1 ¶ Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
Paul is thankful that their faith is growing greatly, exceedingly. He also makes one of the more clear statements about charity as between Christians, which puts a clearer light on 1 Corinthians 13 which is important to leave as the “charity” chapter rather than the “luuuvvvvv” chapter because I believe the initial direction is to how we are to treat each other. Let’s read it but keep in mind it as referring to a Christian’s attitude toward his or her brothers and sisters.
Now, consider the importance of this statement by Jesus. How do people know that we are his disciples, not according to Jack Hyles or Billy Graham?
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Our faith breaks down because of two great failings on our part; ingratitude and a lack of care or love for other Christians. We can talk about our heart for the lost all day long but if we neglect the needs and necessities of other Christians we make a sham of our faith. A vibrant, successful church helps its poorer brethren.
Where are all the Christian Pastors and congregations created by American and British missionaries over the last hundred years? Why do we need to spend thousands to send middle class American families to foreign mission fields when we can support native pastors. All we need is to prove that they are real and genuine and are doing God’s work. It might take $3,000 per month to support an American family living in Botswana but for a sixth of that, a Botswanan church could be helped mightily. I’m also not saying to make them dependent on you and not self reliant and dependent on God’s providing but to help our poorer brethren. Does this not make sense to you rather than each generation doing what Paul said he would not do, building on another man’s foundation?
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 ¶ Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
We don’t have a whole lot of persecution and tribulation to suffer in America, thanks to our founders desire to keep the government from dictating religious dogma and in total opposition to so many religionists who want to make either the government an arm of the church or the church an arm of the government.
But persecution is a sign, a token, of God’s judgment and our willingness to endure it shows that we can be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. If you notice in Revelation, the only church that is not criticized in any way, and is called rich, is the suffering church of Smyrna.
Revelation 2:8 ¶ And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Like it or not, Christian, God is looking for people who are willing to go all the way for Him, even to the point of sacrificing property, family, or life. Many Christians around the world are showing themselves more worthy each day by their willingness to suffer, while we sleep in the lap of comparative ease and luxury. When American Christians suffer its usually for just being a pain in the neck at work or in our family and has nothing to do with our manifesting of the fruits of the spirit and people hating us for envy and for Christ’s sake.
6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
God will deal with those who persecute you and those Christians in Myanmar (Burma), the Sudan, or any place else where they are being abused; God will repay those who have harmed them.
Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Luke 6:27 ¶ But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. 29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. 30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. 31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. 35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Now, tell me, guys, if this is easy for you to live by, seeing as the manly thing to do is to bust someone in the chops when they disrespect you and, mothers, tell me if you could hold back if you felt that someone in authority was verbally abusing your child for being a Christian? Could you adopt the attitude of the Amish people when the shooter killed their children a few years back, one of forgiveness and Christlike humility? Most of us can’t. We’re ‘mericans. By golly, we’ll shoot you if you mess with us.
Better pray about your attitude. The powerful Christian church is a martyr church. Read the application to Smyrna again. We always talk about “are you a Philadelphia church?” Well, are you a Smyrna church?
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
We will be in that number, when Christ returns with his angels. Angels are an appearance of someone; either of God;
Zechariah 12:8 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.
Revelation 21:17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
Acts 12:13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. 14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
Or something else such as a church as Jesus has John write directly to the angels of the seven churches in Revelation. Angels are spirit beings and these angels are the appearances of those who have been taken out of the earth before the Tribulation. They are mentioned here;
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
You are and will be part of that number if you have trusted in Christ, part of the armies of heaven.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
Foretold in ancient prophecy as in the Song of Solomon as His bride.
Song of Solomon 6:4 Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
Song of Solomon 6:10 Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
You can read in Revelation 19 of how His conquest of the earth will be. It’s also possible that in Joel, particularly chapter 2 there may be references to this. The following are some interesting references that I think are linked to this verse.
2Samuel 22:9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
Job 41:19 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
Psalm 18:8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
Jeremiah 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
Habbakuk 3:4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.
Acts 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
Those people who are destroyed, who have hated God through Jesus Christ, will spend eternity in a lake of unquenchable fire. They will not be in His presence nor will they experience His glory. What people don’t realize is that, even for those who don’t acknowledge God, He gives them many good things, things that make life not only possible but bearable. Without God, their suffering will be unimaginable.
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
There will be no morning sun to warm their faces, no cool breeze to cool their skin, no beautiful sunset to please their souls, but only horror and agony and hatred, spewing curses from parched lips forever in a lake of unquenchable fire. This is mankind’s destiny without Christ’s mercy.
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
At that point everything in history will clearly point to the Lord Jesus Christ as being the center point, the focal point of history. Those that believe will look on Him lovingly, glowingly, and with joy. Paul points out how that this is partly made possible because we believed in the early Christians testimony as it is passed down from generation to generation.
11 ¶ Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul prays that the Thessalonians might be counted worthy of “this” calling, their future destiny with Christ, by fulfilling God’s good pleasure and by their powerful faith. Paul wants to see the name of the Lord Jesus Christ glorified by their lives and the reverse is also true, that by God’s grace the Thessalonians should be lifted up.