1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
13 And j we also thank God constantly 1 for this, that when you received k the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it l not as the word of men 2 but as what it really is, the word of God, m which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, n became imitators of o the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For p you suffered the same things from your own countrymen q as they did from the Jews, 1 15 r who killed both the Lord Jesus and s the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and t oppose all mankind 16 u by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always v to fill up the measure of their sins. But w wrath has come upon them at last! 1
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
13 Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρʼ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν. 14 Ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ θεοῦ τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων συμφυλετῶν καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων, 15 τῶν καὶ τὸν κύριον ἀποκτεινάντων Ἰησοῦν καὶ τοὺς προφήτας καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐκδιωξάντων καὶ θεῷ μὴ ἀρεσκόντων καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων, 16 κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἔθνεσιν λαλῆσαι ἵνα σωθῶσιν, εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε. ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος.
Thank God for the faith and perseverance of his people Introduction following from last week; how can we have this pure motive of wanting to please God? And if we do want to please God, how can that motive increase? in 2.2-12 Paul's talking about what he did, in v13-14 he's talking about what the effect actually was among them when we thank, it expands our joy. Simplest way to being truly God-centred is to train yourself for thanksgiving. 1. Thank God when his word is accepted for what it really is, v13 Another section, beginning with thanking God constantly (thanks God, not them) You accepted/welcomed/received it not as word of men but just as it truly is, the word of God which is working in you who are believing: This simplifies ministry: make the Word of God the centre, and then just see how people respond, and go from there. Gather up the true church rather than exhaust yourself trying to draw a crowd. We cannot desire to please someone whom we don't know. The gospel makes God known to us, and so we can then thank him and want to please him. 'If people have truly received Christ's forgiveness for their sins, there should well up in their hearts a feeling of gratitude for what Christ has done for them. This gratitude issues into giving of thanks, which is the origin of good motives. The proper response to receiving a gift is to thank the giver. This act of thanking is not a far cry from desiring to please the person who gave the gift, since thanksgiving is pleasing to the one being thanked. It is similar in our relationship with Christ.' Application Thankfulness vs thanklessness What do we really mean by being gospel-centred, or Word-centred? Does philosophy match doctrine? 2. Suffering faithfully is evidence of the word of God at work, v14-16 for you became imitators (that word again) - ie because they suffered. What's the proof? They persevered through suffering. cf 1 Peter 4.1 whoever has suffered in the body has finished with sin. 'when Christians understand that suffering is the "stadium" in which they run the race of faith and that God himself will provide them with the ability to complete the contest, they are motivated better to endure in the race and to thank God in the process.' cf people who think they're imitators of Paul or, say, the reformers or Athanasius or the early church but actually cherry-pick one part of their whole example. To oppose the gospel is actually to oppose the good of mankind hindering us speaking to the nations in order [for] them to be saved but 'the' wrath has arrived/preceded/anticipated upon them into/for the end (telos)/final purpose. 'To the uttermost' At various key points in the Bible story-line, those opposing God had to reach a certain stage before being ripe for judgement; filling up their sins. cf Noah. Abraham told about the Amorites Genesis 15.16 ; Daniel 8.23-25 judgement will come at the end of the age when sins have been filled up. Matthew 23.32 ; fill up the measure of their ancestors' sin. So v16 probably has the sense of Isaiah 6.9-10 and Matthew 23 . 'Always' - ie a pattern. cf Stephen's speech in Acts 7 . E.g., was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?' Acts 7.52 'Wrath has been inaugurated as a past event, probably God's punitive hardening of Israel's hearts, resulting in Jesus' death and the subsequent persecution of his servants, the climax of the nation's sin.' Paul, and Jesus, were not anti-semitic but anti-sin. Paul writing here about particular Jews in that locality who have persecuted the gospel. We aren't to imagine a gleeful tone; the only other references in the Bible are all full of sorrow. So we should imagine Paul having to stop and weep. Application God's glory: He makes himself known to us, and his word of rescue. So that we can know him and thank him. FCF: We are thankless, and do not receive his word as what it really is. Or we don't turn to him in thanks when we hear it. Or we don't imitate his Son in persevering faith in the face of suffering. We resist his word and thus oppose the good of mankind. Person of Jesus: He suffered at the hands of the Jews, those who wouldn't receive God's word to them. Work of Jesus: In yielding himself to them in death, he opened the way for this word of God to be received by all of God's people everywhere. The death of death. Union with Jesus: In Jesus I receive the word as what it really is. Since my identity is secure in him, I can receive the words of rebuke and correction without needing to cover up a shallow false identity. I can bear suffering since I know that God is my father and holds all things in his control, and he will put things right. In his gospel word I know he is pleased with me, and so now - whatever comes - I want to live to please him. In other words, since I have the Word, I have God, and so therefore I can bear suffering in this present evil age. And so this will be a cause of thanksgiving to God. Wrap-up when we thank, it expands our joy. Simplest way to being truly God-centred is to train yourself for thanksgiving.