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Friday, March 8 2013
1 Thessalonians: Prove All Things, Hold Fast What Is Good
Thessalonica (or Thessaloniki) was a large city on the Thermaic Bay of what is today northern Greece. The famous Mount Olympus can be seen from the city (see the photo below). In earlier times, it had been within the heart of the Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great (see A History Of Jerusalem: Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids), however by the first century AD, the Roman Empire had risen to politically and militarily (but not culturally or academically; see Romans: In The Heart Of The Beast), dominate the region (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).
The apostle Paul visited and traveled through Thessalonica on his second and third missionary journeys (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey). As with practically everywhere else, Paul encountered those who accepted the Gospel ("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"), as well as those who rejected it ("lewd fellows of the baser sort").
"17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews [see Israel In History and Prophecy: Judaism]: 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days [see When Is The LORD's Day?] reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 17:3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 17:4 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.
At that time, those of Thessalonica who rejected the Truth even pursued Paul far beyond their own city. The positive result was that Paul was driven to even more places to preach the Gospel.
"17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea [see also The Berean Lesson]: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonian believers was one of the first that he wrote. While not his longest letter, it nevertheless contains a great amount of Christian teaching, including his famous "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."
"1:1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church [see also Can You See The Church?] of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Like all true servants of the LORD, Paul taught the Word of God, not his own philosophy. Paul also demonstrated the common trait of all true servants of the Messiah - he was not a diplomat ("neither at any time used we flattering words"), nor a harlot in a pulpit ("not as pleasing men") telling people what they wanted or demanded to hear.
"2:1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: 2:2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi [see The Epistles: Philippians], we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. 2:3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: 2:6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
Timothy was a close associate of Paul, first as a disciple, and later as an apostle in his own right. During much of that time, Timothy served as the means of communication for Paul.
"3:6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 3:7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 3:8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord [see The Church In The End Time]. 3:9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 3:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
People are people, whether Jews or "Greeks" ("Greek" had also become a generic term for Gentiles, even when the Gentiles were Romans). The Word of God teaches a single morality for all people.
"4:1 Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. 4:2 For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus [see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners and The Constitution Of The Kingdom Of God].
One of the most familiar prophecies of the resurrection is found in this epistle i.e. "The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air," that refers to the first resurrection, which will occur on the day of Christ's return (see The Feast Of Trumpets Prophecy). For the true Christians of Thessalonica, past and present, the photo below may well be very nearly what they will see at the moment of their salvation, as described by Paul (people all around the Earth will experience the same, over their own area, as the returning Messiah makes at least one "orbit," gathering His first harvest, before all will descend with Him at Jerusalem; see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin).
"4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 KJV)
No one knows when the day of Christ's return will come (see Could Christ Return Tonight?).
"5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 5:3 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 [see The Two Signs Of Christ's Return].
Paul's "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" is a key principle of Christian living.
"5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 5:13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Studies For The Book Of 1 Thessalonians
This Day In History, March 8
1126: Alfonso VII was proclaimed king of Castile and Leon.
1576: Spanish explorer Diego García de Palacio first sighted the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Copan.
1618: Johann Kepler discovered what humans call the third Law of Planetary Motion (see also The First Scientist).
1702: King William III of England was killed in a riding accident at age 52. Queen Ann became the English monarch.
1736: Nader Shah, founder of the Afsharid dynasty, was crowned Shah of Iran.
1765: One-quarter of Montreal was destroyed by fire.
1782: The Gnadenhütten massacre. 96 Native Americans in Gnadenhutten, Ohio, who had converted to Christianity, were murdered by Pennsylvania militiamen in supposed retaliation for raids carried out by other "Indians."
1801: During the Napoleonic Wars, the British forces under Ralph Abercromby captured Aboukir Bay from the French. Abercromby was killed in the battle (Britain put only a small fraction of its military forces into the War of 1812-14 against the U.S.; the bulk of the British army and navy was involved in fighting Napoleon's French Empire in Europe and Africa e.g. British Admiral Horatio Nelson's victory over the French fleet at Trafalgar and Wellington's victory at the Battle of Waterloo).
1844: King Oscar I ascended to the thrones of Sweden and Norway.
1917: Riots and strikes in St. Petersburg marked the start of the "February Revolution" in Russia.
1920: Abdullah was proclaimed king of Iraq, but he declined the throne which was later given to his brother Faysal I. Abdullah later became the king of Jordan when it became independent in 1946 (many of the present-day artificial borders between the Arab nations were imposed by Western imperial nations).
1921: Spanish Prime Minister Eduardo Dato was assassinated in Madrid.
1921: Following Germany's failure to pay reparations from the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), French troops occupied Duesseldorf and other towns in the Ruhr.
1942: During the Second World War, Japanese forces entered Rangoon, Burma, the day after British forces evacuated.
1948: The U.S. Supreme Court ("In God We Trust") ruled that religious teaching in public schools violated the U.S. Constitution.
1965: 4,000 marines arrived at Da Nang in South Vietnam to become the first U.S. combat troops to become involved in the Vietnam civil war (earlier French imperialism in southeast Asia resulted in the ancient nation of Vietnam being divided into North and South Vietnam, a foreign-imposed partition of the Vietnamese people that did not end until the early 1970s after the U.S. had involved itself in the Vietnamese civil conflict for over a decade).
1973: "Irish Republican Army" terrorist car bombs exploded outside the Old Bailey courthouse and Scotland Yard police headquarters in London, killing one person and injuring 238. On the same day a referendum in Northern Ireland favored maintaining ties with the United Kingdom.
1983: U.S. President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire." The Soviets responded by calling the U.S. an "evil empire."
2004: Amidst the U.S. devastation of Iraq (over one million civilian men, women and children casualties and a country reduced to rubble, "legally justified" by George W. Bush in a search for alleged "weapons of mass destruction," that never existed, and an alleged Iraq connection to the 9-11 attacks, of which there was none; captured documents proved that Saddam Hussein actually viewed al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden as a threat to Iraq), a new U.S.-written Iraqi constitution was signed by the "cooperative" members of Iraq's U.S.-appointed "Governing Council."