Hello! Today we finish the book of Thessalonians with reading one chapter. I know what you're thinking...I was thinking the same thing. One...chapter? surely this must be one of those chapters from the Old Testament that is just super long and easily could have been 3 chapters. But I have good news! (Gospel, ha!) It's a short reading today and in all likihood will take you less than 5 minutes to read. Therefore, I encourage you to read it over twice or read it through once but slower than normal. Really let each word capture you and take time to consider what each line really means to Paul's crowd all those years ago and what it means for you today. Let's read.
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What is the central theme of 1 Thessalonians in your own words?
How do you think one stifles the Holy Spirit?
Verse 15 says we should not pay back evil for evil but always seek to do the most good. How does this challenge you in relation to the events unfolding in Afganistan? How does that motivate your response towards Muslims?
- Commentary -
As Paul nears the end of the letter he returns to the triad with which he started — faith, love, and hope. The triad recast in the imagery of armor suggests that possessing faith, love, and hope is not without its challenges. Indeed, this is how they are introduced at the beginning of the letter — work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope. Faith, love, and hope need to be lifted up and built up as marks of the community. As such, Paul’s exhortation to mutual encouragement, comfort, and consolation is not a command to new action. Remarkably, Paul encourages the encouragement they are already offering each other, “as indeed you are doing” (5:11). In other words, Paul not only recognizes that encouraging one another actually needs encouragement but also shows the Thessalonians what this looks like.
We are called to many worthy and worthwhile endeavors in our lives of faith for the sake of living out God’s love for us and for our neighbor. However, it is not often that we issue a call for encouragement and building each other up. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians suggests that as much as faith, love, and hope are observable characteristics of a Christian community, so is encouragement. The verb oikodomeōcan also be translated “strengthen,” “edify,” “benefit,” “restore.” In what sense is the work of faith the strengthening of the faith of one another? In what sense is the labor of love to benefit those whom we love? In what sense is steadfastness of hope realized in restoration and edification?
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is inspired by hymn 327 - Crown Him with Many Crowns. I absolutely adore the tune for this hymn. This is the most iconic tune for a church hymn. Debate me. You'll lose. ;)
Lyrics are slightly out of order, it's better to just use the lyrics on screen if listening than to follow these.
1. Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne. Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee, and hail him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
2. Crown him the Lord of life, who triumphed o'er the grave, and rose victorious in the strife for those he came to save. His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high, who died, eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.
3. Crown him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways from pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise. His reign shall know no end, and round his pierced feet fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.
4. Crown him the Lord of love; behold his hands and side, those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified. All hail, Redeemer, hail! For thou hast died for me; thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.