1 Thessalonians 4 – A Life Pleasing to God

This chapter begins with Paul urging the brothers and sisters at Thessalonica to remain pure and to abstain from sexual immorality.  Having been converted from the paganism and idolatry that the city was corrupt with, sexual immorality would have gone hand in hand (as it always had) with such practices, and they would need to be on their guard to keep each other from slipping.  It is believed that Paul was writing the letter from Corinth (the patron “goddess” of which was Venus), where promiscuity abounded.  D. D. Whedon said of social impurity that “heathenism had made sexual immorality trivial, jocular, rather smart, and even religious and right”.  Sounds very similar to the so-called “new morality” of this day and age, does it not?  But the brothers there were strong, and an inspiration to all Macedonians in the region.  They just needed some extra encouragement.

Paul is continuing this admonition against sexual immorality in verse 6 with “…that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter…,” rather than beginning a new thought.  The word translated “wrong” in the ESV is better translated “defraud” and “exploit” in other versions.  The sexual relationship that God intended for a man and his wife, when used otherwise, often hurts someone in the here and now; and the fleeting pleasure is always at the ultimate expense of both parties.

Finally, it is implied, as Paul addresses them, that there had been several deaths of brethren at Thessalonica since he left; and those remaining seemed to be sure that Christ was going to return during their lifetimes.  Their grief for their departed appears to have included the misguided notion that those who have died were going to “miss out” on Christ’s return.  Paul offers some encouragement for them, saying that those who are alive when Christ returns will go with Him after He has gathered those who have “fallen asleep.”

It is Jesus’ victory over death, he reminds in verse 14, that assures us that God will, through Jesus, bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.  This use of the term “asleep” occurs in several passages in Scripture, a few of which include Matthew 27:52, John 11:11, Luke 8:49-56, and 1 Corinthians 15:20.   While some of Paul’s Apocalyptic description of that great and spectacular day is figurative, his assurance of the resurrection of the dead is not.  One of the most beautiful reminders of that fact in Scripture is Jesus’ conversation with Martha in John 11:23-27, before he raises her brother Lazarus from the dead:

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

As Paul says of Jesus’ return to us in 1 Corinthians 15:26, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

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Matthew 28 – The Resurrection and Great Commission

Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ mother Mary went to Jesus tomb, but they met an angel there who told them that Jesus had risen from the dead (Matthew 28:1-7).

(Note: for a summary of the events of this chapter from the resurrection at dawn to Jesus’ first appearances to Mary Magdalene and the other women, please see post at this link.  After the resurrection, Jesus – as He had told the disciples in Matthew 26:32 that He would meet them there – would be with them at the Sea of Galilee, and at a mountain there that He directs them to.  But several other events occur before and after this, the details of which are interspersed throughout the gospels in Luke 24 and John 20.  And events in a single chapter are in some cases separated by days, and even weeks, as Jesus remained for forty days before the ascension.)

Then some of the guard that had been on watch at the tomb went to the chief priests to tell them what had happened.  After deliberating, they gave money to the guards to have them say that His disciples had come and stolen the body while they were asleep, promising to keep them out of trouble if word got back to Pilate.  Their acts of unbelief in the face of these eyewitness accounts is stunning, but such was their love for power that they would not let it be jeopardized.

Jesus meets His apostles in verse 16 on the mountain in Galilee that He had directed them to.  In verses 18-20, Jesus gives the eleven chosen ones the Great Commission – to go and make disciples of ALL nations “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  Jesus has confirmed that His Kingdom is open to everyone.  Because this is the end of Matthew, some confuse this event with the time of the ascension.  But that comes later at at a different mountain – Mount Olivet, after they returned to Jerusalem.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Luke 20 – The Wicked Tenants

In Jesus’ parable; wicked vineyard tenants murdered servants the owner had sent, and eventually murdered the owner’s son. This was an illustration of the wicked leaders who would murder God’s own Son, Jesus (Matthew 21:33-46).

In the parable of the wicked tenants in verses 9-16 , the word for owner in the “owner of the vineyard” is the same as “lord.”  The three servants he sent to the tenants represent the prophets.  The fruit of the vineyards they are seeking represents Israel’s obedience to God.  Then, sending his “beloved son” reminds us of what God said (“This is my beloved Son…”) at Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:17.  The tenants killing the owner’s son alludes to His coming death.  When Jesus says that the vineyard owner would come and destroy those tenants, it seems likely to be referring first to the destruction of Jerusalem that will come in A.D. 70. But in a larger sense, it speaks to the final judgment.  Those hearing the parable say “Surely not!” as they perceive that the parable applies to the people of Israel.  Would God take away the land and give it to other people?  But He looks directly at them and says ““What then is this that is written:
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone?”
This is from Psalm 118:22, referred to as well in Isaiah 28:16, and is quoted by Peter in Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:7.

A denarius minted circa 18 BC. Obverse: CAESAR...

A denarius minted circa 18 BC. Obverse: CAESAR AVGVSTVS; reverse: DIVVSIVLIV(S) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In verse 19, the scribes and chief priests were predictably angry, as they knew the parable was directed at them.  So they sent people to try to trap him with sedition against the Roman government.  Jesus’ answer in verse 25 was “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This can be read in different ways, given that He had asked whose image was on the denarius.  One interpretation is that we are made in God’s image, and thus we must render ourselves to God’s service.

The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, so they try to test him in verses 27-33 with a scenario revolving around the teaching of Moses.  But in verse 37 (and in Matthew 22:31-32) Jesus quotes Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush in Exodus 3:6, explaining that God is the God of the living.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.