“But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”
There were two characteristics for “joining” the early church: 1) you had to be born again, and 2) you had to submit to the spiritual leadership and the authority of the local church leadership. The characteristics of leadership listed here are 1) labor 2) authority and 3) able to teach. All of these characteristics are spiritual.
Hard work should always be a characteristic of a leader. Paul and his team were certainly hard working and labored not only making tents to support themselves; they also labored in the ministry. Proper execution of spiritual authority is also a characteristic of a good leader within the local church. A spiritual leader is not to be a tyrant, greedy, power hungry or arrogant. A good spiritual leader should also be able to instruct others based on their spiritual gift. Much teaching is often non-verbal. A good leader teaches others by their attitude and their actions.
We should all esteem in love those who sacrifice themselves and their time to provide us with doctrinal teaching. Many hours are often spent behind the scenes in preparation for the teaching of God’s Word. Biblically authorized leadership is the basis of peace in any congregation. The absence of such leadership means perpetual trouble in a congregation and one purpose of leadership is to maintain the peace within the congregation of believers.
“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.”
We now have the six-fold exhortation to leadership:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Here are three things that are God’s will for every believer in Christ: 1) rejoice always 2) pray without ceasing and 3) in everything give thanks.
The Greek word for rejoice has a different meaning from what we think of today. This is not simply some sort of an ecstatic stimulation. In Greek it is a word which means to have inner happiness at all times because of one’s relationship with the Lord. We are commanded to keep on having inner happiness, habitually. Your happiness as a Christian does not depend upon outer circumstances, pleasant surroundings, or some successful activity of your own. Sharing the happiness of God is having permanent contentment as your constant companion. This happiness is permanent because it does not depend on the circumstances in your life. It is actually God’s own perfect happiness that He shares with the advancing believer as a grace gift. Sharing God’s happiness is obtained only by consistently learning, believing and applying the Word of God over a period of time.
Prayer is the grace system of communication with God for the believer. The purpose of prayer is to communicate with our Heavenly Father. God communicates with us through His Word. We communicate with God through prayer. God, therefore, expects all believers to use prayer. We are actually commanded to pray without ceasing, which means to have a consistent prayer life. Prayer can be powerful for a believer that knows how to use it. (I Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; Hebrews 4:16)
In everything give thanks means to always be grateful for God’s provision. If we understand that our lives are in God’s hands and that He will direct our paths, we can have gratitude in any circumstance of life. We must also learn to be grateful for even the hardships in life. Quite often these situations are used by God to teach us valuable lessons and reveal areas of weakness. How we handle these hardships can be a springboard to advancement in our Christian lives by increasing our faith and our dependence upon God. (I Corinthians 15:54; Colossians 2:6-8; I Thessalonians 5:18)
“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”
Quench means to extinguish, to dampen, or to hinder. When a believer chooses to sin he is no longer filled with the Holy Spirit. The result is extinguishing, dampening and hindering the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Recovery comes by way of Rebound which means to confess, to admit, or to acknowledge your sins directly to God.
Do not despise prophetic utterances is an obvious reference to the prophesies taught by Paul with regard to the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Second Coming and the Millennium. The word despise in Greek means don’t belittle, don’t make light of, don’t treat with scorn or contempt, don’t neglect, and don’t disregard.
Instead of despite regarding prophesy, examine everything that has been or will be taught on the subject. Examine means to test for the purpose of approval. How do you test for the purpose of approval when it comes to doctrine? First of all you listen. Then you check whether this fits with the rest of God’s Word. Then you put it in its proper category. Once you have completed your examination then hold fast to it. But always compare Scripture with Scripture, interpret the verse based on its context and content and remember Scripture must be interpreted within the framework of the time in which it was written.
Abstain from every form of evil is a reference to all the evil that had been their former lifestyles as pagan Gentiles. It also covers the various forms of evil doctrine and those who were attempting to confuse and distract them from their spiritual lives by teaching false doctrine.
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He Who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”
Sanctify you entirely means to completely set you apart to the service of God (your spirit, your soul and your body). Every facet of your being should be dedicated to serving God by the execution of the Christian Way of Life. This should be number one priority for every believer in Christ. If a believer will allow God to do this, he will be presented blameless at the Judgment Seat of Christ with regard to his spiritual life. God will bring this to pass if you will through positive volition allow Him to do so.
God’s faithfulness is based upon a principle: the doctrine of divine essence. God cannot change and He is therefore faithful. So if God cannot change it means that He is always faithful to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is faithful in saving us; He is faithful in keeping us, we cannot lose our salvation; and He is faithful to us in our Christian life. (I John 1:9; 2 Timothy 2:13; II Thessalonians 3:3; I Corinthians 1:9, 10:13; Hebrews 10:23; I Peter 4:19)
Brethren pray for us means that intercessory prayer is part of the responsibility and privilege of a believer-priest in this age. It is advantageous to all men and women who labor for the Lord and we should be holding these people up before the Lord in prayer. We should also pray for one another. In James 5:16 it tells us that the effective, continuous prayer of a righteous person has great results.
The connotation of greet all the brethren with a holy kiss is impersonal love. This command must be interpreted in the time in which it was written. We are 2000 years from this custom and therefore we portray this custom in a very simple way: by the fulfillment of the royal family honor code—impersonal love. However, in our society we are Anglo-Saxon by culture and we do not have the holy kiss any longer. The command to greet each other with a holy kiss is simply a command to love the brethren—impersonal love. (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20; II Corinthians 13:12; I Thessalonians 5:26)
The word for read means to analyze, to explain verse by verse, line by line, precept upon precept. In other words, this refers to accurate teaching of Bible doctrine within the setting of the local church. The Thessalonians were to receive information from this epistle from the ministry of teaching, not merely standing up and reading it out loud. This was a charge to all these believers to really study to show themselves approved unto God as workmen who would not be ashamed. (II Timothy 2:15)
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all refers to Paul’s desire that these believers continue in grace. Continue the execution of God’s plan, purpose and will by means of grace. His desire for them was that they would completely and thoroughly understand what they has been taught and that they would continue to advance to spiritual maturity. Paul was concerned that they may have gone back to their former lifestyle as pagan worshippers and begin practicing immorality. He was attempting to motivate them by means of a clearer understanding of what they previously been taught.