Discernment that prepares you to meet Christ

1 Thessalonians 5:19-28 SCC 7/6/14



5:19: Quenching the Spirit is a figurative expression used to illustrate the possibility of hindering the Spirit’s work in and through the believer. The image is that of water thrown on a fire. So the proper response is to follow the Spirit’s direction and control without resistance.

What Happens When Believers Sin:

Sin is anything contrary to the character of God. Sin is only secondarily something done against people. We sin against one another when we don’t treat each other the way God commanded us to. But all sin is basically and ultimately against God, since He is the source of all morality. So when we sin, it affects our relationship with God by quenching the Holy Spirit.

Quenching the Holy Spirit:

In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul listed 4 ways to avoid quenching the Holy Spirit. Before we list them, notice once again that the work of the Holy Spirit is quenchable. It’s like He makes God’s path known and available, but it’s up to us to choose that path and stay on it.

1. The first way is to not despise prophetic utterances. Paul said the gift of prophecy would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8), and all mention of it ceased about halfway through the first century. Prophetic utterances seem to be replaced by the New Testament. So, by way of application, ignoring or disobeying the New Testament would quench the work of the Spirit.

2. If you believe God still gives prophetic utterances today, then be sure you follow the second point and examine everything carefully. But for all of us it means we should examine every teaching to see if it conforms to Scripture.

3. Third, having examined what is being taught, Paul said we should hold fast to that which is good—good being determined by its conformity to the Bible.

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4. Now this command comes as an antithesis and a means of strengthening the preceding, “hold on to the good.” Rather than simply, “stay away from the evil,” we have “stay away from every form of evil.” The contrast is not between what is really good and what only appears as evil, but what is in reality evil as a result of the testing. So examine everything carefully and avoid that which does not conform to the truth.


1. So peace within the body of Christ was very important to Paul. ‘The God of Peace’

2. So the “spirit” is the part of us that enables us to communicate with God. The “soul” makes us conscious of ourselves. The “body” is the physical part that expresses the inner person.

3. So being “completely holy” means being blameless in every aspect of one’s being. He is asking God to sanctify the Thessalonian saints completely.

4. So while these believers need to cooperate with God’s work in them, he makes it clear that in the final analysis sanctification, like salvation, is the work of God. Knowing that sanctification is ultimately God’s work He will complete this work, motivates the Christian to pursue sanctification.

5. So he links sanctification with the Second Coming. The goal of sanctification is to prepare a “bride” for the Lord Jesus who has been purified and prepared for His coming. He says the same in Colossians 1:22. Six times he uses this word and here as well he encourages us to persevere faithfully so we can be presented by Christ at the Bema as having been holy, blameless, and above reproach in this life. 1 John 2:28 John warns, and now little children abide in him so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

5:24: Paul was confident God would do this work in the Thessalonians through the Holy Spirit, assuming their proper response to Him. Note first of all that, knowing sanctification is God’s work, Paul is certain that God will complete this work in them. Also note that Paul links salvation (one’s calling) to his sanctification. Our election, calling, and sanctification is God’s work, a work that He will complete.


Paul added this final postscript to encourage three more loving actions and to stress one basic attitude.

5:25: PRAY Paul believed that intercessory prayer would move God to do things that He would not do otherwise. The point Paul now makes is that he and his colleagues need the prayers of the Thessalonians just as much as they need his.

Note also that Paul does not narrow his request for prayer to a particular problem, challenge, or opportunity. He asks for prayer in general. Now in the context we would assume that this must certainly include prayer for their ongoing sanctification.

5:26: GREET The holy kiss of brotherly affection and unity in Christ was and is a customary greeting in many parts of the world. In North American culture an embrace or handshake often communicates the same sentiments. Application applies but does not necessarily perform personal commands.

How do we know that we should practice head covering (1 Corinthians 11:6-10), male leadership (1 Timothy 2:12; 3:2), and monogamous heterosexual marriage (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 3:2), but not necessarily wear sandals (Acts 7:33), robes (Acts 7:58), dress and eat like John the Baptist (Matthew 3:4), or greet one another with a holy kiss (1 Corinthians 16:20; Romans 16:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:26)? The answer comes through the author’s intention, discovered through the context of what he wrote. Is the author simply mentioning it as a personal note, as part of the reality of the situation, or is he making a case for it (as with head covering in 1 Corinthians 11:10)?

All Scripture must be applied (2 Timothy 3:16), and that includes commands given to other people. But first those commands must be interpreted to determine the intent of the author. In the area of personal commands, one thing to look for (in the context) is the way this command is presented. The question to ask, does the author make a moral or theological case for it? A possible application of this command is:

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5:27: GRACE Paul recognized the edifying value of this letter and perhaps its divine inspiration, so he firmly charged that someone read it aloud to all of the saints. Paul’s command was to assure that the Word of God was made available to all the Thessalonians. The Christian faith is the faith of the apostles!

5:28: Finally, he expressed his longing that the selective favor of God would continue to be his readers’ experience and source of joy.

So What?

Sanctification is the goal of our salvation. We were saved to become holy, and thus prepared for the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sanctification is a life-long process that involves the purification of every part of our humanity.

The Scriptures are essential for the spiritual health and growth of the household of God.

Grace is the great common denominator of the Christian life. Our salvation and sanctification are, in the end, God’s work. It is a work in which we participate; it is not a work in which we predominate. However, we can agree or disagree about what God says is good for us. We decide.