I found three main groups of people and one “other” spiritual being. The spiritual being had the least amount of mentions, but I have found that the Word of God is true. It teaches us….
…our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers, ,against powers, against world forces of this darkness, against spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
Therefore, the first “other” that I will list will be the “spiritual force of wickedness’
Satan, the tempter: 2:18 The enemy of YHVH is directly responsible for hindering the authors from coming to the Thessalonians. So often I hear believers sigh, “It must not be God’s will for me to do what I thought He called me to.” Are you sure? Some of the most powerful men of God were hindered from what they knew God called them to but they understood that God is not frivolous in His directions. We have a powerful enemy who loves using us to prevent God’s will from being accomplished.
Satan has more then one tool in his kit. He is the tempter (3:5). He put up every roadblock possible to keep the authors for going back to check on the Thessalonians. It must have been an exhausting battle for them. It seems that they came to the end of their rope emotionally. They began to worry that the church had fallen to the tricks of the tempter causing the work of the authors to be in vain. (I will not leave you at the end of Paul and Silas’s rope, God, who is greater then the enemy, found a way to get a message to His worried messengers, filling them with joy which is our strength!)
Mom and dad, stand firm in prayer! You know about the temptations presented to your precious child. God is greater then the tempter!
Satan’s minions, a.k.a men who are not believers. The enemy will use whoever does not commit their life to the Almighty. There are two categories of unbelievers in 1st Thessalonians. They are Men (or unbelieving gentiles) and Traditional Jews.
In general, many in the church came from the unbelieving gentiles. The authors prayed for the the Thessalonians ministry to unbelievers, asking that the Thessalonians love for them would abound. But they remind the church of the changes that have taken place in the lives of the believes, they are supernatural changes. He reminds them that gentiles (unbelievers) are full of lustful passion (4:5). They reject God (not men 4:8), and insist that there will be peace and safety yet will be destroyed when an inescapable destruction comes upon them (5:3). Instead of being filled with the Spirit, they spend their nights in drunkenness (5:6).
And such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11
They are beloved unbelievers. We are to love them, to pray for them, but not to be like them.
Unbelieving Traditional Jews: The assembly of the Thessalonians began in the synagogue. For most of history the Jewish people were the only people on earth who could know the Almighty. Anyone who wanted to know the Creator had to come to synagogue to learn The Way of God. But now a line has been drawn in the sand. Even though two of the authors were Jewish men, and one of them is half Jewish, they warn the Thessalonians that bloodline is not the way to the Almighty (John 1:12-13). Right away we are reminded that it was the Jews who killed Y’shua (Jesus) (2:15) as well as God’s prophets (men who speak for God). It was the Jews who drove the authors out of every place they went. Not only are they hostel to everyone else (2:16) they are not pleasing to God Himself. The wrath of God will come upon them to the uttermost.
I need to say that it is not Jewish blood that makes men good or bad. The best teacher I have ever had is a Jewish man who believes in Y’shua-Jesus as his Messiah. All things being equal, I have found that a believing Jew has more to teach me about God then any other teacher. They still have an advantage.
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “THAT YOU MAY BE JUSTIFIED IN YOUR WORDS, AND PREVAIL WHEN YOU ARE JUDGED.” Romans 3:1-4 quoting Psalm 51:4
The final “others” category are Other Believers Not everyone is against us! The first “other believers” the authors mention are in Macedonia (Yugoslavia) to their north and Achaia (Western Greece) to their south-east. Apparently the authors went to share the Gospel with them, but the Thessalonians were a step ahead of the authors. These believers gave a positive report to the authors concerning the reception they experienced in Thessaloniki (1:7). Having known the Thessalonians they gave the authors information about how they turned from the icons (idols) of local gods to serve the living and true God (1:9) and how they now wait for the Son of God to return (1:10). What an amazing testimony!
Sometimes people are led to believe that if they give their life to Jesus, they will be blessed in their finances, they will be healthy and other people will be falling all over themselves because they want what you have. Phooey! You gain eternal life, but you also gain a sworn enemy who is not above using the people you love and trust to recapture you. Though you are safe in Jesus, if he can make you feel the way Paul and Silas felt, that their work was in vain and that there prayers were not answered, then like them you will feel discouragement and make the enemy sneer (which is as close as I imagine him coming to a smile). Stand firm, you are not alone. The authors tell the Thessalonians that they are like the believers in Judah because they suffer at the hands of their countrymen (this must have been painful for Paul to write) (2:14) Even so, seek what is good for all (5:15)
Those who sleep in Jesus: This is the final category of “other people” and it is a comfort to me. I suppose the first believers were 180 degrees opposite of modern believers. They were watching for the return of the Son of God. I think modern believers have lost that edge. But how can those who have died watch for the return of Jesus? They already see Him and will be coming with Him (3:13). In case they did not catch it the 1st time, Those who sleep (died) in Jesus, God will bring when Jesus comes (4:14) We who are still alive in Jesus will not proceed them (4:16). You may ask, will they be pure spirit creatures like God himself? No, the dead in Christ will rise first (4:16) THEN those who remain will be “caught up” with them (4:17).
There it is in a nutshell. Our battle is against a being from the Spirit realm, but he is dark and evil. He is the prince of the world, and the people of the world are his toys, he uses them however he is able to defeat Almighty God. He thought he could defeat Him by tempting the first flesh and blood Ben Elohiym (Son of God), Adam. But The Almighty sent His only begotten Ben Elohiym (Y’shua-Jesus) to pay for our sin and through Him, be bought back as a Ben Elohiym (child of God). Life might be a rocky road but we have a sure reward in Heaven and power beyond what most of us can imagine as we walk in this world.
Debs in Everett, Washington… encouraging you to go encourage someone in Jesus today (2 Corinthians chapter 4). Picture from Jenny e il Piccolo
On my way to do an overview of Y’shua-Jesus in this epistle.
You can find my overview on 1 Thessalonians AUTHORS HERE.
My overview of 1 Thessalonians Recipients can be found HERE