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Book chapters «The First Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians»
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  • These are the times and the seasons with regard to the Lord's coming. This is confirmed by the day of the Lord in v. 2.

  • This indicates that the day of the Lord's coming is kept secret and will come suddenly, being known beforehand by no one (Matt. 24:42-43; Rev. 3:3; 16:15).

  • In the preceding chapter the coming of the Lord is mainly for comfort and encouragement. In this chapter the day of the Lord is mainly for warning (vv. 3-6), since it is mentioned in the Word mainly in relation to the Lord's judgment (1 Cor. 1:8; 3:13; 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; 2 Tim. 4:8).

  • This is the result of men's intense rebellion against God under Satan's instigation near the time of the Lord's coming (v. 2).

  • I.e., be unwatchful. So in the next verse.

  • Watch is in contrast to sleep in the next verse; sober, in contrast to drunk.

  • In a stupor.

  • The breastplate and the helmet here point to spiritual warfare. The breastplate, which covers and protects our heart and spirit according to God's righteousness (Eph. 6:14), is of faith and love; the helmet, which covers and protects our mentality, our mind, is the hope of salvation (Eph. 6:17). Faith, love, and hope are the three basic constructing elements of the genuine Christian life, as depicted in 1 Thes. 1:3. Faith is related to our will, a part of our heart (Rom. 10:9), and to our conscience, a part of our spirit (1 Tim. 1:19); love is related to our emotion, another part of our heart (Matt. 22:37); and hope is related to our understanding, the function of our mind. All these need to be protected so that a genuine Christian life can be maintained. Such a life is watchful and sober (vv. 6-7). At the beginning of the Epistle, the apostle praised the believers' work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope (1:3). Here, at the conclusion of the Epistle, he exhorted them to keep these spiritual virtues covered and protected by fighting for them.

  • The hope of our Lord's coming back (1 Thes. 1:3), which will be our salvation from both the coming destruction (v. 3) and the slavery of corruption of the old creation (Rom. 8:21-25).

  • Not salvation from eternal perdition through the Lord's death, but salvation from the coming destruction (v. 3) through the Lord's coming back.

  • Since God did not appoint us to wrath, we should watch, be sober, and fight (vv. 6, 8) to cooperate with God that we may obtain His salvation through the Lord Jesus.

  • The Lord died for us not only that we might be saved from eternal perdition but also that we may live together with Him through His resurrection. Such a living can save us from the coming destruction.

  • Or, are awake. I.e., are alive.

  • I.e., are dead (1 Thes. 4:13-15).

  • On the one hand, the Lord is away from us and we are awaiting His coming back; on the other hand, He is with us (Matt. 28:20) and we can live together with Him (Rom. 6:8).

  • Recognize and then render respect and regard for.

  • The apostle was probably referring here to the elders who labor in teaching and take the lead among the believers (1 Tim. 5:17).

  • To take the lead is not mainly to rule but to set an example in doing things first, that others may follow. The elders not only should labor in teaching but also should do things as an example. The example may become a ground for their admonishing.

  • "To lead the mind through a reasoning process to a conclusion" (Vincent); hence, to think of, to consider, to estimate, to esteem, to regard.

  • To regard the leading ones and to be at peace with one another is the proper condition of a local church.

  • Referring, perhaps, mainly to those who are idle and are unwilling to work, being busybodies (2 Thes. 3:11), undisciplined, unruled, rebellious.

  • Lit., little-souled; i.e., narrow and feeble in the capacity of mind, will, and emotion.

  • Probably referring generally to the weak ones, who are weak either in their spirit or soul or body, or are weak in faith (Rom. 14:1; 15:1).

  • This implies that in a local church, besides those who are disorderly and need admonishing, those who are little-souled and need consoling, and those who are weak and need sustaining, all the members may be a problem in some way and need us to be long-suffering toward them.

  • This means that regardless of how others treat us, even if their treatment is evil, we should pursue what is good for them.

  • This is based on the conditions mentioned in vv. 14-15.

  • This is to have uninterrupted fellowship with God in our spirit. It requires perseverance (Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2) with a strong spirit (Eph. 6:18).

  • Because all things work together for our good that we may be transformed and conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-29).

  • This clause modifies the three preceding exhortations. God wants us to live a rejoicing, praying, and thanking life. Such a life is a glory to God and a shame to His enemy.

  • The Spirit causes our spirit to be burning (Rom. 12:11) and our gifts to be flaming (2 Tim. 1:6). Hence, we should not quench Him.

  • Count as nothing, lightly esteem.

  • I.e., prophesying, the prophetic speech that issues from a revelation. It does not need to be a prediction (see 1 Cor. 14:1, 3-4 and notes there).

  • Including to discern prophecies (1 Cor. 14:29), to discern the spirits (1 Cor. 12:10), to test the spirits (1 John 4:1), to prove what is the will of God (Rom. 12:2), and to prove what is well pleasing to the Lord (Eph. 5:10).

  • The Greek word means species. It denotes anything in view, anything in perception; hence, a sight. It refers not to the appearance of evil but to the kind, the form, the shape, the sight, of evil. The believers, who live a holy life in faith, love, and hope, should abstain from evil of any kind.

  • And conjoins the blessing of God's sanctifying of our entire being, given in this verse, and the charge to abstain from every kind of evil, given in the preceding verse. On the one hand, we abstain from every kind of evil; on the other hand, God sanctifies us wholly. We cooperate with God that we may have a holy living.

  • The God of peace is the Sanctifier; His sanctification brings in peace. When we are wholly sanctified by Him from within, we have peace with Him and with man in every way (v. 13).

  • To set apart, separate unto God, from things common or profane. See note Rom. 1:23 and note Rom. 6:192b.

  • Or, entirely, thoroughly, to the consummation. God sanctifies us wholly, so that no part of our being, of either our spirit or soul or body, will be left common or profane.

  • This word strongly indicates that man is of three parts: spirit, soul, and body. The spirit as our inmost part is the inner organ, possessing God-consciousness, that we may contact God (John 4:24; Rom. 1:9). The soul is our very self (cf. Matt. 16:26; Luke 9:25), a medium between our spirit and our body, possessing self-consciousness, that we may have our personality. The body as our external part is the outer organ, possessing world-consciousness, that we may contact the material world. The body contains the soul, and the soul is the vessel that contains the spirit. In the spirit, God as the Spirit dwells; in the soul, our self dwells; and in the body, the physical senses dwell. God sanctifies us, first, by taking possession of our spirit through regeneration (John 3:5-6); second, by spreading Himself as the life-giving Spirit from our spirit into our soul to saturate and transform our soul (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18); and last, by enlivening our mortal body through our soul (Rom. 8:11, 13) and transfiguring our body by His life power (Phil. 3:21). See note Heb. 4:122d and note Heb. 4:123.

  • God not only sanctifies us wholly but also preserves our spirit, soul, and body complete. Wholly is quantitative; complete is qualitative. Quantitatively, God sanctifies us wholly; qualitatively, God preserves us complete, i.e., He keeps our spirit, soul, and body perfect. Through the fall our body was ruined, our soul was contaminated, and our spirit was deadened. In God's full salvation our entire being is saved and made complete and perfect. For this, God is preserving our spirit from any deadening element (Heb. 9:14), our soul from remaining natural and old (Matt. 16:24-26), and our body from the ruin of sin (1 Thes. 4:4; Rom. 6:6). Such a preservation by God and His thorough sanctification sustain us to live a holy life unto maturity that we may meet the Lord in His parousia.

  • Or, in the presence (parousia).

  • Every chapter of this book ends with the coming of the Lord. This shows that the writer, Paul, lived and worked with the Lord's coming before him, taking it as an attraction, an incentive, a goal, and a warning. He not only did this himself but also encouraged the believers under his care to do the same.

  • The faithful God who called us will also sanctify us wholly and preserve our entire being complete.

  • Some MSS insert holy. This would mean that, since this Epistle is concerned with the holy life of the believers, the apostle in his concluding charge called the believers "the holy brothers."

  • See note John 1:146d and note John 1:171a and note 1 Cor. 15:101a. It is only when we enjoy the Lord as grace that we can live a holy life for the church life, a life that is genuine and proper for the church, lived by our having the Lord as the life supply.

    In this book the holy life for the church life is developed. To be sanctified is to be holy. In the universe, only God is holy; only He is distinct and different from all other things. He is not common and therefore is undefiled. Holiness is God's nature; it is an intrinsic characteristic of God's attributes. Therefore, to be holy completely and entirely, to be holy not only in outward position but also in inward disposition, we must have the holy nature that is characteristic of God. To have this divine nature of God, we must possess God, having Him as our life and nature. Only God can sanctify us wholly and can preserve our entire being, our spirit and soul and body, complete, keeping it from being common or defiled. God desires to sanctify us, and He Himself will do it, as long as we are willing to pursue Him as holiness (Heb. 12:14a) and cooperate with Him in this matter. In this way we can be holy as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Without holiness we cannot see Him (Heb. 12:14b).

    God not only has made us holy in position by the redeeming blood of Christ (Heb. 13:12; 10:29) but also is sanctifying us in disposition by His own holy nature. By thus sanctifying us, He transforms us in the essence of our spirit, soul, and body, making us wholly like Him in nature. In this way He preserves our spirit, soul, and body wholly complete. His making us holy in position is outside of us, whereas His sanctifying us in disposition is within us, beginning from our spirit, the deepest part, passing through our soul, the intermediate part, and reaching to our body, the outer part. This work, which penetrates us deeply, is accomplished through the regeneration of our spirit (John 3:6), the transformation of our soul (Rom. 12:2), and the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23; Eph. 4:30) by God's life-giving Spirit. Such a holy and sanctified life is necessary for us to have a church life that is pleasing to God and that expresses Him.

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