As Paul concludes this letter, he gives the Thessalonians some final instructions on how to live in light of the Lord’s coming.
He told them,
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (16-18)
The Thessalonians were going through a lot of persecution. But Paul said in the midst of it all that it was God’s will for them that they rejoice, pray continually, and give thanks in all their circumstances whether good or bad.
I can’t help but wonder if Paul looked back to this experience in Phillipi, just before he came to Thessalonica. He and Silas had been beaten and thrown into prison for the gospel. How did they respond? They rejoiced, singing hymns to God, praying and giving thanks in the midst of their circumstances. The result? God literally shook that place and not only delivered Paul and Silas, but brought salvation to their jailer and his family.
And so now, because of his own personal experience, he could encourage the Thessalonians to do the same in the midst of their hardships.
Paul then admonished the church,
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (19-22)
How do we put out the Spirit’s fire and extinguish his work in our lives? First and foremost by not listening to him and trusting him. That was the problem with the Israelites while they were in the wilderness on the way to the promised land. (Hebrews 3:17-19)
That’s why Paul says don’t treat prophesies with contempt. God can speak through people even today. But at the same time, test their words. Test them by scripture to make sure their words are from God. And if they are, hold on to them. If they are not, reject them. But however God speaks to you, through people, through his Word, or whatever, don’t just dismiss Him. In doing so, you put out the Spirit’s fire in your life, and when the Lord comes, he will hold you accountable for it.
Finally, Paul ends with a prayer.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (23)
And Paul reminds us,
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (24)
Because the Lord is coming, may we live lives that are holy and blameless. But remember that it is not by your own efforts that this will happen, but by the power of his Spirit. So hold on to Him. Don’t quench him in your life. But let him fill you to overflow, not only making you blameless and holy, but touching the lives of those around you.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (28)