The Book of 1 Thessalonians

Virtuous Relationships

1 Thessalonians 5:12-18 SCC 6/28/14



A. Respect your spiritual leaders 5:12 To acknowledge those who labor among you…

The word translated “appreciate” ordinarily in this context means, “recognize, respect, or honor.” The spiritual leaders formally recognized are those who are presently doing three things:

1. Laboring hard

This word is used for hard, strenuous, work. Paul has just said that a leader should be one who “labors hard among them,” not “over them.

2. Lead you in the Lord

This term describes leaders as those who lead others by going before or ahead of others, of setting the example, instilling a vision and the confidence to pursue it, and by being out front, encouraging others to follow behind them. The oversight or leadership finds its example, and nature in the sphere of the Lord Himself who is the Great and Chief Shepherd—in the Lord.

3. Admonish you

The emphasis falls upon speech or actions that are either preventative or corrective. Admonition, then, is issuing a warning or a rebuke, with the goal of preventing further damage. Not popular today for sure!

NB: So formally identify and acknowledge those godly spiritual leaders who are already functioning as leaders among you.

B. Esteem your spiritual leaders 5:13 and that you esteem them very highly in love

1. Esteem them in love (not tolerance)

The word translated “very highly” means abundant to the point of being excessive. Not merely respect them; he instructed them to regard them in the highest possible manner “in love.” There are various motivations for esteem or respect, one of which could be fear. The motivation for the respect Paul requires is love. This is the highest motivation for following one’s leaders and no other.

2. Esteem our leaders because of their work

It interesting that here Paul does not instruct to respect their leaders because of their position, but rather because of their work. This is a noble work, a work for which those who engage in it should be honored most highly in love. That work is spiritual in nature and priority—spiritual maturity.

C. Live in peace 5:13 live in peace with one another

We should prevent an open the door to division preserving and promoting peace within our relationships with each other. It’s also possible while calling to recognize officially emerging spiritual leaders that its easy see how this process could be a challenge to their relational peace. Certain people might be favored over others. Others more likeable and this was the perfect opportunity for factions to arise among them.



Paul specifies six kinds of ministry:

1. Warn get on the case of the disorderly or undisciplined—those chaotic 5:14 admonish the unruly

Those who neglected God’s will needed stirring up to action. It refers to soldiers who are undisciplined, irresponsible, and idle. Believers can be unruly soldiers idle and lazy. The word, “admonish”, means to “put into the mind” or to talk some sense into them. It implies a face-to-face confrontation.

2. Calm or console the fainthearted encourage the discouraged

Those who were timid or tended to become discouraged needed cheering up, stimulation to press on, and extra help. The fainthearted can describe those who are overwhelmed with problems. It especially includes those who shrink before persecution, set up for temptation, who face trials at home, at work, at school, who find life one continual struggle or seasonal or occasional discouragement. Paul says we are to “encourage” such people. That is, we are to put courage into them.

3. Hold firmly or endure the weak or feeble help the weak

a. Some are weak in that they are unable to control the appetites or impulses of the body and struggle with life-dominating habits, patterns, or some particular sin. b. There is a weakness related to a lack of courage to trust God in the difficulties of life. C. There is a weakness related to a lack of the knowledge and will of God. Christians with such weaknesses are special objects of the loving care of the whole body of Christ

4. Bear patiently toward all of you be patient with everyone

Above all, be patient with one another and with all people. Do not retaliate but do positive good to all others. If we get involved with people, patience is a significant asset. A simple rule: Be as patient with others as God is with you. Resistance, active or passive, to admonition, exhortation or instruction, imposes a strain upon those who seek the welfare of the saints, hence the need for this further word.

5. That no one pay back wrong for wrong to anyone 5:15 see no on repays another for wrongs

Here is the exact opposite lifestyle commitment we are to make. We might say that love seeks for the corporate good of the body of Christ at the expense of our own agendas. Our natural tendency to retaliate for a wrong suffered must be strongly guarded against, no matter what the injury.

6. Always pursue what is good

Seeking the good of others, rather than seeking to make others pay for the harm we assume they have done to us. No repay or replay. This is a value judgment of course but the standard is what is good from God’s point of view. This requires insight and discernment based on accurate understanding. It speaks of what is intrinsically valuable, morally good and beneficial.



Here are three commands that will conform our lives to the will of God:

1. Always rejoice 5:16

This is one of approximately 70 New Testament commands to rejoice. Consistent rejoicing is possible if we remember two things:

First, we must remember who God is. Deuteronomy teaches ‘remember and do not forget’.

Second, rejoicing is possible if we then begin to recall what God has done, is doing, and will do.

The motivation for rejoicing is knowledge God is in charge of my circumstances. That there is a realm, God’s kingdom, that legitimizes my rejoicing in this one. From that vantage point rejoicing is significant.

2. Constantly pray 5:17

The word is translated “without ceasing” to describe a hacking cough. Not that we expect to be in prayer every minute but to continue praying frequently. Paul was devoted to prayer as a fundamental activity in his life. In several of his letters he instructs his readers to devote themselves to prayer. Praying without ceasing means praying repeatedly and often. The present tense imperative is not saying pray every minute of the day, but that we should offer prayers to God frequently/constantly.


Some thoughts about prayer:

o   The most important practice to perpetuate in relation to God is prayer. That is so because

            a. In prayer we call on God to work

            b. In prayer we express our faith in Him

            c. In prayer only as we ask God to work that he will accomplish many things

o   The main problem we experience in prayer is concentration.

            a. So we devote ourselves to prayer

            b. So we pray without ceasing

            c. So we pray instead of being anxious

            d. So we pray specific enough prayers to know whether God answers

o   The content of our prayers are important to God. Address your concerns clearly and fully.

o   Prayer is the greatest timesaver. The time you take to pray God can make up to you.

o   That sense of hurriedness in life can be spiritually devastating. So when you pray…

            a. You are forced to slow down.

        b. You are forced to shift the focus of your thoughts from yourself to God.

        c. You stop thinking how impossible everything for you and how possible everything is for God.

            d. You stop thinking of how weak you are, and you start thinking of how really powerful God is.


3. In everything give thanks 5:18

All of life’s circumstances are not good. God is in charge of your circumstances. You are in charge of what you do with them, how you respond to them, and where you allow them to carry you. The reason we are passionate about these is because its God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. So in everything thanksgiving is appropriate. Paul said all of these commands are definitely God’s will for every believer.


                             So What?

        1. Since Christ is building His church, that includes leaders gifted to the church by Him for her spiritual health. Those leaders do a worthy work if it is spiritual in nature. They should be respected, cared for, and listened to unless there is compelling biblical reasons for not doing so.

        2. Since the church is a spiritual body of people related together in Christ, those relationships require managing in specific ways that express righteousness and not fleshiness. Those include encouraging, admonishing, warning, consoling, enduring, bearing, patience and goodness.

        3. The body of Christ is made up of individuals who are personally responsible for their own godliness. Many personal expectations are required that reflect mature godliness including rejoicing, praying and thanksgiving. Believers who are spiritually savvy regard these traits as essential expressions of maturity.