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Thursday, March 24, 2022

2022.03.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16

Questions from the Scripture text: For what does 1 Thessalonians 2:13 add another reason (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:2)? How often do they thank God? What had the Thessalonians received? By what mechanism? From whom had they heard it? What didn’t they welcome it as? What did they welcome it as? What does this Word do? In what manner? In whom? What did they become (1 Thessalonians 2:14)? Imitators of whom? From whom had the Thessalonians suffered? From whom had the Judean churches suffered the same things? What had the Jews done to Whom (1 Thessalonians 2:15)? And whom else? And what had they done to the apostles? What do they not do? To whom are they contrary? What had the Jews forbidden them to do (1 Thessalonians 2:16)? What were the Jews thus doing to their own sins? What has come upon them? To what extent?

The apostle now turns from the evidence of the Spirit’s work in his and his companions’ ministry back to the Spirit’s work in the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 resumes the thanksgiving that had begun in 1 Thessalonians 2:2. Now, having assured them that the ministry they received was genuine (1 Thessalonians 2:1) and pleased God (1 Thessalonians 2:4), he tackles head-on the opposition that the Thessalonians had endured.

Does opposition to the gospel ever threaten your confidence and hope? Don’t let it! The Holy Spirit makes believers receive it as the Word of God, because that’s exactly what it is: the Word of God! And it’s not just the Word of God, but also the appointed agent of the work of God. We never have to worry about being opposed if it is God Himself Who is working in believers by His Word. The apostle’s implication to the Thessalonians is just as timely today where we live as it was then: there’s no reason to be embarrassed of God’s Word, or intimidated by opposition, since it is God Who is working by that Word!

In fact, facing stiff opposition is so far from being a discouragement that it puts us in good company. The best company possible. Not only was the first apostolic church painfully persecuted (1 Thessalonians 2:14), but Jesus Himself (1 Thessalonians 2:15a) and many of their prophets (verse 15b) were killed as a result of preaching this faithful Word. So they most certainly did not “please God” (verse 15c) like the apostolic team had (1 Thessalonians 2:4). In fact, these persecutors were “contrary to all men”—opposing the saving Word of God and saving work of God to and among the nations (1 Thessalonians 2:16).

It's a perpetual temptation in the church to want to impress the culture. But this is not how to serve them. We serve them by pleasing God and speaking His saving Word, through which He does His saving work. 

On the contrary, the culture’s wrath is not what we should be fearing. They may be very hostile, and perhaps even kill us, but we are to love not our life even unto death but rather overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of His testimony (cf. Revelation 12:11). As the Lord Jesus said, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). 

It is this dreadful judgment that 1 Thessalonians 2:16 reminds the Thessalonians has come upon the Jews and upon all those who reject and oppose the gospel. All of their other sins aren’t “full” (verse 16) until this last and great one. Opposition to the gospel becomes the mechanism by which “wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.” 

As the Thessalonians are conforming to the Word of God, the frightful wrath is not what has come upon them from their fellow man, but what will come upon the persecutors if they never respond to the gospel. Thus, fear of the persecutor may be displaced by compassion for his eternal soul.

How are you responding to the fact that the Bible (and the Bible preached) is God’s Word? To the fact that it is by this Word that He effectively works? From where do you anticipate persecution? How does this passage help you think about our response to it? And about your persecutors?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless Your Name for Your great mercy to us wrath-deserving sinners. How marvelous is the Word of the gospel that tells us of Your salvation in Jesus Christ, and the work of Your Spirit, Who uses that Word to work effectively in us! Forgive us for when we are discouraged or intimidated by the opposition of the world, and use Your Word to stir back up our faith, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress”


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