1 Thessalonians – Week 5
The next six weeks...
For the next six weeks of the series we’re going to look at each verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:13-19 individually. Each verse contains some command or exhortation that Paul had for the Thessalonians, and even the really short ones pack a punch. We’re all going to spend the rest of our lives learning how to do good to others (v.15), pray without ceasing (v.17), and give thanks in all circumstances (v.18). Honestly, it’s helpful for us to admit that we don’t have everything figured out when it comes to these sorts of commands.
This week we’ll be looking at 1 Thessalonians 5:13b, “be at peace among yourselves,” and we’re going to talk about this practice of peace through a case study from Philippians. In Philippians 4:2-3 Paul specifically addresses two women in the church at Philippi who are caught up in a disagreement and tells them to be at peace with one another. Now, we don’t really know what was going on between these women, but apparently it was a big enough deal for Paul to call them out by name. This helps us see that unrest between believers is a big deal, and we need to be willing to find ways, and to help others find ways, to bring peace to unrest.
Another thing we see here is that Euodia and Syntyche had apparently labored together in ministry for a while before having a falling out. So harmful discord can crop up even among longtime church friends. Paul also mentioned that their names are in the “book of life.” So even Christians whose salvation we’re certain of can experience this kind of strife, and need to be encouraged to put it to rest. All of this helps us see that we need to be watchful of our own hearts and be quick to make peace before things get out of hand.
Lastly, we should note that Paul said, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.” That little phrase “in the Lord” is huge, it’s the basis for all peace that we can hold with others because our ultimate peace with God has been secured with Christ. If Christ could make peace with us when we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8), then we can live at peace with others. More than that, Jesus gives us the Spirit to empower us to live out his peace that surpasses all understanding. (Phil. 4:7)
In the last half of chapter 1 Paul talks about how the Thessalonians’ reputation has gone out into the surrounding region, which we’ll focus on in our discussion. This is particularly relevant for Advance 2018, as we consider how to participate in Gospel advancement in our city. We see in this passage that the Thessalonians’ outward reputation flowed from inward spiritual realities; they were known by their faith because their faith was determining the way they lived and related to others. This is all accomplished by the work of the Spirit in their lives (v. 5) and ultimately glorifies God himself. As we consider how to Advance the Gospel, it’s helpful for us to reflect on what we’re known for and how we can strive to make our lives less about us and more about Jesus. (John 3:30)
Questions for Discussion
FYI, Euodia and Syntyche are pronounced yoo-OH-dee-uh and sin-teh-kee.
• Let’s look at Philippians 4:2-3
• What details about Euodia and Syntyche do we get from the passage?
• Why do you think Paul specifically told them to “agree in the Lord”?
• What can we learn about living in peace with one another here?
• In what ways do you think you need to grow in living at peace with others?
• How does Jesus empower us to live at peace with others?