52-53 A.D. – First Thessalonians

Father and son, sculpture, 2

Father and Son, sculpture by Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943)

Ch. 1 – Remember three things about fellow believers, especially as you pray:  1) work of faith; 2) labor of love; 3) steadfastness of hope.  Notice that Paul was emphatic that “these three things last forever…  and the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13:13 NLT)

Ch. 2 – Please God, not men.  Ben Witherington III said, “Our job is to please God and help people, not please people and help God out.”

A Godly father does these things for his children:  1) exhort each one, or plead with about Godly matters; 2) encourage each one; 3) exemplify and teach each one to walk in a worthy way before God.  At the same time, we are to be as gentle with our children as a nursing mother is with hers.

Ch. 3 – Reach out and keep in touch with your sons in the faith (mentees, disciples, new believers, etc.).  Keep them encouraged.  Supply (provide or fill up) what is missing in their faith.

Ch. 4 – Control your body in holiness and honor.  Don’t be impure like the world (or, like the world wants you to).  Paul reiterates:  Please God.  Do for God, not for man.  Encourage in this:  “The Gospel is about resurrection, not about dying and going to heaven.” (Ben Witherington III)

Ch. 5 – Respect those who labor among you (i.e., pastors).  Lift up the weak, idle, and fainthearted.  Be patient with them.  Ben Witherington III said, “(Y)ou cannot work with people where you want them to be.  You must work with them where they are, and work the Gospel into their lives so they will move to where they need to be in Christ.”

Paul offers a great summary statement when he states that the will of God is:  1)  uplift people; 2) always rejoice; 3) pray constantly; 4) always be thankful.  Guard the good – avoid the evil.

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