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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
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Nave's Topical Bible - Jesus, the Christ; Jesus Continued; Righteousness; Waiting; Wicked (People); Scofield Reference Index - Christ; The Topic Concordance - Deliverance; Jesus Christ; Resurrection; Wrath; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the; Atonement, the; Death, Eternal; Salvation; Second Coming of Christ, the; Titles and Names of Christ; Waiting upon God;
Verse 1 Thessalonians 1:10. And to wait for his Son from heaven — To expect a future state of glory, and resurrection of the body, according to the Gospel doctrine, after the example of Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead, and ascended unto heaven, ever to appear in the presence of God for us.
Delivered us from the wrath to come. — From all the punishment due to us for our sins, and from the destruction which is about to come on the unbelieving and impenitent Jews.
This was the news, the sounding out, that went abroad concerning the converted Thessalonians. Every where it was said: They have believed the Gospel; they have renounced idolatry; they worship the living and true God; they have received the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit; they are happy in their souls, unspotted in their lives, and full of joy; expecting an eternal glory through that Christ who had died for and purged their sins, and who shall fashion their degraded bodies and make them like to his glorious body, and give them an eternal residence with himself in a state of blessedness.
These were glorious news; and, wherever they were told, prepared the way of the Gospel among the heathen. The mere preaching of the Gospel has done much to convince and convert sinners, but the lives of the sincere followers of Christ, as illustrative of the truth of these doctrines, have done much more: Truth represented in action seems to assume a body, and thus renders itself palpable. In heathen countries, which are under the dominion of Christian powers, the Gospel, though established there, does little good, because of the profane and irreligious lives of those who profess it. Why has not the whole peninsula of India been long since evangelized? The Gospel has been preached there; but the lives of the Europeans professing Christianity there have been, in general, profligate, sordid, and base. From them sounded out no good report of the Gospel; and therefore the Mohammedans continue to prefer their Koran, and the Hindoos their Vedas and Shasters, to the Bible. It should now ever be acknowledged, to the glory of God, that of late years a few apostolic men in that country are turning the tide in favour of the Gospel; and several eminent Europeans have warmly espoused the doctrine of Christ, and are labouring to circulate the word of God through the whole of British India.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1832.
1:1-3:13 RELATIONS WITH THE THESSALONIANS
Response to the gospel (1:1-10)
Paul gives thanks to God for the good news that Timothy brought back concerning the Christians in Thessalonica. Through their belief in Christ their lives have been changed, so that in everything they do their faith, love and endurance are clearly seen (1:1-3).
The Thessalonians have given proof that they are God’s people by the way they have believed and stood firm for the gospel. They had seen how Paul was persecuted in Thessalonica and they knew that believing the gospel would bring suffering. But they also knew that the gospel operated by the power of God and they gladly accepted it, confident of its power to save them (4-6). Their conduct amid persecution has been an example to Christians throughout Macedonia and Achaia (7).
Much of Macedonia and Achaia had been evangelized as a direct result of the Thessalonians’ zeal. Paul has no need to boast to others about this outstanding work, because Christians everywhere know about it already (8). Throughout the region people are talking about how readily the Thessalonians responded to the message Paul preached. No longer are they in bondage to lifeless idols. They have become servants of the living God, and they look forward to the climax of their salvation at the return of Jesus Christ (9-10).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2005.
and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come.
And to wait for his Son from heaven ... It is most deplorable that scholars press this passage as proof of their allegations that the apostles expected Jesus to come in the Second Advent during their lifetime. For example, Hayes said:
We may believe that Paul was mistaken in his expectation of the speedy Advent of our Lord. After nineteen centuries of waiting, we know that he was mistaken, if he expected it in his generation, or in his century. We think the sufficient warrant for his expectation was to be found in the belief of all the apostles and in the traditional teaching of the Master himself.
This is fembu at its noisome worst. Neither Paul, nor any of the apostles, and least of all the Lord himself, expected that the Second Advent would be "speedy," or "in their lifetime," or at any time other than remote generations afterward; but none of that prevented Christians from living and dying "in expectation of the return of Christ," even as true believers do now! And yet every Christian knows that the actual coming may still be centuries or millenniums in the future.
THE SPEEDY RETURN OF CHRIST
Did Christ and the apostles believe and teach that the Second Advent would occur in their generation, at a time immediately in the future? The answer to that question is negative.
Jesus himself declared that he himself did not know the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:36); least of all could any apostle have pretended to know.
Christ emphatically declared, "Wheresoever the gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, that also which this woman hath done (Mary's anointing) shall be spoken of for a memorial of her" (Mark 14:9). Preaching the gospel in the whole world was a task involving generations and centuries, not merely a lifetime.
Christ thundered the prophecy that "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24); and the treading down of Jerusalem by Gentiles was an event that did not begin until a full forty years after Christ was crucified; and no sacred writer, all of whom wrote before that event, could ever have imagined that Christ would surely come until after that prophecy had been fulfilled.
Christ, in the analogy spoken in the parable of the talents, said: "Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh" (Matthew 25:19); and there is nothing there that speaks of any "speedy return."
Paul did not expect the Second Advent in his lifetime, because he speaks of his own resurrection from the dead, along with the resurrection of all the Corinthians, as an event scheduled for the future (2 Corinthians 4:14). Furthermore, his saying, "We shall not all sleep" (1 Corinthians 15:51) refers to the ultimate fact of Christians who may be alive at the coming of the Lord, and not either to himself or the Corinthians of his generation. It bears this construction as easily as it bears the one which makes it a certainty of the speedy return of Jesus. Furthermore, in these very letters to the Thessalonians, written long before the Corinthian letters, Paul affirmed that "The coming shall not be except the apostasy come first" (2 Thessalonians 2:3); and the apostasy was an event which Paul clearly understood as involving a great deal of time.
Much more could be said on this; but further attention will be given to it in the 2Thessalonian commentary.
The reason that scholars often mistakenly believe that Christ taught his "speedy return" is that they misconstrue passages like Mark 8:38 and Mark 9:1 as references to the Second Advent, whereas the reference, like some similar passages, refers not to the Second Advent but to the establishment of the kingdom of Christ, an event which did occur immediately.
It is not amiss to note, in this context, that some prefer to believe that the Holy Christ and the blessed apostles were all mistaken; and that bias enters into their interpretations. The importance of this question is inherent in the fact that if the Lord himself and his apostles were truly mistaken about such an event as the Second Advent, then how may one be sure they were not also mistaken about heaven and hell, the terms of the gospel, the necessity of godly living, and all the rest of the Christian message? There is no way that this writer could accept either such implications or the false interpretations by which they are advocated. The holy apostles were inspired of God in what they wrote, and the totality of their teaching derives from God himself.
Who delivereth us from the wrath to come ... This is a reference to the judgment of the Great Day, and the "wrath of God that falls upon the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 5:6). Other passages bearing on this are Romans 1:18,28,32; Romans 2:8,9; Ephesians 2:3 and Colossians 3:6. God has a score to settle with sin, and a day has been appointed in which he will judge the world in righteousness, "by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all people, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). Amen!
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
And to wait for his Son from heaven - It is clear from this and from other parts of these two Epistles, that the return of the Lord Jesus to this world was a prominent subject of the preaching of Paul at Thessalonica. No small part of these Epistles is occupied with stating the true doctrine on this point (1 Thessalonians 4:0:v.), and in correcting the errors which prevailed in regard to it after the departure of Paul. Perhaps we are not to infer, however, that this doctrine was made more prominent there than others, or that it had been inculcated there more frequently than it had been elsewhere, but the apostle adverts to it here particularly because it was a doctrine so well fitted to impart comfort to them in their trials 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and because, in that connection, it was so well calculated to rouse them to vigilance and zeal; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. He makes it prominent in the second Epistle, because material errors prevailed there in reference to it which needed to be corrected.
In the passage before us, he says that the return of the Son of God from heaven was an important point which had been insisted on when he was there, and that their conduct, as borne witness to by all, had shown with what power it had seized upon them, and what a practical influence it had exerted in their lives. They lived as if they were” waiting” for his return. They fully believed in it; they expected it. They were looking out for it, not knowing when it might occur, and as if it might occur at any moment. They were, therefore, dead to the world, and were animated with an earnest desire to do good. This is one of the instances which demonstrate that the doctrine that the Lord Jesus will return to our world, is fitted, when understood in the true sense revealed in the Scriptures, to exert a powerful influence on the souls of people. It is eminently adapted to comfort the hearts of true Christians in the sorrows, bereavements, and sicknesses of life John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:8-9; to lead us to watchfulness and to an earnest inquiry into the question whether we are prepared to meet him Matthew 24:37-44; Matthew 25:13; to make us dead to the world, and to lead us to act as becomes the children of light (1 Thessalonians 5:5-9; to awaken and arouse impenitent and carless sinners 1Th 5:2-3; 2 Peter 3:3-7, and to excite Christians to self-denying efforts to spread the gospel in distant lands, as was the case at Thessalonica. Every doctrine of the gospel is adapted to produce some happy practical effects on mankind, but there are few that are more full of elevated and holy influences than that which teaches that the Lord Jesus will return to the earth, and which leads the soul to wait for his appearing; compare notes, 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20.
Whom he raised from the dead - See the Acts 2:24-32 notes; 1 Corinthians 15:4-9 notes. Paul probably means to intimate here, that this was one of the great truths which they had received, that the Lord Jesus had been raised from the dead. We know it was a prominent doctrine wherever the gospel was preached.
Which delivered us from the wrath to come - Another of the prominent doctrines of Christianity, which was undoubtedly always inculcated by the first preachers of religion. The “wrath to come” is the divine indignation which will come upon the guilty; Matthew 3:7. From that Christ delivers us by taking our place, and dying in our stead. It was the great purpose of his coming to save us from this approaching wrath. It follows from this:
(1) That there was wrath which man had to dread - since Jesus came to deliver us from something that was real, and not from what was imaginary; and,
(2) That the same wrath is to be dreaded now by all who are not united to Christ, since in this respect they are now just as all were before he died; that is, they are exposed to fearful punishment, from which He alone can deliver. It may be added, that the existence of this wrath is real, whether people believe it or not, for the fact of its existence is not affected by our belief or unbelief.
This chapter teaches:
(1) That it is right to commend these who do well; 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Paul was never afraid of injuring any one by commending him when he deserved it: nor was he ever afraid to rebuke when censure was due.
(2) Christians are chosen to salvation; 1 Thessalonians 1:4. Their hope of heaven depends on the “election of God.”
(3) It is possible for a people to know that they are chosen of God, and to give such evidence of it that others shall know it also; 1 Thessalonians 1:4. It is possible for a church to evince such a spirit of piety, self-denial, love, and holiness, and such a desire to spread the gospel, as to show that they are “chosen of God,” or that they are a true church. This question is not to be determined by their adherence to certain rites and forms; by their holding to the sentiments of an orthodox creed: or by their zeal in defense of the “apostolic succession,” but by their bringing forth “the fruits of good living.” In determining that the church at Thessalonica was “chosen of God,” Paul does not refer to its external organization, or to the fact that it was founded by apostolic hands, or that it had a true ministry and valid ordinances, but to the fact that it evinced the true spirit of Christian piety; and particularly that they had been zealous in sending the gospel to others. There were three things to which he referred:
1.That the gospel had power over themselves, inducing them to abandon their sins;
2.That it had such influence on their lives that others recognized in them the evidence of true religion; and,
3.That it made them benevolent, and excited them to make efforts to diffuse its blessings abroad.
(4) If a church may know that it is chosen or elected of God, it is true of an individual also that he may know it. It is not by any direct revelation from heaven; not by an infallible communication of the Holy Spirit; not by any voice or vision; but it is in the same way in which this may be evinced by a church. The conversion of an individual, or his “election of God,” may be certainly known by himself, if,
1.The gospel is received as “the word of God,” and induces him to abandon his sins;
2.If it leads him to pursue such a life that others shall see that he is actuated by Christian principles; and,
3.If he makes it his great aim in life to do good, and to diffuse abroad, as far as he can, that religion which he professes to love. He who finds in his own heart and life evidence of these things, need not doubt that he is among the “chosen of God.”
(5) The character of piety in the life of an individual Christian, and in a church, is often determined by the manner in which the gospel is embraced at first, and by the spirit with which the Christian life is entered on; see the notes on 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6. If so, then this fact is of immense importance in the question about organizing a church, and about making a profession of religion. If a church is so organized as to have it understood that it shall be to a considerable extent the patron of worldly amusements - a “halfway house” between the world and religion, that purpose will determine all its subsequent character - unless it shall be counteracted by the grace of God. If it is organized so as to look with a benignant and tolerant eye on gaiety, vanity, self-indulgence, ease, and what are called the amusements and pleasures of life, it is not difficult to see what will be its character and influence. How can such a church diffuse far and near the conviction that it is “chosen of God,” as the church at Thessalonica did And so of an individual. Commonly, the whole character of the religious life will be determined by the views with which the profession of religion is made. If there is a purpose to enjoy religion and the world too; to be the patron of fashion as well as a professed follower of Christ; to seek the flattery or the plaudits of man as well as the approbation of God, that purpose will render the whole religious life useless, vacillating, inconsistent, miserable. The individual will live without the enjoyment of religion, and will die leaving little evidence to his friends that he has gone to be with God. If, on the other hand, there be singleness of purpose, and entire dedication to God at the commencement of the Christian life, the religious career will be one of usefulness, respectability, and peace. The most important period in a man’s life, then, is that when he is pondering the question whether he shall make a profession of religion.
(6) A church in a city should cause its influence to be felt afar; 1 Thessalonians 1:7-9. This is true, indeed, of all other churches, but it is especially so of a church in a large town. Cities will be centers of influence in fashion, science, literature, religion, and morals. A thousand ties of interest bind them to other parts of a land, and though in fact there may be, as there often is, much more intelligence in a country neighborhood than among the same number of inhabitants taken promiscuously from a city; and though there may be, as there often is, far more good sense and capability to appreciate religious truth in a country congregation than in a congregation in a city, yet it is true that the city will be the radiating point of influence. This, of course, increases the responsibility of Christians in a city, and makes it important that, like those of Thessalonica, they should be models of self-denial and of efforts to spread the gospel.
(7) A church in a commercial town should make use of its special influence to spread the gospel abroad; 1 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Such a place is connected with remote lands, and those who, for commercial purposes, visit distant ports from that place, should bear with them the spirit of the gospel. Such, too, should be the character of piety in the churches in such a city, that all who visit it for any purpose, should see the reality of religion, and be led to bear the honorable report of it again to their own land,
(8) Such, too, should be the piety of any church. The church at Thessalonica evinced the true spirit of religion; 1 Thessalonians 1:7-9. Its light shone afar. It sent out those who went to spread the gospel. Its members, when they went abroad, showed that they were influenced by higher and purer principles than those which actuated them before conversion, and than were evinced by the pagan world. Those who visited them, also, saw that there was a reality in religion, and bore an honorable report of it again to their own lands. Let any church evince this spirit, and it will show that it is “chosen of God,” or a true church; and wherever there is a church formed after the primitive model, these traits will always be seen.
(9) It is our duty and privilege to “wait for the Son of God to return from heaven.” We know not when his appearing, either to remove us by death, or to judge the world, will be - and we should therefore watch and be ready. The hope of his return to our world to raise the dead, and to convey his ransomed to heaven, is the brightest and most cheering prospect that dawns on man, and we should be ready, whenever it occurs, to hail him as our returning Lord, and to rush to his arms as our glorious Redeemer. It should be always the characteristic of our piety, as it was that of John to say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus;” Revelation 22:20.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1870.
10 Whom he raised up. He makes mention here of Christ’s resurrection, on which the hope of our resurrection is founded, for death everywhere besets us. Hence, unless we learn to look to Christ, our minds will give way at every turn. By the same consideration, he admonishes them that Christ is to be waited for from heaven, because we will find nothing in the world to bear us up, (517) while there are innumerable trials to overwhelm us. Another circumstance must be noticed; (518) for as Christ rose for this end — that he might make us all at length, as being his members, partakers of the same glory with himself, Paul intimates that his resurrection would be vain, unless he again appeared as their Redeemer, and extended to the whole body of the Church the fruit and effect of that power which he manifested in himself. (519)
(517) “ Et faire demeurer fermes;” — “And make us remain firm.”
(518) “ A laquelle ceci se rapporte;” — “To what this refers.”
(519) “ Laquelle il a vne fois monstree en sa personne;” — “Which he once shewed in his own person.”
Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1840-57.
Let's turn to first Thessalonians. Paul, the apostle, on his second missionary journey had taken Silas with him, who was commended by the church in Jerusalem as one of the leaders. When they got to Derbe, Timothy joined their evangelistic team. As they journeyed on, they came to Troas and Paul's desire was to go to Bithynia, but the spirit forbade him.
And there, in Troas, as Paul was sick, he had a vision. And there was a man of Macedonia calling him to come and help. And so Paul immediately got a ship, crossed the Aegean and came to Macedonian, the area of Philippi, at which point Luke joined Paul's team. Whether or not Luke was the man that Paul saw in his vision, we do not know. It is quite possible that it was Luke that Paul saw. Nonetheless, they came to Philippi and they began to share Jesus Christ there in Philippi by the river with ladies who would go there for prayer. And a lady who was a merchant, whose name was Lydia, was converted along with many others.
There was a young girl in the area of Philippi who was possessed by evil spirits and Paul, through the power of Jesus Christ, freed her. And this caused a ruckus among those men that were controlling this young girl and actually profiting by her divination, a gift that she had through the demon powers. And so they created an uproar; they had Paul and his company arrested. They were beaten and thrown into the dungeon of the prison. At midnight, an earthquake opened the doors and the Philippine jailer, when he awoke finding the doors open, was ready to commit suicide when Paul stopped him and he came trembling and said, "What must I do to be saved?" And Paul shared the gospel with him. He took Paul home; Paul shared the gospel with his family.
And then the magistrates of the city found out that Paul was a Roman citizen, as was Silas, and so they said, "Hey, tell your friends to just get out of town." And Paul said, "Look, they beat us publicly, they made a big public display of the whole thing; let them come down themselves and deliver us." You know. So, Paul forced the issue and they came down, asked Paul to leave Philippi.
So, Paul with Silas, Timothy and Luke began to follow the Roman highway south from Philippi. They came through Amphipolis. They pass through Apollonia and they came to Thessalonica, which was a principle Roman city, and is an important city today. In modern Greece, Salonica is the same as the Thessalonica of the Bible. It was here where Paul went into the synagogue, and for three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures proving that Jesus was the Messiah. And many of the Jews believed; some of them did not.
Those who did not believe stirred up a ruckus against Paul, and Paul escaped from the city of Thessalonica and went on down to Berea. And there, they again shared until certain of Jews, who had created the problems of Thessalonica, came to Berea, and so Paul went on to Athens. Later, Luke and Silvanus, who is also Silas, and Timothy joined Paul and they journeyed to Corinth, but Paul was concerned about the believers in Thessalonica. So Paul asked Timothy to go back to Thessalonica to find out how the believers were doing.
Now, from the record it would appear that Paul's ministry in Thessalonica was a very short ministry, as short as possible, just four weeks. As they mentioned that three weeks ministering each Sabbath day, for three Sabbath days in the synagogue, and then the trouble that was created. And so it would appear that Paul's time there among them was extremely short. When Paul and his company came to them, they were probably still pretty-well blood . . . well, not bloody, but swollen and bruised from the beatings that they had received in Philippi. Their clothes probably ripped, they probably looked pretty much a mess, but yet, Paul speaks about its coming to them in afflictions. And so, the marks of the beatings still upon him, still very obvious there on his body when he first came to Thessalonica.
Timothy came back to Thessalonica to find the welfare of the church, found it in good health, found them really going on in the Lord, and returned to Corinth to share with Paul how that the church was prospering and going on in the Lord. And so Paul then wrote this letter, which is probably the first letter that Paul wrote to the churches. He wrote from Corinth back to Thessalonica this first epistle, as he seeks to correct some of the misconception that had arisen.
Now, the interesting thing to me is that from the gist of this letter of Paul, one of the most important truths that Paul had emphasized in that very short ministry was that of the coming again of Jesus Christ. And all the way through the first epistle, he is making mention of that hope of the coming of Jesus Christ. And of course, next week in our lesson, as we get to chapters four and five, we'll be dealing with Paul's teaching on the rapture of the church, and all, as he is writing to the Thessalonians concerning the things that he had been teaching them and some of the misunderstandings that had arisen from his teaching. But I am amazed at what a tremendous foundation Paul was able to lay in the word of God in the hearts of these people in such a short time, as is evidenced by this epistle.
So, with that kind of a background, the year's about fifty-three, fifty-four. Paul is on his second missionary journey; he's just arrived in Corinth, has begun his ministry there, which will continue for one year and six months, as the Lord spoke to him in Corinth and said, "Stick here, Paul. I've got a lot of people that are gonna believe on Me in this place." And so, he is sent back now to Thessalonica, he has heard from Timothy the welfare of the church, and he immediately writes them this letter.
Paul, and Silvanus, [another name for Silas] and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ):
The church in God, the church in Jesus Christ. And presently Paul is going to be talking about the power of the Holy Spirit with which the message came to them in much assurance. So again, the Father, the Son, the Spirit in which the church was established.
Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 1:1 ).
Notice how often Paul is relating God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ together. If Jesus was not God, such a relationship and relating their names together constantly would be blasphemy. Some people say, "But why doesn't he also include the Holy Spirit?" Well, you remember that Paul's epistles are actually inspired by the Holy Spirit and Jesus said, "When the Holy Spirit is come, He will not testify of Himself, but He will testify of Me." And so, it is sufficient that in the inspiring of this writing by the Holy Spirit that there is joined those two persons of the Godhead: the Father and the Son.
Paul's "grace and peace unto you" are typical Pauline greetings. The grace and peace, the Siamese twins of the New Testament, they're always coupled together; wherever you find one, you'll find the other. And they are always in that order: grace and peace, because you cannot experience the peace of God until you understand and have received the grace of God. The understanding of the grace of God is essential to knowing the peace of God in your heart and life.
For years I had peace with God, but I did not have the peace of God, because I did not know the grace of God. I related to God in a legal way. My righteousness was predicated upon my good efforts, my devotional time, my prayer life, and my study of the word. I had a legal relationship with God.
Then I came to an understanding of the grace of God, and I came into a loving relationship with God. And when I did, I suddenly experienced the peace of God, something I'd never known in my Christian life. And what a blessing it was to know the peace of God within my heart, as I now rest where God rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And so, the gospel came to me with much assurance, only after I experienced the grace of God. Up until that time, the gospel . . . I had no assurance in the gospel. I didn't really know if I was saved or not from one week to the next, but the much assurance came with the grace.
We give thanks unto God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2 );
And again, how Paul does refer to his prayer life in each of his epistles. Paul was a man of prayer. As we look at the men that God has used in the New Testament, those men that were used mightily of God, we find that there are certain things that are endemic to all of them. And one is that they were men of prayer. If you want God to really use your life, it is necessary that you be in close communion with God. And prayer, of course, is that means by which we remain in close touch with him.
Prayer is not a monologue, though so often we make it such, but prayer should always be a dialogue. In fact, as the years have past, I have spent more time in the listening side of prayer than I have the talking side of prayer. When I first started my communication with God, I did all the talking, very little listening. But as years went by and my relationship with God grew, I did less talking and more listening, for I am convinced that what God has to say to me is much more important than anything I'd have to say to Him. And so I've learned to listen to God, and I've sought to listen before I speak, in order that God might speak to my heart what is His purpose, His will, His desire in a particular matter, so that I may make that my prayer. Paul, a man of prayer, and thus God used him; making mention of you in our prayers.
Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3 )
Again, as in Galatians, as in Ephesians, and as in the Corinthian epistles, Paul links these three: faith, hope, love. Remember in first Corinthians thirteen? "And now abide these three: faith, hope, love." And so, he is constantly relating these three things.
First of all, they had the work of faith. If you have true faith, there is that work that is the natural result of faith. And if the faith does not affect your actions, then it is not a true faith. A person with true faith, that faith will affect what they do. It has an effect upon their actions, upon their works; it is producing a work in their life. And so the work of faith. Faith is not a work, but faith does produce a certain result in us: the work of faith.
The labor of love. Now, the word labor, as we pointed out to you last Thursday night as we studied this word in the message of Jesus to the church of Ephesus in Revelation two, the word means to labor to the point of weariness or exhaustion. And only can bring that kind of labor.
And how many times do we see this exemplified in a mother going around the house laboring to the point of exhaustion, especially when the children are little and there are all those responsibilities? And yet, it's a labor of love, because you look at those beautiful little faces, and you don't really think, "Oh my, I'm so tired and all. That dirty little face, just throw it in bed, you know, and let it go." But you can't help but just go in and get the warm wash rag and the towel and come and wash the hands and wash the face and kiss the cheek, though you are as tired as can be because all that you've done all day long, but that's the labor of love.
And how glorious when our love for God is such that we don't really consider the weariness of our own bodies. But as Paul, the love of Christ just constrains me, and that labor of love . . . and again, that's the only motive that God will really accept. Remember, that was the problem of the church in Ephesus: they were laboring, but without love, and that's what the Lord really spoke to them about. And He said, "Unless you begin to love, unless you return to that first love, I'm gonna take the candlestick and move it out of its place." And so, the only labor that God really accepts from us is the labor of love. For though I give my body to be burned, sell all I have, and bestow on the poor, if I have not love . . . profits mean nothing. The labor of love.
And then the...
Patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3 );
So that patience, learning to wait upon God. Boy, what a time I have with that. I don't know why that should be so difficult, and yet, to me, it's one of the most difficult things in my Christian experience, to wait upon God. I, so often, am giving God time limits. "Lord, I'll give you till Saturday to work this thing out, and if you don't do something by Saturday, then I'm gonna have to step in and do something myself." But to just wait upon God; you see, to wait upon God takes great faith. I have to believe that God is in control and that God is working, though I may not see it.
How many problems have been created because we didn't wait upon God? How many times with Abraham do we move to take things into our own hands, knowing what God has purposed, knowing what God has planned? God has not done it in the timeframe that I feel He ought to do it, and so Lord, we know you wanna do it, but obviously you can't do it without our help and so we're gonna help you out, Lord. And oh my, what problems we create when we step in to help God out. But that's been the problem, I think, through the century, is patience of hope; just waiting upon God, waiting upon His time, waiting on Him to work in His time, knowing that He is going to work, confident that God is gonna work.
Now, there are many exhortations to patience. "You have need of patience," we are told in Hebrews, "that after you have done the will of God you might obtain the promise." We are told that those of the Old Testament who through faith and patience inherited the promises of God. And then James exhorts us to patience into the coming . . . waiting for the coming of the Lord. Establish your souls, be patient, for the Lord is waiting for the complete fruit of harvest. So, they were patient in their hope, laboring in love. They were...had the works of faith. And all of this, after just one month of Paul's ministry to them.
Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God ( 1 Thessalonians 1:4 ).
Now, this is a doctrine that we usually don't teach new believers. We usually wait until a person is pretty-well founded in the scriptures before we broach this theological problem of divine election. But Paul saw it necessary to teach divine election unto these new believers in Thessalonica. He speaks of them knowing the fact that they were elected by God.
People have problems with divine election. They have a problem with God making choices. However, we surely do appreciate the fact that God has given to us the capacity of choice. I was glad that the Lord allowed me to choose the one I was to spend the rest of my live with as a companion. He just didn't throw anybody at me and say, "Here, take that." But He allowed me the choice, and He also allowed her the choice when I gave it to her. So that we're not forced into the company of someone with whom we might be completely incompatible or someone that we really have no real attraction to.
Now, if God has given to us the choice of those whom we are going to have as our companions or associates, why shouldn't God have the right to choose those He wanted to be with? And indeed He has. Now, that doesn't trouble me at all. It thrills me that He chose me. And so knowing that God has elected. Jesus said to his disciples, "You didn't choose me. I chose you and ordained that you should be my disciples, that you should bring forth fruit that your fruit should remain. That whatsoever you should ask the Father in my name He may give it to you" ( John 15:16 ). "I've chosen you," He said.
So the scripture does teach divine election. It never teaches divine election apart from the foreknowledge of God. Whom He did foreknow, He did also predestinate, that they shall be conformed in the image of His Son. And so Paul taught the doctrine of divine election to the church in just a month's time.
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5 );
I think that that's probably the weakness of the gospel today. Is that so many times we are proclaiming the gospel in word only, and it lacks the power and the work of the Holy Spirit and that assurance with it. Paul, you remember, went from here to Corinth. Later, when he wrote to the Corinthians, he said to them, "And my preaching was not with the enticing words of man's wisdom, but with the demonstration of the spirit and power." We need more of that kind of preaching which is a demonstration of the power of God.
[The word came] unto you not in the word only, the gospel came not in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as you know what manner of men we were among you for your sake ( 1 Thessalonians 1:5 ).
So, what manner of men we were for your sakes, men ministering through the power of the Spirit.
And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Thessalonians 1:6 ):
And so, again Paul here makes mention of the fact of his probably physical appearance: the beating that he had received at Philippi, and yet they received the word in the joy of the Holy Spirit.
So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and in Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything ( 1 Thessalonians 1:7-8 ).
Marvelous. The church here could not be more than six months old and yet, from them already the word of the Lord was sounding out to all of the area around them. Their faith toward God was spread abroad, the reputation of their believers there.
For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9 ),
So, just their . . . it shows with what power the Holy Spirit was working in Paul and those companions of Paul as they came to this church. It was really miraculous that this church should be so effective, and yet so young. And it can only be attributed to the fact of the power of the Holy Spirit in the church.
What a mistake we make today when we try to relegate this power of the spirit only to the Biblical days. What a mistake we make today when we place such and emphasis upon the enticing words of man's wisdom and seeking to establish people in the faith by just fancy speeches, clever talk. We need the dynamic of Spirit that the word of God might not come not just in word only, but in the power and the demonstration of the spirit of God. Because of that,
[they] turned to God from idols to serve the living and the true God ( 1 Thessalonians 1:9 );
In Greece, they had many idols. Paul, when he came to Athens, he'd found his spirit just torn as he looked at this metropolis and saw this city that was wholly given over to idolatry. It just really ripped him up inside to see the idolatry there in Athens. So he, though he was really trying to, you know, cool things down, he just had . . . I mean his reception in Europe wasn't with a lot of fanfare. They didn't have the band out to greet him and banners waving "welcome" you know. But in Philippi, he was beaten and kicked out of town. Came to Thessalonica where he had to leave town, and the people where he was staying got arrested and had to post bail, just because they kept Paul. Came to Berea and he had to leave Berea because of the riots that ensued in his ministry there. So they said, "Hey, look, we'll stay and help establish the church here in Berea. You, Paul, go on down and get an R&R in Athens, you know. Sort of lay low for a while. Tough sledding here in Greece."
So Paul went down to Athens, and seeing a city wholly given over to idolatry, he couldn't just kick back and lie still. His heart was burning, and so he started sharing with the Athenians. They said, "Come on up to Mars hill and we're gonna, you know, give ya your audience up there. You can speak to all of us and share this new religion." For the Athenians spent their whole lives just, you know, arguing and wanting to hear some new thing. So they gave Paul his day there on Mars hill. And as he begun his speech to them, he said, "I perceive that you are very religious people because as I've been going through your city down here I've noticed all of the gods that you have." And he said, "I came across one little altar and it was inscribed 'to the unknown god'. I'd like to tell you about that God."
In Greece, they had deified all of the emotions of man: the god of love, the god of hate, the god of fear, the god of peace, the god of joy. They deified everything. Some fella thought, "Well, we may have missed one and we don't want him to be angry with us so let's build an altar to the unknown god so he won't feel neglected, you know." But they worshipped Aphrodite, they worshipped Narcissus, they worshiped Bacus, they worshiped Zeus, all the various idols. But these people had turned from the idols to worship the true and the living God.
We usually think of idolatry as something of a past history of man or something that is only found in primitive cultures. Not so. We can even find idols in churches: images, statuaries, though it has been specifically forbidden in the scriptures, yet it does exist. When a person begins to worship an idol or a relic, it is a sign that that person has lost the consciousness of God and the presence of God. God, oftentimes, works through instruments. God worked through the cross to bring our salvation, but then to take splinters of the cross and begin to venerate splinters of the cross show that the people have lost the truth behind the cross.
God used the brass serpent in the wilderness to bring healing to Israel from the bites of these poisonous snakes. But there came a time in the history of Israel when Hezekiah was king that they were worshipping this brass snake. They had kept it. It had become a religious relic and people were coming and worshipping this brass snake. So that Hezekiah broke the thing and he said, "Nahushcan" It's just of a thing of brass; it's not God. But the worship of it indicated that loss of consciousness of God within their life, but also a deep desire to experience God again.
Now, the idols that they had made to these various passions, or the various emotions, or various concepts were more honest than people today. For we still have these as idols within our hearts, many times, though we may not have made some little form that we set on a table and put little flowers around and kneel before each morning and light candles before each night. But we can be burning incense in our hearts. There are those today who are worshipping Narcissus. There are those today who are worshipping Aphrodite, those today who are worshipping Bacus, Zeus; they just don't have idols, except within their heart.
Now they have turned from these idols to the true and the living 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 ( 1 Thessalonians 1:10 ).
Now, it is interesting to me that at the end of each of the first four chapters Paul makes reference to the coming again of Jesus Christ; an important part to a person's faith and belief system. For it is really the hope that sustains us. And so, the patience of hope and here he broadens out of it, "as they were waiting for God's Son from heaven whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus which delivered us from the wrath to come."
How much doctrine is involved in that little statement right there? The central message of the New Testament, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead by God the Father, and the coming again of Jesus Christ to deliver us from the wrath to come. Now we are waiting for Jesus to deliver us from the wrath to come. That wrath to come could be a reference to the eternal punishment that God is going to visit upon those who have rejected Him, but it also could very well refer to the wrath to come during the great tribulation period. And as we go further in Thessalonians, we'll find that God has not appointed us unto wrath. Jesus is going to deliver us from the wrath to come.
During the period of the Great Tribulation when the sixth seal is opened and these cataclysmic judgments are taking place in the universe, awesome fearful things happening. "And the kings of the earth and the chief captains and all will be hiding, calling unto the rocks and unto the mountains, fall on us and hide us from the face of the Lamb, for the day of His wrath has come and who shall be able to stand?" ( Revelation 6:15-17 )
The wrath to come. There is coming the wrath of God upon this earth in the Great Tribulation, and I do not believe that it would be proper scriptural exposition to not include that in the deliverance of the Lord for His saints. I believe that it is an all-inclusive deliverance from the wrath to come, the Great Tribulation, as well as the future judgment of the unbeliever. More about that as we move into Revelation on Thursday nights, and more about that as we move into Thessalonians next Sunday night.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2014.
A. Thanksgiving for the Thessalonians 1:2-10
Paul began the first main section of his epistle by reviewing several aspects of the Thessalonians’ salvation and giving thanks to God for them to encourage his readers to persevere despite persecution.
". . . both letters name Paul, Silas, and Timothy as the authors of the letters. Yet the letters are traditionally ascribed to Paul alone. Is this fair? Many scholars answer no. They note the way the first-person plural dominates both letters, even in the thanksgiving section, which does not happen in most of the other Pauline letters, including three of them that name someone else in the salutation (1 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon). The inclusion of more than one person in the salutation of a letter was most unusual in antiquity; readers would probably have read the plural ’we’ as a genuine indication of authorship. However, there is reason to pause before drawing this conclusion. . . . Paul is the primary author [cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:17]." [Note: Carson and Moo, pp. 534-44.]
"Paul, like a good psychologist, and with true Christian tact, begins with praise even when he meant to move on to rebuke." [Note: William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians, p. 217.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2012.
2. Specific reasons 1:4-10
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2012.
They were also awaiting the return of God’s Son "out of the heavens" (Gr. ek ton ouranon). This is the only place in 1 and 2 Thessalonians where Paul called Jesus God’s Son. Their action was the evidence of their hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Jesus’ resurrection is indisputable proof of His deity and the prerequisite to His return.
"To the extent that the Thessalonians accepted the resurrection as an act of God, it would give them confidence in the prospect of Christ’s coming in power." [Note: Ibid., p. 87.]
"Believers live anticipating a coronation (2 Timothy 4:8) rather than a condemnation." [Note: Martin, p. 66.]
"Wrath is the holy revulsion of God’s being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness." [Note: John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans , 1:35.]
When Paul spoke of "the wrath to come" did he have in mind the general outpouring of God’s wrath on unbelievers in eternal damnation? Or did he mean a specific instance of God outpouring His wrath at a particular time in history yet future? The commentators, regardless of their eschatological positions, take both positions on this question. For example, some amillennialists believe Paul was speaking generally. [Note: E.g., William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of I and II Thessalonians, p. 57.] However other amillennialists believe Paul referred to a specific event, namely, the judgment associated with the second coming of Christ. [Note: E.g., Morris, The Epistles . . ., pp. 40-41, and idem, The First . . ., p. 64.] In the amillennial scheme of things this judgment will end the present age. Premillennialists also disagree with one another on this point. For example, some take Paul’s words as a general reference. [Note: E.g., John F. Walvoord, The Thessalonian Epistles, p. 17; and David A. Hubbard, "The First Epistle to the Thessalonians," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1350, who was a premillennial posttribulationist.] Others believe Paul had in mind the Tribulation, which for a pretribulationist is the next great outpouring of God’s wrath in history. [Note: E.g., D. Edmond Hiebert, The Thessalonian Epistles, p. 71.]
If this was the only reference to "the wrath to come" in this epistle, we might conclude that Paul was probably referring to the outpouring of God’s wrath on unbelievers generally. There is no specific reference to a particular judgment here. However, later he spent considerable space writing about the outpouring of God’s wrath in the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). Therefore it seems to me that this is the first reference to that outpouring of wrath in the epistle (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). The biblical revelation about the relationship of church saints to the wrath of God strongly implies a pretribulation rapture of the church. [Note: See Renald E. Showers, Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! A Definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church, pp. 192-222; and Gerald B. Stanton, Kept from the Hour, pp. 25-50.]
". . . the choice of erchomene [’come’] rather than mellousa [’come’] . . . may have been determined by the fact that Paul purposes to express not so much the certainty . . . as the nearness of the judgment. Nearness involves certainty but certainty does not necessarily involve nearness." [Note: James E. Frame, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, p. 89.]
The outpouring of God’s wrath occurs at many times in history. One of these judgments is the Tribulation (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14) that will come upon the whole earth in the future (Revelation 3:10). Another is the great white throne judgment at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:11-15).
"Used technically, as it so frequently is in the NT, ’wrath’ (orges) is a title for the period just before Messiah’s kingdom on earth, when God will afflict earth’s inhabitants with an unparalleled series of physical torments because of their rejection of His will [i.e., the Tribulation] (Matthew 3:7; Matthew 24:21; Luke 21:23; Revelation 6:16-17)." [Note: Thomas, p. 248.]
The Greek preposition ek, translated "from," can mean either "away from" or "out of." Other passages teach that believers will not experience any of God’s wrath (e.g., John 3:36; John 5:24; Romans 5:1; Romans 8:1; Romans 8:34; et al.). Consequently "away from" seems to be the idea Paul intended here. [Note: See Daniel B. Wallace, "A Textual Problem in 1 Thessalonians 1:10: ’Ek tes ’Orges vs ’Apo tes ’Orges," Bibliotheca Sacra 147:588 (October-December 1990):470-79.]
How will God keep believers "away from" His wrath as He pours it out during the Tribulation? Pretribulationists say He will do so by taking us to heaven before the Tribulation begins. [Note: John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question, p. 72. Cf. Revelation 3:10.] Midtribulationists say we will enter the Tribulation, but God will take us to heaven before the outpouring of His wrath that will occur only during the second half of the Tribulation. [Note: Harold John Ockenga, "Will the Church Go Through the Tribulation? Yes," Christian Life (February 1955), pp. 22, 66.] Posttribulationists believe we will go through the entire Tribulation and God will protect us from the outpouring of His wrath during that time. [Note: George E. Ladd, The Blessed Hope, p. 121-22; J. Barton Payne, The Imminent Appearing of Christ, p. 143; Arthur D. Katterjohn, The Tribulation People, p. 98; William R. Kimball, The Rapture: A Question of Timing, p. 70; and Alexander Reese, The Approaching Advent of Christ, p. 226.] 1 Thessalonians 1:10 does not state exactly how God will deliver us "away from" His wrath when He will pour it out in the Tribulation. Other passages in 1 Thessalonians, however, point to a pretribulational deliverance (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-10).
Preservation from the wrath of God is part of the believer’s hope. This chapter, like all the others in this epistle, closes with a reference to Jesus Christ’s return (cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).
"That attitude of expectation is the bloom, as it were, of the Christian character. Without it there is something lacking; the Christian who does not look upward and onward wants one mark of perfection." [Note: James Denney, The Epistles to the Thessalonians, p. 59.]
"To wait for him has ethical implications; those who wait are bound to live holy lives so as to be ready to meet him (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23)." [Note: Bruce, p. 19.]
"In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 the Thessalonian believers are pictured as waiting for the return of Christ. The clear implication is that they had a hope of His imminent return. If they had been taught that the great tribulation, in whole or in part, must first run its course, it is difficult to see how they could be described as expectantly awaiting Christ’s return. Then they should rather have been described as bracing themselves for the great tribulation and the painful events connected with it." [Note: Hiebert, p. 205. Cf. Bruce, p. 18; Stanton, pp. 108-37; Wayne A. Brindle, "Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture," Bibliotheca Sacra 158:630 (April-June 2001):142-44. ]
Imminent means likely, not certain, to happen without delay: impending. Other passages that teach the imminency of the Lord’s return include 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Philippians 3:20; Philippians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2; Titus 2:13; James 5:7-9; 1 John 2:28; and Revelation 3:11; Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12; Revelation 22:17; Revelation 22:20. [Note: See Earl D. Radmacher, "The Imminent Return of the Lord," in Issues in Dispensationalism, pp. 247-67; and Showers, pp. 127-53.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2012.
And to wait for his Son from heaven,.... The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the natural, essential, and eternal Son of God; and whoever is truly converted, is not only turned to God the Father, and believes in him; but also believes in, receives, embraces, and professes his Son Jesus Christ; who became incarnate, and, in the human nature he assumed, obeyed, suffered, and died and rose again, and ascended into heaven, where he now is, and will be till the time of the restitution of all things; when he will descend from thence, and come and judge the world in righteousness; and from thence the saints expect him, and look and wait by faith for eternal glory and happiness by him, and with him at his appearance and kingdom; so that many articles of faith are contained in this expression, which these Thessalonians were acquainted with, believed, and acted upon: and Christ the Son of God is further described as that person
whom he raised from the dead; that is, God the Father raised from the dead, and whereby he was declared to be the Son of God; and which supposes his dying for the sins of his people, as it expresses his rising again for their justification; things which the faith of these believers was led unto, and in which light they viewed him:
even Jesus, which delivered us from wrath to come; which is revealed from heaven against sin, and comes upon the children of disobedience; which all men are deserving of, even God's elect themselves, but shall not partake of, because they are not appointed to it, but to salvation; and because they are justified by the blood and righteousness of Christ, and so are saved from it; not from all fears about it, and apprehensions of it, which they are filled with, especially under first awakenings, and sometimes afterwards when under afflictive providences; but they are delivered from the thing itself, by which is meant vindictive punishment, even from all punishment in this life, for there is no wrath mixed with any of their mercies or their chastisements; and from all punishment in the world to come, which will fall heavy on others; and that because Christ has bore their sins, and the wrath of God and curse of the law, due unto them, in their room and stead.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1999.
|Evidence of the Apostle's Success.||A. D. 51.|
6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 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. 9 For they themselves show 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; 10 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 these words we have the evidence of the apostle's success among the Thessalonians, which was notorious and famous in several places. For,
I. They were careful in their holy conversation to imitate the good examples of the apostles and ministers of Christ, 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:6. As the apostle took care to demean himself well, not only for his own credit's sake, but for the benefit of others, by a conversation suitable to his doctrine, that he might not pull down with one hand what he built up with the other, so the Thessalonians, who observed what manner of men they were among them, how their preaching and living were all of a piece, showed a conscientious care to be followers of them, or to imitate their good example. Herein they became also followers of the Lord, who is the perfect example we must strive to imitate; and we should be followers of others no further than they are followers of Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:1. The Thessalonians acted thus, notwithstanding their affliction, that much affliction which the apostles and themselves also were exposed to. They were willing to share in the sufferings that attended the embracing and professing of Christianity. They entertained the gospel, notwithstanding the troubles and hardships which attended the preachers and professors of it too. Perhaps this made the word more precious, being dear--bought; and the examples of the apostles shone very bright under their afflictions; so that the Thessalonians embraced the word cheerfully, and followed the example of the suffering apostles joyfully, with joy in the Holy Ghost--such solid and spiritual and lasting joy as the Holy Ghost is the author of, who, when our afflictions abound, makes our consolations much more to abound.
II. Their zeal prevailed to such a degree that they were themselves examples to all about them, 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Observe here,
1. Their example was very effectual to make good impressions upon many others. They were typoi--stamps, or instruments to make impression with. They had themselves received good impressions from the preaching and conversation of the apostles, and they made good impressions, and their conversation had an influence upon others. Note, Christians should be so good as by their example to influence others.
2. It was very extensive, and reached beyond the confines of Thessalonica, even to the believers of all Macedonia, and further, in Achaia; the Philippians, and others who received the gospel before the Thessalonians, were edified by their example. Note, Some who were last hired into the vineyard may sometimes outstrip those who come in before them, and become examples to them.
3. It was very famous. The word of the Lord, or its wonderful effects upon the Thessalonians, sounded, or was famous and well known, in the regions round about that city, and in every place; not strictly every where, but here and there, up and down in the world: so that, from the good success of the gospel among them, many others were encouraged to entertain it, and to be willing, when called, to suffer for it. Their faith was spread abroad. (1.) The readiness of their faith was famed abroad. These Thessalonians embraced the gospel as soon as it was preached to them; so that every body took notice what manner of entering in among them the apostles had, that there were no such delays as at Philippi, where it was a great while before much good was done. (2.) The effects of their faith were famous. [1.] They quitted their idolatry; they turned from their idols, and abandoned all the false worship they had been educated in. [2.] They gave themselves up to God, to the living and true God, and devoted themselves to his service. [3.] They set themselves to wait for the Son of God from heaven, 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10. And this is one of the peculiarities of our holy religion, to wait for Christ's second coming, as those who believe he will come and hope he will come to our joy. The believers under the Old Testament waited for the coming of the Messiah, and believers now wait for his second coming; he is yet to come. And there is good reason to believe he will come, because God has raised him from the dead, which is full assurance unto all men that he will come to judgment, Acts 17:31. And there is good reason to hope and wait for his coming, because he has delivered us from the wrath to come. He came to purchase salvation, and will, when he comes again, bring salvation with him, full and final deliverance from sin, and death, and hell, from that wrath which is yet to come upon unbelievers, and which, when it has once come, will be yet to come, because it is everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, Matthew 25:41.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-thessalonians-1.html. 1706.
A Summary of Experience and a Body of Divinity
Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, October 26th, 1884, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"For they themselves show 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." 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 .
IN Thessalonica the conversions to the faith were remarkable. Paul came there without prestige, without friends, when he was in the very lowest condition; for he had just been beaten and imprisoned at Philippi, and had fled from that city. Yet it mattered not in what condition the ambassador might be; God, who worketh mighty things by weak instruments, blessed the word of his servant Paul. No doubt when the apostle went into the synagogue to address his own countrymen he had great hopes that, by reasoning with them out of their own scriptures, he might convince them that Jesus was the Christ. He soon found that only a few would search the Scriptures and form a judgment on the point; but the bulk of them refused, for we read of the Jews of Berea, to whom Paul fled from Thessalonica, "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Paul must have felt disappointed with his own countrymen; indeed, he had often cause to do so. His heart was affectionately warm toward them, but their hearts were very bitter towards him, reckoning him to be a pervert and an apostate. But if he seemed to fail with the Jews, it is evident that he was abundantly successful with the Gentiles. These turned from their idols to serve the living God, and their turning was so remarkable that the Jew's charged Paul and Silas with turning the world upside down.
In those days there was a good deal of practical atheism abroad, and therefore the wonder was not so much that men left their idols, as that they turned unto the living God. It became a matter of talk all over the city, and the Jews in their violence helped to make the matter more notorious; for the mobs in the street and the attack upon the house of Jason all stirred the thousand tongues of rumour. Everybody spoke of the sudden appearance of three poor Jews, of their remarkable teaching in the synagogue, and of the conversion of a great multitude of devout Greeks, and of the chief women not a few. It was no small thing that so many had come straight away from the worship of Jupiter and Mercury to worship the unknown God, who could not be seen, nor imaged; and to enter the kingdom of one Jesus who had been crucified. It set all Macedonia and Achaia wondering; and as with a trumpet blast it aroused all the dwellers in those regions. Every ship that sailed from Thessalonica carried the news of the strange ferment which was moving the City; men were caring for religion and were quitting old beliefs for a new and better faith. Thessalonica, situated on one of the great Roman roads, and center of a large trade, thus became a center for the gospel. Wherever there are true conversions there will be more or less of this kind of sounding forth of the gospel. It was especially so at Thessalonica; but it is truly so in every church where the Spirit of God is uplifting men from the dregs of evil, delivering them from drunkenness, and dishonesty, and uncleanness, and worldliness, and making them to become holy and earnest in the cause of the great Lord. There is sure to be a talk when grace triumphs. This talk is a great aid to the gospel: it is no small thing that men should have their attention attracted to it by its effects; for it is both natural and just that thoughtful men should judge of doctrines by their results; and if the most beneficial results follow from the preaching of the word, prejudice is disarmed, and the most violent objectors are silenced.
You will notice that in this general talk the converts and the. hers were greatly mixed up: "For they themselves show of us manner of entering in we had unto you." I do not know that it is possible for the preacher to keep himself distinct from those who profess to be converted by him. He is gladly one with them in love to, their souls, bat he would have it remembered that he cannot be responsible for all their actions. Those who profess to have been converted under any ministry have it in their power to damage that ministry far more than any adversaries can do. "There!" says the world, when it detects a false professor, "this is what comes of such preaching." They judge unfairly, I know; but most men are in a great hurry, and will not examine the logic of their opponents; while many others are so eager to judge unfavorably, that a very little truth, or only a bare report, suffices to condemn both the minister and his doctrine. Every man that lives unto God with purity of life brings honor to the gospel which converted him, to the community to which he belongs, and to the preaching by which he was brought to the knowledge of the truth; but the reverse is equally true in the case of unworthy adherents. Members of churches, will you kindly think of this? Your ministers share the blame of your ill conduct if ever you disgrace yourselves. I feel sure that none of you wish to bring shame and trouble upon your pastors, however careless you may be about your own reputations. Oh, that we could be freed from those of whom Paul says, "Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." When these are in a church they are its curse. The Thessalonians were not such: they were such a people that Paul did not blush to have himself implicated in what they did. He was glad to say that the outsiders "show 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."
Quitting this line of thought, I would observe that these two verses struck me as being singularly full. Oceans of teaching are to be found in them. A father of the church in the first ages was wont to cry, "I adore the infinity of Holy Scripture." That remark constantly rises from my lips when I am studying the sacred Word. This book is more than a book, it is the mother of books, a mine of truth, a mountain of meaning. It was an ill-advised opinion which is imputed to the Mahommedans at the destruction of the Alexandrian Library, when they argued that everything that was good in it was already in the Koran, and therefore it might well be destroyed. Yet it is true with regard to the inspired Word of God, that it contains everything which appertains to eternal life. It is a revelation of which no man can take the measure, it compasses heaven and earth, time and eternity. The best evidence of its being written by an Infinite mind is its own infinity. Within a few of its words there lie hidden immeasurable meanings, even as perfume enough to sweeten leagues of space may be condensed into a few drops of otto of roses.
The first part of my text contains a summary of Christian experience; and the second part contains a body of divinity. Here is ample room and verge enough. It is not possible to exhaust such a theme.
I. The first part of the text contains A SUMMARY OF EXPERIENCE; "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." Here we have in miniature the biography of a Christian man.
It begins, first, with the entering in of the word, "What manner of entering in we had unto you." When we preach the word you listen, and, so far, the word is received. This is a very hopeful circumstance. Still, the hearing with the outward ear is comparatively a small matter; or, at least, only great because of what may follow from it. The preacher feels even with some who listen with attention that he is outside the door; he is knocking, and he hopes that he is heard within; but the truth is not yet received, the door remains shut, an entrance is not granted, and in no case can he be content to speak with the person outside the door; he desires an entrance for the Word. All is fruitless until Christ entereth into the heart. I have seen the following: the door has been a little opened, and the man inside has come to look at the messenger, and more distinctly to hear what he may have to say; but he has taken care to put the door on the chain, or hold it with his hand, for he is not yet ready to admit the guest who is so desirous of entertainment. The King's messenger has sometimes tried to put his foot within when the door has stood a little open, but he has not always been successful, and has not even escaped from a painful hurt when the door has been forced back with angry violence. We have called again and again with our message, but we have been as men who besieged a walled city, and were driven from the gates; yet we had our reward, for when the Holy Spirit sweetly moved the hard heart the city gates have opened of their own accord, and we have been received joyfully. We have heard the hearty cry, "Let the truth come in! Let the gospel come in! Let Christ come in! Whatever there is in him we are willing to receive; whatever he demands we are willing to give; whatever he offers us we are glad to accept. Come and welcome! The guest-chamber is prepared. Come and abide in our house for ever!"
The truth has its own ways of entrance; but in general it first affects the understanding. The man says, "I see it: I see how God is just, and yet the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. I see sin laid on Christ that it may not be laid on me, and I perceive that if I believe in Jesus Christ my sins are put away by his atonement." To many all that is wanted is that they should understand this fundamental truth; for their minds are prepared of God to receive it. Only make it plain and they catch at it as a hungry man at a piece of bread. They discover in the gospel of our Lord Jesus the very thing for which they have been looking for years, and so the truth enters by the door of the understanding.
Then it usually commences to work upon the conscience, conscience being the understanding exercised upon moral truth. The man sees himself a sinner, discovering guilt that he was not aware of; and he is thus made ready to receive Christ's pardoning grace. He sees that to have lived without thinking of God, without loving God, without serving God was a great and grievous crime: he feels the offensiveness of this neglect. He trembles; he consents unto the law that it is good, and he allows that, if the law condemns him, he is worthy to be condemned.
When it has thus entered into the understanding and affected the conscience, the word of God usually arouses the emotions. Fear is awakened, and hope is excited. The man begins to feel as he never felt before. His whole manhood is brought under the heavenly spell; his very flesh doth creep in harmony with the amazement of his soul. He wonders and dreads, weeps and quivers, hopes and doubts; but no, emotion is asleep; life is in all. When a tear rises to his eye he brushes it away, but it is soon succeeded by another. Repentance calls forth one after another of these her sentinels. The proud man is broken down; the hard man is softened. The love of God in providing a Saviour, the unsearchable riches of divine grace in passing by transgression, iniquity, and sin, these things amaze and overwhelm the penitent. He finds himself suddenly dissolved, where aforetime he was hard as adamant for the word is entering into him, and exercising its softening power.
By-and-by the entrance is complete; for the truth carries the central castle of Mansoul, and captures his heart. He who once hated the gospel now loves it. At first he loves it, hoping that it may be his, though fearing the reverse; yet owning that if it brought no blessing to himself, yet it was a lovable and desirable thing. By-and-by the man ventures to grasp it, encouraged by the word that bids him lay hold on eternal life. One who in digging his land finds a treasure, first looks about for fear lest some one else should claim it; anon he dares to examine his prize more carefully, and at length he bears it in his bosom to his own home. So is it with the gospel; when a man finds it by the understanding, he soon embraces it with his heart; and, believe me, if it once gets into the heart, the arch-enemy himself will never get it out again. Oh, that such an entrance with the gospel might commence the spiritual life of all here present who are as yet unsaved.
What comes next? Well, the second stage is conversion. "They themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned from idols to serve the living and true God." There came a turning, a decided turning. The man has come so far in carelessness, so far in sin and unbelief; but now he pauses, and he deliberately turns round, and faces in that direction to which hitherto he had turned his back. Conversion is the turning of a man completely round, to hate what he loved and to love what he hated. Conversion is to turn to God decidedly and distinctly by an act and deed of the mind and will. In some senses we are turned; but in others, like these Thessalonians, we turn. It is not conversion to think that you will turn, or to promise that you will turn, or resolve that you will turn, but actually and in very deed to turn, because the word has had a true entrance into your heart. You must not be content with a reformation; there must be a revolution: old thrones must fall, and a new king must reign. Is it so with you?
These Thessalonians turned from their idols. Do you tell me that you have no idols? Think again, and you will not be quite so sure. The streets of London are full of fetich worship, and almost every dwelling is a joss-house crammed with idols. Why, multitudes of men are worshipping not calves of gold, but gold in a more portable shape. Small circular idols of gold and silver are much sought after. They are very devoutly worshipped by some, and great things are said concerning their power. I have heard the epithet of "almighty" ascribed to an American form of these idols. Those who do not worship gold may yet worship rank, name, pleasure, or honour. Most worship self, and I do not know that there is a more degrading form of worship than for a man to put himself upon a pedestal and bow down thereto and worship it. You might just as well adore cats and crocodiles with the ancient Egyptians as pay your life's homage to yourselves. No wooden image set up by the most savage tribe can be more ugly or degrading than our idol when we adore ourselves. Men worship Bacchus still. Do not tell me they do not: why, there is a temple to him at every street corner. While every other trade is content with a shop or a warehouse, this fiend has his palaces, in which plentiful libations are poured forth in his honour. The gods of unchastity and vice are yet among us. It would be a shame even to speak of the things which are done of them in secret. The lusts of the flesh are served even by many who would not like to have it known. We have gods many and lords many in this land. God grant that we may see, through the preaching of the gospel, many turning from such idols. If you love anything better than God you are idolaters: if there is anything you would not give up for God it is your idol: if there is anything that you seek with greater fervour that is your idol, and conversion means a turning from every idol.
But then that is not enough, for some men turn from one idol to another. If they do not worship Bacchus they become teetotalers, and possibly they worship the golden calf, and become covetous. When men quit covetousness they sometimes turn to profligacy. A change of false gods is not the change that will save: we must turn unto God, to trust, love, and honor him, and him alone.
After conversion comes service. True conversion causes us "to serve the living and true God." To serve him means to worship him, to obey him, to consecrate one's entire being to his honour and glory, and to be his devoted servant.
We are, dear friends, to serve the "living" God. Many men have a dead God still. They do not feel that he hears their prayers, they do not feel the power of his Spirit moving upon their hearts and lives. They never take the Lord into their calculations; he never fills them with joy, nor even depresses them with fear; God is unreal and inactive to them. But the true convert turns to the living God, who is everywhere, and whose presence affects him at every point of his being. This God he is to worship, obey, and serve.
Then it is added, to serve the true God; and there is no serving a true God with falsehood. Many evidently serve a false god, for they utter words of prayer without their hearts, and that is false prayer, unfit for the true God, who must be worshipped in spirit and in truth. When men's lives are false and artificial they are not a fit service for the God of truth. A life is false when it is not the true outcome of the soul, when it is fashioned by custom, ruled by observation, restrained by selfish motives, and governed by the love of human approbation. What a man does against his will is not in truth done by himself at all. If the will is not changed the man is not converted, and his religious life is not true. He that serves the true God acceptably does it with delight; to him sin is misery, and holiness is happiness. This is the sort of service which we desire our converts to render: we long to see rebels become sons. Oh the sacred alchemy of the Holy Spirit, who can turn men from being the slaves of sin to become servants of righteousness!
Carefully notice the order of life's progress: the entering in of the word produces conversion, and this produces service. Do not put those things out of their places. If you are converts without the word entering into you, you are unconverted; and if professing to receive the word you are not turned by it, you have not received it. If you claim to be converted, and yet do not serve God, you are not converted; and if you boast of serving God without being converted, you are not serving God. The three things are links which draw on each other.
A fourth matter follows to complete this Christian biography, namely, waiting "To wait for his Son from heaven." That conversion which is not followed up by waiting is a false conversion, and will come to nothing. We wait, dear brethren, in the holy perseverance of faith; having begun with Christ Jesus orr Lord we abide in him; we trust, and then we wait. We do not look upon salvation as a thing which requires a few minutes of faith, and then all is over; salvation is the business of our lives. We receive salvation in an instant, but we work it out with fear and trembling all our days. He that is saved continues to be saved, and goes on to be saved from day to day, from every sin and from every form of evil. We must wait upon the Lord, and renew the strength of the life which he has imparted. As a servant waiteth on her mistress, or a courtier upon his king, so must we wait upon the Lord.
This waiting also takes the shape of living in the future. A man who, waits is not living on the wages of today, but on the recompenses of a time which is yet to come; and this is the mark of the Christian, that his life is spent in eternity rather than in time, and his citizenship is not of earth but of heaven. He has received a believing expectancy which makes him both watch and wait. He expects that the Lord Jesus will come a second time, and that speedily. He has read of his going up. into heaven, and he believes it; and he knows that he will so come in like manner as he went up into heaven. For the second advent he looks with calm hope: he does not know when it may be, but he keeps. himself on the watch as a servant who waits his lord's return. He hopes it may be today, he would not wonder if it were tomorrow, for he is always looking for and hasting unto the coming of the Son of God. The coming of the Lord is his expected reward. He does not expect to be rewarded by men, or even to be rewarded of God with temporal things in this life, for he has set his affection upon things yet to be revealed, things eternal and infinite. In the day when the Christ shall come, and the heavens which have received him shall restore him to our earth, he shall judge the world in righteousness, and his people with his truth, and then shall our day break and our shadows flee away. The true believer lives in this near future; his hopes are with Jesus on his throne, with Jesus crowned before an assembled universe.
The convert has come to this condition, he is assured of his salvation. See how he has been rising from the time when he first held the door ajar! He is assured of his salvation; for Paul describes him as one who is delivered from the wrath to come; and therefore he looks with holy delight to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Once he was afraid of this, for he feared that he would come to condemn him; but now he knows that when the Lord appears his justification will be made plain to the eyes of all men. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun, in the kingdom of their Father." And so he cries, " Even so, come.Lord Jesus!" He would hasten rather than delay the appearing of the Lord. He groans in sympathy with travailing creation for the manifestation of the sons of God. He cries with all the redeemed host for the day of the. Saviour's glory. He could not do this were he not abundantly assured that the day would not seal his destruction, but reveal his full salvation.
Here, then, you have the story of the Christian man briefly summed up, and I think you will not find a passage of merely human writing which contains so much in so small a compass. It has unspeakable wealth packed away into a narrow casket. Do you understand it? Is this the outline of your life? If it is not, the Lord grant that his word may have an entrance into you this morning, that you may now believe in Jesus Christ and then wait for his glorious appearing.
II. I shall want you to be patient with me while I very briefly unfold the second half of this great roll. Here even to a greater degree we have mullum in parvo, much in little; A BODY OF DIVINITY packed away in a nutshell. " To wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
To begin my body of divinity, I see here, first, the Deity of Christ. "To wait for his Son." "His Son." God has but one Son in the highest sense. The Lord Jesus Christ has given to all believers power to become the sons of God, but not in the sense in which he, and he alone, is the Son of God." Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?" "When he bringeth in the First-begotten into the world he saith, Let all the angels of God worship him." The Eternal Filiation is a mystery into which it is better for us never to pry. Believe it; but how it is, or how it could be, certainly it is not for you or for me to attempt to explain. There is one " Son of the Highest," who is "God, of the substance of the Father, begotten before all worlds," whom we with all our souls adore, and own to be most truly God; doing so especially every time in the benediction we associate him with the Father and with the Holy Spirit as the one God of blessing.
Side by side with this in this text of mine is his humanity. "His son, whom he raised from the dead." It is for man to die. God absolutely considered dieth not; he therefore took upon himself our mortal frame, and was made in fashion as a man; then willingly for our sakes he underwent the pangs of death, and being crucified, was dead, and so was buried, even as the rest of the dead. He was truly man, "of a reasonable soul, and human flesh subsisting": of that we are confident. There has been no discussion upon that point in these modern times, but there was much questioning thereon in years long gone; for what is there so clear that men will not doubt it or mystify it? With us there is no question either as to his Deity, which fills us with reverence; or his manhood, which inspires us with joy. He is the Son of God and the Son of Mary. He, as God, is " immortal, invisible"; and yet for our sakes he was seen of men and angels, and in mortal agony yielded up the ghost. He suffered for our salvation, died upon the cross, and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, being verily and truly man.
Notice a third doctrine which is here, and that is the unity of the Divine Person of our Lord; for while the apostle speaks of Christ as God's Son from heaven, and as one who had died, he adds, "even Jesus": that is to say, one known, undivided Person. Although he be God and man, yet he is not two, but one Christ. There is but one Person of our blessed and adorable Lord: "one altogether; not by confusion of substance, but by unity of Person." He is God, he is man; perfect God and perfect man; and, as such, Jesus Christ, the one Mediator between God and man. There have been mistakes about this also made in the church, though I trust not by any one of us here present. We worship the Lord Jesus Christ in the unity of his divine Person as the one Saviour of men.
Furthermore, in our text we perceive a doctrine about ourselves very plainly implied, namely, that men by nature are guilty, for otherwise they would not have needed Jesus, a Saviour. They were lost, and so he who came from heaven to earth bore the name of Jesus, "for he shall save his people from their sins." It is clear, my brethren, that we were under the divine wrath, otherwise it could not be said, "He hath delivered us from the wrath to come." We who are now delivered were once "children of wrath, even as others." And when we are delivered it is a meet song to sing, "O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me." We were guilty, else we had not needed a propitiation by the Saviour's death: we were lost, else we had not needed one who should seek and save that which is lost; and we were hopelessly lost, otherwise God himself would not have shared our nature to work the mighty work of our redemption. That truth is in the text, and a great deal more than I can mention just now.
But the next doctrine, which is one of the fundamentals of the gospel, is that the Lord Jesus Christ died for these fallen men. He could not have been raised from the dead if he had not died. That death was painful, and ignominious; and it was also substitutionary: "for the transgression of my people was he stricken." In the death of Christ lay the essence of our redemption. I would not have you dissociate his life from his death, it comes into his death as an integral part of it; for as the moment we begin to live we, in a sense, begin to die, so the Man of Sorrows lived a dying life, which was all preparatory to his passion. He lived to die, panting for the baptism wherewith he was to be baptized, and reaching forward to it. But it was especially, though not only, by his death upon the cross that Jesus put away our sin. Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Not even the tears of Christ, nor the labours of Christ could have redeemed us if he had not given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice. "Die he, or justice must," or man must die. It was his bowing the head and giving up of the ghost which finished the whole work. "It is finished" could not have been uttered except by a bleeding, dying Christ. His death is our life. Let us always dwell upon that central truth, and when we are preaching Christ risen, Christ reigning, or Christ coming, let us never so preach any of them as to overshadow Christ crucified. "We preach Christ crucified." Some have put up as their ensign, "We preach Christ glorified"; and we also preach the same; but yet to us it seems that the first and foremost view of Jesus by the sinner is as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. Therefore do we preach first Christ crucified, while at the same time we do not forget that blessed hope of the child of God, namely, Christ in glory soon to descend from heaven.
The next doctrine I see in my text is the acceptance of the death of Christ by the Father. "Where is that?" say you. Look! "Whom he raised from the dead." Not only did Jesus rise from the dead, but the Father had a distinct hand therein. God as God gave the token of his acceptance of Christ's sacrifice by raising him from the dead. It is true, as we sometimes sing,
"If Jesus had not paid the debt,
He ne'er had been at freedom set."
The Surety would have been held in prison to this day if he had not discharged his suretyship engagements, and wiped out all the liabilities of his people Therefore it is written, "He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." In his glorious uprising from the dead lies the assurance that we are accepted, accepted in the Beloved: the Beloved being himself certainly accepted because God brought him again from the dead.
Further on, we have another doctrine, among many more. We have here the doctrine of our Lord's resurrection, of which we spake when we mentioned the acceptance of his offering. Christ is risen from the dead. I pray you, do not think of the Lord Jesus Christ as though he were now dead. It is well to dwell upon Gethsemane, Golgotha, and Gabbatha; but pray remember the empty tomb, Emmaus, Galilee, and Olivet. It is not well to think of Jesus as for ever on the cross or in the tomb. "He is not here, but he is risen." Ye may "come and see the place where the Lord lay," but he lies there no longer he hath burst the bands of death by which he could not be holden: for it was not possible that God's holy One could see corruption. The rising of Jesus from the dead is that fact of facts which establishes Christianity upon an historical basis, and at the same time guarantees to all believers their own resurrection from the dead. He is the firstfruits and we are the harvest.
Further, there is here the doctrine of his ascension: "to wait for his Son from heaven." It is clear that Jesus is in heaven, or he could not come from it. He has gone before us as our Forerunner. He has gone to his rest and reward; a cloud received him out of sight; he has entered into his glory.
I doubt not our poet is right when he says of the angels
"They brought his chariot from on high,
To bear him to his throne;
Clapped their triumphant wings and cried,
'The glorious work is done!'"
That ascension of his brought us the Holy Spirit. He "led captivity captive, and received gifts for men," and he gave the Holy Ghost as the largess of his joyous entry to his Father's courts, that man on earth might share in the joy of the Conqueror returning from the battle. "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in," was the song of that bright day.
But the text tells us more: not only that he has gone into heaven, but that he remains there; for these Thessalonians were expecting him to come "from heaven," and therefore he was there. What is he doing? "I go to prepare a place for you." What is he doing? He is interceding with authority before the throne. What is he doing? He is from yonder hill-top looking upon his church, which is as a ship upon the sea .buffeted by many a storm. In the middle watch ye shall see him walking on the waters; for he perceives the straining of the oars, the leakage of the timbers, the rending of the sails, the dismay of the pilot, the trembling of the crew; and he will come unto us, and save us. He is sending heavenly succours to his weary ones; he is ruling all things for the salvation of his elect, and the accomplishment of his purposes. Glory be to his blessed name!
Jesus is in heaven with saving power, too, and that also is in the text: "His Son from heaven, even Jesus, which delivereth us from the wrath to come." I alter the translation, for it is a present participle in the case of each verb, and should run, "Even Jesus, delivering us from the wrath coming." He is at this moment delivering. "Wherefore also he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." He is away in heaven, but he is not divided from us; he is working here the better because he is there. He has not separated himself from the service and the conflict here below; but he has taken the post from which he can best observe and aid. Like some great commander who in the day of battle commands a view of the field, and continues watching, directing, and so winning the fight, so is Jesus in the best place for helping us. Jesus is the master of legions, bidding his angels fly hither and thither, where. their spiritual help is needed. My faith sees him securing victory in the midst of the earth. My God, my King, thou art working all things gloriously from thy vantage ground, and ere long the groans and strifes of battle shall end in Hallelujahs unto the Lord God Omnipotent! Christ's residence in the heavens is clearly in the text.
Here is conspicuously set forth the second coming, a subject which might well have occupied all our time, " To wait for his Son from heaven." Every chapter of this epistle closes with the Second Advent. Do not deceive yourselves, oh ye ungodly men who think little of Jesus of Nazareth! The day will come when you will change your minds about him. As surely as he died, he lives, and as surely as he lives he will come to this earth again! With an innumerable company of angels, with blast of trumpet that shall strike dismay into the heart of all his enemies, Jesus comes! And when he cometh there shall be a time of judgment, and the rising again of the dead, and "Every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all the kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." He may come tomorrow! We know not the times and the seasons; these things are in the Father's keeping; but that he comes is certain, and that he will come as a thief in the night to the ungodly is certain too. Lay no flattering unction to your souls as though when he was crucified there was an end of him; it is but the beginning of his dealings with you, though you reject him. "Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him."
A further doctrine in the text is that Christ is a deliverer "Jesus delivering us from the wrath coming,." What a blessed name is this! Deliverer! Press the cheering title to your breast. He delivereth by himself bearing the punishment of sin. He has delivered, he is delivering, he always will deliver them that put their trust in him.
But there was something to be delivered from, and that is, the coming wrath, which is mentioned here. "Oh," saith one, "that is a long, way off, that wrath to come!" If it were a long way off it were wise for you to prepare for it. He is unsafe who will be destroyed most certainly, however distant that destruction may be. A wise man should not be content with looking as an ox doth, as far as his eye can carry him, for there is so much beyond, as sure as that which is seen. But it is not far-off wrath which is here mentioned; the text saith, "who delivereth us from the wrath coming"; that is, the wrath which is now coming; for wrath is even now upon the unbelieving. As for those Jews who had rejected Christ. the apostle says of them in the sixteenth verse of the next chapter, "Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost." The siege of Jerusalem, and the blindness of Israel, are a terrible comment upon these words. "Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile." It is said of every one that believeth not in Christ Jesus, that "the wrath of God abideth on him." "God is angry with the wicked every day." This wrath abideth upon some of you. It is the joy of believers that they are delivered from this wrath which is daily coming upon unbelievers, and would come upon themselves if they had not been delivered from it by the atoning sacrifice.
There is evidently in the text the doctrine of a great division between men and men. "He hath delivered us." All men have not faith, and therefore all men are not delivered from wrath. Today there is such a division; the "condemned-already" and the "justified" are living side by side; but ere long the separation shall be more apparent. While some will go away into everlasting punishment, the people of God will be found pardoned and absolved, and so will be glorified for ever.
Lastly, there is here the doctrine of assurance. Some say, "How are you to know that you are saved?" It can be known; it ought to be known. "Surely," cries one, "it is presumption to say that you are sure." It is presumption to live without knowing that you are delivered from wrath. Here the apostle speaks of it as a thing well known, that "Jesus delivers us from the wrath coming." He does not say "if," or "perhaps," but he writes that it is so, and therefore he knew it, and we may know it. My brother, you may know that you are saved. "That would make me inexpressibly happy," cries one. Just so, and that is one of the reasons why we would have you know it this day. God saith, "He that believeth in him hath everlasting life," and therefore the believer may be sure that he has it. Our message is, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." God make you to escape that dreadful doom! May you be delivered from the wrath which is coming for Jesus' sake. Amen.
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON Acts 17:1-10 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 .
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 1:10". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/1-thessalonians-1.html. 2011.
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11