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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 11: Epistles to the Thessalonians.

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Paul continued his admonition to the church: "We beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves."

The Thessalonians were greatly annoyed by persons coming among them with fanatical ideas and doctrines. The church had been properly organized, and officers had been appointed to act [p. 116] as ministers and deacons. But some would not be subordinate to those who held authoritative positions in the church. Ardent, self-willed persons claimed not only the right of private judgment, but to be heard publicly in urging their views upon the church. Paul, therefore, earnestly called the attention of his brethren to the respect and deference due those who had authority in the church, and who had been intrusted with the responsibilities connected with it.

He cautions the Thessalonians not to despise the gift of prophecy, and enjoins a careful discrimination in distinguishing the false manifestation from the true: "Quench not the Spirit; despise not prophesyings; prove all things; hold fast that which is good." He prays that God will sanctify them wholly, that their "whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;" and in closing, adds the assurance, "Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it."

In this First Epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul's teachings concerning the second coming of Christ were in perfect harmony with his former instructions to the church. Yet his words were misapprehended by some of the Thessalonian brethren. They understood him to express the hope that he himself would live to witness the Saviour's advent. This belief served to increase their enthusiasm and excitement. Those who had previously neglected their cares and duties, now considered themselves sustained by the apostle; hence they became more persistent than before in urging their erroneous views.

In his second letter to this church, Paul seeks to correct their misapprehensions, and to set before [p. 117] them his true position. He expresses his confidence in their Christian integrity, and his gratitude to God that their faith was not waning, and that love abounded toward one another, and for the cause of their divine Master. He also states that he presents them to other churches as furnishing a sample of the patient and persevering faith which bravely withstands the persecution and tribulation brought upon them by the opposition of the enemies of God. He carries them forward to hope for rest from all their cares and perplexities, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed, "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."

He then showed that great events were to transpire in the future, as foretold in prophecy, before Christ should come. Said the apostle: "Be not soon shaken in mind, nor be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed." The papal power, so clearly described by the prophet Daniel, was yet to rise, and wage war against God's people, and trample upon his law. Until this power should have performed its deadly and blasphemous work, it would be vain for the church to look for the coming of their Lord.

Thus Paul put to naught the arguments of those who represented him as teaching that the day of Christ was at hand. He charged his brethren not to neglect their duties and resign themselves to idle waiting. After their glowing anticipations of immediate deliverance, the round [p. 118] of daily life and the opposition which they must expect to meet, would appear doubly forbidding. He therefore exhorted them to steadfastness in the faith. Their work had been appointed them of God; by their faithful adherence to the truth they were to communicate to others the light which they had received. He bade them not to become weary in well-doing, and pointed them to his own example of diligence in temporal matters while laboring with untiring zeal in the cause of Christ. He reproved those who had given themselves up to sloth and aimless excitement, and directed that "with quietness they work, and eat their own bread." He also enjoined upon the church to separate from their fellowship any who should persist in disregarding his instructions. "Yet," he added, "count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother." He concluded this epistle also with a prayer, that amid life's toils and trials the peace of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ might be their consolation and support.

Part:  A  B  C

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