"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"
Edifying And Comforting One Another (5:11) INTRODUCTION 1. To be prepared for the coming of the Lord, Paul exhorted Christians to be "sons of light and sons of the day" - cf. 1Th 5:4-7 a. Which necessitates putting on the armor of God - cf. 1Th 5:8 b. Which also includes edifying and comforting one another - cf. 1 Th 5:11 2. This last charge to edify and comfort one another is just one of many "one another" passages in the New Testament; here are some of them: a. Love one another - Jn 13:34-35 b. Be affectionate to one another, and honor one another - Ro 12:10 c. Serve one another - Ga 5:13 d. Bear with one another - Ep 4:2 e. Submit to one another - Ep 5:21 f. Be kind to one another, and forgive one another - Ep 4:32 g. Exhort one another - He 3:13 3. These are based upon the principle that we are "members of one another" - Ro 12:5 a. Implying an interdependence where we need one another b. An interdependence felt and expressed most keenly in the local church [In this lesson, I wish to focus our attention upon the charge to "comfort each other and edify one another", especially in our relationship as members of the same congregation. We note first the command...] I. COMFORT EACH OTHER A. THE WORD "COMFORT"... 1. The Greek is parakaleo 2. Lit., to call to one's side, call for, summon 3. Hence, either "an exhortation, or consolation, comfort" (Vine's) -- The picture is one where someone walks alongside of another, providing comfort, even exhortation B. SOURCES OF COMFORT... 1. Each member of the Godhead is a source of comfort a. The God of all comfort - 2Co 1:3; Ro 15:5 b. The Lord Jesus Christ - 2Th 2:16-17 c. The Holy Spirit - Ac 9:31 2. The Word of God is a source of comfort a. Such as the Old Testament writings - Ro 15:4 b. As well as New Testament promises - 1Th 4:18 3. Our brethren are to be a source of comfort - 1Th 4:18; 5:11 a. As Paul expected Tychicus to do for both the Ephesians and the Colossians - Ep 6:21-22; Col 4:7-8 b. As others had done for Paul - Col 4:10-11 -- We are blessed to have so many different sources of comfort available to us! C. RECEIVING THE COMFORT GOD INTENDS... 1. We must as individuals be in a right relationship with God - 1Pe 3:12 a. Which involves doing the Father's will - Mt 7:21-23 b. Which involves keeping the Lord's commandments - Jn 14:21-23 2. We must as individuals feed upon the Word of God - Jm 1:21 a. The source of much comfort - Ro 15:4 b. Comfort that comes from the joy and peace it gives - Ps 1:1-3; 119:165; Jer 15:16 3. We must as "members of one another" comfort one another - 1Th 5:11 a. With the comfort we each have received from God - 2Co 1:3-4 1) Each of us receive comfort through our individual relationship with God 2) Each of us receive comfort through our relationship with one another b. Can we not see the importance of involvement in the local church? 1) Unless we are active members, comforting one another... 2) We miss out, and brethren miss out, on the comfort God offers His people! 4. God intends for us to receive comfort from two angles: a. Horizontally, through our relationship with Him b. Vertically, through our relationship with one another in the local church! [Why deprive ourselves of the great blessing of comfort from God? Why shortchange ourselves when God desires us to have comfort "coming and going"? We hurt not only ourselves, but also our brethren! Don't forget Jesus' words in Mt 25:41-46. Consider now also the charge to...] II. EDIFY ONE ANOTHER A. THE WORD "EDIFY"... 1. The Greek is oikodomeo 2. Lit., to build a house 3. Used metaphorically, in the sense of "edifying," promoting the spiritual growth and development of character of believers, by teaching or by example (Vine's) -- Each person is undergoing a spiritual construction project, aided by the efforts of those around him or her B. THE IMPORTANCE OF EDIFICATION... 1. Building up one another is something to "pursue" - Ro 14:19 2. We need to be careful not to "destroy the work of God" - Ro 14:20 3. We must be willing to bear with one another if it means edification - Ro 15:1-3 -- Building each other up is an obligation that has been placed upon all Christians! C. ACCOMPLISHING THE EDIFICATION GOD INTENDS... 1. It is done through the church, which Christ designed to edify or build up its members - cf. Ep 4:11-12; 1Co 14:26 2. It is done through the working of each individual member, doing his or her part - Ep 4:16 3. It is done through kind and graceful words to one another - Ep 4:29 -- The key point is this: edification (like comfort) takes place through our involvement with one another in the local church! CONCLUSION 1. To the Thessalonians, Paul was able to follow-up his command to comfort and edify one another with this statement: "...just as you also are doing." - 1Th 5:11 a. They were already comforting one another b. They were already edifying one another -- Yet like the command to love another, there is always the need to abound more and more - cf. 1Th 4:9-10 2. Could Paul have said the same of us as a church? Of you as a Christian? a. Are we engaged in the ministry of providing comfort and edification to our brethren? b. If you are not an active member of a local congregation, how can you? -- May this command of God motivate us to examine ourselves and our relationships with our brethren in the congregation where we work and worship! If Paul could have written the same to us ("...just as you also are doing."), then keep up the good work, and remember the words given to encourage another congregation: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."