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Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

1 Thessalonians 5

Verses 12-28


This is a brief lesson, but the text is sufficiently distinct from the foregoing to warrant separate treatment. It is hortatory and instructive as that was, but exhortation prevails.

“Them which labor among you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12 ) are doubtless the elders of the church Paul had set over them. “To know them” is the same as “to esteem them” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 ). But this esteem is associated with a joint responsibility with them for the proper disciple of the church (1 Thessalonians 5:14-52.5.15 ). “The feeble- minded” has reference not to intellectual but spiritual defectiveness not strong in the qualities of faith and hope and courage.

Joy should be perpetual (1 Thessalonians 5:16 ) because it does not depend on outward circumstances, but an inward condition. Prayer should be “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ), not in the sense that nothing else was to be done, but that this should be the habit. The true believer talks with God more continually and intimately than with any human being however near and dear. “Thanksgiving” always accompanies prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ) “This is the will of God... concerning you,” may mean the experience which calls for it. Note that we are not commanded to be thankful for everything, but in everything. Of course, only the true believer is here in mind, as indicated by the expression “in Christ Jesus.” (See our lessons in Ephesians and Colossians.) The next four verses have a close relationship. “Prophesying” (1 Thessalonians 5:20 ), as we judge from 1 Corinthians 14:0 , was apt to be despised in comparison with other spiritual gifts; but to despise it in the sense that its proper exercise was restricted would be to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19 ) and thus “limit the Holy One of Israel.” To be sure, there was a danger of false teaching coming in by that channel, but the remedy is in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 , especially in view of the general caution in 1 Thessalonians 5:22 , which should read “avoid every form of error.”

The prayer of 1 Thessalonians 5:23 is beautiful and convincingly determining that man is a trinity. Some think that Paul is here again expressing his conviction or hope of an imminent return of our Lord, and praying for their “spirit and soul and body” to be kept entire, intact, i.e., without death until then, though the next verse rather raises a question as to that.

Note the authority and importance attaching to an inspired letter of this kind (1 Thessalonians 5:27 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.