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I THESSALONIANS (9)
A SECOND THANKSGIVING
I Thessalonians 2:13-16
Victor M. Eskew
A. The apostle Paul is a man who constantly expresses thanks for things he considers to be blessings from God.
1. He has given thanks for his brethren once in I Thessalonians already (I Thess. 1:2).
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.
2. In I Thessalonians 2:13-16, Paul again expresses thanks for his brethren in Thessalonica.
B. We have entitled this section of the book: “A Second Thanksgiving.”
C. Let’s look at the words in this portion of this epistle and glean some lessons from them.
I. THE EXPRESSION OF THANKS (I Thess. 2:13a)
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing…
A. God is the giver of all good and perfect gifts (James 1:17).
B. We need to recognize His blessings and express our gratitude for them.
1. Psalm 100:4
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
2. I Thessalonians 5:18
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
C. Giving thanks should be done continuously.
1. Paul used the words: “without ceasing.”
2. Our thanksgiving should be “constantly recurring” (e-sword, Vine).
D. Paul has a reason for his thanksgiving. He continues by saying: “…because…” Two reasons are set forth.
II. THE RECEPTION OF GOD’S WORD (I Thess. 2:13b)
…because, when ye received the word which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God…
A. Paul had been discussing both his preaching and his ministry among the Thessalonians in the previous section. As he thought about his labors, he was reminded of the reception many had given to the Word of God.
B. There are two ways we can view the Bible.
1. As the word of men
a. This means that it is solely the product of the minds of men.
b. There is no divine inspiration. There is no guidance by the Holy Spirit.
2. The Word of God
a. The message is proclaimed by men, but it originates in the mind of God.
b. Three verses
a. II Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
b. David (II Sam. 23:2)
The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
c. Galatians 1:11-12
But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
3. The Thessalonians had received the word, as it is in truth, the Word of God.
C. LESSON: We still have this choice today when the Word of God is proclaimed.
1. Do we receive it as “the word of men”? Oh, that is just something the preacher is saying.
2. Do we receive it as “the Word of God”? Wow! This is what God is telling me to do.
D. LESSON: If we receive the Scriptures as the Word of God, it will effectually work in our lives.
…which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
1. Effectually worketh
a. Strong (1754): to be active, efficient
b. Thayer: to be operative, be at work, put forth power, display one’s activity
2. When the Word is believed to be from God, the individual allows the word to change and alter his beliefs and his lifestyle.
a. Our lives become righteous and holy.
b. Where we spend our time and energy is radically altered.
c. The world becomes less important and spiritual things take on a profound significance.
3. NOTE: Again, this is based upon what we believe about the Word of God.
III. IMITATION OF JUDAEAN CHURCHES (I Thess. 2:14)
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own country men, even as they have of the Jews.
A. Paul identifies this church with the Judean churches.
1. This was both true and wise.
a. True: Both the Thessalonians and Jewish Christians has suffered.
b. Wise. Paul was seeking to unite these brethren together through their common experiences of suffering after becoming Christians.
2. The simple definition of follower is “imitator.”
3. That which was being imitated was suffering.
a. The word “suffer” here means “to experience painful sensations.”
b. This could involve both bodily pain and emotional pain.
B. LESSON: Suffering is part of the Christian life.
1. Two verses:
a. John 16:33
…In the world ye shall have tribulation…
b. II Timothy 3:12
Yea, and all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2. We have been fortunate and have suffered little.
a. Would you be grateful for your own suffering?
b. Would you give thanks for the suffering experienced by other Christians?
c. See John 15:20
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…
IV. THE OPPRESSION OF THE JEWS (I Thess. 2:15-16a)
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 always.
A. Paul tells us several things about these enemies of God’s people.
1. They were murderers.
a. They killed the Lord Jesus.
b. They killed their own prophets.
2. They were persecutors: “…and have persecuted us.”
a. Persecute can mean “to oppress with calamities.”
b. Persecute can also mean “to drive out, expel, banish.”
3. They please not God.
a. They are not agreeable to God. They do not accommodate themselves to His desires and interests.
b. NOTE: Many of the Jews, like Saul of Tarsus, may have thought that they were doing the will of God.
4. They were antagonistic to all men: “..contrary to all men…”
5. They hindered the preaching of the gospel and kept some of the Gentiles from being saved. (NOTE: This is a bold argument against predestination. If God had decreed the salvation of some of these Gentiles, there would have been nothing the Jews could have done to have kept them from being saved).
6. All of their efforts to sin were accomplished: “…to fill up their sins alway.”
a. Fill up
1) Strong (378): complete, supply, accomplish
2) Thayer: to fill up, make full, supply
b. These individuals had an agenda for their sins. They had plans to accomplish their agenda. They also found the supplies needed to bring their sins to past. At the end of the day, they were successful. They filled up their sins always.
B. LESSON: The world is filled with evil people.
1. They commit hideous acts.
2. They harm others.
3. They hate God and man.
4. They hinder the salvation of others.
5. The constantly engage in sin.
6. Some of them claim to be religious.
V. THE INDIGNATION OF GOD (I Thess. 2:16b)
…for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
1. Strong (3709): excitement of the mind, violent passion
2. Thayer: anger, agitation of the soul, indignation, anger exhibited in passion
3. Vine: anger, “suggests a more settled condition of the mind, frequently with a view of take vengeance”
B. Paul notes that God’s wrath will be poured out upon the persecutors of God’s people.
1. Romans 1:18
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
2. Revelation 6:17
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
C. NOTE: This ought to be something that all men fear (Heb. 10:31).
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
A. It is always amazing how much the inspired writers can say in just a few verses.
B. Let’s remember the following things:
1. Give thanks to God always.
2. Receive the word as it is in truth the Word of God.
3. Sufferings are part of the Christian life.
4. Evil enemies exist.
5. God’s wrath is coming.
C. Jesus came to deliver us from wrath to come (Rom. 5:9; I Thess. 1:10).
Much more then, being justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.