Thess 5:13-15, The Key to a Thriving Church.

Class Outline:

Tuesday April 25, 2023


The church is the representation of God upon the earth until the Lord returns.


It is vital that the church survive in its function, not just in its presence. Not every building that is called a church is functioning in the purpose for which God made the church.


It is vital that the church thrive in its function.


The need for the church in the world is abundantly obvious. When functioning properly, it influences entire societies for good. The entire Western world swims in Christian waters.


The church’s main function is to make people like Christ.  


Though the church influences goodness, neighborly love, basic human rights, honesty in people and especially leaders, sound education, and more, it’s main function (and eternal function) is to make people like Christ.


How does the church make people like Christ? Gospel and biblical teaching. Literal interpretation of the inspired text leads believers (regenerated new creatures made to conform to Christ’s image) to a knowledge and understanding of Christ, the thus the Father through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. People must be taught that the ministry of the Spirit is not going to work if they don’t believe and live in application of the text (promises, commandments, exhortations, frame of mind - application of the life of Christ).


How will the church thrive in this function?


The church is a body which is made up of individual believers who have different spiritual gifts (and manifestations of those gifts), different personalities, levels of knowledge and spiritual growth, backgrounds, etc. This melting pot has to work as one - in one mind, one faith, one purpose, and one spirit. Together they have to agree on them and then pursue them while being patient with one another and being at peace with one another.


In our last few classes, we have seen that the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. This Day of the Lord will be a time of joy for the sons of the day who are to be alert and sober.


1TH 5:1-11

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.


The sons and daughters of light were made into a family - the church, the body of Christ.


The sons (and daughters) of the day and the light are made to coexist in the body of Christ, the church. The church is a family and the family has a code, a faith, an energy, a motivation, and a purpose.


As in any family, there are leaders and those under them. In the dynamic relationship of leadership and the led; of authority, leading, and caring and those who are led and cared for, it is vital that there is knowledge and understanding if that relationship is to thrive towards the purpose.


The church’s purpose is to make people like Christ through the gospel and teaching the word.


No believers start out with a conscience and lifestyle like Christ. We need time to grow.


We saw last time that within the church there has to be a mutual understanding of the leadership to the congregation and vice versa. The leadership must toil, lead, protect, care for, and admonish the congregation. The congregation must highly esteem the leaders for their work.


1TH 5:12-13

But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, 13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work.


Then Paul moves to the conduct of us all in the community of the church. We can divide this into two parts.



The conduct of the community towards one another.


The conduct of the community in general.


Paul starts this section with the conduct of the community towards one another.


1TH 5:13-22

Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.


The first section concerning how we treat one another (all members whether leaders or not):


1TH 5:13b-15

Live in peace with one another. 14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.


First we have peace and patience and sandwiched in between them are three categories of believers: 1) unruly, 2) fainthearted, 3) weak. These have to be ministered to in the appropriate way.


Second is the contrast between repaying evil for evil as opposed to always pursuing good things among one another and among all people (outsiders and enemies.


A church may exist, but it will not excel in its purpose if these behaviors are not generally true. In every church there are going to be some unruly (disobedient) and some fainthearted [small souled] and weak. The strong in the church must minister accordingly.


Admonish the unruly - teach with warning those who are disobedient.


Teaching comes from the pulpit. Only if a disobedient believer flaunts his sinfulness in the church would individual church discipline be necessary.


Comfort the fainthearted - speak soothingly to, comfort. Those who are burdened to the point of exhaustion or discouragement.


“fainthearted” is literally small soul. Could mean feeling of loneliness that accompany difficult situations, exasperation, discouragement, etc.


Help the weak - hold up those who are spiritually immature.


JAM 3:13-18

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.


ROM 15:1-4

Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. 2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "THE REPROACHES OF THOSE WHO REPROACHED YOU FELL ON ME."


So the unruly need to be admonished. The fainthearted need to be comforted. The weak need to be supported.


The family that is the church will always have these as well as mature believers who are strong. Paul doesn’t mention the strong here, but it is implied that they are the ones who are serving the others who are not mature.


Paul then gives an injunction of nonretaliation.


1TH 5:15

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.


This appears in almost identical terms in:


ROM 12:17

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.


We are to seek good (the abstract notion of doing what is good and helpful in what the situation calls for), for one another and for all. Paul is sure to include that our good applies to all mankind, including our enemies as the Lord clearly taught us to do.




Be patient. There will always be disobedient and lazy believers in the church. There will always be fainthearted and weak believers.


Be at peace with one another. Do not retaliate, but do what the Lord instructed us to do.


Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart and depend upon the Holy Spirit.


Set your mind on doing what is good by setting Christ up in your heart and not yourself. Then do it with trust in the Holy Spirit within to guide you and give you the strength and wisdom to do it.


1PE 3:8-18

To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For,


"Let him who means to love life and see good days

Refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile.

11 "And let him turn away from evil and do good;

Let him seek peace and pursue it.

12 "For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,

And His ears attend to their prayer,

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."


13 And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;