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Commentary on "The Gospel Comes to Thessalonica"



Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, June 30, 2012 - Introduction



The memory text that sets the theme for this week is:

And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. (1 Thess. 2:13 ESV)

The Quarterly 'Key Thought’ is:

'Our assurance of God’s promises must be based on our confidence in His Holy Scriptures.’



Certainly our confidence in what God says, especially his promises, must be founded upon 'His Holy Scriptures’ however this could be better stated by not focusing on just “God’s promises”, but instead, have the faith to believe that the entire Holy Bible is the inspired trustworthy word of an infinitely Holy and perfect God. To have a deep understanding of Scripture a person must first have been born again (brought to life spiritually) which means that you have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and have joined the Kingdom of God.

In the words of Jesus:

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:12-15 ESV)

Jesus declares in John Chapter Three that you must be born again before you can become part of the Kingdom of God. Now concerning 'forgiveness of your sins’ Peter has this to say:

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 ESV)

The gift of the Holy Spirit is associated with the moment you receive Christ’s forgiveness of your sins and having become a member of the Kingdom of God. Only then, can you expect to be guided by the Holy Spirit into an understanding of God’s truth for your life.

This brings us to the question of just what is the 'gospel of Jesus Christ’. Paul makes it very clear in Gal.1:9 that there is such a thing as a false gospel. A short but concise description of the gospel is given by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1-5. Whatever we think the gospel might be we must not alter the intended meaning of these verses.

Another important point that appears to have been overlooked in this week’s Quarterly daily lessons is that the epistles of First and Second Thessalonians were addressed to born again spiritually alive Christians who have already received the benefits of the gospel message. Paul is addressing fellow members of the Kingdom of God on how they are to grow spiritually. Because they are already Christians he doesn’t need to repeat to them what they already know and has become part of their lives. Spiritual life is very similar to our physical life in one significant way. First you are born and then you grow. You cannot have spiritual growth without first having a spiritual birth. It is rather silly to think that your spiritual birth occurs after a lifetime of 'reaching perfection’.

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, we give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (1 Thess. 1:1-7 ESV)



  1. Even though this quarter is titled '1 and 2 Thessalonians’ the Quarterly lessons for this week pay very little attention to the contents of these two epistles. In fact, today’s memory text jumps to Chapter Two Verse Thirteen without reference to Paul’s introduction or even the slightest mention of Paul’s overall theme.
  2. The lesson does make a good point by mentioning that our understanding of “God’s promises” must be based upon Scriptures. However, it must be emphasized that if you are 'speaking in the name of God’ only the Holy Bible is to be considered a reliable source of God’s truth and it is the only foundation for our Christian faith. All else, including this commentary, must conform to Scripture and not the other way around.
  3. The central cause of all our problems 'in this present life’ is that when we are physically born we are born spiritually dead because of the death of Adam the instant he sinned, Genesis 2:16, John 3:1-20. Sin is the root cause of all that is evil in our lives. Because of what Jesus did on the cross he is able to offer us forgiveness of our sins. For those who receive this forgiveness Jesus provides the Holy Spirit who indwells us and brings life to our dead spirit which is equivalent of joining the Kingdom of God. Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit includes leading each and every Believer into God’s truth.
  4. The challenge for those who are serious students of God’s word is to study these epistles for yourself and see if you do not agree that they can be summarized with one word: sanctification. That is, Paul is exhorting and encouraging the Believers in Thessalonica in their spiritual growth and for them to continue to persevere under some very difficult persecutions. While the real gospel certainly is the foundation for their sanctification, this is not the focus of Paul’s message in these two epistles. Put another way, you don’t always need to be telling Christians how to become Christians since that is what they are. A primary purpose of repeating the gospel message to Christians is to confront heresy like Paul was doing when he wrote to the Galatian church.
  5. When a person’s penalty for sin (all sin: past, present & future) is removed by the blood of Jesus Christ that person immediately joins the kingdom of God and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit as proof and seal of their salvation. It is a misunderstanding of what the word 'assurance’ means if you claim that God’s promises are true yet ignore or change the clear mean of such passages as this:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Romans 8:31-35 ESV)




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