Commentary on "Friends Forever (1 Thess. 2:13-3:13)"
Day 2: Sunday, August 5, 2012 - The Judean Example (1 Thess. 2:1316)
Today we are centering our study on 1 Thess. 2:13-16. Paul compares the persecution they are experiencing in Thessalonica with what happened to the original Judean followers of Jesus Christ. The point Paul is making is that what they are undergoing is part of a much bigger normal pattern and that all true Christians can expect to face similar opposition and persecution.
Paul points out that they have become “imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea”, 1 Thess. 2:14 ESV. Paul is commending them in that they have become ‘followers’ of the churches in Judea and are responding in a like way to their tormenters with godly motivated love instead of worldly desires of anger and revenge.
When persecuted or afflicted our response as Christians should be totally different from that of the world, without self-serving motivations of revenge or determination to settle the wrongs imposed upon us. Our victory over evil is when our tormenters surrender their lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ and become fellow brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. Our love for the sinners in this world should be the same as that of God, John 3:16, without any hatred for those who persecute us.
Remember who our real enemy is and what we are to do to defend against him:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Eph. 6:11-12 ESV)
In reality our true enemy is Satan along with his cosmic powers. Our only defense is to put on the whole armor of God. Our only offense is the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, Eph. 2:17. This is why the uninspired writings of Ellen White are of no value when confronting and defeating evil.
Nowhere except in Scripture can you find such a promise 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? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39 ESV)
For those whose sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ and who are experiencing sickness, persecution, affliction or any other kind of distress; there can be no greater comforting promise than this which only comes from the inspired word of God.
Turn to Acts 14:19-22 and read about Paul’s own experience concerning tribulation. Notice that he does not make the slightest inference that this has any connection with ‘end time events’ prophesied in Scripture.
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