There is a sense in which salvation has already been received, i.e., we received the forgiveness of all our sins past, present, and future, the very moment we believed Paul’s gospel (Romans 16:25-27; Galatians 1:4; Colossians 2:13).  And yet, in another manner of speaking, we “hope” for a salvation yet to come (1 Thessalonians 5:8), which is “nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11), but is yet to be obtained in its fullness (2 Timothy 2:10).  So then, the “hope of salvation” is not something that might or might not happen it is as certain as any other promise of God.  One day future every true Believer will “fly away” and be fully free of the temptations and wiles of Satan, and the difficulties this life presents and their salvation will be fully realized (Ephesians 1:11-14).   

The word “faith” is a verb.  It means to believe what God has said, more specifically, what God has said in each dispensation for God’s program and plan change from one dispensation to another.  Please note God Himself does not change, but the manner in which He deals with mankind most certainly changes.  Today in the dispensation of the grace of God a Believer has the assurance of salvation and eternal life because he or she believes God will do what He has said.  It’s that simple.  The Lord Jesus Christ has done the work of salvation.  Remember, shortly before He expired on the cross He said, “It is finished.”  Therefore, not one more thing needs to be done.  Our part in God’s salvation plan is simply to believe God.  Please note I did not say believe “in” God I said believe God.  We believe this because God has said He will not accept those who try to pitch in and help Him by adding human effort in any form to Christ’s perfect work of salvation.  Therefore, the only path to Salvation is the one God has declared for this age: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5; Ephesians 2:8-9, 3:1-12).

Let’s be clear, the word “hope” is short for the Believer’s joyful, sure, and confident expectation of what God has promised.  Because of this, it’s related to “faith.”  It doesn’t mean hope in the sense of “I hope French fries comes with that,” or “I hope I win the lottery.”  The biblical meaning of “hope” is a confident assurance in God and in His Word.  Thus, a Believer’s “hope of salvation” and eternal life translates to a confident and sure expectation that God will do exactly what He has promised (1Corinthians 15:12-23). 
 The biblical term “love” is also a verb, that is, it’s an action word.  Who hasn’t heard the expression “Actions speak louder than words” or “what you do is more important than what you say.”  I don’t think y’all need me to  point out that in our culture love has a variety of meanings.  People love that which gives them pleasure and that could be almost anything under the sun.  Over time the biblical meaning of love has been swallowed up by the world’s view, so again, “love” as it’s used here denotes something you do not for yourself but for someone else’s benefit.  For instance, Jesus Christ walked with His disciples for about 3 years and one of the last commands He issued was, “love one another.”  Why?  I believe it was to draw others to Himself for Christ Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).  So, once again, “love,” is a verb; “charity” is an unselfish act toward another.  With that thought in mind Paul said “love” looks like this:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.  Charity never faileth:” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a).

Simply said, “love” believes the best or gives people the benefit of the doubt; it doesn’t jump to conclusions.  Love” bears with one another’s short-comings; “love” hopes in the fact that “…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Love” allows us to endure the insults, ridicule, rejection, and scorn we receive for our faith and in serving others in Christ’s name.  Love” means giving our enemies what they don’t deserve, just as God has done for us. 
Our apostle Paul goes on to say, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:29-32); “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour” (Ephesians 5:2).

The world-at-large defines love as anything that brings them pleasure and that’s quite different from the biblical meaning as you can plainly read.  All one need do is look to the cross of Christ Jesus to see that.  So, from God’s Word we learn there are tangible things we can do to show “charity” to one another.  For example, “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10); so, if you want to show the love of God to each other then, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind (humility) let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3-4);  

The world’s view of love then is connected to one’s emotions, while the biblical meaning of “love” relates to one’s mental attitude.  Paul doesn’t leave us wondering what that means for in Philippians 2:5 he said, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Every true Believer is to put on the mind of Christ.  “Put on” denotes something that you do; it’s not automatic or natural, and that’s because the “old man” wants to take us one way and the indwelt Holy Spirit intends to take us in the opposite direction, thus “the spiritual conflict” Paul writes of in Romans 7. 

Permit me to illustrate:  just the other day a driver cut me off in traffic almost causing a rear-end collision.  I did not have warm, fuzzy thoughts about this careless person, if I’m being honest.  But instead of going where my flesh, i.e., “the old man” wanted to go I remembered that this individual was created in the image of God and the Lord Jesus Christ died for them (Genesis 1:26-27;  Psalm 139-14).  Christ Jesus didn’t give them or me, for that matter, what we deserved; He gave us mercy and grace while we were yet His enemies (Romans 5:8-9; 12:1-21).  So, in a sense, I “Let this mind be in (me), which was also in Christ Jesus:” I considered this person and their unkindly act with that perspective and by that I mean to say I did not let my emotions rule the day.   I might not be able to change my feelings but I can certainly adjust my mental attitude and where the mind goes the body soon follows.  Because Christ lives in me I’m able to control what I think and say.  Paul said, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me (imitate), do: and the God of peace shall be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

Summing up, all Scripture is written for our enlightenment but not all Scripture is written to the Body of Christ nor is it about us.  We must study all Scripture in the light of Paul’s epistles, i.e., Romans through Philemon.  Only in the letters of Paul do we find the “word of Christ,” not in red ink but black, along with the marching orders for the Body of Christ (Colossians 3:16).  Paul’s distinctive message and ministry must be recognized in order for the Believers in this dispensation to fully understand “the mystery of His will” (Ephesians 1:8-9).  Once this is accomplished, we discover Paul is more than just our apostle.  He is our example (Philippians 3:17), he is our minister (Colossians 1:25), and he is our father figure and instructor (I Corinthians 4:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 2:11).

The letters of Paul are directed to Believers who have been saved by faith in what God has clearly said in this dispensation of His grace.  Paul calls this good newsmy gospel” (Acts 20:24; Romans 2:16, 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8).  As our apostle, Paul enlightens us regarding our spiritual relationship and responsibility.  We are to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1);  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32);  Walk in wisdom toward them that are without” (Colossians 4:5).  Paul prayed, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17). 

Paul urges us to totally dedicate ourselves in the service of Christ (Romans 12:1).  He affirms that we will “suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 3:12). But he also assured us that God will empower us to perform the good works He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10), which includes “the ministry of reconciliation.” “For the love of Christ constraineth us….” And “I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me” (1 Corinthians 5:14; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 4:13).

(To be Continued)

 © Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 24, 2020

1 Thessalonians - Faith, love, and hope (L02)

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

Established November 2008                                         Published: July 24, 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.

We covered a lot of material last week and I ask that you review it at your leisure in preparation for studying this Bible lesson. 

I ended the previous lesson at 1 Thessalonians 1:10, so we’ll start there.  If you recall, this is where Paul mentioned the third wonderful grace virtue “hope.”   But what were the Thessalonians hoping for?  The answer lies just ahead.


Please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols (this is faith) to serve the living and true God (this is love); And to wait for his Son from heaven (this is hope), whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

Here again we find the three grace virtues Paul refers to as, faith, love, and hope and they appear several times in his writings in this same manner or a combination of the three (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 5:8).  When the saints at Thessalonica “turned to God from idols,” they demonstrated faith.  When they considered God’s great love for them and His saving grace, the natural response was, “to serve the living and true God” and that’s love.  When they chose to patiently wait for His Son from heaven, they demonstrated “hope.”  

From a chronological perspective this is the first written statement from our apostle Paul re: the imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds (the first heaven) for the Body of Christ.  It demonstrates the fact that the Rapture of the Church is part of the special message committed to him by the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) and proclaimed by him only during his earlier ministry. 

The O.T. prophets predicted the return of Christ to judge and then to reign on earth as Israel’s King.  His coming for the Body of Christ, however, will not be associated with judgment, but with God’s amazing grace.  The Church will not be here when the bowls of God’s righteous wrath are poured out upon the ungodly, for before that time arrives we will be “caught up” to be with Christ for He has “…delivered us from the wrath to come.”  It is this “blessed hope” we are told to “wait for” (1 Thessalonians 1:10), and to “look for” (Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13), while we continue “serving the living and true God.”

There’s a flip-side to almost every topic and the Rapture is no exception to this rule.  Although, you’d be hard-pressed to find this term in the KJ Bible, Paul clearly teaches the catching-away of the Body of Christ will take place in accordance with God the Father’s purpose and plan for His Church, but many people in the church oppose this teaching.  Please know the hostility toward the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture is increasing.  Some of the  resistance comes from non-Christians, which is understandable.  But sadly, most of the opposition to this divine truth comes from those who claim to be Christians.  When all is said and done, ultimately, the source of this hostility is Satan - the father of lies.  Increased antagonism to this key church doctrine indicates the Lord’s return grows nearer for Satan’s purpose is to confound, sow discord, and deny Believers of their blessed hope.

The fact that some of the Christian churches teach something other than the Pre-Tribulational Rapture is largely the result of a misinterpretation and misapplication of certain Bible verses from the gospels and the Book of Acts, particularly the following:

”…the one shall be taken and the other left.” (Matthew 24:40-42)

The parable of the Ten Virgins (See Matthew 25:1-13)

If I go… I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3)

This same Jesus… shall come again…” (Acts 1:11)

But as you’ll soon see these folks have taken their arguments and beliefs for the Rapture from the wrong part of Scripture, meaning, they have failed to rightly divide the Scriptures, for Paul distinctly declared the truth of the Rapture was a “mystery,” (secret is a better term for God is not mysterious), until revealed through him. 

First we should note that it is in connection with the Rapture that Paul refers to our Lord as the One who has, “delivered us from the wrath to come.”  Next, we should determine what “the wrath to come” truly is.  I mention this because I know a pastor or two who won’t even venture into the Book of Revelation.  One said he didn’t think this book should be in the Bible.  Another called it, “sheer fantasy.”  So, let’s be clear “the wrath to come” is not the Great White Thone Judgement or the Lake of Fire, and we know this because of what Revelation 20:11-15 says:  And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.  And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Reading that Bible passage carefully, it’s clear the emphasis is not upon “God’s wrath” but upon prophecy being fulfilled re: punitive justice toward the ungodly .i.e., the unsaved.  The Tribulation and the Great Tribulation (the final 3.5 years of this period) are consistently associated with “the wrath of God” in such phrases as, “the day of his wrath,” “the time of his wrath,” “his fierceness and wrath,” and “the wrath to come.” (See also Psalm 2:5; Isaiah 9:19, 13:9; Jeremiah 10:10; Zephaniah 1:14-15; Revelation 6:15-17, 14:10, 15:1, 16:1, 19:15).  Therefore, the members of the Body of Christ will be “caught up” in the clouds to be with the Lord Jesus Christ before the prophesied Tribulation take place, and it is with this fact in mind our apostle Paul wrote: “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1:10).

For those of you who still think this subject is as clear as mud, I offer the following. 

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is as sound a doctrine as Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  The Scriptures provide overwhelming evidence of it.  The reason for opposition centers around: 1) ignorance of the Scriptures (particularly Paul’s letters) and 2) a lack of faith, i.e., unbelief.  Most refuse to accept it because they do not want to.  For them, tradition and religion is dearer than the Scriptures.  I know this to be true because I’ve met more than a few of these people over the years and they are adamant re: what they choose to believe.  Because of this they could be likened to the Israelites at Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 10:11, 14-45) who refused to enter Canaan, i.e., the promised land or “God’s rest” (Hebrews 3:11, 4:3).  In like manner these folks refuse God’s rest of the Rapture. 

While many verses affirm the Pre-Tribulational Rapture, only a couple are needed to prove it: 1 Corinthians 15:51 and our present verse, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, will suffice.  1 Corinthians 15:51 proves the fact of the Rapture.  Paul stated the Lord’s return and our resurrection (the Rapture) was a “mystery” from the Greek word musterion; Strong’s Greek #3466, or a secret.   In contrast, the birth of Christ was not a secret.  Throughout the O.T. the Jewish prophets taught it.  What’s more, the Lord taught it in His earthly ministry (Matthew 24:30, 44).  His resurrection was not a secret.  Jesus taught it and the Pharisees believed it.  Martha knew about it and believed it (John 11:23-25).  If Paul declared the Lord’s return and our resurrection was a “secret,” it can mean but one thing: it was a secret kept hidden in the mind of God since before the foundation of the earth.  In other words, Paul’s teaching revealed something new, something God had kept hidden until He revealed it to Paul.  1 Thessalonians 1:10 provides the timing of the Rapture: it occurs before the Tribulation.  

What did Jews understand theologically?  Jewish theology was based upon two great revelations proclaimed by the prophets.  One was the earthly Messianic kingdom God promised to the nation of Israel.  Most Christians pray for it (whether they realize it or not) every Sunday when they recite the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:10).  The other was “the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord

Technically, the Day of the Lord is composed of three elements:

1) God’s wrath upon the whole earth
2) The Coming One Thousand Year Messianic kingdom on the earth
3) The creation of a new heavens and earth

However, God’s wrath is the subject most associated with the Day of the Lord.  God revealed to David (circa 1,000 BC) that He would pour His wrath out upon Israel and the nations (Psalm 2:5, 9).  Notice Israel and the Gentile nations were the subjects of God’s wrath not the Church.  There is not one Bible verse that teaches God will in righteous anger pour out His wrath on the Body of Christ; not one!

Every Jew knew the prophecies related to the Day of the Lord and Israel’s kingdom. The apostle Peter proclaimed them on the day of Pentecost.  He recognized that God’s gift of the Holy Spirit was a sign of the long awaited kingdom.  He fully expected all of Joel’s prophecy to be fulfilled shortly which included God’s wrath also known as “the time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jeremiah 30; Matthew 24:15-31).  This is why he quoted the prophecy from Joel to the men of Israel on the day of Pentecost (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21; Luke 3:16-17). 

The Day of the Lord (the Tribulation and God’s wrath) is something no Believer of Paul’s gospel (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15.1-4) will experience.  Paul stated clearly that the Lord will rescue Believers from God’s wrath.  The Lord’s return that Paul taught was not the Lord’s advent revealed by the prophets of Israel.  It was a new and previously unknown event, which was why he called it a “mystery.”  

The purpose of the Rapture is twofold:

1) The salvation of the Believer’s body with a new resurrection body or the Believer’s glorification (Philippians 3:20-21). 

2) To rescue those Believers who are still alive at that time. 

Perhaps you’re beginning to understand why Paul referred to this event as the Body of Christ’s “blessed hope.” 

Therefore, all those who errantly use certain scripture passages from the four gospels and early Acts to teach the Rapture have failed to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (Romans 2:15).  Whether knowingly or unknowingly they have played a prominent role in bringing about the Post-Tribulation theory and in turn have frightened sincere Christians instead of “comforting” them with the blessed truth that the Body of Christ will be “delivered from the wrath to come” by the coming of Christ Jesus in the first heaven to catch-away the members of the Body of Christ before God pours out His wrath on this unbelieving, lost world (1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:16-18, 5:9-11).

(To be Continued)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 17, 2020

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (L 01)

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

Established November 2008                                         Published: July 17, 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 back to HBS.

We’re going to jump right into this week’s Bible lesson so, if you would, please open your Bible at 1 Thessalonians 1:1-4.

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.”

Verse 1.

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 
In both of these letters to the Thessalonians Believers Paul addressed himself to them in association with his coworkers Silas and Timothy.  This isn’t all that strange; however, these two letters are the only ones in which he addressed himself to his readers as PAUL.  What we don’t find here is his apostolic credentials.  Reasons for this vary of course.  One reason might be since no Believer in Thessalonica questioned his apostolic calling and authority, as some did later at Corinth and Galatia, he didn’t need to declare it.  Unlike the church at Colosse, there were no heresies to confront, and unlike the church at Philippi there were no divisions in the body.  There are others, but I’m inclined to believe this particular salutation speaks of an intimate bond that existed between PAUL and the Thessalonian Believers.  That unique bond was created because the converts in Thessalonica were enduring much persecution for their faith, as was our apostle Paul.  That kind of connection creates an unbreakable bond, that is, a familiarity between people that others could not appreciate or understand.  Military personnel share a similar bond, having stood shoulder to shoulder with their comrades in peace and in war.  The hardships associated with that lifestyle make for a personal attachment that lasts.  I offer the HBO made for T.V. movie “Band of Brothers” as one example. 

I noticed something else in Paul’s greeting.   Although it might appear to be no different than any of his other opening statements, I picked up on a thought and I’ll explain what that is.  Verse 1:1 is more than an opening salutation; it’s an official declaration by PAUL, the risen Lord’s bondservant, from the rejected Godhead (1 Samuel 8:4-5;  John 19:1-16; Acts 2:22-23; Acts 7).  Grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” is the theme of the message PAUL proclaimed to all nations. You see, according to prophecy God the Father was to avenge the rejection of His Son (Psalm 2:1-5, 110:1), but in infinite grace He chose to interrupt His Prophetic Program, delaying judgment, and ushered in the dispensation of the grace of God instead.  In this age He is offering amnesty to all His enemies, i.e., “the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace” (Romans 5:8-9; Ephesians 1:7).

Verse 1:2.

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

The Thessalonian saints remained true to the faith despite the persecution they were suffering, so Paul acknowledged this and gave “thanks to God.”  To that I’ll add gratitude goes out to the Philippian saints.  They deserve credit for their willingness to encourage these new Believers, for while Paul was still with them, the Philippians, having heard of their persecution, sent delegations “once and again” to help Paul, and them, in the work they were seeking to accomplish (Philippians 4:16).  The saints at Philippi were no stranger to persecution and suffering, so their presence reassured and comforted them.  In Paul’s letters to the saints at Philippi and Thessalonica he revealed his affection and respect for these two house churches (1 Corinthians 12:25-27; Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4).

We give thanks to God always for you all” – plainly said, when Paul thought of these folks he couldn’t help but “give thanks to God;” “Remembering without ceasing (their) work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;  (1:3).  These Christian traits demonstrate what it means to have the mind of Christ and confirms the fact that they were indeed “the elect of God” (1:3-4).

With companions Silvanus (a.k.a. Silas) and Timothy, Paul followed up their ministry to the Thessalonians with a letter of encouragement.  They greeted and gave thanks to God for them and let them know they were in their prayers (1:2).  Paul declared the church at Thessalonica was “in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.”  What a marvelous statement!  Can the same be said of your church?  If so, the next time someone asks you where your church is, tell them, “it is located in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ;” for God has placed us in Christ, in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1.3) so that is our positional location and eternal destiny.

Verses 1:5-10.

The Power of Paul’s Gospel

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.  And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples (an example; a pattern or model for imitation) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.  For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

Verse 5.

For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake” - what does Paul mean?  The answer: nowhere in this letter do we find miracles being performed in Thessalonica but rather the power that was associated with the preaching of the Word or “the gospel of the grace of God” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).   

In verse 1:5 Paul stressed it was his gospel that had been proclaimed to them “in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance;” This is clear evidence that Acts 17:2-3 does not teach that Paul then, or ever, preached “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 9:35, 10:5-7).  He merely used the O.T. Scriptures to prove to the Jews that the crucified Jesus was in fact their promised Messiah.  Think this through.  How could they trust Christ as their Savior if they did not first believe He was the Messiah? 

Verse 1:5b.

as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

Here Paul reminded these saints of their conduct while they were among them.  This is the first of seven phrases in 1:5 to 2:11, in which he reminded them that they know how Paul, Silas, and Timothy conducted themselves while they labored in Thessalonica.  After reading that Bible passage, it’s ought to be apparent that Paul and his companions were all about proclaiming the gospel of the grace of God; they were not seeking financial assistance or monetary gain.  It was customary for Paul and his companions to work with their own hands to provide for their needs.  This was especially true where new grace churches were planted.  The N.T. specifically reveals Paul worked in Galatia, Corinth, Thessalonica, and 
Ephesus (Acts 20:31-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12, 9:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8).  They did this to build trust and to prevent people from accusing them of using their ministry for selfish purposes one of which was financial gain.  Therefore, Paul could in all sincerity say just as he later did to the Believers at Corinth, Greece: “Did I make a gain of you…” (2 Corinthians 12:17-18); and to the elders at Ephesus, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.  Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:33-34).

Note also Paul’s remarks in 1 Corinthians 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 

And 2 Corinthians 2:17: “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”

The concept expressed here is literally, “making gain by corrupting,” or as Edgar Johnson Goodspeed (1871–1962) put it, “a peddler of God’s message.” So then, this practice came to be used by petty peddlers or hucksters to sell their goods and thus any and all corruption for the sake of personal gain.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy were not petty peddlers of the Word of God, “but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”  Paul’s message was and is powerful because it is eternally true, and was sincerely delivered to his audience: “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.  And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.  Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:14-18).

So powerful is this message that Paul willingly suffered and died proclaiming it.  I doubt the hucksters of Paul’s day could or would do likewise and that could be said of many preachers today who put financial gain above the truth of God.

Verse 1:6-8.
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.”

Christians for the most part know the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Follow Me,” but few are aware of Paul’s exhortation, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Philippians 3:17).  Unlike the twelve, Paul represented the glorified and risen Lord in proclaiming a new program along with a brand new message, i.e., “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2), and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).  This good news was committed to Paul “by revelation” and he faithfully declared wherever he went.  The Thessalonian saints had become followers of Paul and the glorified Lord in these three respects:

They received the Word (our gospel) which Paul proclaimed (1:5). 
They endured “much affliction with joy of the Holy Ghost (1:6).
They in turn became “ensamples” (examples) of Christian faith and conduct “to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia,” and beyond (1:7).

To the Believers in Rome Paul could say, “Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8); and here, to the saints in Thessalonica, he could already say, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1:8).  Do you get what Paul’s saying?  He didn’t need to tell others about the Thessalonian’s conduct and their faith, people were sharing this information with him! 

Following Christ and witnessing for Him were dangerous activities in Thessalonica.  Note Paul said, “(They) received the word in much affliction (1:6); and referring to the persecutions in Judea he said, “ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen” (2:14); and then goes on to describe the intensity of the hatred being manifested against the true Believers in Thessalonica.  But here’s the thing, this “affliction” and persecution did not hinder the spread of the gospel.  At Berea Paul’s message was cautiously, then eagerly, received, with the result that “many of them believed.”  For their positive response toward Paul’s preaching they were called “noble.”  Later on persecution came into their lives, but it appears they received little to no opposition to receiving Paul’s grace message itself.  In contrast, the majority of the Jews at Thessalonica’s synagogue bitterly opposed Paul and his message and viciously persecuted the minority who had accepted it as the truth of God.  But the apostle Paul writes, “ye…received the Word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost” (1:6).  This tells us the persecution they suffered did not rob them of their joy, in fact, it helped produce it (Acts 5:41).  

Verses 1:9-10.

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

In the Bible passage above we find the three marks of true salvation: faith, hope, and love.  The Thessalonians, per Paul, had “turned to God from idols” (this is faith); “to serve the living and true God” (this speaks of love); “And to wait for his Son from heaven” (this is hope).  So what we have here is believing, serving, and patiently waiting on the Lord Jesus Christ’s return in the clouds to catch away the Body of Christ. 

Let’s examine these one-at-a-time. 

1) Paul wrote: “ye turned to God from idols.”  This speaks of their conversion.  They did not merely accept God as one of their gods or even as the greatest among them.  They “turned to God,” (the living God), “from idols,” meaning they left their gods for Him.  In so doing, they had turned from a life without hope to a life filled with “that blessed hope:”

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14). 

2) Now that they knew God and were known by Him, the natural response to His great love toward them is a sincere desire “to serve the living and true God” (Exodus 21; Colossians 3:22 – 4:1).  But in what way did they serve God?  In the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, we see that though they were relatively new converts, “they were good ensamples to all that believed” (1:7); they had “sounded out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place…” (1:8a); and Paul said of them, “but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad,” meaning they demonstrated a faith that others could not help but recognize (1:8b).

In performing these good works the Thessalonians were not only serving the Lord, they showed themselves to be followers of the Lord and Paul.  That thought takes us back to verse 1:3: “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” There’s no doubt it was the possession of  these three Christian graces (faith, hope, and love) that assured Paul that they were truly “the elect of God” (1:3-4). Time and time again Paul wrote of the trinity of faith, hope, and love or combinations of these virtues (Romans 5:2, 5, 1 Corinthians 13:13; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 10:15; Galatians 5:5-6, 22; Ephesians 1:15, 3:17, 6:23; Colossians 1:4, 23; 1 Timothy 1:14, 6:10-11; 2 Timothy 1:13; Titus 3:15; Philemon 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:8).  I plan to spend more time looking at the magnificent trinity of faith, hope, and love in an upcoming lesson. 

Here Paul said they had become “followers” of them and that the Thessalonians had received and followed their message “in much affliction,” i.e., distress, tribulation (v. 6).  No doubt Paul was referring to the uproar initiated by the unbelieving Jews.  They incited a mob to attack Jason’s house (Acts 17:5-9) after they could not locate Paul and Silas.  It was in the midst of this turmoil that the Thessalonian Believers received Paul’s message.  Paul’s word for “follower” (KJV) means to imitate or copy.  It is the word from which we derive the words “mimic” and “mimeograph.”  Paul commanded Believers to “imitate” or to “copy” him in several of his writings (1 Corinthians 4:16, 11:1; Ephesians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:14).  No other apostle does this. Think about that if you would.  The Thessalonians had responded and became godly examples to all in Macedonia (northern Greece) and Achaia (southern Greece) “…but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad” (1:7-8).

It’s also worth mentioning again the gospel was not hindered by this persecution and the Believers at Thessalonica did not forfeit their joy.  You see, these saints were committed to serving the Lord and in doing so experienced true joy and fulfillment.  This was also true of our apostle Paul, even as he awaited his trial before Caesar for serving Christ which might result in his death he was able to say, “I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.  Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all” (Philippians 2:16-17).  

What wonderful words of assurance!  Who hasn’t felt, at one time or another, that their labor for the Lord is in vain?  But Paul made it clear in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that our labor is not in vain, if we are truly serving our Savior and not just trying to make a name for ourselves:  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain (if it’s done) in the Lord.”

But how could Paul say such a thing, in light of his words to the church at Thessalonica where he said, “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.”
Here one might assume Paul appears to be apprehensive in regard to their labor in Thessalonica believing it was all for nought, i.e., in vain, if the temptations of the tempter (Satan) had succeeded in luring them away from the truth of God. 

In view of this statement, how could Paul state so emphatically that the labor of the Corinthians was not in vain?  Was it because they were better at it than Paul.  Hardly.  So, the answer is found in the assurance Paul gave them that their labor was not in vain, “in the Lord.”  While it was quite possible that the labor of even our apostle Paul might be in vain, in the Galatians, the Philippians, and even in the Thessalonian Believers, it is not possible that any of their labors, or ours for that matter, are in vain if they are done, “in the Lord.”  Why is that?  Who remembers what Paul said about the Judgment Seat of Christ?  Permit me to refresh your memory,Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour (I Corinthians 3:8).  Notice that the Believer is going to be rewarded according to their labor, and not according to the fruit of their labor.  Paul means to say God intends to reward the Believer based upon their faithfulness, not on the faithfulness of those upon whom they bestowed their labor of love.  If this were not the case, even Paul’s rewards would be few, remembering, after all of the labor he extended in Asia the folks in Asia turned away from him and the truth of God (2 Timothy 1:15).  

So if the unfaithfulness of the ones upon whom you bestow your spiritual labor has you thinking all of your efforts have gone for nought, remember your labor might be in vain in them, but your labor is not in vain if done in the Lord.  So then, “…let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10).

Now it’s time to sign off for this week.  We’ll address the third Christian grace virtue called “hope” when next we meet, that is, if the Lord doesn’t return to take us home.   

(To be Continued)

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