1 Timothy 4-2 Timothy 2

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Monday, September 29, 1 Timothy Chapter 4

This chapter contains instructions for Timothy.  Paul is confident of his understanding of the Gospel and of his commitment to sharing the Word of God, but he wants to make sure he is aware of some nitty-gritty details.  Paul again cautions Timothy to watch for false teachings and to keep his flock focused on the Truth of the Word.  One of the biggest problems the Greeks faced was the traditional teaching of the philosophers that this world was evil and we should, like Buddhists, avoid it as much as possible.

Christians agree that evil exists in the world, but we believe we can live a godly life here, so we differ strongly from the ancient Greeks.

Paul encourages continuous training in the Word.  We should not become Spiritually flabby.

The Book of Wisdom, accepted as scripture in the First Century, has this observation about God:  Yes, you love everything that exists, and nothing that you have made disgusts you, since, if you had hated something, you would not have made it. NJB   So God wants us to live in this world in the most godly way possible with the promise that the next world will be sin free.

Timothy must act as a mature man of God.  Probably at the time Timothy received his commission (by laying on of hands, still done today) he also received a prophecy from one of the Apostles, elders, or deacons laying on hands.  We only know that he is to remain true to those words.

This whole chapter is solid advice for every Christian at any stage of his/her Christian life.

Tuesday, September 30, 1 Timothy Chapter 5

Paul gives Timothy practical advice on how to deal with other people, it is all about showing respect.

Verses 3-8 reminds us of the importance of family.  A widow in those days had no Social Security or IRA’s to live on.  She had to have help.  The children should provide, but if they fail or cannot, then the church should step in.  That help should include visits to those who are shut in because of poor health.

Paul turns to the issue of younger widows.  Clearly, he is using generalizations in this description.  Not all 50 year-old widows will turn to Satan.  I think Paul overstated the problem, but he is correct in believing that age is a factor.  He could have added health as another factor.  A young widow in poor health will need help.  Paul was writing to help Timothy with a specific problem the church was facing with widows.

There may also have been a problem with one or more elders of the church.  These men, and a few women, were chosen by the church because they had proven themselves solid followers of Jesus.  It appears that one was being accused of improper conduct.  Paul’s first advice is to wait until he hears complaints from three or more.  Only then should the elder be approached in private to hear his side of the account.  If necessary, the elder should be accused in front of the church in a kind of trial where people can speak for and against.  Note that this public accusing is for elders, leaders of the congregation, not for members.  Non-elders are approached more privately regarding their sins.

Verse 23 is often referred to in any discussion about drinking.  Paul knows that Timothy is having tummy troubles.  In those days it was most often caused by polluted water which is why most people drank water mixed with wine.  Paul advised Timothy to do that for his health.  Until modern times people drank spirits mixed with water to kill the bacterium, though they did not know that.  They only knew it helped them stay healthy.

Wednesday, October 1, 1 Timothy Chapter 6

Paul encourages slaves to be faithful to their masters.  In the years before the US Civil War, this was one of the most quoted verses in the Bible.  None-the-less, it is not an endorsement of slavery.  Paul then turned to the Christian slave who attends church with his Christian master.  Their relationship has to fit within the social norms of the day.  The slave should work all the harder to please his master, but the master should work all the harder to give his slave the basic rights of humans.  This was the issue that turned American slavery so ugly.  The masters came to believe that their slaves were not human.

Any relationship built on the premise that the other person is inferior is un-Christian.

Verse 3 returns to the problem of false teachers.  Everyone who teaches must stay close to what Jesus himself taught.  Any deviation is suspect.  Paul warns Timothy about those false teachers who are in it for the money.  We do not know how they were making money, but con men are shrewd.  A good friend of mine went to college with a guy who paid his way through school by selling autographed photos of Jesus and an artifact of the cross (a shaving of wood).

Paul did not hold back when he said of them they are ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. MSG  To live in harmony with God is all the gain anyone needs.

Verse 10 is often misquoted.  It makes more sense to read all of 9 and 10:  For men who set their hearts on being wealthy expose themselves to temptation. They fall into one of the world’s traps, and lay themselves open to all sorts of silly and wicked desires, which are quite capable of utterly ruining and destroying their souls. For loving money leads to all kinds of evil, and some men in the struggle to be rich have lost their faith and caused themselves untold agonies of mindPhillips

As for Timothy, fight the good fight of faith. KJV  Being faithful to God in this world is not easy.  We have to work at it every day.

Verse contains another popular phrase, in this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age. NIV

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Thursday, October 2, 2 Timothy Chapter 1

This second letter was written several years after the first.  Paul was placed under arrest in Rome for the second time, this time being chained to his guard in a prison instead of being under house arrest.  Paul knew it was the end for him.  He simply wanted to take care of a few last minute details.  But what he wanted most was for Timothy to come for a visit.

Paul praises Timothy and reminds him to be bold.  To preach the Gospel is the greatest thing anyone can do.

For he has rescued us from all that is really evil and called us to a life of holiness—not because of any of our achievements but for his own purpose. Before time began he planned to give us in Christ the grace to achieve this purpose, but it is only since our saviour Jesus Christ has been revealed that the method has become apparent. For Christ has completely abolished death, and has now, through the Gospel, opened to us men the shining possibilities of the life that is eternalPhillips

For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. KJV  The day is the Day of Judgment.  What Paul has given to Jesus to keep until then is Paul’s faith, the only thing he has to give that is worth keeping.

To Timothy, Paul encourages that his own deposit of faith be fully given over to Jesus for safekeeping.

Paul names two men from the region of Ephesus who were in Rome, but deserted Paul because standing with Paul could have put them in prison as well.  But Onesiphorus went out of his way to find and support Paul.  We know nothing else about the man, but that is enough.  We also know that Luke stayed with Paul.

Friday, October 3, 2 Timothy Chapter 2

Verses 3-7 give us three examples of dedication, in each case to reach a goal.  For Christians, the goal is to spread the Good News, the Gospel.  To do that we must train and prepare and follow all the rules.  A farmer who throws the wheat seed into a field of weeds will never see a harvest.  He must work to prepare the field.  If I have a friend or neighbor who refuses the Word of God, I must continue to prepare the field.  I may not succeed, but the Holy Spirit may be able to more him.

Verses 11-13 are either an early church hymn or proverb.  They are powerful words.

Hymenaeus and Philetus seem to have been two preachers of Gnosticism who believed that Jesus only rose from the grave in spirit, not in body.  It became a standard of the Gnostic faithful and is still popular today.  A version of that idea is that either God or the Son of God slipped into the body of a mortal named Jesus, did the great teaching and preformed the miracles, then slipped out of the body at the time of the arrest.  Another less common version had it that the Son of God could not be killed, so he had a look-alike stand in for the execution.  These are some of the simple versions of Gnosticism.  We humans can be extremely inventive when we want to be.

Paul cautions Timothy and us to avoid inventing things regarding the Gospel.  Keep it simple, stupid.

Verse 20 contains an unusual illustration of a house.  In the house are some gold objects and some of clay.  The image for us is to seek the most valuable and shun that which has little value.  This is a parable; Paul has already rejected seeking earthly wealth.  The house he speaks of is more heavenly.

We should shun arguments.  We need to state God’s position and leave it at that.  A war of words generally destroys both sides.  Patience is the key.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

By What Authority?

photo credit: Philerooski via photopin cc
photo credit: Philerooski via photopin cc

 

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16

Exodus 17:1-7

Philippians 2:1-13

Matthew 21:23-32

 

God directed Moses to strike a particular rock.  When he obeyed God, living water rushed out to the people.   As the Psalm put it:

he split rocks in the desert,

let them drink as though from the limitless depths,

he brought forth streams from a rock,

made waters flow down in torrents.

Leaders went with Moses to witness the miracle so that they could tell the people about God’s great work.  People were always present when Jesus ‘struck the rock.’  Witnesses spread the news of those who were healed and feed.

When the Temple authorities questioned Jesus about his authority, he refused to answer, knowing it was only a trick.  The point we often miss with this passage is that the authorities had the answer already.  They asked, By what authority are you doing these things?  The things Jesus did were the things promised by God as signs of the Messiah.  Jesus said as much when, in Matthew 11:4-5, he answered John the Baptist’s question with:  Go back and tell John what’s going on:

The blind see,
The lame walk,
Lepers are cleansed,
The deaf hear,
The dead are raised,
The wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side
.   MSG

Each of us must follow in those giant footsteps.  We do that by following the instructions of Paul:  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. NIV

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

2 Thessalonians 2-1 Timothy 3

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Monday, September 22, 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2

It is likely that someone wrote a letter claiming to be Paul describing the return of Jesus that had already occurred.  Paul warns them not to be taken in.  Because what Paul writes is vague, it is unlikely he had read the letter himself.  His point is that we will know without any doubt when Jesus does return.

Verses 3-4:  It cannot happen until the Great Revolt has taken place and there has appeared the wicked One, the lost One, the Enemy, who raises himself above every so called God or object of worship to enthrone himself in God’s sanctuary and flaunts the claim that he is God. NJB  Isaiah 57:4 has the offspring of liars NIV.  Paul makes it clear that this rebellion will occur before Jesus returns.  Having said that, we can identify dozens, probably hundreds of leaders through the ages who seem to fit this description, so we should concentrate on Jesus, not the liar.

Verses 1-4 make an incomplete sentence in the Greek as though Paul is too agitated to finish his thought.  He jumps on to, Don’t you remember….

In verse 7, no surprise, we read that the mystery of evil is already at work.  But the breath of God, the Word, will destroy the Liar.  Isaiah 11:4 promises the same, with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. NIV

The Greek word in verse 8 translated as destroy in NIV is katargesei, a word with at least 80 English equivalents.  Translators have to read the context of each usage to decide on the best word to use.  Here it clearly means complete destruction.

In verse 9 we see that the Liar will appear to produce the same miracles, sign and wonders as the Messiah, but they will be false.

I think Phillips has the best translation of this section.   The lawless man is produced by the spirit of evil and armed with all the force, wonders and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their play-fellow.

From 13 on Paul is encouraging us to stand firm.  God has chosen us and He loves us, so how can we fail?  We have a gift of the glory of Jesus the Messiah which we should share with all who will accept the gift.

Verses 16-17 include another prayer.

Tuesday, September 23, 2 Thessalonians Chapter 3

When Paul says in verse 3 that God protects us from the evil one, we are not excused from doing what we can to protect ourselves.  We must always seek God’s love and share it with others.

Verse 6 condemns sloth, laziness, idleness and inactivity.  We are to work for the Kingdom of God and we are to work for our living in this life, not live on the backs of others.  Verse 6 gives us a basic rule.  But we cannot stretch that rule to include those who cannot work.  It is a difficult problem we face today, but it is an age old problem.  We must balance our decisions with mercy.  Verse 15 reminds us not to treat someone as an enemy but as a brother.

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Wednesday, September 24, 1 Timothy Chapter 1

The authorship of the two letters to Timothy and the one to Titus are called the Pastoral Letters.  It is agreed by all scholars that they were written late.  However, the majority of modern scholars reject Paul as the author and their arguments are reasonable.  They say that one of his disciples must have written it after he died.  Having said that, there are reasonable points supporting Paul’s authorship.  If you are interested in reading both sides, there are many sources available.

I think the letters were written by Paul in the period between his two arrests in Rome around 65-67 AD.  Acts does not help us regarding that time, but there is no reason to believe that Paul could not have gone to Macedonia and other places in those years.

The first letter has three major sections:  1) A grand conscience and genuine faith, 2) Directions for public worship, 3) How to behave in the church.

In the opening Paul claims his apostleship to assure Timothy that what he writes comes from God.

His first instruction is to put a stop to those who are asserting the need for following the Law.  Paul’s point is that the Law is good for those outside the faith, but unnecessary for followers of Jesus.  At the worst, these false teachers were doing it to get rich.

Paul recounts his own sordid history as a persecutor of Christians.  He accepts the powerful Mercy of God that has forgiven his grievous sins.  Verse 15 includes the Gospel in miniature:  Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. NIV

Paul reminds Timothy that prophecies were made about his leadership in the Body of Christ and he encourages him to continue to live up to those expectations, to fight the good fight.

Thursday, September 25, 1 Timothy Chapter 2

Paul first asks the church to pray for all the leaders in government that their decisions will result in peace for all.

There is one God and one Mediator, Christ Jesus.  Jesus was sent by God to save everyone.

Origen (240 AD):  Therefore, because God is merciful and “wishes all men to be saved,” he says, “I will visit their crimes with an iron rod and their sins with whips.  I will not however, remove my mercy from them.” [Psalm 88:32-33]  For “God is jealous” and does not wish that soul which he betrothed to himself in faith to remain in the defilement of sin, but wishes it immediately to be purified, wishes it swiftly to cast out all its impurities, if it has by chance been snatched away to some.

Paul is dealing with the issue of proper worship.  He first describes some proper attitudes for men, especially those leading services.

Tertullian (200 AD):  But what reason is there in going to prayer with hands indeed washed, but the spirit has become fouled?—inasmuch as to our hands themselves spiritual cleansing is necessary, that they may be “lifted up pure” from falsehood, from murder, from cruelty, from poisonings, from idolatry and all the other blemishes which, conceived by the spirit, are effected by the operation of the hands.  Tertullian began his own ministry about twenty years after Paul died.  The Apostle John was still alive.  He and Origen talked to people who knew the saints.  Some of Tertullian’s writings were done at the same time as Revelation.

Paul turns to attitudes of women in worship and continues to suggest that they behave as women should in that society.

Chrysostom (380 AD):  For what reason will you be able to state, what defense, when the Lord lays these pearls to your charge and brings the poor who have perished with hunger into your midst?  On this account Paul said, “not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls or costly raiment.”  For these would be a snare….Take off all ornament and place it in the hands of Christ through the poor.

Verse 12 is a strong sentence and difficult to merge with Paul’s other statements regarding women in the church.  Frankly, this is one of the statements that offers support to the idea that someone other than Paul was the author of the letter.  You will remember that Paul spoke critically to the women in Corinth where there was a strong influence from the Greek temples.  But Timothy is working with the church in Ephesus, one of the strongest churches of the day.

Given Paul’s numerous statements regarding equality of women, I discount this one as regarding a specific situation that is not clear to us.

Friday, September 26, 1 Timothy Chapter 3

The Greek word episkopon was first an overseer/elder and later a bishop, always considered the highest position of authority in the church.  Paul describes the qualifications for the job.  Notice that he expects most will be married, as they were until about 1500 AD.

The next group Paul describes is the diakonos, those who serve, and later pastors, teachers, leaders of the single congregation.  Women are mentioned as deacons even as Paul says “men” here.  Deacons are to be tested and have wives who can pass the test as well.  The assumption is that a deacon cannot control a church if he cannot control his wife.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Manna Workers

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Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45

Exodus 16:2-15

Philippians 1:21-30

Matthew 20:1-16

Out of the 39 books and over one thousand pages of the Old Testament, there is one pivotal event around which all others are built; the Exodus from Egypt. Without it there is no Judaism, no Christianity.
The actual leaving, crossing the Red Sea, may have occurred in 1446 BC during the 18th Dynasty when Thutmose III was Pharaoh. For Egypt, it was not worth mentioning. They had been a great power for 1500 years and would be for most of another 1500. They had many foreign people living among them. One advantage of keeping official records on stone is that any mention of a traitor like Moses could be easily chiseled away.
The lesson for today is Manna, the bread of the Exodus that fell in the night like frost, containing all the nourishment a person needs. God’s instructions were to gather a day’s supply only. If they left some, it rotted by morning. Thus, we pray only for daily bread.
In Jesus’ parable, each worker received a day’s wage, just as the Israelites received a full day’s ration of bread. God provides for our needs, but not to surplus. As Jesus said when introducing the Rich Fool (or Greedy Farmer) Parable: For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are. TLB  We only need enough for today, we can share the rest because God will provide for tomorrow.
Paul, in his letter, wanted the Philippians to understand that he was not concerned about what would happen to him. If released from prison he would get back to God’s work and if he died there he would be with Jesus. He could not lose. Nor can we.

Be righteous and do good.
Mike Lawrence

1 Thessalonians 2-2 Thessalonians 1

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Monday, September 15, 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2

The second word in the Greek is gar, for in English.  Paul uses the word 454 times in his letters.  The NIV only translates it about half the time, as here.  It is a preposition and a busy one, even in the Greek.  Actually, the Greek reads:  Autoi gar iodate adelfoi…, yourselves for you know brothers, with yourselves also not translated because it would be confusing in English.  The RSV does include for and the MSG translates it as so.  When we read it after the end of chapter 1, the for fits right in.

Paul again contrasts himself (and those with his ministry) with the charlatans and Judaizers.  They have impure and unclean motives.  Their claims are filled with errors.  They do not speak the words of God.  We do because we were chosen by God and continue to be tested by God.

Paul does not seek wealth or glory, only the service of God to spread the Good News.  Verse 7 has an interesting word generally translated as gentle.  If we remove the last letter of that word in the Greek we get, babies.  Paul seems to be using a common image in Thessalonica based on the worship of Dionysus, Tethys and Okeanos, Okeanos who took care of living things like a nurse.

Paul and his companions earned their living while they were in Thessalonica, unlike many of the Charlatans.  As far as we know, the church at Philippi was the only one to give them financial support.

In verse 10 Paul list three characteristics they followed, but in the Greek he was able to write them as holily, rightesusly, and unblamably.  Those adverbs do not work so well in English, as my spell-check is already warning me.

In verse 11, speaking of Greek, Paul fails to include a verb.  NIV adds dealt with, CJB treated and MSG discreet.  In the verse Paul compares himself to a father and in verse 17 he compares himself to an orphan.

Verse 12 is literally to walk worthily of God.  Walking is a common theme for Paul, but the use of kingdom and glory are not common.

The word of God is meant to mean absolute, non-debatable.  Our problem is that we do not always understand the Word so we have to discuss it with one another.  Putting the Word of God into a human language gives us an imprecise translation of the language of Heaven.  As an example, there are at least two dozen definitions of the word imprecise.  Fortunately, God gave us Jesus to clarify some of the imprecision.  If we do as Jesus did we will not be far off.

The word work NIV in verse 13 means supernatural work as it does nearly every time in the New Testament.  In verse 14 Paul uses the phrase Christo Iesou (Christ Jesus), one of 73 times in his letters with another 18 times as Jesus Christ.  Christo is the Greek for Messiah.

In verse 15 Paul speaks against his fellow Jews, even as he readily admits being one of the persecutors earlier.  This is the only time in the New Testament Paul mentions being driven out of Judea.  Paul strengthens this section at the end of 16 by writing it in the present tense.

In verse 17 the NIV reads when we were torn away.  The Greek for torn away has the meaning of being orphaned and is often used that way.

In verse 18 Paul uses I, only 4 times altogether.   But Satan stopped us.  The Evil One is found all over the Bible acting in many different ways and forms.  Satan can only stop Paul if God allows him to do so, meaning, God will use Satan to direct Paul to a better place.  That is not to say that Satan cannot gain control of a person.  If I allow Satan to direct me, then God loses control of me.

There are two Greek words to look at in verse 19.  The first is stefanoz, a wreath as given to the winners of the games. Most translations make it crown.  It is a crown of glory more than of royalty.  The second word is kaucheseos, to boast, translated as glory in NIV.  In verse 20 the word doxa, meaning glory, honor, praise, worship is used.  This is generally the word chosen to speak of the glory associated with God.

Tuesday, September 16, 1 Thessalonians Chapter 3

Paul often used the royal we when he meant just himself; that is likely what he meant here in verse 1.  Phillips seems to have captured the Greek.  And so at length, when the separation became intolerable, we thought the best plan was for me to stay in Athens alone, while Timothy, our brother and fellow-worker in the Gospel of Christ, was sent to strengthen and encourage you in your faith.  Paul often had many helpers traveling with him and he regularly sent them to surrounding towns or on extended trips like this one.  As we know, Timothy was his most trusted fellow worker.

In verse 3 the NIV reads, so that no one would be unsettled.  The Greek word for unsettled is interesting, it means shaken and literally means a dog shaking its tail.

Paul warned the Thessalonians that they would face persecution and tried to prepare them for it.  Now he wants to know how they are standing up to it.

Verses 6-10 has you and your 12 times.  We find that Timothy has returned with his report.  It is likely that the letter up to verse 6 was written before Timothy arrived because the tone of the letter changes here; it is all good news, the only time Paul uses gospel in this sense.

Phillips has the better translation of verse 8:  To know that you are standing fast in the Lord is indeed a breath of life to us.  The literal Greek is, Because now we live if you stand firm in Lord.  The message for us is that we need to show our fellow Christians that we stand with them in their troubles, next door or around the world.

Verse 11 begins a prayer to close the chapter, common for Paul.

Wednesday, September 17, 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4

Paul is pleased with the Thessalonians, but he exhorts them to increase their activities for God.  We can always do more.  Paul has no problem asking for more because he understands that being a slave does not involve having a choice.  I cannot choose what I want to do for God.  When God sends me directions, I must obey.  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 has this:  You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. NIV

Paul’s reminder to avoid sexual immorality was not given because Timothy had reported any problem, rather because they lived in Thessalonica where such activity was the norm.  The god Dionysus was the leading object of worship in the city.  He was the god of fertility as well as wine.

In verses 6-8 Paul gives three reasons to avoid sin.

Verse 11 puts pressure on the average American, work with your hands (physical labor).  Paul was reminding them that in a culture were slaves did nearly all the physical work, they were to do their own work, give up slaves.  Paul was not an abolitionist, but he did seem to understand that slavery was degrading to the slave owners.

In verse 13 the Greek word, koimomenon, means sleeping and is the basis for cemetery.  Here it is fall asleep in NIV.  We need not worry about those who have died before Christ’s return.  1 Corinthians 15:55:   O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? KJV  Verse 15 quotes Jesus directly.

The idea of life after death was vague among Jews and non-existent among others.  Some instruction was required.  Jesus himself will come.  He will come in majesty.  The dead will rise first.

Jewish tradition names seven archangels:  Gabriel, Michael, Raguel, Raphael, Remiel, Saraqael, and Uriel.  Only Gabriel and Michael are named in the Bible, though Gabriel is simply listed as an angel in Luke 1:19.  Notice that all angel names end with el, one of the many names of God.  In fact, nearly any name in the Bible ending in el has a meaning in reference to God; for example, Israel means May God Prevail.

The closing verses are a clear statement of what we have come to call the Rapture.

Thursday, September 18, 1 Thessalonians Chapter 5

The opening of this chapter continues the description of the end times.  Paul makes clear what Jesus also said, we cannot even guess when the time will come.  There are two things we know:  Jesus will come and we do not know when.

In verse 3 we read of destruction happening with no warning.  It is the destruction of this world when Jesus comes to claim his faithful followers.  The same Greek word is used in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 meaning to be banished from God.

As faithful followers we have nothing to fear because Jesus will take us to God.  That is not to say that we will not suffer in this world.  We will suffer as much as non-Christians, but we will receive the reward instead of the banishment to eternal punishment.

We are sons of the Light, not like those who are asleep.  The word is not the usual word for sleep.  It is closer to being morally careless.  So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. MSG

Verse 8 returns us to 1:3 with faith, hope, and love.

Notice in verse 9 that the promise is not that we avoid suffer, only that we avoid suffering the eternal wrath of God.

In verse 10 Paul uses asleep to mean dead, so he has changed the meaning of the image because he is speaking of all Christians.

Paul reminds us to respect our fellow Christians in what they do for God.  We may not like the person but we respect the work.  As in the military, you salute the rank, not the person.

In verse 14 Paul wants us to be encouragers, not complainers.  Love is the key.

Be joyful always NIV, refers to the joy emanating from God.  We cannot create joy, only a false imitation of God’s joy.

Verses 19:22 provides us a list of do nots.  Verses 23-24 make up a prayer.

Haiti 2008
Haiti 2008

Friday, September 19, 2 Thessalonians Chapter 1

This second letter was written within a few weeks of the first letter, also in 50 AD.  Silvanus (Silas) is mentioned for the last time.  Verse 2 in the Greek makes it clear that both God and Jesus are of the same cloth.

Verses 3-10 are another long sentence.  He mentions faith and love, two of the things he encouraged the Thessalonians to expand and now he congratulates them on doing so.  Paul uses this church as an example to other churches.  They face persecutions, but continue to live lives of faithfulness to God.

Unlike so much modern thinking in the church, Paul regards suffering as a mark of a Christian.  If you have not suffered you must not be doing God’s work.  As recorded in Mark 9:47-48, Jesus encouraged us to cut out those things in our lives that separate us from God.  Sometimes that alone will cause suffering in a life.

In verse 8 punishment will be fairly handed out to those who refused to understand or accept the Word of God.  Everyone receives the Word and all have an equal chance to respond.  God will not punish someone who has never heard of Jesus.  Such a person will be presented with the Word in a way we do not know and will have the same chance we have to accept.

Paul wants everyone to hear the Good News that God wants every human to join him in Heaven.  God does not want anyone to suffer for their sins.  All we have to do is accept his invitation.

No one is worthy to stand before God until he has been freed from sin.  That can only be done by God who gave us Jesus for the task.  Jesus makes us worthy to stand in Heaven.  As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:  As God’s prisoner, then, I beg you to live lives worthy of your high calling. Phillips

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence