1 Thessalonians – Week 10
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Intro
1 Thess. 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” When Paul uses the word quench, he’s using a Greek word that’s often used with fire. It’s the same word used in Matthew 12:20 to say about Jesus, “a smoldering [candle] wick he will not quench.” Thinking of the Spirit as a fire within us, Paul is telling the Thessalonians not to put out that fire.
This metaphorical language calls to mind the church’s first New Testament encounter of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, when something like tongues of fire rested on believers as they spoke in tongues to the watching crowds. (Acts 2:3) It also might remind you of God’s mighty pillar of fire that led Israel through the desert (Exodus 13:21), Elijah and the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:38), or the burning bush (Exodus 3). God’s awesome and mighty presence was often displayed to his people through fire.
Which begs the question; if God and his Spirit are so mighty, how can we extinguish him? 2 things are helpful for understanding this passage.
1. The verse directly after 5:19 reveals how the Thessalonians were in danger of quenching the Spirit: by despising prophecies. Prophecies, in which the Spirit gives believers words to speak that are either a forthtelling of truth or a foretelling of things to come, are displays of the Spirit’s power to the witnessing church. By despising the work of the Spirit you’re despising the Spirit himself. Of course this would upset one’s relationship with the Spirit. The corollary for other members of the Trinity would be despising Jesus’ teachings, or the Father’s creation of the universe.
2. We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is a person, not a force. Take Ephesians 4:30, for example; he can be grieved. A force can’t experience grief. The way in which we behave, both towards the Spirit and in our interpersonal interactions (Eph. 4:30), either invites him into our lives or spurns his presence. Just like God can be sovereign while still answering prayers, the Spirit can still be powerful while electing to withdraw his presence.
Questions for Discussion
• Let’s look at 1 Thessalonians 5:19
• What’s your first reaction to this verse?
• When Paul says the Holy Spirit can be quenched, or extinguished, what can that tell us about the Spirit?
• Look at the context around this verse. How can this explain what it means to “quench the Spirit”?
• If God is all-powerful, then how can his Spirit be quenched?
• What can this passage encourage us to grow in our dependence upon the Spirit?