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I THESSALONIANS (16)
Obligations to Others
I Thessalonians 5:12-15
Victor M. Eskew
A. Up to this point in our study of I Thessalonians, Paul has been discussing some very broad topics.
B. He has only issued a few commands to the church.
1. Love one another (I Thess. 3:12; 4:9-10)
2. Be holy (I Thess. 4:3, 7)
3. Mind your own business (I Thess. 4:11)
4. Live seemly among those in the world (I Thess. 4:12).
C. Paul now enters into a section where he will set forth numerous commands.
D. Tonight, we will be looking at I Thessalonians 5:12-15. We have entitled this section: “Obligations to Others.”
I. RESPONSIBILITIES TO RULERS (I THESS. 5:12-13)
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their works’ sake. And be at peace among yourselves.
A. Those to whom the Thessalonians were responsible in these verses are described as “those which labour among you” and as those who “are over you in the Lord.”
1. These words describe those group of man known as elders, bishops, or shepherds over the local congregation.
2. They labor because they have a work to do (I Tim. 3:1).
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
3. These men are over the saints of the local congregation.
a. The Scriptures refer to them as overseers (Acts 20:28; I Pet. 5:2).
b. In I Timothy 5:17, it is said that the elders are to rule.
B. Here, the church is given three obligations to the elders.
1. They are to HAVE REGARD for them – “to know them which labour among you.”
a. To know
1) This word means “to see, to turn the mind toward, to pay attention to, to get a knowledge of, to understand.”
2) This understanding leads the flock to cherish their leaders and to have a deep regard for them.
b. Some members of the church barely know the elders.
1) If they know them, it is only in a church setting.
2) Getting to know them involves spending some time with them (i.e., invite them over, ask them to go out to eat).
2. They are to have A RESPECT for the elders – “esteem them very highly in love.”
a. To esteem them means to hold them up as the ones who govern and command.
1) One of their tasks is to watch for the souls of the flock (Heb. 13:17).
2) This task alone is worthy of our honor.
b. They are to be esteemed “very highly.” This mean “over and above,” “exceedingly abundantly,” and “more than necessary.”
c. This esteem is to be wrapped in a blanket of love.
1) This is agape love.
2) It is a sincere, supreme, sacrificial love.
3. The congregation is to do all they can do TO RETAIN PEACE – “and be at peace among yourselves.”
a. Members who are at war with each other drain the energy, enthusiasm, and precious time from the eldership.
b. Bickering, feuding, and strife needs to be put away from every member of the church.
II. COMMITMENTS TO FELLOW CHRISTIANS (I Thess. 5:14)
Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
A. Reprove the disorderly: “warn them that are unruly”
1. The word “warn” means “to put in mind, to caution, to reprove gently, to admonish.”
2. The word “unruly” is a military term which means “to be out of step.” The word refers to the unruly, the insubordinate.
3. Each one of us has a responsibility one toward another. When a brother or sister is “out of line,” we need to admonish him/her.
a. Insubordination displeases God.
b. Disobedience harms the church.
c. Being unruly puts one’s soul in jeopardy.
B. Reassure the fainthearted: “comfort the feebleminded”
1. All Christians can grow weary and discouraged from time to time.
2. In these times, the fainthearted need someone to come to their side to speak to them with encouraging words.
3. The writer of Hebrews was doing this very thing for the Jewish Christians to whom he was writing (Heb. 12:12-13)
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.
C. Reinforce those without strength: “support the weak”
1. When a person is about to fall, we face them, and push in the opposite way they are falling. This is the definition of the word “support.”
2. There are two broad categories of people in the church who need us to lean against them and prop them up.
a. Those who are weak physically: the sick, the elderly, the infirmed in any way.
b. Those who are weak in the faith. They are not strong in their practice of the Christian religion, or, they have lapsed into sin.
D. Resigned to all: “be patient toward all men”
1. Patient: to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart, bearing with others, slow to anger, and slow to avenge
2. We can all be irritating and annoying to each other. We can all get on each other’s nerves.
3. A good example of one patient with another is Jesus’ patience with Peter.
E. NOTE: The only way we can carry out these obligations is to be actively engaged with one another.
1. We have to talk and spend time with each other.
2. Only then can we learn about their weaknesses and frailties and come to their aid.
III. MANDATE TOWARD ALL MEN (I Thess. 5:15)
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
A. Render no evil to others
1. We certainly should not render evil to those who do us good.
2. Here, we are exhorted not to render evil for evil.
a. Another word for this action is “revenge.”
b. This is a battle against our selfish instincts.
1) Someone curses us, and we want to curse them back.
2) Someone harms us, and we want to harm them back.
3) Someone slights us, and we want to slight them back.
4) Someone does not help us, and we do not want to help them.
3. NOTE: Evil is not to be any part of the Christian’s life. Why? We are seeking to be like Jesus who is all good.
4. This verse echoes Paul’s word to the saint in Rome (Rom. 12:17).
Recompense to no man evil for evil.
B. Run after that which is good for others.
1. Paul says to “follow after” that which is good. This means to actively pursue.
2. NOTE: This is an active benevolence toward those who do us evil.
3. Paul gives the some application in Romans 12:20-21.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
4. Basically, God wants us to show love, even toward those who do us wrong.
A. We stand amazed at the ground covered in this short passage: leaders, Christians, and all men.
B. We are also overcome by the scope of the responsibility that God has laid upon our shoulders in respect toward these individuals.
C. These are principles, which, if put in place, would change the local congregation and the world.