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Bible Commentaries

Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament
1 Thessalonians 5

 

 

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Verses 1-11

Looking for his return

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

The apostle writes about the coming of the Lord – its suddenness and the necessity of watchfulness on the part of believers. He exhorts us concerning our duties and responsibilities to the Lord and to one another and closes with a prayer for all believers.

1 Thessalonians 5:1. To write to believers that Christ will come again (John 14:3; Acts 1:10-11), that the dead will be raised and that living believers will be changed into his likeness is necessary, for this encourages our faith and hope. It comforts us when we come to die or to bury loved ones and it encourages us in trials. But to write about the time it will occur and the season of the year it will take place is unnecessary, for:

1. It would be idle speculation to satisfy the curious.

2. No man knows that day, hour or season (Matthew 24:36).

True believers do not wish to know more than God is pleased to reveal.

1 Thessalonians 5:2. We do know that the return of Christ will be sudden and unexpected, taking the world of unbelievers by surprise, as a thief surprises those who are asleep (Luke 12:40).

1 Thessalonians 5:3. Unbelievers talk of peace and safety. They promise themselves much ease, peace and good health for years to come – then suddenly death, judgment and the coming of the Lord are upon them, as in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26-27), as a woman carries a child in her womb and without any warning or notice her labour begins. Careless, indifferent unbelievers shall be overtaken and shall not escape.

1 Thessalonians 5:4. The natural man's understanding is darkened with respect to the true knowledge of God, the nature of sin, the way of salvation by Christ, the return of Christ, eternal glory and eternal condemnation (Ephesians 4:17-19). We have been caned out of darkness and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. We are not in darkness, therefore we live in expectation, looking for his return (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

1 Thessalonians 5:5-6. He calls us children of light (2 Corinthians 4:3-7). We are enlightened persons, whose understanding has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit concerning the person and work of Christ (Ephesians 1:17-19). We are children of the gospel day, in distinction from the religious darkness. Therefore let us not be in a drowsy, indifferent frame of mind and spirit, like the unbeliever. Let us not be taken up with the cares and concerns of this world, but let us set a watch over our hearts, our faith and our fellowship, living as temporary citizens of this world. We are travelers passing through.

1 Thessalonians 5:7-8. By 'sleep' and 'drunkenness' he does not mean natural sleep or drunkenness from wine, but a stupor of mind that forgets God and spiritual matters, giving itself to indulging carnal vices and materialism. These things come naturally to unbelievers, since they are children of darkness. But we, who are of the light of understanding and the day of revelation, are in a warfare, constantly on guard against evil within and without. The man who is provided with faith, hope and love will not be found wanting. The believer is pictured as a soldier, prepared to meet the enemy and prepared for his Lord's return!

1 Thessalonians 5:9. The elect of God were not chosen in Christ to be destroyed by his wrath and judgment, but that we might obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3-5; Romans 8:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

1 Thessalonians 5:10. Christ died for us with this purpose in view: that he might make us partakers of his life. There is no reason why we should be in doubt of our salvation if we are in Christ by faith (Matt. l:21). Whether we are alive when he comes or whether we are dead, we shall, because of his life and death, live forever with him.

1 Thessalonians 5:11. 'Therefore, comfort one another, encourage one another, communicate to one another the things revealed to you. Edify, strengthen and build up one another in the faith of Christ.' This can be done by continual fellowship, worship, prayer, teaching and preaching, bearing one another's trials and sincere love.


Verses 12-28

These final words

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. Paul speaks of faithful pastors and preachers. He exhorts the believers ‘to know them.’

‘Recognize, acknowledge, appreciate and respect them for what they are – the ministers of God!’

‘Make yourselves known to them, converse freely with them, that they may know the state of your souls and speak a word in season.’

‘Esteem or hold them in high and affectionate regard in appreciation of the work among you.’

‘Be at peace among yourselves in regard to the ministry; do not find fault, disagree and take offence over trivial matters.’ This makes the pastor's work more difficult and hinders the growth and unity of the church.

‘They labour among you.’ No honor or respect is due to the lazy, idle preachers who neglect prayer, study and the ministry of the word.

‘They preside over you in the Lord.’ They are not lords, but leaders and overseers of the church by the authority of Christ.

‘They admonish you. They teach, warn, reprove and exhort you in the things of the Lord,’ and it is in this respect that they are to be obeyed and followed (Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17).

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15. ‘I earnestly beseech you, according to our responsibility to the gospel, to the Lord, to one another and to the testimony of the gospel:’

1. ‘Warn and seriously advise them that are out of line in spirit and deed.’ Unruly conduct and attitude are not permitted to continue without warning and admonition.

2. ‘Encourage the weak.’ Comfort those of a broken and afflicted spirit. They have need of consolation and strength, not rebuke!

3. Be patient with everyone (even the unruly), always keeping your temper, remembering your own infirmities and afflictions (Galatians 6:1). Be patient with everybody, even the men of the world. It is only by God's grace that we walk in the light!

4. Evil for evil is not the way of Christ. Getting even, retaliating, seeking revenge is not for the believer. Rather, endure injuries and misunderstandings with patience, showing kindness towards all, and seeking the good of all, both in the church and out.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I like to connect these three things:

1. ‘Rejoice evermore!’

2. ‘Pray without ceasing!’

3. ‘Give thanks to God in all things.’

This is the will of God that we rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks. What we are, what we have, where we are and – all that happens in the life of a believer are the will of God for us (Romans 8:28). We should rejoice and give thanks! Rejoice in prosperity or adversity. Pray always; live in an attitude of prayer, even when you have no particular need or request! Let your praise, prayer and thanksgiving constantly rise to God. Very ungrateful is the man who does not set so high a value on the righteousness of Christ and the hope of eternal life that he allows anything in this life to overshadow that gift of grace. How can I complain when I am an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ?

1 Thessalonians 5:19. Paul does not mean the person of the Holy Spirit, who works effectually as he will (John 3:8; 1 Corinthians 12:11). He refers to the graces of the Spirit, such as faith, love, joy, peace, etc. He speaks of the gifts of the Spirit when they are neglected and not put to use for the glory of God. To quench the Spirit is to suppress or subdue his graces and gifts.

1 Thessalonians 5:20. Do not despise, make light of or be indifferent to the message of those who preach and interpret the word of God (1 Corinthians 14:3).

1 Thessalonians 5:21. Many in our day feel almost disgusted with the very word ‘preaching’ because there are so many foolish and ignorant persons giving out worthless sermons from the pulpit. Therefore we must prove all words by the Scriptures and hold fast to that which is good. Some people are critical of everything; some embrace anything. The wise weigh all things by the word (1 John 4:1-3).

1 Thessalonians 5:22. I know that many interpret this as suggesting that we avoid any conduct, behavior, and actions that, while they may not be wrong for us, yet they give the appearance of wrongdoing. This is good advice, but not what the apostle is talking about. He is speaking, as in the preceding verse, of doctrinal evil! For example, when there is preaching, teaching and interpretation of scripture which, when tried by the word, does not appear to be false or wrong, but there is an unhappy suspicion in the mind, a doubt or fear entertained, a concern that there is poison somewhere, then avoid it! The truth of God is clear and gives glory to his name!

1 Thessalonians 5:24. Paul proceeds to pray for these believers. He prays the Lord God would, in a progressive manner, sanctify in spirit, soul and body. Calvin said, ‘Our thoughts pure holy, our affections right and properly regulated and our bodies dedicated to good work.’ He prays that God would keep them from falling away. He adds in 1 Thessalonians 5:24, ‘He will do it.’ None of the sheep of Christ shall perish! (John 10:27-29).

1 Thessalonians 5:25-28. ‘Pray for us.’ Let every believer, especially God's ministers, be the objects of our prayers. ‘Greet one another with a holy kiss.’ Be affectionate towards one another. ‘Read this epistle in the church. God be with you!’

 


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Bibliography Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:4". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hms/1-thessalonians-5.html. 2013.


Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 17th, 2017
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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