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Arno Clement Gaebelein

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     The city of Thessalonica was situated on the northern part of the
Aegean Sea, on the Thermaic Gulf It was a prominent city of the Roman
province, Macedonia. Its inhabitants were mostly Thracians. Thessalonica
was a wealthy and large city and for a time, the most influential centre in
the northeastern part of the Roman empire. On account of its great commerce
many Jews had settled there and a flourishing synagogue existed in the

     The visit of the Apostle Paul to Thessalonica is recorded in the
seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts. It took place after his ministry
in Philippi. It seems that the persecution there hastened his departure.
Paul had said to the magistrates, "They have beaten us openly uncondemned,
being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now would they thrust us
out privily? Nay, verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out."
When this came to the ears of the authorities, they became frightened for
it was illegal to scourge a Roman citizen. "And they came and besought
them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And
they went out of the prison and entered into the house of Lydia; and when
they had seen the brethren, they comforted them and departed" (Acts
16:37-40). Of his experience Paul writes in his first letter to the
Thessalonians. "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you,
that it was not in vain. But even after that we had suffered before, and
were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God
to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention" (1 Thess. 2:1-2).
Leaving then Philippi with Silas (Silvanus) and Timothy they went along the
famous highway, the Via Egnatia and reached the city of Thessalonica. On
the way they passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia. On their arrival Paul
followed his usual custom and visited the synagogue.

     For three Sabbaths, the record in Acts tells us, he reasoned with them
out of the Scriptures. The Scriptures, of course, were the Old Testament
Scriptures, for the New Testament was then not in existence. The way he
dealt with his Jewish brethren is the pattern still for reaching the Jews
with the gospel. He opened the Scriptures, and without mentioning the name
of the Lord Jesus at all, he showed that the Old Testament teaches that the
Messiah (Christ) promised to them must suffer and rise from the dead. This
great truth that the sufferings of Messiah come first and the glory
follows, had been forgotten by the Jews. A crucified Christ was their
stumbling block (1 Cor. 1:23). They looked only to the glory-side and the
accomplishment, through Him, of the national promises. And after Paul had
demonstrated from the Scriptures "that Christ must needs have suffered, and
risen again from the dead," then he boldly declared that "this Jesus, whom
I preach unto you, is Christ." The predictions of the suffering and the
resurrection of Christ were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus. But he must have
preached more than that. He also taught that Christ would come again. This
we learn from the fact that the unbelieving Jews, in bringing Jason, who
had believed, with other brethren before the rulers, accused them of
"turning the world upside down," and "that there is another King, one
Jesus" (Acts 17:5-7). His second Epistle also shows that he had given them
instructions in dispensational and prophetic truths (2 Thess. 2:5).

                        The Church in Thessalonica

     As a result of his testimony a church was at once gathered out. "And
some of them believed and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout
Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few" (Acts 17:4).
From this we learn that a number of Jews were persuaded that the Lord Jesus
is the Christ and accepted Him as their Saviour and Lord. But the church
was mostly composed of devout Greeks. These were not heathen, but Greeks
who had given up idolatry and had become Jewish proselytes. They were
convinced that paganism was wrong and seeking for light attended the
synagogical services. Of this class a great multitude believed. The third
class mentioned are women who occupied positions of distinction. Not a few
of them believed. The Epistles Paul wrote to the church of the
Thessalonians also shows the character of those gathered. That the majority
of them were Gentiles is learned from the statement that they had turned to
God from idols (1 Thess. 1:9). The evils against which he warns (1 Thess.
4:1-8) were mostly practised by the Greeks; and they belonged mostly to the
poorer, the working class (1 Thess. 4:11).

          Paul's First Epistle: When and for What it was Written

     The Epistle to the Thessalonians is the first Epistle Paul wrote. Even
the most outspoken critics acknowledge that it is a genuine document.
Irenaeus (about 140 A.D.) bears witness to this Epistle. There are many
other historical evidences, besides the contents of the Epistle, which
prove conclusively that Paul is the author of it. All this is not necessary
to follow in this brief introduction. The Authorized Version has a
postscript "written from Athens." This claim is made on account of the
apostle's statement in chapter 3:1-2. "Wherefore, when we could no longer
forbear, we thought it good to be left alone at Athens. And sent Timotheus,
our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of
Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith." It is
surmised that Timotheus carried this letter to the Thessalonians. This is
incorrect. The Epistle was written after Timotheus had returned from his
visit to Thessalonica. The sixth verse of the third chapter furnishes this
evidence. "But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us
good tidings of your faith and love, and that ye have good remembrance of
us always, desiring greatly to see us." Timothy came from Thessalonica with
the good news of the happy state of the Thessalonian church and joined the
apostle in Corinth (Acts 18:5). From Corinth Paul wrote this first Epistle
about the year 52 or possibly a few months later.

     The apostle had been compelled to break off suddenly his ministry in
Thessalonica on account of the persecutions which had arisen in that city.
"The brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea"
(Acts 17:10). He must have felt that the new converts needed more
instructions. Of this he writes in the Epistle. "But we, brethren, being
taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the
more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have
come unto you, even I Paul, once and again: but Satan hindered us" (2:17,
18). To comfort them in the midst of the persecution and in their sorrow,
to encourage them in their conflicts, he was moved by the Holy Spirit to
write this first Epistle. Timothy had brought to him the information of the
tribulations they were undergoing. And they were especially distressed by
the death of a number of believers. They sorrowed almost like those who had
no hope, because they feared that these departed ones would have no share
in the glory and in the kingdom of the returning Christ. To relieve them of
their anxiety, to give them further light on the coming of the Lord in
relation to those who are asleep and the reunion with them who have gone
before, what will happen when the Lord comes for His saints, so that they
could comfort each other, is one of the chief reasons why this letter was

                          The Coming of the Lord

     The blessed hope of the coming of the Lord occupies a very prominent
place in this Epistle. In our days we often hear the statement that the
coming of our Lord is an unessential doctrine. Those who make such an
assertion are ignorant of the fact that the blessed hope is a part of the
gospel itself. Christian preaching and teaching which ignores the blessed
hope, the coming of the Lord, is incomplete; it omits one of the most vital
truths which the Spirit of God has linked with the gospel and with the life
and service of the believer. The first Epistle the great apostle wrote is
an evidence of this. In this Epistle one of the greatest revelations in the
Word of God about His coming, is made known (4:13-18). It is the Epistle in
which the doctrine of the coming of Christ is unfolded and shown to be
practically connected with the Christian's life. Each chapter bears witness
to it (1:9-10; 2:19-20; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11). Christians wait for Him;
serve in anticipation of His coming when all service will be rewarded and
the servant crowned; His coming is the incentive to a holy life, it is the
comfort and consolation and when He comes and takes His own in clouds to
meet Him in the air, it will bring the unexpected judgment for the world.
The second Epistle gives additional light on the visible manifestation of
the Lord, what will precede that day and what is connected with it, when He
comes with His holy angels. The fate of those who obey not the gospel and
who receive not the love of the truth is made known in the second Epistle.

                    The Division of First Thessalonians

     Simplicity and deep affection are the marks of this Epistle. We find
nothing about Judaizers, these perverters of the gospel of Jesus Christ
against whom Paul had to warn in his later Epistles. Warnings such as we
have in Colossians and other Epistles are absent. The loving apostle is not
grieved in any way, but happy on account of the gracious work going on in
the midst of the Thessalonians, and rejoicing in them as his beloved
children. In the study of this Epistle we maintain the division in five


                         Analysis and Annotations


                                 CHAPTER 1

     1. Greetings and thanksgiving (1:1-4)
     2. The gospel and its blessed fruits (1:5-7)
     3. The blessed condition of the Church (1:8-10)

     Verses 1-4. Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus were known to the
Thessalonians, for they had been with them, and were the instruments of God
used in bringing the gospel to them. He does not speak of himself as an
apostle. In nine of his Epistles, Paul uses his title as apostle. In Romans
and Titus, he calls himself also "a servant of Jesus Christ and of God." In
Philippians, he speaks of himself and of Timothy as "servants of Christ
Jesus." In the Epistle to Philemon, he also omits his apostleship, because
this Epistle was a private letter. He asserts his apostolic title and
authority in the strongest way, when he addresses the Galatians and the
Corinthians, because these churches were troubled with false teachers who
impeached his apostolic calling. As this trouble did not exist in
Thessalonica, he does not call to their remembrance that he is an apostle.
He did not parade his title, and only mentions it when the truth he
preached and which he had received from the Lord was questioned.

     He addressed the church in Thessalonica as "the church of the
Thessalonians, in God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." The church in
Thessalonica is the only one addressed in this manner. The church is looked
upon as the family of God, as the children of God, and God their Father
through the Lord Jesus Christ. They were the happy children of God and in
simplicity of faith knew Him as their Father. What a transformation had
taken place in these Thessalonians! They were idolators, worshipping idols;
through believing the gospel, they were born again and now enjoyed the
blessed relationship to God as Father. There is no other way into the
family of God than the way by which these heathen had been brought there.
We are sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:26). And John, in
addressing the family of God wrote "I write unto you, little children
(those born again), because ye have known the Father" (1 John 2:13). The
apostle, who had declared the gospel unto them, thanked God always for
them, and with his fellow laborers made mention of them in prayer. The life
which they possessed manifested itself in faith, love and hope. These are
the principles which form our character as Christians. Theirs was a work of
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and the Father, labor
undertaken by love; all their labor in service flowed from love, and they
endured because they possessed hope, waiting for Him. The objects of faith,
love and hope are the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father.

     Verses 5-7. The apostle mentions next the gospel and what it had
wrought among them. "Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but in
power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance." Paul, Silvanus and
Timothy had preached to them the good news of a free and full salvation by
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel message came to them in
power. He made the word effective in their souls and quickened them so that
the great change took place by which they passed from death unto life; thus
believing, the Holy Spirit was received by them, giving them full
assurance. Here we have the divine order of salvation; the message of the
gospel heard and believed; the Spirit of God manifesting His power in the
conversion and the sealing of those who believed, and the consequence: the
full assurance of the truth in all its blessed power and reality. But the
gospel was not only preached by these messengers among the Thessalonians;
the chosen instruments also witnessed to that gospel by their life and
walk--"As ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sakes."
They were living and blessed witnesses of the power of the gospel which
they proclaimed. Their holy walk, their self-denial, their peace and
quietness had its blessed effect on the Thessalonian believers, for they
became imitators of the apostles. Inasmuch as the messengers followed
closely the Lord Jesus Christ, the Thessalonians, being imitators of them,
became thus imitators of the Lord, having received the Word in much
affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit. And then in turn they became
patterns to all that believed in Macedonia and Achaia. In these simple
statements, we have a blessed manifestation of the real power of the

     Verses 8-10. There was no need for Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to say
anything about these Thessalonian Christians. It was not necessary to speak
to others of what God had wrought in Thessalonica or to declare the
genuineness of these new converts. The Thessalonian believers gave such a
strong and full testimony that it was wholly unnecessary for the laborers
to say anything about them. The word of the Lord was sounded forth by them
with no uncertain sound. They were true lights in the world-darkness and
were holding forth the word of life. Their faith toward God became widely
known in every place. Throughout that region it became known through their
witness of what the gospel is and what the gospel produces in the hearts
and lives of those who believe.

     And what was their testimony? It is stated in the last two verses of
this chapter. "For they, themselves, report concerning us what manner of
entrance 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 among the dead, Jesus, who delivereth us from the wrath to come." In
these words we have the great essentials of true Christianity. The first is
true conversion. They had turned to God from idols, not, as it is sometimes
quoted, from idols to God; the power of God, in believing the gospel had
turned them away from idolatry. They were now serving no longer dumb idols,
but the true and living God. In this service they manifested the
genuineness of their conversion. And there was another prominent
characteristic: they waited for His Son from heaven, Jesus, whom God had
raised from among the dead. They looked earnestly for Him, in whom they had
believed, who had died for them and of whom they knew He had been raised
from among the dead, being now, at the right hand of God. According to His
own promise to come again, they were patiently waiting for His coming from
heaven, though they were ignorant of the manner of His coming. How He will
come again, and what is connected with this great event, they learned fully
from the two Epistles they received from the inspired pen of the apostle.
To wait for the coming of the Lord is a vital characteristic of true
Christianity; it is a part of the gospel. A sad testimony it is to the
superficial knowledge of the gospel when men say and teach that the belief
in the second coming of Christ is unessential and of no practical value. It
is most essential and of the greatest value to the true believer. It
presents the gloryside of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He who died for our
sins, who is the glorified Man, the firstborn among many brethren, has
promised to have all His own with Him to be like Him and to share His
glory. This is the true object of the believer's expectation and hope. He
has delivered us from the wrath to come. Therefore the Thessalonians, and
all true believers as well, can wait without fear for that blessed event,
for they know they are sheltered by Him from the wrath to come. Before this
wrath comes He will take His own into His presence. He is our deliverer
from the wrath to come.


                                 CHAPTER 2

     1. Apostolic conduct and service (2:1-12)
     2. Thanksgiving for the reception of the message and
        the opposition (2:13-16)
     3. Looking forward to His coming (2:17-19)

     Verses 1-12. The apostle now enlarges upon the brief statement in the
previous chapter "Ye know what manner of men we were among you for your
sakes." His conduct and character, as well as that of his fellow laborers,
corresponded fully with the holy character of the truth they preached. They
walked worthy of the gospel and worthy of the Lord. First he makes mention
of the sufferings he and Silas endured in Philippi. They had been
shamefully treated. They had been stripped and scourged cruelly with the
lictor's rods and cast into prison with their feet secured to the stocks.
The physical discomfort resulting from such a punishment must have lasted
for many days, but it did not hinder their going to Thessalonica with
confidence in God to speak the gospel there, where they also had much
conflict. And what a witness he bore of their unselfish conduct while they
were among them! This exhortation was not a deceit, that is, out of error;
nor was it in uncleanness, emanating from any low motives of self-interest;
nor in guile. God had approved them; their ministry was God-given and they
were fully conscious of this fact. Being intrusted with the gospel (and
what a trust it is!) so they spoke. They had no need to employ different
schemes to be successful; they had full confidence in God and in the
message He had given to them to proclaim. Therefore their whole aim was to
please God who trieth the hearts and not men. Nor had they used flattery to
win them; nor did they resort to flattering words as a cloak of
covetousness using sweet phrases to get money out of them; not alone were
they witnesses of all this, but he could say, "God is witness." They had
sought nothing of men, neither money nor glory. They might have been
burdensome to them as the apostles of Christ. They did not use their
authority, which they might have used, asserting their dignity and
demanding something from them. Their whole conduct was in true humility and
in great self denial. (Many a "leading" evangelist of our day stands
condemned by this beautiful example of a true servant of God. What God and
gospel dishonoring schemes are used! What flatteries as a cloak of
covetousness! How much man-pleasing!)

     This is the negative side. On the other hand they were full of
tenderness and kindness. A boisterous, unkind, impatient spirit was
completely absent in their ministry. "But we were gentle among you, even as
a nurse cherisheth her children. So being affectionately desirous of you,
we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but
also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us." What blessed fragrance
is, and will ever be, in these precious words! How little of this gracious,
loving interest in souls is manifested today among the Lord's servants!
Then he reminds them what he had done so as not to be a burden to any one
when he preached the gospel of God unto them. He and his companion had
worked day and night with their own hands. Paul was a tent-maker and worked
with his own hands in Thessalonica and elsewhere (Acts 18:2; 1 Cor. 4:12).
And again he appeals to them as witnesses as well as to God, "how holily
and justly and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe; as
ye know we exhorted and charged every one of you, as a father his children,
that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His own kingdom
and glory." Having such a portion in the coming kingdom and being an heir
of glory, the walk of every believer should indeed be worthy of God.

     Verses 13-16. He thanked God without ceasing for the reception of the
message which they heard from his lips. It was the Word of God, which Paul
had preached, and hearing the message, they had received it not as the word
of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God. This Word received in faith
saved them and also effectually worked in them that believed. It is still
the same. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The
believer is constantly dependent upon the Word of God; it worketh in him
effectually through the power of the Holy Spirit. The believer's practical
sanctification in the daily life is by the Word (John 17:17).

     They also knew what suffering meant. They became followers (imitators)
of the churches of God in Judea in Christ Jesus. Those churches suffered
persecutions from the Jews, but the Thessalonians suffered from their own
countrymen. And what a solemn charge is brought here through Paul against
his kinsmen, the Jews! They had killed the Lord Jesus and their own
prophets; they persecuted the apostles. And not satisfied with this, they
tried to keep the gospel they hated from reaching the Gentiles that they
might be saved. The measure of sins was now filled up "and wrath is come
upon them to the uttermost." The great apostle of the Gentiles, called to
go far hence to the Gentiles, in this his first Epistle is used to
pronounce sentence upon his own nation, which has been set aside until the
fulness of the Gentiles is come in (Rom. 11:25-26).

     Verses 17-19. He had an affectionate desire for them. Separated and
bereaved of them (the more correct rendering) for a little season in
person, but not in heart, he had great longing to see their face. Once and
again he wanted to visit them, but Satan had hindered him. How the enemy
hindered him in carrying out his desire, whether by attacks upon his body
(2 Cor. 12:7) or by wicked men, we do not know. He then speaks of that
blessed time when all hindrances will cease, when God's people are no
longer separated, when those who ministered the Word and the fruits of
their labors are gathered in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at His
coming. "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even
ye before our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? for ye are our glory and
joy." Here again the apostle mentions the coming of the Lord. The gathered
saints before the Lord Jesus Christ will be the crown of glorying and the
joy for the faithful servant, who then finds in the presence of the Lord,
in the day of Christ, the fruit of his labors. To this consummation in
glory Paul directed the attention of the Thessalonians and he speaks of
them as his glory and joy, "for ye are our glory and our joy."

     "it should be observed here, that the special fruits of our labors are
not lost; they are found again at the coming of Christ. Our chief personal
joy is to see the Lord Himself and to be like Him. This is the portion of
all saints; but there are particular fruits in connection with the work of
the Spirit in us and by us. At Thessalonica the spiritual energy of the
apostle had brought a number of souls to God and to wait for His Son, and
into a close union in the truth with Himself. This energy would be crowned
at the coming of Christ by the presence of these believers in the glory as
the fruit of his labors. God would thus crown the apostle's work by bearing
a striking testimony to its faithfulness in the presence of all these
saints in glory; and the love which had wrought in Paul's heart would be
satisfied by seeing its object in glory and in the presence of the Lord
Jesus. They would be his glory and joy. This thought drew yet closer the
bonds that united them, and comforted the apostle in the midst of his toils
and sufferings" (Synopsis of the Bible).

                       III. AFFLICTIONS AND COMFORT

                                 CHAPTER 3

     1. Timotheus, Paul's messenger (3:1-5)
     2. His return with good tidings and the apostle's comfort and joy
     3. This earnest desire (3:11-13)

     Verses 1-5. His longing for the beloved Thessalonians and his
solicitude for them became so great that he could no longer forbear and he
decided to be left alone in Athens and send Timotheus to Thessalonica. He
knew they had great afflictions and that there was danger that they might
not endure and then his labors among them would have been in vain. He
therefore sent Timotheus whom he calls "our brother, minister of God and
our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ." The purpose of his mission was
to establish the believers still more and to bring them comfort concerning
their faith. This would result, under the blessing of God, in their
steadfastness. "That no man should be moved by these afflictions, for
yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto"--it is the lot of all true
believers. In fact he had forewarned them of all this when he was in their
midst. "For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we
should suffer tribulation, even as it came to pass, and ye knew. This was
part of the apostolic message, as we learn from Acts 14:22. "Confirming the
souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and
that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."

     Tribulations had now come upon the Thessalonians and they were
severely tested. He knew they were in the Lord's hands, that His watchful
eye was upon them and that His power was sufficient to keep them. Yet he
had deep concern and anxiety for them, for he also knew Satan's power. "For
this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest
by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain." The
day of Christ, when the servant receives the reward and the saints are "the
crown of glorying" is in his thoughts. If the tempter succeeded he would
not have that crown of glorying in the presence of the Lord. (See 1 John
2:28. "And now little children, abide in Him: that when He shall appear, we
[the laborers) may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His
coming.") While Timotheus was away Paul left Athens from where he had sent
him to visit Thessalonica. Paul went to Corinth; it was there he received
the good tidings from Thessalonica, and, as we state in the introduction,
after Timotheus' return he wrote this Epistle (Acts 18:5).

     Verses 6-10. "But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and
brought good tidings of your faith and love, and that ye have good
remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see
you." It was good tidings Timotheus brought to Paul. They were standing
fast in faith; they continued in love, nor had they forgotten Paul. Their
hearts longed for him as his own soul desired to see them. In the midst of
tribulations which had come upon them they were blessedly sustained.

     And how all this cheered the apostle. He is comforted. "Therefore,
brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by
your faith; for now we live if ye stand fast in the Lord." He had also his
sorrows, his afflictions and much distress. But the good tidings from the
Thessalonians refreshed his spirit and filled him with new energy. As a
servant of God he is so fully identified with those for whom he labored and
whom he loved that he could say, "for now we live, if ye stand fast in the
Lord." He feels as if he could not render sufficient thanks to God for them
and for all the joy wherewith he now rejoiced, on their account before God.
He also prayed night and day exceedingly that he might see their face and
help them still more, so that which was lacking in their faith might be
perfected. Then, knowing himself dependent upon God and the Lord Jesus
Christ, He looks to direct his way to them.

     "What a bond is the bond of the Spirit! How selfishness is forgotten,
and disappears in the joy of such affections! The apostle, animated by this
affection, which increased instead of growing weary by its exercise, and by
the satisfaction it received in the happiness of others, desires so much
the more, from the Thessalonians being thus sustained, to see them again;
not now for the purpose of strengthening them, but to build upon that which
was already so established, and to complete their spiritual instruction by
imparting that which was yet lacking to their faith. But he is a laborer
and not a master (God makes us feel this), and he depends entirely on God
for his work, and for the edification of others. In fact years passed away
before he saw the Thessalonians again. He remained a long time at Corinth,
where the Lord had much people; he revisited Jerusalem, then all Asia Minor
where he had labored earlier; thence he went to Ephesus, where he abode
nearly three years; and after that he saw the Thessalonians again, when he
left that city to go to Corinth, taking his journey by the way of
Macedonia" (J.N. Darby).

     Verses 11-13. We must not overlook the testimony to the deity of our
Lord of the eleventh verse. "Now God and our Father Himself, and our Lord
Jesus Christ, direct our way to you!" The verb "direct" in the Greek is in
the singular. God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are in the thought
of the apostle one, though, personally, clearly distinguished. It is a
striking proof of the unity of the Father and Son.

     He prayed "the Lord make you to increase and abound in love, one
toward another and toward all, even as we also towards you." Love is the
bond of perfectness and as such the true means of holiness "in order to
establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." This is the third
time the coming of our Lord is mentioned by Paul in this Epistle. First he
spoke of waiting for His Son from heaven as the characteristic of a true
believer (1:9- 10); then we read of the gatherings of the saints in the
presence of the Lord, the time of glory and joy, when the faithful servant
will receive the reward (2:19-20), and now another phase is added. The Lord
is coming with all His saints; it is now not the coming for His saints, but
with them, in the day of His manifestation as well as the manifestation of
all the saints with Him. It is the same of which we read in Col. 3:4, "When
Christ is manifested who is our life then shall ye also be manifested with
Him in glory." He also speaks of this in his second Epistle: "When He shall
come to be glorified in His saints and wondered at in all that have
believed (for our testimony unto you has been believed) in that day" (2
Thess. 1:10). In view of this coming manifestation in glory the Holy Spirit
urges a walk in practical holiness, so as to be unblamable in holiness
before our God and Father. It is an incentive to holy living.

     "In reading this passage one cannot but observe the immediate and
living way in which the Lord's coming is linked with daily practical life,
so that the perfect light of that day is thrown upon the hourly path of the
present time. By the exercise of love they were to be established in
holiness before God at the coming of Christ. From one day to another, that
day was looked for as the consummation and the only term they contemplated
to the ordinary life of each day here below. How this brought the soul into
the presence of God! Moreover, they lived in a known relationship with God
which gave room for this confidence. He was their Father; He is ours. The
relationship of the saints to Jesus was equally known. The saints were "His
saints." They were all to come with Him. They were associated with His
glory. There is nothing equivocal in the expression. Jesus, the Lord,
coming with all His saints, allows us to think of no other event than His
return in glory. Then also will He be glorified in His saints, who will
already have rejoined Him to be for ever with Him. It will be the day of
their manifestation as of His."


                                 CHAPTER 4

     1. The separated walk (4:1-12)
     2. The coming of the Lord for His saints (4:13-18)

     Verses 1-12. "Furthermore, then, brethren, we beg you and exhort you
in the Lord Jesus, even as ye received from us, how ye ought to walk and
please God, even as ye also do walk, that ye would abound still more. For
ye know what charges we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the
will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from
fornication; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in
sanctification and honor (not in passionate desire, even as the Gentiles
who know not God), not overstepping the rights of and wronging his brother
in the matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all these things, even as
we also told you before, and have fully testified. For God has not called
us to uncleanness, but in sanctification. He therefore that (in this)
disregards (his brother), disregards, not man, but God, who has also given
His Holy Spirit to you" (corrected translation).

     Having spoken of being unblamable in holiness at the coming of the
Lord he exhorts them to live now in sanctification. The motive is to please
God. The believer should constantly in his daily life ask himself this
question, "Do I please God?" Exhortation to purity in abstaining from
fleshly lusts follows. Fornication, licentiousness in various forms were
closely connected with the idolatrous worship from which these
Thessalonians had been saved. The lust of the flesh was a part of this
former religion, as it is still today among different heathen religions.
But why these exhortations? Because they were surrounded by these things on
all sides, and because the old nature with its tendencies towards these
evils was still present with them, as it is with all true believers. No
circumstances or position can make the believer secure against these
things, without exercise of conscience and self-judgment, and hence these
solemn admonitions from the Lord. Each was to possess his own vessel (his
own wife) in sanctification and honor, this would be a safe-guard against
the numerous immoralities practised among the heathen. If in this matter
any one overstepped the rights of another and thus wronged his brother by
committing adultery, the Lord would be the avenger; it would be a complete
disregard of God who has not called His people to uncleanness, but unto
sanctification, to be separated from all these things. Needful were these
exhortations for the Thessalonians as they are still to all of us.

     And the best remedy against these evil things is brotherly love. He
had no need to say much about it, for they themselves were taught of God to
love one another. But he exhorts them to be quiet and to mind their own
affairs, working with their own hands, as he their leader had exemplified
it when he was among them.

     Verses 13-18. "But we do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren,
concerning them that are fallen asleep, to the end that ye sorrow not, even
as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose
again, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through
Jesus. For this we say to you in the Word of the Lord, that we, the living,
who remain to the coming of the Lord, are in no way to anticipate these who
have fallen asleep; for the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with an
assembling shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of
God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, the living who
remain, shall be caught up together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord
in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one
another with these words."

     These words contain one of the great revelations of the Bible and
require therefore closer attention. It is a special and unique revelation
which he gives to the sorrowing Thessalonians, occasioned by the mistake
they had made when some of their fellow believers had died, and they feared
that these departed ones had lost their share in the coming glorious
meeting between the Lord and His saints. They sorrowed on their account
like those who have no hope. (Their pagan neighbors had no hope of meeting
loved ones again after death. Classic Greek and Roman writers abound with
dreary expressions of the hopelessness of death.) We must remember that the
New Testament was not yet in existence; only one of the gospels, was
written; and not one of the epistles. And so the Lord gave to the apostle
the special revelation which would quiet their fears and put before them
the details of the coming of the Lord for all His saints, those who had
fallen asleep and those alive when He comes.

     Our Lord spoke that blessed word to His eleven disciples, "I will come
again and receive you unto myself, that where I am ye may be also" (John
14:3). It is the only time He mentioned His coming for His own, and in
speaking of it He did not tell them of signs to precede that coming, such
as wars, false Christs and the great tribulation. It was the simple
announcement that He would come again and receive those who are His to
Himself. He did not say a word about the manner of that coming and how He
would receive His own into glory to be with Him. Nor did the Thessalonians
hear definite teaching on this from the lips of Paul. They knew He would
come again; they waited for Him. But as to the manner of His coming and
concerning those who had already fallen asleep and their relation to that
event they were in ignorance. Beautiful it is to see how graciously the
Lord answered the question of these sorrowing ones and how much more He
adds for the comfort of all His people.

     The first statement is in verse 14. "For if we believe that Jesus died
and rose again, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen
asleep through Jesus." Let us first notice that blessed statement that
"Jesus died." Of the saints it is said that they have fallen asleep; but
never is it said that Jesus slept. He tasted death, the death in all its
unfathomable meaning as the judgment upon sin. For the saints the physical
death is but sleep. (Some have perverted the meaning of "sleep," and,
instead of applying it, as Scripture does, to the body, they apply it to
the soul. Soul-sleep is nowhere taught in the Bible and is therefore an
invention by those who handle the Word deceitfully.) And He who died also
rose again; as certainly as He died and rose again, so surely shall all
believers rise. God will bring all those who have fallen asleep through
Jesus with Him, that is with the Lord when He comes in the day of His
glorious manifestation. It does not mean the receiving of them by the Lord,
nor does it mean that He brings their disembodied spirits with Him to be
united to their bodies from the graves, but it means that those who have
fallen asleep will God bring with His Son when He comes with all His
saints; they will all be in that glorified company. When the Lord comes
back from glory all the departed saints will be with Him. This is what the
Thessalonians needed to know first of all. Before we follow this blessed
revelation in its unfolding we call attention to the phrase "fallen asleep
through (not in) Jesus"; it may also be rendered by "those who were put to
sleep by Jesus." His saints in life and death are in His hands. When saints
put their bodies aside, it is because their Lord has willed it so.
"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints" (Ps.
116:15). When our loved ones leave us, may we think of their departure as
being "put to sleep by Jesus."

     But blessed as this answer to their question is, it produced another
difficulty. Hearing that the saints who had fallen asleep would come with
the Lord on the day of His glorious manifestation, they would ask, "How is
it possible that they can come with Him?" Are they coming as disembodied
spirits? What about their bodies in the graves? How shall they come with
Him? To answer these questions the special revelation "by the Word of the
Lord" is given, by which they learned, and we also, how they would all be
with Him so as to come with Him at His appearing. "For this we say to you
by the Word of the Lord, that we, the living, who remain unto the coming of
the Lord, are in no wise to anticipate those who have fallen asleep." He
tells them that when the Lord comes for His saints, those who have fallen
asleep will not have an inferior place and that, we, the living, who remain
to the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
When Paul wrote these words and said, "We, the living, who remain," he
certainly considered himself as included in that class. The two companies
who will meet the Lord when He comes, those who have fallen asleep and
those who are living, are mentioned here for the first time. How the living
saints will not precede those who have departed and the order in which the
coming of the Lord for His saints will be executed is next made known in
this wonderful revelation.

     "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with an assembling
shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God; and the
dead in Christ shall rise first, then, we, the living, who remain, shall be
caught up together with them in clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so
shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these
words." This is an altogether new revelation. Nothing like it is found
anywhere in the Old Testament Scriptures. In writing later to the
Corinthians Paul mentioned it again. "Behold I show you a mystery; we shall
not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling
of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead
shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

     The Lord Himself will descend from heaven. He is now at the right hand
of God in glory, crowned with honor and glory. There He exercises His
Priesthood and Advocacy in behalf of His people, by which He keeps,
sustains and restores them. When the last member has been added to the
Church, which is His body, and that body is to be with Him, who is the
head, He will leave the place at the right hand and descend from heaven. He
will not descend to the earth, for, as we read later, the meeting place for
Him and His saints is in the air and not the earth. When He comes with His
saints in His visible manifestation, He will descend to the earth. He
descends with a shout. It denotes His supreme authority. The Greek word is
"keleusma," which means literally "a shout of command," used in classical
Greek for the hero's shout to his followers in battle, the commanding voice
to gather together. He ascended with a shout (Ps. 47:5), and with the
victor's shout He returns.

     The shout may be the single word "Come!" "Come and see" He spoke to
the disciples who followed Him and inquired for His dwelling place. Before
Lazarus' tomb He spoke with a loud voice, "Come forth." John, in the isle
of Patmos, after the throne messages to the churches had been given, saw a
door opened in heaven and the voice said "Come up hither" (Rev. 4:1).
"Come" is the royal word of grace, and grace will do its supreme work when
He comes for His own. But there will also be the voice of the archangel
(Michael) and the trump of God. The archangel is the leader of the angelic
hosts. As He was seen of angels (1 Tim. 3:16) when He ascended into the
highest heaven, so will the archangel be connected with His descent out of
heaven. All heaven will be in commotion when the heirs of glory, sinners
saved by grace, are about to be brought with glorified bodies into the
Father's house. Some teach that the voice of the archangel may be employed
to summon the heavenly hosts and marshal the innumerable company of the
redeemed, for "They shall gather His elect together from the four winds,
from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:30-30. (Prof. W.G.
Moorehead, Outline Studies.) But this is incorrect. The elect in Matthew 24
are not the Church, but Israel. Dispersed Israel will be regathered and
angels will be used in this work. Furthermore the angels will do this
gathering after the great tribulation and after the visible manifestation
of the Lord with His saints. The coming of the Lord for His saints takes
place before the great tribulation.

     The trump of God is also mentioned. This trumpet has nothing to do
with the judgment trumpets of Revelation, nor with the Jewish feasts of
trumpets. It is a symbolical term and like the shout stands for the
gathering together. In Numbers 10:4 we read, "And if they blow with one
trumpet, then the princes, the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall
gather themselves unto thee." The shout and the trump of God will gather
the fellow-heirs of Christ. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." This is
the resurrection from among all the dead of those who believed on Christ,
the righteous dead. All saints of all ages, old and New Testament saints,
are included. This statement of the resurrection of the dead in Christ
first disposes completely of the unscriptural view of a general
resurrection. As we know from Rev. 20:5 the rest of the dead (the wicked
dead) will be raised up later. He comes in person to open the graves of all
who belong to Him and manifests His authority over death which He has

     The dead in Christ will hear the shout first and experience His
quickening power; they shall be raised incorruptible. What power will then
be manifested! "Then we, the living, who remain, shall be caught up
together with them in clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we
ever be with the Lord." All believers who live on earth when the Lord comes
will hear that commanding, gathering shout. It does not include those who
only profess to be Christians and are nominal church-members, nor are any
excluded who really are the Lord's. (The so-called first-fruit rapture,
which teaches that only the most spiritual of all true believers, who have
made a deeper experience, etc., will be caught up, and the other believers,
though they are true believers of God, will be left behind to pass "through
the great tribulation," has no spiritual foundation and is wrong.) The
question, "Who will be caught up into glory?" is answered in 1 Cor.
15:23--"All who are Christ's." The change will be "in a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye" (1 Cor. 15:52). Then this mortal will put on
immortality. It will be the blessed "clothed upon" of which the apostle
wrote to the Corinthians: "For in this tabernacle we groan, being burdened;
not for that we would be unclothed (death) but clothed upon, that mortality
might be swallowed up of life" (2 Cor. 5:4). Then our body of humiliation
will be fashioned like unto His own glorious body. it is the blessed,
glorious hope, not death and the grave, but the coming of the Lord, when we
shall be changed. And it is our imminent hope; believers must wait daily
for it and some blessed day the shout will surely come.

     When He descends from heaven with the shout and the dead in Christ are
raised and we are changed, then "we shall be caught up together with them
in clouds to meet the Lord in the air." It will be the blessed time of
reunion with the loved ones who have gone before. What joy and comfort it
must have brought to the sorrowing Thessalonians when they read these
blessed words for the first time! And they are still the words of comfort
and hope to all His people, when they stand at the open graves of loved
ones who fell asleep as believers.

     Often the question is asked, "Shall we not alone meet our loved ones
but also recognize them?" Here is the answer: "Together with them" implies
both reunion and recognition. These words would indeed mean nothing did
they not mean recognition. We shall surely see the faces of our loved ones
again and all the saints of God on that blessed day when this great event
takes place. The clouds will be heaven's chariots to take the heirs of God
and the joint-heirs of the Lord Jesus Christ into His own presence. As He
ascended so His redeemed ones will be taken up. Caught up in clouds to meet
the Lord in the air; all laws Of gravitation are set aside, for it is the
power of God, the same power which raised up the Lord Jesus from the dead
and seated Him in glory, which will be displayed in behalf of His saints
(Eph. 1:19-23). Surely this is a divine revelation.

     "How foolish it must sound to our learned scientists. But, beloved, I
would want nothing but that one sentence, 'caught up in clouds . to meet
the Lord in the air,' to prove the divinity of Christianity. Its very
boldness is assurance of its truth. No speculation, no argument, no
reasoning; but a bare authoritative statement startling in its boldness.
Not a syllable of Scripture on which to build, and yet when spoken, in
perfect harmony with all Scripture. How absolutely impossible for any man
to have conceived that the Lord's saints should be caught up to meet Him in
the air. Were it not true its very boldness and apparent foolishness would
be its refutation. And what would be the character of mind that could
invent such a thought? What depths of wickedness! What cruelty! What
callousness! The spring from which such a statement, if false, could rise
must be corrupt indeed. But how different in fact! What severe
righteousness! What depths of holiness! What elevated morality! What warmth
of tender affection! What clear reasoning! Every word that he has written
testifies that he has not attempted to deceive. Paul was no deceiver, and
it is equally impossible for him to have been deceived" ("Our Hope,"
February 1902).

     And the blessedness "to meet the Lord in the air"! We shall see Him
then as He is and gaze for the first time upon the face of the Beloved,
that face of glory, which was once marred and smitten on account of our
sins. And seeing Him as He is we shall be like Him. How long will be the
meeting in the air? It has been said that the stay in that meeting place
will be but momentary and that the Lord will at once resume His descent to
the earth. We know from other Scriptures that this cannot be. Between the
coming of the Lord for His saints and with His saints there is an interval
of at least seven years before the visible coming of the Lord and His
saints with Him. The judgment of the saints, by which their works and
labors become manifest must take place. There is also to be the
presentation of the church in glory (Ephes. 5:27; Jude 24). Furthermore the
marriage of the Lamb takes place not in the meeting place in the air, but
in heaven (Rev. 19:1-10). He will take His saints into the Father's house
that they may behold His glory (John 17:22). But what will it mean, "So
shall we be forever with the Lord!"

     "In this part of the passage, where he explains the details of our
ascension to the Lord in the air, nothing is said of His coming down to the
earth; it is our going up (as He went up) to be with Him. Neither, as far
as concerns us, does the apostle go farther than our gathering together to
be for ever with Him. Nothing is said either of judgment or of
manifestation; but only the fact of our heavenly association with Him in
that we leave the earth precisely as He left it. This is very precious.
There is this difference: He went up in His own full right, He ascended; as
to us, His voice calls the dead, and they come forth from the grave, and,
the living being changed, all are caught up together. It is a solemn act of
God's power, which seals the Christians' life and work of God, and brings
the former into the glory of Christ as His heavenly companions. Glorious
privilege! Precious grace! To lose sight of it destroys the proper
character of our joy and of our hope" (Synopsis of the Bible).


                                 CHAPTER 5

     1. The day of the Lord (5:1-11)
     2. Exhortations (5:12-22)
     3. Conclusions (5:23-28)

     Verses 1-11. "But concerning the times and seasons, brethren, ye have
no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day
of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say,
Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon
a woman with child, and they shall not escape." The apostle next mentions
the day of the Lord. This is the day when the Lord is revealed from heaven,
the day of His visible manifestation. It is the day when judgment will be
executed upon the world. While the coming of the Lord for His saints, as
made known in the previous chapter, is unrevealed in the Old Testament, the
day of the Lord of which the apostle now writes, is fully revealed by the
prophets. (See Isaiah 2:12-22; Joel 2-3; Zeph. 1:14-18; Zech. 14:1-9, etc.)

     Our Lord spoke often of that day as the day "when the Son of Man
cometh," that is His own visible glorious manifestation. What precedes this
day is also made known in the Old Testament prophetic Word; and our Lord
gives us likewise the same information. "And there shall be signs in the
sun and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon earth distress of nations,
with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them
for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth,
for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son
of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:25-27). See
Matthew 24:21-31. judgment is in store for the world when that day comes,
as judgments and tribulation are the forerunners which usher in that day.
The world does not believe in such a day, but dreams of peace and safety,
in a continuance of prosperity, of expansion, universal peace and a
constant improvement of earthly conditions.

     "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own
lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the
fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of
the creation" (2 Peter 3:3-4). But while the world saith, Peace and safety,
their hearts are failing them for fear and they tremble in anticipation of
the future. Much of all this we see clearly in our times, so ominous and so
solemn. There is a false hope, a false optimism; we hear of what this world
war will accomplish, how peace and safety will come to the whole world; yet
underneath it all there are hearts failing for fear. And when that day has
come, when He has been "revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in
flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not
the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," the Lord Jesus Christ will reign over
the earth with His saints for a thousand years (Rev. 20). That will be the
day of the Lord, as the present age is "man's day."

     Before that day comes with its preceding judgments and the great
tribulation, the coming of the Lord, for His saints, the fulfilment of
chapter 4:16-18 must take place. Of this we shall find much more in the
second Epistle. When the Lord comes for His saints, the world and those who
were Christians only in name, will face that coming day. It is the
beginning of it. After God's true children, the praying people of God, have
been removed, the age will take its final plunge into apostasy and
iniquity; judgment upon judgment from above will then be poured out, as we
learn from the book of Revelation.

     Because these judgments, the forerunners of the day of His visible
manifestation, the times and seasons connected with these events, do not
concern those who are the Lord's, the apostle states that there was no need
to write them about it. The Lord had told His disciples before He ascended
into heaven that it was not for them to know the times and the seasons. It
shows that we are not to be occupied with the times and seasons, when the
times of the Gentiles end, etc., but to wait and watch for Him, who will
surely come suddenly for His own as a thief in the night.

     "Had it been possible in the apostle's day to predict the centuries of
delay that have, in fact, elapsed, disciples might indeed still have waited
for their Lord, but watched they could not, and no 'thief in the night'
could have troubled their slumbers. But for the heart, expectancy was
needed; and they were to watch because they knew not. Thus for these
watchers the times could not speak, and in fact when they do it will be for
another people than the present Christian Church, and when this is already
removed to be with the Lord in the manner which we have just had before us.

     "For mere formal and worldly Christendom, the coming of the thief will
then in a sense have taken place. Shut out in the outside darkness, when
others have entered the chambers of light, no place of repentance will be
left for the despisers of God's present grace. In a world which, having
rejected the true King, will be left for that awful time to experience
fully what Satan's rule is, they will fall under the power of his
deception. Not having received the love of the truth that they might be
saved, they will believe a lie; and comforting themselves with the cry of
'peace and safety,' sudden destruction will come upon them as upon a woman
with child, and they shall not escape!" (Numerical Bible)

     The words "they" and "you" make it still more clear that the day of
the Lord is for the world. He does not say "When you shall say, Peace and
safety" but when "they shall say." The apostle excludes the believer
completely from that day when sudden destruction falls, for he says, "Ye,
brethren, are not in darkness, that that day overtake you as a thief" And
why? Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are
not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do
others; but let us watch and be sober. For that they sleep in the night;
and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. This is the character of
true Christians, no longer in darkness, but children of light and of the
day, and therefore belonging to that coming day to be with the Lord when He
comes to judge, it cannot overtake them as a thief.

     Being the children of the day we must watch and be sober; it is that
which distinguishes true Christians from the mass of professing
church-members and the world. The world and those who have a form of
godliness, but deny the power thereof, do not watch, nor are they sober;
and being sober, walking in separation from the world, its lusts and
pleasures, the believer, having on the breastplate of faith and love, can
advance against the enemy. He has also for an helmet, to protect him, this
promised glorious salvation. Thus we can look always up, without fear, in
the midst of danger when the judgment clouds are gathering over this
present evil age. "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to the
obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Blessed knowledge
and twice blessed assurance! that we might be delivered from the wrath to
come and share with Him eternal glory. He died for us. "Who died for us,
that, whether we wake or sleep (as to the body) we should live together
with Him."

     Verses 12-22. Exhortations follow. He wishes that those who labored
among them should be acknowledged by them and very highly esteemed in love
for their work's sake. If the apostle and his co-laborers looked upon them
as their crown of rejoicing, their glory and joy (2:19-20), they should
very highly esteem them as the instruments of the Spirit of God for their
edification. Be in peace among yourselves. All self-will is put aside when
the heart looks forward to that coming day, when laborers and the fruits of
their labors are in His presence. Then peace among His own will not be
disturbed. The disorderly are to be admonished; the faint-hearted
comforted; the weak sustained, and patience to be manifested towards all.
Then we have joy, prayer and thanksgiving as the characteristics of those
who wait for His Son from heaven and look for that blessed hope. "Rejoice
evermore"--our joy is in Him. The joy of the Lord is our strength. And what
joy will indeed be ours when we remember that we shall see Him as He is!

     "Pray without ceasing." Prayer is constantly needed, including the
forgotten prayer, "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus." If this petition is never
wanting, His coming for us will never lack reality. "In everything give
thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." As we
pray and ever take afresh from His own fulness grace upon grace, and
remember all the abundant provision made for us in Him, and that the
glorious future which awaits His own may burst at any moment upon us, then
shall we give thanks in everything. "Quench not the Spirit." The Holy
Spirit is not to be hindered in His action in the midst of His people. What
sad consequences when He is quenched and how great the responsibility! Do
not despise prophesyings--the forthtelling of the truth of God, speaking
out of the fulness of the Spirit. "Prove all things; hold fast that which
is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil," or, as it is better
rendered, "Keep aloof from every form of wickedness."

     Verses 23-28. The conclusion of the Epistle begins with a prayer. "Now
the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole
spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ. He is faithful that calls you, who will also do it." God is
for all who have believed in Christ the God of peace. Peace was made in the
blood of the cross; believers are both reconciled and sanctified through
the peace that God has made for us in the work of His Son. We stand
therefore in a blessed relationship with the God of peace, have communion
with Him, and from this flows practical devotedness of life and walk to
God. Believers are sanctified by the three persons of the Godhead; by God
the Father, by the blood of Jesus Christ, the offering of His body, and by
the Holy Spirit.

     We are in Christ completely set apart for God, bought with a price and
no longer our own. We possess a new nature and are indwelt by the Holy
Spirit. This demands of us that we be wholly set apart to God in every
faculty, whether of mind or body. This is our practical sanctification,
which springs from our increasing knowledge of God. This practical
sanctification is wrought in the believer by the power of the Holy Spirit,
who attaches the heart to God, revealing God more and more, as well as
unfolding the glory of Christ. This devotedness to God in spirit, soul and
body, depends upon the believer's apprehension of his relationship to the
God of peace and his communion with Him. And this is progressive. Entire
sanctification will be the blessed and eternal portion of all who are
Christ's, when He comes, and we shall be like Him, "conformed to the image
of His Son." The perfection comes with the coming of the Lord; in the power
of this blessed hope shall we be preserved blameless even down here in this
evil age. He is faithful who calls you, who will also perform it. Blessed
assurance! He has called us to this life of blessed separation with
Himself. He is faithful and will accomplish it. May we trust Him daily and
stay close to Him.

     "Observe again here, how the coming of Christ is introduced, and the
expectation of this coming, as an integral part of Christian life.
"Blameless," it says, "at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The life
which had developed itself in obedience and holiness meets the Lord at His
coming. Death is not in question. The life which we have found is to be
such when He appears. The man, in every part of his being, moved by this
life, is found there blameless when He comes. This life, and the man living
this life, are found, with their Head and Source, in the glory. Then will
the weakness disappear which is connected with his present condition. That
which is mortal shall be swallowed up of life: that is all. We are
Christ's: He is our life. We wait for Him, that we may be with Him, and
that He may perfect all things in the glory" (Synopsis of the Bible).

     The apostle closes this First Epistle by requesting the brethren to
pray for him and his co-laborers. With all the deep knowledge of the truth
and the great revelations from the Lord, he felt his dependence and knew
the blessing which comes from the prayers of fellow saints. He asks for the
expression of affection among themselves and adjures them to have this
letter read to all the holy brethren. And the final word "The grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ be with you."

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