10 October 2020
Topic: wisdom , wise living

Paul's 4 Keys to Wisdom in Thessalonians

Bible Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-28

Paul’s 4 Keys to Wisdom in Thessalonians

To truly experience the eternal life we have in Christ we have to know and apply some essential Gospel-oriented wisdom. #ThisIsLiving #1Thessalonians #DareToVenture

Discussion Guide: Wise Living

Have you ever bought something in the moment that you were convinced common sense and God we’re telling you to purchase? However, years later that purchase sat idle and unused while you worked and sacrificed to pay for it.

There’s nothing wrong with boats and cars and things we use for hobbies. However, when we purchase these things without really considering the price and whether or not we are actually going to use them in a way that makes sense given the price, then we are making a foolish decision.

I’m sure if we went around the room or asked our online viewers to put testimonies in the comment none of us would have to think long and hard of foolish decisions we’ve made and some may even be able to take a picture of it and post it in comment chain! I’ve frequently spoke of one of my foolish financial decisions which was a motorcycle that did nothing but sit in my garage while I worked extra jobs to pay for it and had no time to ride it. Brilliant!

So whether it’s financial, relational, work, leadership of your family or job or in your personal life, there is no quicker way to make your life is a complete mess than foolish living! That’s why no one describes truly living life by the experiences created in foolishness. Those experiences create disasters. Those foolish decisions in our life cause us pain, cause everyone else around us pain, and in many cases take years to overcome!

So as Paul closes his letter we see the pastoral heart and care for the believers in Thessalonica. He concludes his letter with four keys to gospel-centered wise living. That is, the kind of wisdom that is revealed exclusively by the gospel of Jesus Christ and applies exclusively to the church/followers of Christ!!

1 Thessalonians 5:19-28 gives us 4 keys to Gospel-centered wise living that truly provide us the experience of living!

The 1st key to Gospel-centered wise living is …

Don’t ignore the leadership of the Holy Spirit. (5:19)

19 Do not quench the Spirit.

“Mostly of fire or burning objects trans. (fut. σβέσω, aor. ἔσβεσα) “to quench” (in Hom. only compounds)”1

“Although treating prophecies with contempt is a way of putting out the Spirit’s fire, people are also guilty of quenching the Spirit when, instead of fanning the flames of their spiritual life more and more as they should, they make God’s gifts void through neglect. This warning not to quench the Spirit therefore has a wider application than just despising prophecy. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire means “be enlightened by the Spirit of God, and see that you do not lose that light through your ingratitude.”2

“when they reject such a precious gift from God or allow themselves to be swept along with the vanity of this world, are struck down blind,”3

First and foremost, the GIFT of GOD is our relationship with God … to not put out that fire … to do so is foolish … the relationship you have with God, the passion to know Him needs to be stoked not dampened!

Secondly … the Bible speaks of the talents God has given us as GIFTS … that we are not to quench that … I did a series this spring called “Calling.” God gifts/graces us with talents in our life NOT to become our focus (our relationship with Him is) but to have the joy of accomplishing things that He has called us to do … that fit in to the grand design of His Kingdom. If you make your gift your idol then you missed the forest for the trees and tossed water on the FIRST GIFT. However, if you’re undisciplined, lack faith, don’t work to get better at your talents or simply to lazy to put them to work in way that at minimum builds the kind of relationships with others in the workforce that open the doors for your to share the Gospel, then you are pouring water on the Spirit in your life instead of Gasoline … He gave you something and you aren’t using it!

Thirdly … and more general … The LIGHT or FIRE of illumination in our life from the Spirit can be personal in our own study of God’s Word, personal in our own conviction and leading) … here the idea is not how the Spirit moved or what context the Spirit moved but rather that when the Spirit moves within us and shines the light of God in our life … when He convicts us or stirs us or encourages us about something, whatever and however He is doing it … don’t put that out!!! … don’t put on blinders or cover it up and ignore it … because that is utter foolishness!!!!!!!!!!! If God is trying to tell you something, then basic wisdom would say you need to know it!!!!!!!!! Don’t toss water on it … put gas on it!!

The 2nd key to Gospel-centered wise living is …

Objectively consider prophecy. (5:20-21)

20Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good.

“There are two pitfalls to avoid here. Some people reject every kind of Christian teaching indiscriminately because they have been previously deceived by a false prophet. Other people welcome uncritically every word they hear that is spoken in God’s name. Both groups have a faulty understanding.”4

“And what he speaks forth or openly declares is the will and mind of God. He is a “forth-teller,” and not necessarily (though sometimes also) a “fore-teller.”5

“By the term prophecies, however, I do not include the gift of foretelling the future. “Everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3). Prophecies means the art of interpreting Scripture; a prophet is an interpreter of the will of God. In 1 Corinthians Paul shows that prophetic teaching is for edification, exhortation, and consolation. “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified” (1 Corinthians 14:4–5). So prophecy in 1 Thessalonians 5:20 means the interpretation of Scripture properly applied to the people present.”6

“In the same way many people today are put off by the word preaching, for many foolish and ignorant people babble worthless words from the pulpit. Such people bring prophecy into disrepute. So Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to test everything, meaning by this that as everyone will not speak with God’s Spirit in him, we must judge everything we hear before any teaching is condemned or accepted. “7

This does not mean let anybody preach/teach in the church … false teachers who knowingly teach doctrine contrary to the fundamentals of the Gospel or knowingly preach for financial gain should not be allowed to speak in the church…they are made null and void. But he is not addressing false teachers … he’s addressing foolish listeners!!! People who foolishly reject SOUND preaching/prophetic word and people who foolishly ACCEPT unsound/false preaching/prophetic word! …

… It is directed at how the church considers the “prophecy”/application of God’s Word from preacher/teachers who are already known to be sound teachers … and yet even then their words should be tested against Scripture!

Every believer has the Holy Spirit in them and needs to listen to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and do so while objectively considering God’s Word so that what is of your flesh and what is of God can be rightly distinguished!

This puts a responsibility on every believer to learn God’s WORD for themselves … so when they are listening to teaching, they can WISLEY receive application that matches it and wisely reject an application that doesn’t! Wisely receive or reject based on an understanding of building blocks of the faith … the key elements of the doctrines of God and His Gospel!

The 3rd key to Gospel-centered wise living is …

Avoid evil of any kind. (5:22-24)

Paul starts with a command that’s basic to understand … he says straight up …

“22 Abstain from every form of evil.”

“evil, wicked, malicious, particularly as active: especially, ὁ πονηρός (even Mt. 6:13, [Lk. 11:4], according to the almost unanimous opinion of the early Church)”8

Abstain is to avoid or stay away from it. Don’t even dabble in it! Don’t see how close you can get to it. Just stay away!! That’s BASIC WISDOM!!!!

If you are single and dating trying to save yourself for marriage, spending the night with your girlfriend in her room while her parents out of town is obviously not a way to avoid evil!

But then in his final thought, we get some more depth to this that helps us see we are not in this alone. Notice what Paul ASKS God to AND also BELIEVES GOD WILL DO.

He Asks to do this …

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Though Paul spoke of the Christian as spirit, soul, and body, man is described elsewhere as having two parts—body and spirit (James 2:26; 2 Cor. 7:1), or body and soul (Matt. 10:28). And man is also said to have a heart, mind, conscience, and other parts. Rather than teaching man as having only three parts, Paul was probably using the three terms here to identify the different aspects of personhood he wished to emphasize. The spirit is the highest and most unique part of man that enables him to communicate with God. The soul is the part of man that makes him conscious of himself; it is the seat of his personality. The body, of course, is the physical part through which the inner person expresses himself and by which he is immediately recognized. Paul was saying then that he desired that the Thessalonians would be kept blameless by God in their relationships with Him in their inner personal lives, and in their social contacts with other people.”9

“Sometimes a man is said to consist simply of body and soul, and in that instance the soul refers to the immortal spirit, which has taken up residence in the body. As the soul, however, has two principal faculties—the understanding and the will—the Scripture on some occasions mentions these two things separately, referring to the power and nature of the soul. But in that case the term soul is used to mean the center of the affections, the part that is contrasted with the spirit. Hence, when we find the word spirit mentioned here, we are to understand that it refers to reason or intelligence, while the term soul means the will and all the affections.”10

“When Isaiah says, “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you” (Isaiah 26:9), no one doubts that he is speaking of his understanding and affection, and thus the two parts of the soul are enumerated. These two terms are often linked together in the Psalms, where they have the same meaning. This also is the best way to understand Paul’s statement here.”11

So bottom line then is this … “We should not, however, simply conclude that Paul was falling out on the side of those who embraced the tripartite view. In 1 Corinthians 7:34 Paul summarizes the totality of human nature with the bipartite description “body and spirit.” Jesus, on the other hand, spoke of humans as “soul and body” (Matt. 10:28), while on another occasion he summarizes human nature as “heart, soul, mind and strength” (Mark 12:30; cf. Deut. 6:4–5; Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27). While these terms may describe different aspects of a human’s nature, in the present context the apostle’s appeal to God is simply that his sanctification may extend to the entirety of their being. Paul’s prayer is that God would sanctify the Thessalonians so that their whole being, everything that they were as humans, would be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, a prayer they previously offered in almost identical terms in 3:13 (see commentary). Their firm hope is that God will keep them blameless so that they can stand before him without shame or guilt. The work of salvation, planned in their election and effected in their calling and conversion, will be brought to completion at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”12

This takes us back to wisdom of not quenching the Spirit!

Walking in HOLINESS IS walking in WISDOM. Sin is utter foolishness! So Paul is praying that God would intervene and help us walk in righteousness. To walk in a manner that is BLAME worthy but rather praiseworthy. That the Lord can say WELL DONE! Sin is never wise. Righteousness is always wise!

AND Here’s what’s really awesome: PAUL BELIEVES GOD will do it. He says…

24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

“They had received a call from God to sanctification, and the apostle expresses his complete confidence that God will continue this sanctifying work in them to the very end. The perseverance of the saints is founded on this divine initiative. The same overflowing confidence in the work of God being carried on in believers is found in Philippians 1:6, where the apostle proclaims with unleashed faith, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The source of this confidence is not only the divine initiative witnessed in their election but also the character of God. He is faithful (1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18; 2 Thess. 3:3; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 10:23; 11:11; 1 John 1:9).”13

“By these words Paul means that when the Lord has adopted us as his sons and daughters, we may expect that his grace will always continue and help us. God does not promise to be a Father to us for just one day but adopts us so he can cherish us forever.”14

The 4th key to Gospel-centered wise living is…

Care for one another. (5:25-28)

25 Brothers, pray for us. (spiritual care) 26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. (emotional care) 27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. (spiritual care again) 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Next week we are going to have a mini fall revival thing!!! You aren’t going to want to miss it. After that we are going to start a marriage series and with it there will be life groups focused on marriage and even life groups for singles.

Verse 28 is a common way of ending a letter but it also fits with the overall topic or feeling versus 25 through 27. Paul is encouraging them on how they should function and care for one another as a family, and that includes Paul and his team. He wants them to pray for him, he wants them to encourage each other by showing holy affection, that is affection that is reflective of our identity in Christ as brothers and sisters forever! He also wants them to spiritually care for one another and make sure this letter is read to everyone. This points us then to not just caring for one another physically and emotionally but necessarily caring for one another spiritually!!

“The call to the church to “also” pray for the apostles underlines the reciprocal relationship between them and the congregation—as they prayed for the church, so, too, they hoped that the church would pray for them. Reciprocity was a fundamental element in the relationship between the apostle and the church, being expressed principally in prayer (Rom. 15:30–32; 2 Cor. 1:11; Eph. 6:19–20; Phil. 1:19; Col. 4:3–4, 18; 2 Thess. 3:1–2; and Phlm. 22), although it was not limited to this act of devotion (Rom. 1:11–12; 1 Thess. 3:8–9).”15

“As far as the kiss is concerned, this was a normal means of greeting. In these words, however, Paul declared his affection to all the saints.”16

“In the ancient world, a kiss could symbolize a number of sentiments, such as love between family members, honor and respect, or friendship (Mark 14:44–45; Luke 7:36–47; 15:20; Acts 20:37). Kissing on the mouth, which expressed erotic love, was not the most common form of kissing. Much more common was the kiss on the forehead or the cheek in greetings and good-byes between family members, friends, and respected people, or on official occasions such as games or when contracts were made. People also kissed when they were reconciled to each other. In the early Christian communities, which embraced all social classes (slaves, libertini, and free) and various races (Greeks, Romans, Macedonians, and Jews), the holy kiss would serve as an affirmation of their filial unity as “brothers and sisters” in the common faith.”17

Bottom line is this … wise living acknowledges we need one another … but for there to be a one another we need to care for one another … if you want some one another’s in your life then invest in others in a way that creates it!!! pray for them, spiritual engage them, encourage them in life … care about them in your attitude, words and actions and care about them beyond the short term things in life … care about them in the enteral things as well … care about them in BOTH!!


Do you consider yourself a wise person or are you making an effort to see your weakness and grow in wisdom? What’s your primary source to grow in wisdom – yourself, others, or God’s Word?

I’m not saying you can never learn wisdom from yourself. For example, I try to learn from my mistakes!

I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn from others. The Bible says we should.

However, the primary source for wisdom is SCRIPTURE because the primary source for God is SCRIPTURE. The SOURCE is so IMPORTANT.


  1. Lang, F. (1964–). σβέννυμι. G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley, & G. Friedrich (Eds.), Theological dictionary of the New Testament (electronic ed., Vol. 7, p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  2. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
  3. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
  4. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books
  5. Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of I-II Thessalonians (Vol. 3, pp. 139–146). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.
  6. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books
  7. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books
  8. Souter, A. (1917). A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (p. 210). Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  9. Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 709–710). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  10. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
  11. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
  12. Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 260–273). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.
  13. Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 260–273). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.
  14. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
  15. [Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 260–273). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.
  16. Calvin, J. (1999). 1, 2 Thessalonians (pp. 59–65). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
  17. Green, G. L. (2002). The letters to the Thessalonians (pp. 260–273). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos.