Did You Say Something? – 1 Thess 2:13 06/19/2022

Did You Say Something? – 1 Thessalonians 2:13 06/19/2022

It is easy to misunderstand what’s going on around us. Our perspectives are limited, we jump to conclusions, and much of the time we’re not paying attention to things the way we should. We, at least I, often operate on autopilot. We miss the foundational things, and that can become a real problem.


Today, as we continue to explore the first letter to the church in Thessalonica, there is a detail, an interesting expression, that I thought might be worth exploring. That expression is “the word of God.” The church has been founded on the Word of God.[1] This is true of our church, it has been true of the Church Universal (at least this is true of the True Church Universal) down through the centuries, and it was true of the church in Thessalonica.


But wait, is that really true? Honestly, a statement like this should not be blindly accepted, we should be challenging it. We should be thinking about it in its historic context. What are our assumptions about what this means? Generally, when we see “the word of God” we tend to default to “the Bible.” Really, was the church founded on the Scriptures? If you think about it, you have to say, “No it was not founded on the Scriptures.” Our Bible did not exist in its current form for another 400 years. The Christian “religion” has been called a religion of “the book.” That’s incorrect, we are a religion of “the Spirit.”


That forces us to think… what does it actually mean in Scripture when there’s a reference to “the word of God”? On this, Paul was clear; he was proclaiming God’s message.[2] It was in truth the word of God.[3] And that’s exactly how the Thessalonian church received it, they received it as, the Word of God.[4] God’s word is a message of hope and forgiveness. It is intended to restore the broken relationship between a holy God and a fallen people. The message of the gospel is not the kind of message that mankind would invent if he could, nor is it a message that he could invent if he would.[5]


The “word” the apostles preached was given by divine inspiration.[6] That word was written down and preserved through the Scriptures according to God’s leading and enabling. That word was then preserved through divine providence.[7] But is was God who was both the ultimate Author and Sender of the message delivered to the Thessalonians.[8] They sensed the nearness of God as they received the message because of the Holy Spirit’s work in their souls.[9] Therefore they accepted the message for what it was, the word of God.[10] That word speaks with power into our lives;[11] Hebrews 4:12.


So we need to spend some time examining exactly what the Scriptures mean when they refer to “the word of God.” “Word,” (λόγος)[12] [lŏʹ gŏs] in Greek, and (דָּבָר)[13] [daw bawrʹ] in Hebrew, both refer to something that’s said or spoken out loud.[14] However, the meaning goes beyond simple spoken words, it is not just the sound of the word that “word,” (λόγος)[15] [lŏʹ gŏs] references. Implicit in this is the thought, the intelligence, the intent, expressed by the word.[16] In fact, when referencing God, His word is the concrete expression of His personality.[17] What God is, God says.[18] What God says is consistent with Who and What God is. It is this idea that is then applied to God’s revelation to humankind.[19] “The word of God.”


“The word of God” appears in the New Testament in three different contexts.[20] The preached word of the Gospel is referred to in this way.[21] This primarily an oral expression of God’s word; that’s what we find happening in Acts 8:5. The oral proclamation was soon written down as the recorded “word of God.”[22] This is what we find happening to the letters written by Paul as they were read publicly, studied, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit identified as being “the word of God” which was then preserved. Peter references this in 2 Peter 3:16.


And then, finally, Jesus Himself is the ultimate expression of God as “the Word of God.”[23] Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God… forever, the Word of God identified in[24] John 1:1-2. He was the incarnate speech of God, God’s ultimate self-revelation to His creatures.[25] Luke 10:22.


As we think about this “word of God” that was delivered by Paul and his companions, it would be a mistake to believe that the New Testament church captured the first-century world on the power of a “better idea.” [26] Paul was not preaching some new philosophy.[27] The response of converts from paganism and mystery religions was, at heart, a response to a personal God who loved them.[28] It was a response to Jesus, who offers forgiveness and sin and an eternal relationship with Himself.[29] This is God’s word to the world, and it is the Gospel’s true power.[30]


The revelation that God loves was a jolting message in the first century.[31] Love is supposed to be central to the Christian faith, it’s true that we can get spun off on tangents, but the Spirit consistently drags us back the fundamentals. God loves us, and that changes everything; 1 John 4:7-11. But… I think, because of our ease of access, because of our familiarity, we forget these are God’s words, and they are therefore words of power. There is an inherent power present, one that will change the lives of those who hear it.[32] We should receive the word of God for what it is, THE WORD OF GOD![33] As such our response is to be suitable to its holiness, wisdom, truthfulness, and goodness.[34]


God’s word is holy, wise, just, and faithful; just as its Author is.[35] It will not pass away, but it lives and abides forever.[36] Let us receive and regard it as such.[37] It was inspired by the Spirit of God;[38] 2 Timothy 3:16. It was written by men of God who used through the agency of the Holy Spirit to record what He said;[39] 2 Peter 1:20-21.


But here’s the thing. Knowing that there is power in God’s word, whether uttered by a Prophet, received by revelation, applied to our lives through the indwelling presence of the Spirit of Christ, our seen in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, is not enough. Head knowledge is not the objective. Heart change, transformation into the image of Jesus, is the objective.


The Bible is the Word of God.[40]


So, what are you doing to be saturated with “the word of God”? Are you practicing the spiritual disciplines of study, meditation, and memorization? I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, at least no guiltier than I feel. Consistency is hard. Mediation takes time. Memorization often feels like an exercise in futility. I get it. That does not change the fact that you, and I, need to be in “the word of God” consistently, systematically, inspirationally, devotionally, spiritually, prayerfully, honestly, and expectantly as we seek to hear from our God.

[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 167. [2] A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933), 1 Th 2:13. [3] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2339. [4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 167. [5] Thomas L. Constable, “1 Thessalonians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 695. [6] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2339. [7] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2339. [8] John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 39. [9] John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 40. [10] John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 40. [11] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 26. [12]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Th 2:13. [13] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [14] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publications Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 1227. [15]Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Th 2:13. [16] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publications Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 1227. [17] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1292. [18] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1292. [19] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publications Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 1227. [20] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1293. [21] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1293. [22] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1293. [23] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1293. [24] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 167. [25] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1293. [26] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [27] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [28] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [29] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [30] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [31] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [32] I. Howard Marshall, “1 Thessalonians,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1280. [33] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2340. [34] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2340. [35] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2340. [36] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2340. [37] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2340. [38] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 167. [39] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 167. [40] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 167.

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