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August 22, 2021 7:00 pm
Most Bible scholars believe that first Thessalonians was the earliest of the 13 epistles of Paul wrote that her included in our New Testament Scriptures. It was written from the city of Corinth to the church in the city of Thessalonica, Corinth, being in the southern part of the Greek peninsula and Thessalonica in the northern part. Paul had founded the church in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey along with the church in Philippi and one in Korea before he went to the southern part of the Peninsula preached in Athens though did not leave a church behind, but then labored for a year and 1/2 in the city of Corinth and there established a church that is from that location that is writing back now to the Thessalonian congregation to answer some of the questions which they had and to encourage them and to exhort them in regard to Christian living. It seems that the concerns that they had addressed to him primarily had to do with the second coming of Christ and some of the details about that second coming, which they were not clear about.
And so Paul devotes a good portion of this book to that subject second coming.
As you know is mentioned in all five of the chapters. It takes up a sizable segment of chapter 4.
Another sizable segment of tractor five. But as we seen as we come to the last part of chapter 5, we come to a series of final exhortation, like Paul says, before I close I have to tell you this is a business.
Don't forget any of these things that are all important to your Christian life and as we come now down to the final verses we find three exhortations and a final benediction first benediction we've already examined. Now we come to three exhortations, we might say three final exhortations and one final benediction. These are Paul's parting words to a beloved church from its beloved founder who was none other than the beloved apostle Paul.
So what we find in these final verses for things that every Christian knee's for things that every Christian needs for vitally important elements for healthy Christian living. What are the number one the prayers of God's people every Christian needs. The prayers of the people of God, and Paul, in recognition of that says in verse 25 brethren, pray for us a strong appeal by the apostle Paul asking for the prayers of this church on his behalf.
The prayers of God's people are necessary urgent reciprocal and unifying they are necessary brethren, pray for us.
Paul recognized his insufficiency without divine help.
Paul felt that very keenly as marvelous as his ministry had been across the Roman world as many as had come to Christ through the preaching of his word as many churches as had been founded by his labors in various cities, he still did not feel sufficient for the assignment that had been given to him.
In fact, he felt very keenly. His insufficiency and knew that the only remedy for his weaknesses. God strength. The only solution for his lack of power is divine power. The only way to make his labors fruitful is for God to make them fruitful and self recognizing all of these things, he appeals to the people of Thessalonica to pray for him and if an apostle like this needs the prayers of God's people. What about you what about me.
We obviously need them as as well.
We obviously need the more surely the prayers one of those mysterious elements of the Christian faith, of which there are a number of mysterious elements.
It's really surprising how many things in the Christian faith. On the one hand are simple. On the other hand are complex prayers simple simply talking to God, the child can understand that we teach our children to pray what you love to hear little children pray that you love those little prayers that we often teach our our children.
God is something God is good.
Let us thank him for food. What's the first God is great God is great God is good, what is. Thank you and for our food by his hands. I must be led. Thank him for our daily bread, and so forth.
A child can understand the practice of prayer can understand the elements of prayer and yet the greatest theologian can't understand the complexity of prayer in the light of God's sovereignty and the fact that he has purpose. All things that will come to pass.
How do our prayers figure into those purposes of God. If they are already determined if his councils have determined those purposes in eternity past, what can our prayers do. It's a mysterious thing is that in so prayer on the one hand is simple.
The prayer on the other hand is complex, but this much we know that we don't understand all of the mechanisms involved.
We do know that God incorporates the prayers of his people into his designs and his purposes that part of his plan. That's part of his purposes. Yes, he would our prayers determined by God and designed to be used by God in the carrying out of his purposes in this present day and so we can say that prayer is necessary because God has designed it to be necessary. It is a necessary part of God's working in this world. Prayer is necessary because God has commanded it whatever God commands us to do it is necessary for us to obey.
So beyond the fact that if we have been worked upon by the spirit of God.
We recognize our weakness. We sense our need and that in itself is enough to show us the necessity of prayer. We also realize that it is necessary by the purpose and plan and command of God and so we are not surprised that the apostle in the closing of this epistle cries out brethren, pray for us. These prayers are necessary for the prayers of God's people are not only necessary, but there also urgent brethren, pray for us in some translations, not mine, but some translations haven't! Of that word us. And that's because the structure of the grammar indicates that this is a very emphatic and urgent request and it is in the present tense brethren keep on praying for us brethren don't stop praying for us all.
Seems recognize that these people are praying for him, but he covets there prayers all the more and implores them to be faithful and consistent in their praying and so because prayer is necessary. It is also urgent because of the vehement opposition to God's people to the work of God. Prayer is urgent because of the enemies of the Christian faith in the lives of those around us who are not believers in the Lord Jesus Christ prayer is urgent because of satanic power against God and against all things to God is doing and against the people of God. Prayer is very urgent prayer is urgent because this is how God's people prevail over the opposition prayer is urgent because of the needs of this hour, the needs that were in Paul's day of in his hour of the needs that we have in our day and we see needs all around us.
It seems like every passing day brings some new crisis some new urgency, some new need ensure that cause us to do brethren try in the light of all of these urgencies that are around us. Prayer is urgent because of the potential of the gospel.
We know that the gospel is what the power of God unto salvation and is able to overcome the opposition of the enemy.
It is able to snatch people out of Satan's kingdom, and put them in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ and God does that in response to believing prayer. No wonder Paul says, brethren, brethren, pray, pray, keep on praying for us the great prayers of God's people are necessary. The prayers of God's people are urgent. The prayers of God's people are reciprocal ball is mentioned three times prior to this reference. As mentioned, prayer, and each of the other times, it was Paul talking about his prayers for them. You can trace it backwards if you want to. Chapter 5 verse 23 the first benediction is a prayer now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely and may your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That's Paul's prayer for them. Now he says will you please pray for me. Chapter 3 verse 10 he says, night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith.
He was praying for them and he was praying that he might be allowed to come in to visit them again so he is praying for them.
But now he says brethren, you please pray for us. He, Silas, and Timothy directly back to the beginning of the epistle. Chapter 1 verse two we give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. We are regularly praying for you, brethren can we count on you. Please pray for us.
Paul recognize the prayers reciprocal. He prays for them.
They pray for him together. God works in concert with these prayers. We need to pray for one another and we need the prayers of one another from time to time some of you will come to me and say?
When I would like to ask you to pray about this and pray about that.
I'm happy to do that and I try to be faithful to keep those promises and to pray for those that I tell that I respond to this way and tell you that I will pray for your needs. But in our conversation, you will often hear me say please pray for me, particularly when someone says something about I benefited from the server this morning.
Appreciate your labors. I will say please pray for me please uphold me in prayer.
I'm not sufficient to minister God's word. I can't be a blessing to God's people without divine help if you have felt any help and blessing at all, then here's what I want you to do. Pray for me brethren praying for me. I need your prayers just like you need mine and we all need the prayers of one another.
Prayers reciprocal but fourth, the prayers of God's people are unified and for that I focus on that word brethren, it's the 15th time in this epistle that he's referred to the brethren that is used this term but this is the only time that the word brethren is found in the emphatic position in the sentence is more obvious in the Greek it's more obvious to those who read Greek that there is a special emphasis upon the word brethren here more than all the other 14 times that he is mentioned the term.
It's always important, the brethren brothers and sisters in Christ. The people of God.
There are important things to be to be considered when we consider the brethren body care term brethren is emphatic.
What is that mean it is urgent that the brethren pray for one another and it is a it is a body issue.
It is a Christian matter.
Early and obviously Paul would not ask the unconverted pray for him, but his emphasis upon brethren reminds us that this is something the brethren can do that others cannot do this is something that brethren are privileged to do that others cannot do this is something that brethren have a responsibility for one another in. If you are one of the brethren, then you have a responsibility to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ being privileged by the grace of God to be made. One of the children of God. One of the brothers or sisters in the body of Christ, lays upon you a special obligation to pray for one another. It ties us together in the body of Christ. It's something that only brethren can do and so it makes us who are brethren unified in this matter of prayer. Prayer is an expected activity among brothers in Christ.
Prayer unites the people of God in the common faith. No one else can pray for us because if they don't believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. They have no no foundation for their prayer they have no access to God through prayer, brethren do all born-again brethren do we have a common faith that faith finds a unifying role in our common prayers, one for another. Yes prayer unites the people of God in common endeavors and common concerns when we send out prayer request far and wide, asking other people to pray for.
Sometimes we say I wish you would help me to pray for this. I wish you would ask your church to pray for me. You might say to a friend who goes to another church. I would like to be added to your appreciate what we doing don't think that what were doing is adding strength to the persuasion that were applying to God to somehow bend his will in our direction. If a few people pray. Maybe God won't do it if a lot of people pray. Maybe God will that that's not what were doing. If you think that's what were doing when you've misunderstood that's not the reason why we want to multiply the number of people pray as many as possible. What are we doing we are unifying the people of God around a common concern. It honors the Lord when his people are focused on common concerns common endeavors common needs that we are all focusing on looking to heaven for the answer to and rejoicing together with the answer, unifying matter, to pray every one of us need the prayers of others. So four things every Christian needs number one. Every Christian needs to prayers of other believers.
Number two. Every Christian needs. The fellowship of the saints verse 26 Greek the brethren with a holy kiss can hardly read that without smiling. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss that we have actually addressed this before because Paul says this four times in his 13 epistles and four of them. He concludes with the statement greet the brother of the holy kiss Romans first Corinthians 2nd Corinthians 1st Thessalonians, and we have breached our way through all of those other epistles, haven't we in this pulpit. And so in every one of these times when we come to the conclusion would come to this command.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
We've had to offer some kind of understanding and explanation for this seemingly strange command and not only does Paul mention commanded, actually four times but Peter does once as well. He doesn't call the holy kiss he calls a kiss of love. But he says greet one another with the kiss of love and so five times in the New Testament we are commanded to greet one another with a kiss. Now, are we all negligent.
Are we all disobedient before not going around kissing one another.
The Bible tells us to do that. Is this a commander, is it not look clearly as it's in the imperative but it is. I'm convinced a culturally adjusted imperative, the imperative is not the mechanics of the kiss, but the imperative is the.
The communication that the kiss in that day and culture rendered to one another.
The chaos itself is a greeting specific to certain cultures. It was very common in that culture that's that's the way the unconverted people greeted one another and so when Paul is commanding. This is not commanding Christians to do something that they didn't do before they were saved for that others were doing in the culture of that day they were all greeting one another. In this way, it was very common, but it's not universal, the, the act of kissing one another is not universal to all cultures as well. We know, but the intended message is universal and the culturally adjusted activity that communicates that message is certainly adaptable and imperative to us today just as imperative to us today as it was in Paul's day for us. It's generally a warm handshake, sometimes beyond other things. Beyond that, but always that that's always safe. That's always acceptable in Western culture like one of the translators translated this phrase greet one another with a warm handshake. Another one said greet everyone with a handshake all around, which is a pretty good way of understanding this command in the culture in which we live and in some places it's perfectly acceptable to greet one another with a hug. In addition to or instead of a handshake. So whatever is the culturally accepted way to warmly greet one another. That's what Paul's commanded. He says greet one another with a holy kiss. In other words, we are commanded to practice a similar greeting to the one that was employed and that day and our greetings like there should be warm and wholesome and inclusive and intentional to greet one another with a kiss can hardly be anything less than warm fact to make something a little uncomfortable even when we realized the kiss was only on the forehead or on the treatment that's getting a little too close a little too warm. I'd rather not collect go that far. Well, please understand though that what is communicated is a warm greeting. A warm welcome a warm, active love and fellowship extended to other the kiss was expected in that culture. In fact, its omission was a mark of unfriendliness the reader.
One example of that in Luke chapter 7 when Jesus was invited to dinner at the home of Simon the Pharisee and that's the occasion when woman came in and wept and wash his feet and wiped them with her hair and the Pharisee objected to that Jesus spoke to him that he turned to the woman and said to Simon, do you see this woman, I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wash my feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave me with this woman has not ceased to kiss my feet since the time I came in.
You gave me.
christ made note of that Christ recognize that there was something communicated by failing to do that. That was a mark of unfriendliness. A mark of distance. A mark of even hostility that Simon would fail to give the customary cultural greeting of that day in Christ made note of it and pointed it out, you omitted that which was expected.
You omitted that which indicated warmth and acceptance and friendliness.
I took note of that I understood what you were communicate. If you're communicating something. Either way, you're either communicating warmth and love and friendliness, or by your failure to do it. You are communicating, coldness and indifference, and distant and in your case that's what you communicated by not giving me the customary kiss. So as we practice our culturally adjusted greetings in our day, though they may not be in and I would rather recommend that they not be a kiss should be warm warm handshake all around. They should be wholesome.
Paul says greet one another with a holy kiss and that is the problem with the kiss because sometimes it is easy to cross the boundaries to go from from the holy kiss to a not so holy kiss. That's part of the problem.
That of course is why the kisses of greeting were on the four head on the cheek and set up on the lips, but some people are prone to allow carnality to enter into their customs and they can even turn that which ought to be a completely holy and and wonderful Christian act of of godly love into something which is sensual that can happen with the HUD. That's why not everybody is comfortable with the idea of hugging some people are. Some people want, but even where it's acceptable in customary you have to watch out this tend to be some people who who try to seem to be trying to put more into that than just simply a holy hugging holy Christian greeting and enough said.
Move on from that but this should be wholesome, holy kiss, not sensual, not subject to abuse when it comes to this Christian greeting of the kiss.
It is interesting that I learned that that subject came up for discussion in a number of church councils over the centuries because it was being abused by some and so after while the edict came out that this can only be practice with men kissing men and women kissing women before that it was okay but some was abusing it so the edict comes out and I have to draw a line here in order to keep people from abusing what should be a holy expression of Christian love and finally it about the 10th or 11th century have forgotten exactly the edict came down or discriminate do away with it altogether. No more kissing and Christian assemblies, and that was now forbidden in the Western church, but it continued in the Eastern churches and still does to this day. Why don't we do that in the West. This is why, because you did become abused and it was eventually omitted was eventually prohibited, but it should always be wholesome, holy kiss and what it tells us is that though it should always be holy and wholesome that we need ways to demonstrate Christian love physically not just by saying so, but something more just simply saying hello how are you I love you and the Lord were enough then we wouldn't be talking about holy kisses or holy handshakes are only hogs would that's something that's a little bit more.
It's a little more physical and evidently is something that is needed to carry out fully the intention of what is to be communicated among the people of God. Thirdly, besides being warm and wholesome should be inclusive great. Some of the brethren with a holy kiss. The ones you like the best.
No great all breath with a holy kiss.
Let no one be omitted. This is a an admonition and warning that in our greeting of one another in the body of Christ. We don't just greet our special friends.
We don't warmly greet those that we like and that we have a good relationship with an ignore others turn our backs upon others.
That is a an offense against Christ and against the body of Christ because keep in mind folks that we don't choose our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Christ does. That's a hard lesson for some people to learn. We live in this age of what should I say of the independent thought and independent action. I choose this and I choose that I decide to do this and I decide not to do that and I'll change my friends. Thank you.
If God chose you. How else did you get into the family of God, and God shows that other person that you may not find particularly attractive. Maybe he doesn't find you attractive either. And God didn't find you attractive if he chose us in our sinfulness didn't. While we were his enemies, Christ died for us and so if they're good enough for God. If God has chosen them.
They must be good enough for you and for me, so we don't leave anybody out great. All the breath all the brethren in our physical expressions of welcome and love. We warmly welcome all believers into our circle of fellowship in the body. Christ Fellowship of the saints in practicing this greeting is to be warm is to be wholesome it is to be inclusive and it is to be intentional greet all the brethren that's an imperative. That's a command why this reminder why this command surely are doing it anyway well because we can forget or we can neglect we may devalue this practice consider trivial or unimportant, but we can't because it's commanded, it is imperative you must do this greet all the brethren will holy kiss. It's possible in our humanness that we may forget would become preoccupied would become distracted by something else and just are unmindful of those around us all. This reminder don't neglect to greet one another warmly when you come together in the body of Christ, or lest we become self-centered, more concerned with how I feel or more bound up by my insecurities I do now that person feels towards me so I don't know if I should reach out to them or not, put that behind you.
That's selfish and self-centered. That's thinking about you instead of thinking about them and thinking about Christ stick out your hand and warmly greet them.
I don't feel comfortable with that then grow in grace and knowledge.
Quit being a baby Christian.
Quit being immature and start doing what is commanded, we must be intentional and warm welcoming behavior toward all the saints, so let's say what were talking about four things every Christian needs number one of the Christian is the prayers of the saints number two Krista needs the warm fellowship of the saints in person number three every Christian needs. The ministry of God's word. Verse 27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. Interestingly, here Paul for the first time in this whole epistle switches from the plural pronoun.
We and us to the singular pronoun I why is that doesn't tell us why some settle.
This is the point were Paul took the pan from the hand of the amanuensis the secretary and wrote the final words himself as was his custom, possibly other explanations have been given. Others have said and I think this is probably at least part of the answer that even though Paul has been addressing the church in terms of us and we we all know who's really writing this epistle. It's all I all these, including the others, and no doubt they read what he wrote approved of it, and Paul included them as a word as co-authors. But really, Paul is the author and when he comes to this one that comes across strongly because there's something different about this exhortation that you don't find in any of them anywhere else in the book.
In fact, not going to find what I'm going to explain to you now anywhere else in the New Testament.
What is that what Paul does here is puts them under a solemn oath when he says I charge you, it's not the only time to find the Greek.
The English were charge in the New Testament when he says I charge you this is the only time that this word this Greek word that means to put people under oath to bind them by an oath it's translated. I adjure you some translations.
Paul adjure's you by the Lord, which means he binds them under oath, and implies that they are under divine penalty if they ignore this command. It is the strongest command. The strongest exhortation.
The strongest requirement that is found anywhere among all the exhortations of this epistle because it's the only one that is bound by an oath and therefore it obviously has the highest priority. Why why this would the only conclusion I can draw is because Paul knew full well that in this he was acting as the conduit for the spirit of God what he was writing was not his words.
It is in fact the inspired word of God.
He recognizes at this point that he was one of the holy man whom God has chosen to speak divine revelation or to write divine revelation as spoken by the spirit of God and therefore this receives the highest priority. Paul knew that this was inspired Scripture and therefore I bind you under and that this must be read in the congregation.
This above all things, is most important of everything that I have said you say what scripture did they have in these churches the Old Testament they used it. They read it.
They had the Old Testament Scriptures and they read them what they had to do was what we find examples of all throughout the New Testament, namely, they had to take the Old Testament Scriptures and then understand them in the light of the coming of Christ interpret the Old Testament Scriptures in the light of new covenant truth, and though they had the Old Testament to help them do that they still needed other help to do it right and so that's where the role of the prophet comes in and the early churches had prophets that spoke prophecy to help them understand Old Testament truth in the light of the new covenant and the coming of Christ and the fulfillment, but what they need ongoing is New Testament Scriptures. If the gun understand Old Testament truth properly in the light of the fulfillment.
The comes in Christ God to have New Testament Scriptures and up until then. Up until now they had none. Paul is saying, in effect, here's the first one. Here's the down payment. Here's the first deposit of the New Testament you're getting what you desperately need, namely New Testament Scripture to go alongside your Old Testament Scripture and I put you under oath that it be read without fail, to the church. Though they were no doubt already reading Old Testament Scriptures.
You see that this epistle is read right along with the Old Testament Scripture in Scripture to Paul is telling us of the reading of Scripture is an intra-goal component of public worship.
It is ministry of God's word is of highest priority. The ministry of God's word is a corporate activity this past epistle is to be read aloud. That's what the Greek word means in classical Greek. That's exactly what this word means read it aloud in the assembly of the same. This ministry of God's word requires comprehensive involvement.
Be sure that this is read aloud to all the holy brethren now feel think about that that becomes more challenging than it might seem at first. How often we have an assembly of the sainted beacon. Do we have all the members present. Without exception, in my experience never with was ever a time when we did. Maybe in the very early days when there when we wouldn't have many shut-ins for quite a while that took a while to develop shut-ins with got them now and I was suppose it in the church of Thessalonica.
The was a fairly new church they may not have had to shut-ins. My not a bit of physical difficulty to get everybody there but it certainly required some special attention to make sure that everybody came because there's always somebody who's got a conflict is not feeling well something that's going on and yet the command is that this book be read to all the holy brethren. No exceptions to every member must be present.
So how could they assure that that happened. Did they take attendance before they read the epistle.
Let's see who's here that's what let's call the role anybody missing yeah Jacobs missing please run over to his house and bring him getting here. We gotta have everybody here did they call the role they may have to take attendance did they go round the people who weren't there.
They may have. Did they read it on more than one occasion. All right we read this last Lord's day, but there were three of you missing like Thomas on the first day when the disciples gathered together when Christ rose from the dead.
Everybody was there but Thomas but he showed up the next Sunday so all right there were three absent last Lord's day, but we have contacted all of them and they say they're going to be here today. Let's see yup I see see everybody's here or at least the ones who missed last week are here won't hurt anybody to hear twice. Of these three have to hear it the first time so were going to read it again working to make sure that this epistle is read to everybody without exception that's important. The word of God is what we talking about for things that everybody needs every Christian needs one. The prayers of God's people. Number two the fellowship of the saints under three. The ministry of God's word the public ministry of God's word as it is read publicly in the assembly of the saints, and then number for the grace of God. This is not an exhortation. It's the closing benediction, but it's a great reminder to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Amen. We all need grace no way we all need unmerited favor. We all need to find the stone that we all need divine intervention in our lives. We all recognize that we aren't sufficient for anything of ourselves.
That's why all of Paul's epistles open and close with grace out of the open. This epistle, grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ as he closes epistle the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
How does he open the second epistles right in front of you. There grace to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ. How does it close a second epistle, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all on men that's what you're going to find in every one of Paul's epistles begins and ends with grace that his greatest emphasis why because that isn't more needed than anything else. God's grace is necessary for salvation without it. None of us will be saved.
God's grace is necessary for Christian living without it. Every one of us would fail God's grace is necessary for final salvation. Without that every one of us would fall away somewhere along the path God's grace is necessary for every component of our lives. It is beneficial without God's grace we have nothing that's good with God's grace we really have nothing that's good, that's bad because we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. So the need for grace is apparent in the source of grace were told of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He secures God's favor by satisfying God's holy justice. He absorbs God's wrath upon himself so that we can receive God's favor. He turns us from enemies of God and friends of God into enemies who will experience God's holy wrath deserved a just and necessary into those who instead receive God's amazing grace undeserved unmerited all so blessed and therefore the recipients of grace are Christians the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all man amen those of you who believe in Jesus. Those who are the people of God. And obviously if we are God's people. We have this grace so we wouldn't be saved but we need to be reminded. Don't we forget we need to be more conscious of God's grace that we sometimes are we need to delighted more, we need to remind ourselves of often we need God's grace we need God's grace and God gave it. We need God's grace and God is giving.
We will continue to need God's grace and God has promised it, but we need God's grace. And so for things that every Christian needs.
What are they again after make sure I don't overlook something here. We need to prayers of God's people. Number one, we need the fellowship of the saints number two. We need the ministry of God's word number three and we need the grace of God number four may we understand that, may we relish that and receive it by faith, shall we pray father, thank you for your word that guides us that rebukes us the process that binds us that sustains us.
Help us oh Lord to honor Christ by receiving your grace and channeling it to others.
As we ask it in Jesus name, amen