Friday, June 20, 2014

1Thessalonians 5:24-28 comments: read the letter aloud

24  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. 25  Brethren, pray for us.

26  Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. 27  I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 28  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. « The first epistle to the Thessalonians was written from Athens. »


Here is a great definition of the word, “faithful.” Someone who is faithful will do what they have promised to do.


For instance, stewards of the mysteries of God, such as pastors and teachers, should be faithful to God’s word.


1Corinthians 4:1 ¶  Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.


God has made promises to us, many of which are laid out in this letter to the Thessalonians. Others include, as example from 1Corinthians, a promise to offer us a way out of any temptation we face to sin.


1Corinthians 10:13  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.


And so, in keeping with the last verse discussed where Paul prayed that the Christians be preserved blameless in their soul, their spirit, and their bodies, we have that proof of the promise from God, who also promises to be faithful to do that very thing.


1Corinthians 1:4  I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5  That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6  Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7  So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9  God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.


Again, in verse 25, the exhortation is repeated to pray. Paul asks that these Christians in Thessalonica pray for him and his group of ministers. How often do we pray for our pastors and our teachers and other ministers to be guided by the Holy Spirit, to be blessed in their personal lives, to be kept from sin, to be drawn closer to the Lord?


Verse 26 presents a problem for those people who take literal statements in the Bible to an extreme, denying that there are specific instructions for a historical reason given to a specific church, cultural customs, or personal opinions involved that do not necessarily apply to them. For those of you who insist that a woman must have long hair, for instance, when was the last time you gave someone in your church, “a holy kiss”? Do you even know what a holy kiss is? Are you out of God’s will because you don’t follow Paul’s admonition to give a holy kiss? I certainly don’t want any of you giving me a holy kiss or anything resembling one. I don’t want you washing my feet either and I’m not likely to offer to wash your feet. Am I wrong?


Romans 16:16  Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.


1Corinthians 16:20  All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.


2Corinthians 13:12  Greet one another with an holy kiss.


Here is a mention by Paul of washing feet.


1Timothy 5:10  Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.


Foot washing here is listed as an example of a “good work.” So, why don’t we do it today? Are we wrong?


The issue here is one of cultural custom. There is no specific wedding ceremony in the Bible so Christians are required to come up with their own or follow the cultural customs of the land in which they live. When you read the Bible pay close attention to who is being spoken to and why. It really is a matter of common sense. Adultery is a sin from the beginning to the end of the Bible, as is murder. How you celebrate a landmark event like a wedding, a graduation, or a birthday is something you have to figure out as long as it doesn’t involve idolatry or sin against God. For instance, a drunken wedding celebration goes against what a Christian is taught about what God wants from their life but the wedding celebration in itself is not by necessity sinful.


There are congregations of Christians who believe in foot-washing, who have their own wedding ceremony, and, for all I know, who give each other a holy kiss. If they are all under that conviction then so be it. We often stand or fall under our convictions.


Paul charges that this letter be read to the church. The Bible is not only meant to be read but to be read aloud.


Colossians 4:16  And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.


According to early church leader, Tertullian, Paul’s original letters still existed in these churches as late as around 200AD after the Old Latin Bible, the first complete Bible, a direct copy of Greek original letters and the Hebrew Old Testament, had already been circulating from about the middle of the second century. (The King James translators, by the way, did not use the Septuagint, a complete Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament miraculously translated because, in their Letter to the Reader, they said it wasn’t reliable. And truthfully, the oldest nearly complete copies of that version that exist are from the third or fourth century and the only evidence that it existed before Christ is a letter thought to be a fraud by many. There is the church scholar, Origen’s, belief in the authenticity of a Septuagint along with some fragments of Hebrew books translated into Greek from before Christ. Origen included what he claimed were earlier versions of it in his Hexapla.  I think, logic can safely question the complete Septuagint’s existence in the middle of the Second Century for the translation of the Old Testament into Latin from Greek from Hebrew, although it remains a possibility.)



Paul finishes his first letter to the Thessalonians with a prayer and wish for God’s grace upon them. The traditional postscript of this letter reports that it was written from Athens, Greece, although this is not considered to be part of the text given by inspiration and is not found in many modern editions of our King James Bible.


Paul begins and ends several of his letters with a prayer for grace for the readers. Bible commentators call “grace,” unmerited favor. In other words, you get mercy and kindness even though you didn’t deserve it. The Bible defines grace as favor.


Esther 2:17  And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti.


It is linked with glory God will give to His own.


Psalm 84:11  For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.


Proverbs 4:9  She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.


When the grace of God is on someone, as it was on Jesus, there are other attributes that rise in them.


Luke 2:40  And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.


It is why we are justified.


Romans 3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:


It is why we are saved.

Ephesians 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

God’s grace is upon us through no reason of our own will but of His. No Christian has anything that would commend them to God. It is all His own work.

Romans 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Whether it be Paul or the person next to you God’s grace was extended to them because of who God is, not because of anything the believer has done.

Paul will write a second letter to the Thessalonians in which he will feel compelled to correct some misunderstandings as the Thessalonians began to look for Christ to return immediately. Who could blame them? Every Christian worthy to be called one is looking for Christ’s return to remove His church from this present darkness from an earth that suffers from the ravages of mankind’s sin.

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