"Studies of the Spirit in the New Testament - I, II Thessalonians"
November 1, 2020

C. R. Oliver

November 1, 2020

Studies of the Spirit in the New Testament
I, II Thessalonians

You may watch this Newsletter in a video HERE.


     The Jerusalem council in 50 AD, as proclaimed in Acts 15:28, gave their judgment as to the incorporation of the Gentiles (heathen) into the body of believers. I personally believe the book of Galatians (49AD) precipitated the necessity for the elders to address this issue. Now, following the edict from the council, Paul produced the epistles of I, II Thessalonians in 51AD (during his 2nd missionary journey). I also believe these two books address what was decided in the council, for they embellish and clarify those rules.

Acts 15:28-29:
For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.

Although we are not seeking to comment on the whole texts found in these two books, we will concentrate only on the places where the Spirit is mentioned; however, one's understanding of the Jerusalem council is most important.

I Thessalonians:
As we enter this epistle, our attention is immediately drawn to two mentions of the Spirit: one is connected to election and the other to joy.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-10:
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. 5 For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. 8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Of course, the reader should acknowledge the whole Scriptural wrappings which inculcate these two venues. The spiritual doctrine that surrounds this passage ends with a statement which must be relied upon in these times in which we live.

Verse 10: Even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

This is such a great promise which regales above the chaos of our day.

Notice how Paul stacks his opening words with items like, "work of faith," "labor of love," "patience of hope." His accolades were founded on their "election." Paul also wanted these Gentile believers to know the extent of their witness by naming at least two areas which were points of their evangelism: Macedonia and Achaia. Through these avenues, he introduces the doctrine of election.

This is the first mention in the New Testament of "election." (Simon Peter, later on, mentions call and election [2 Peter 1:10] as does Paul in his later works.).

What a profound doctrine this word conveys, whether standing alone or used in context with predestination. Foundational to the Reformers of the past, this doctrine became the bedrock of Presbyterian theology under the hand of John Calvin.

Presbyterianism was especially influenced by the French theologian John Calvin, who is credited with the development of Reformed theology, and the work of John Knox, a Scotsman and a Roman Catholic Priest, who studied with Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland. He brought back Reformed teachings to Scotland.

These heavy weight leaders of the Reformation made much of those passages where the Bible refers to believers being predetermined before the foundation of the world. It is like the "lamb slain before the foundation of the world" is coupled with the passages where Jesus acknowledged the disciples as being "given Him by His Father." These passages, along with many more, form a sense of destiny among believers. Election is little preached these days because it separates those who genuinely are born again and those who are not.

Paul believed the Thessalonian church was launched from heaven, and it was to be a "first witness" to Gentiles who would become believers as the Spirit drew them in. (The church that believes they are elected by God for the work they are given, is a strong body [Strong enough for a reformation which lasted over 500 years and spread the gospel over the world]).

A tertiary look into the word "election" is enough to thrill a believer.

NT:1589 ekloge (ek-log-ay'); from NT:1586; (divine) selection (abstractly or concretely):
KJV - chosen, election.

"Divine selection" instantly bonds past believers with new ones and forms a unity achieved by no other means. To function as a New Testament church, it must be comprised of the "elect."

If I accept my salvation as a work begun in heaven, before the world was created, it causes me to "know" the Bible and its promises are mine. (I am saved because the Lord saw me before I came to Him and, knowing all things, wrote my name in the book of life based on my free will being exercised.)

Brian Troxel wrote on "election" in the following quote. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…" Colossians 3:12

The "elect of God" reveal their call and election through their expression of Christ-like character. They bear unfeigned aspects of His heart and passion. In spiritual things, we are revealed by what we are and what we are is expressed by what we do. In religious things, it is not necessary to have a connection between being and doing.

David breathed a prayer which was "after the heart of God".

"Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name"
Psalm 86:11

A united heart is an authentic heart, a heart full of the fear and wonder of the Lord. The inconsistencies of our being become united by the singularity of His rule within. Growth in Christ is revealed in the spontaneous flow of His nature into the world around us. The desire for a united heart is the affirmation of His Spirit at work within us.

The purpose of truth is to make us true. True to Him, true to one another and true to the world around us.

"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure…"
2 Peter 1:10

O' hallelujah!

Observing the outcroppings from "election," one welcomes "joy in the Spirit."

For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake (I Thessalonians 1:5).

When an anointed church casts their nets into the unbelieving world, using both the Word and the power of the Holy Spirit-they will reap a DIVINE CATCH. (Simon Peter saw this with the 5000 and the 3000 resulting from his appeal. This is why he cautioned in his epistle, to "make your call and election sure." Now is the time to review such in the church today!)

In verse six, we see another aspect of being the elected; it is "Joy of the Holy Spirit." First, take a look at the varied aspects of "joy."

chara (khar-ah'); from NT:5463; cheerfulness, i.e. calm delight:

KJV - gladness, greatly, (X be exceeding) joy (-ful, -fully, -fulness, -ous).

Using this construct, think of what a worship service would look like. There would be a church full of those who believe they have a divine destiny and operate in the power of the Holy Spirit giving praise to God. Talk about shouting, talk about testimony, talk about pouring out from humble hearts on fire with the Holy Ghost in raptured song and anointed words---there would arise a mighty JOY OF THE HOLY GHOST! (The modern church needs this!)

First Thessalonians is filled with doctrinal truths for believers. Dropping down to the next Spirit passage, we encounter "Sanctification."

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8:
Finally, then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; 2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. 8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.

Sanctification incorporates a variety of meanings, according to the Greek derivatives. Look at the following definitions.

NT:38 hagiasmos (hag-ee-as-mos'); from NT:37; properly, purification, i.e. (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier:
KJV - holiness, sanctification.

NT:39 hagion (hag'-ee-on); neuter of NT:40; a sacred thing (i.e. spot):
KJV - holiest (of all), holy place, sanctuary.

NT:40 hagios (hag'-ee-os); from hagos (an awful thing) [compare NT:53, NT:2282]; sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious, ceremonially, consecrated):
KJV - (most) holy (one, thing), saint.

NT:41 hagiotes (hag-ee-ot'-ace); from NT:40; sanctity (i.e. properly, the state):
KJV - holiness.

NT:42 hagiosune (hag-ee-o-soo'-nay); from NT:40; sacredness (i.e. properly, the quality):
KJV - holiness.

Holiness is what must characterize the saint. Paul was saying the Holy Spirit lives within a a sanctuary of holiness. Regardless of modern Christianity's "accommodation" approaches, the Scriptural demands are still intact. Paul prefaced this by reiterating what the Jerusalem Council declared of Gentile believers. He also said "to reject this teaching is to sin against God and the Holy Spirit!" (Oh, it's repentance time in the house of the Lord.)

Remember, prior to this book, there was Matthew's Gospel, James and Galatians. Although these three circulated among the churches, they did not address every issue confronting the early body.

Paul found it important to expound even simple matters that were affecting their walk.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-24:
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Just how would someone quench the Spirit? Let's look at the word "quench."

NT:4570 sbennumi (sben'-noo-mee); a prolonged form of an apparently primary verb; to extinguish (literally or figuratively):
KJV - go out, quench.

There is an interesting factor in this grouping of Scripture. In verses 14-16 there is a list of things the believer must do, "like warning the unruly and etc." In order to carry out this exhortation, it is necessary to be led by the Holy Spirit. Don't omit these duties, because to do so will quench the Spirit's work among you. Likewise, the admonitions that follow depend on the Spirit.

One of the salient issues in the modern church is to recognize how often the services fail to give the Spirit full reign.

Churches can quench the Spirit through non-cooperation with His leading. An individual can do the same by not listening or by ignoring Him. Parishioners leading an unholy life exhibit a prime way of quenching the Spirit.

Chapter 5:14-24 depends on the Spirit in dealing with the "unruly," "the fainthearted," and "the weak."

Prophecies depend on the Spirit for utterance. Spiritual discernment, which is the ability to test all things, is a Spirit matter. Abstaining from every form of evil requires dependency on the Spirit. Remember, the outpouring of the Spirit on the Gentiles opened the door to their world being evangelized.

Paul ended this epistle with his prayer for them.

Verses twenty-three and twenty-four convey Paul's blessing for the Thessalonians.

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Notice in these verses the order of one's sanctification: first spirit, then soul and then body. Notice also the phrase "preserved blameless" at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To fully understand this passage, it is necessary to examine the word "preserved."

NT:5083 tereo (tay-reh'-o); from teros (a watch; perhaps akin to NT:2334); to guard (from loss or injury, properly, by keeping the eye upon;

Precious is this promise. The God of peace will watch over us to keep us from loss and to help with our infirmities until the time of Jesus' return. Hallelujah.

2 Thessalonians:

Basically, this second epistle has only one reference to the Spirit.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17:
13 But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, 14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

The election by God, of those who are to be saved, is an integral teaching for Paul. Here are other passages which also teach this doctrine (Romans 9:11; 11:15-17; Peter 1: 2,6.10; 5:13; Colossians 8:12.).

Our sanctification comes through the Spirit, and yet there is very little being taught concerning it today.

How can congregations "stand fast" in areas they know little about? How can they hold the "traditions" when they do not know the traditions of the saints?

Verse 16 starts with the word NOW, which conveys immediacy. The Father and His Son love us (what a wonderful fact that Paul expanded upon in Romans 8:35,39). With this fact comes four facets succored by grace.

1. Everlasting consolation
2. Good Hope
3. Comfort of heart
4. Establishment in every good word and work.

Yep, we could use a bit of that right about now!

Until next month when we will consider I and II Corinthians,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


JR Gurley Miraculous Testimony:

Below is a video of my good friend Robert Gurley and how God preserved his life. As remarkable as this is, he has many other God-interventions in his life. Starting out as youth pastor at WOW Center in Newport News, Va., he now is a resource person for a political endeavor, while maintaining his church staff duties. Bro. Gurley has tremendous testimonies about miracle ministry in West Virginia revivals and one of the most phenomenal actions in central America. (Being unhappy about his interpreter's poor translations, he declared he was going to his room and pray and wasn't coming out until he could speak fluent Spanish and write in that language. Three days later he could do both and now interprets for local agencies in Virginia.) Pray that exploits will continue in Robert's life and rejoice with those who know him for the Lord's healing power.

You may watch this YouTube Video HERE.


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