Can Christians Pray To Jesus?


A reader recently asked:

“Dear Clay,

A few Sunday’s ago, the congregation where I attend sang the song, I Must Tell Jesus[i]. I have to admit, I was a little uncomfortable singing that song because it sounds like we were singing that we need to pray to Jesus and tell Him all our troubles. Frankly, I don’t know if Christians can pray to Jesus or not. So would you be so kind as to help me? Can Christians pray to Jesus? Thank you in advance.

In Christian Love,

Patty[ii]”

surrenderThank you very much for the question Patty. I’ll be happy to give you an answer, and I hope that it will be faithful to the teachings found in God’s word[iii].

The general rule and example in the life of our Lord Jesus is that Christians pray to the Father. Indeed, the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-13 begins, “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’” Jesus also taught the apostles that, “whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16). Furthermore, Jesus, by example addressed His prayers to the, “Father…” (cf. Matthew 11:25; Luke 10:21; John 11:41). Since Jesus’ teaching and example is directed toward praying to the Father, I understand why so many believe that only the Father can be addressed in prayer. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence for the ESV and the NASB translation of John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in my name, I will do it.” The phrase, “if you ask Me” seems to give warrant for praying directly to Jesus (see notes on 1 John 5:13-15 below). However, let’s explore some other principles and passages before we draw our final conclusion.

One principle to keep in mind is that as Christians, we worship deity, not just the Father. In Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9, John bowed down to worship an angel. The angel told him not to do that. The reason, he was merely a servant just like us. Instead, John was told to worship God. However, in Hebrews 1:6, all the angels are commanded to worship Jesus. Additionally, in such passages as Matthew 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; people worshiped Jesus without rebuke.

If we can worship Jesus because He is not merely a servant but is God, then we can pray and sing praises to Jesus as well. Remember, in Jesus “the whole fullness of deity dwells” (Colossians 2:9) and the exact “imprint” of God (cf. Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is just as much God as the Father is. Therefore, barring some prohibition, we are able to pray to Jesus as well as to the Father since both are God. In fact, there are examples in Acts and the epistles of prayers being offered to Jesus.

Acts 1:23-26 – Before the remaining 11 apostles, lead by Peter, began to select Judas’ replacement they prayed saying, “You, Lord…” I would submit to you this prayer for divine intervention was addressed to Jesus since in two previous verses the apostles refer to Jesus as “Lord” (vv. 6, 21) Also, it was Jesus who selected the first apostles (cf. Luke 6:12-18) as well as Paul (cf. Acts 9:1-19; 1 Timothy 1:12-17). From the very beginning of the apostles prayed to Jesus.

Acts 7:59-60 – As Stephen is being stoned he cried out in prayer, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” and begged Jesus, “Lord do not hold this sin against them.” At the point of death, Stephen prayed to Jesus. As a side note, these two prayers are similar to Jesus’ prayers to the Father from the cross (cf. Luke 23:34, 46).

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – On three occasions Paul pleaded with the Lord for his thorn in the flesh to leave him. Three times the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Who is this “Lord” that Paul prayed too? In the follow verses he identified Him as, “Christ” (vv. 9, 10; cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6). Thus, Paul prayed to Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 – In one of Paul’s prayers for the Thessalonians he prayed to, “Our God and Father… and our Lord Jesus” (v. 11). Additionally, Paul petitioned “the Lord [Jesus]” to make the Thessalonians “increase and abound in love for one another and for all” (v. 12) and that He (that is the Lord Jesus) “may establish [their] hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father” (v. 13).

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; 3:5, 16 – As Paul is bringing his second epistle to the Thessalonians to a close, he prayerfully ask the “Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father” to “comfort” the hearts of the Thessalonians and “establish them in every good work and word” (2:16-17). Furthermore, Paul petitioned the Lord Jesus to “direct [their] hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ” (3:5). Concluding, “May the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all” (3:16). Throughout 1, 2 Thessalonians Paul petitioned Jesus in benedictory prayer, asking for His blessing upon the believers in Thessalonica.

1 Timothy 1:12 – When Paul recounted his dramatic Damascus Road Experience to Timothy (cf. Acts 9:1-19), he prayerfully thanked “Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul directed his prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus.

1 John 5:13-15 – As John brings his first epistle to a close he states, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” With wording reminiscent John 14:13-14, the apostle confidently states, “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request that we have asked of Him.” The “Him” that John is referring to is “the Son of God” or, Jesus. Therefore John is referencing praying to Jesus.

Revelation 22:20 – In the next to the last verse of the New Testament John cries, “Come, Lord Jesus!” and bring your people relief. The prayer of all believers is to be, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (1 Corinthians 16:22).

Well Patty, the weight of scriptural evidence suggests to me that as Christians we are allowed to pray to Jesus. However, I certainly do not wish to encourage you or anyone else to violate their conscience. If you feel you should only address the Father in prayer, then by all means do so. With that said, I would also encourage you not to discourage your brethren, who see the Biblical principle and examples we discussed as authoritative, from praying to Jesus or singing songs to Jesus. One last note, though I didn’t specifically address singing songs, or prayers, directly to Jesus such as I Must Tell Jesus, (other examples would be Abide With Me, or O, To Be Like Thee! among others) I believe that because of the scriptural evidence for praying to Jesus exist, then we can also sing songs directed to Him as well. On a side note, Psalm 4; 55; 61; 64 would be sufficient evidence to show we can sing prayers. I hope that helped.

I always welcome questions, so if you have one you can email it to me at clay@claygentry.com. As always my friends, keep sharing the good news.


[i] In case you’re not familiar with the song I Must Tell Jesus you can find the lyrics here.

[ii] I changed the questioner’s name.

[iii] A big thanks to my good friend Edwin Crozier for allowing me to use some of his material to answer this question.

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A Heart For The Lost


How would you describe someone who has a heart for dogs? Well, we would say they love dogs. We know this because they’re constantly surrounded by dogs. They’re the one who constantly post cute pictures of dogs on facebook. Dogs are their passion, their first love. They go out of their way to help care for neglected or abused dogs. Their life revolves around dogs.

Now take that same idea and apply it to spiritual matters, how would you describe someone who has a heart for the lost? In the same terms? Sure. But in doing so, you would describing the apostle Paul. Let’s take a look at how he expressed a heart for the lost and learn how you can imitate him.

Paul’s Heart For The Lost

The Unbeliever (Acts 17:16-34):

  • (16) – Paul’s inner-spirit was deeply troubled by the sight of an entire city of Athens given over to rampant idolatry.
  • (17-34) – Paul’s emotional distress over the sight of so many unbelievers pushed him to teach anyone who would listen, whether it was in the local synagogue (17), or the marketplace (17), or with leading philosophers (18), or in the cities central court the Areopagus (19-34). Paul tried to teach Christ to anyone who would listen.

The Fallen Away (Philippians 3:17-4:1):

  • (18) – Paul is brought to tears as he recalls those who had become enemies of the cross, just as he did for those who would fall away in Ephesus (ref. Acts 20:29-32) and those who were falling away or had fallen away in Corinth (ref. 2 Corinthians 2:4; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:30).
  • (17, 20-4:1) – Paul’s tears of anguish drove him to teach, not only those who stayed faithful but also those who had fallen away. The epistles of 1 & 2 Corinthians were written to a group that, I believe, still included some of the fallen away among their number. Additionally, Paul instructed Timothy to teach those who had swerved from the truth (ref. 1 Timothy 1:3-11), just as Paul himself did.

The Religiously Lost (Romans 9:1-3, 30-10:4):

  • (9:1-3; 10:1) – Paul’s had “great sorrow and unceasing anguish” in his heart because his fellow Jews, though they were very religious, were lost. So great was his anguish, he was willing to be cut-off from God, if it meant his fellow Jews would be saved.
  • (10:1) – Paul’s heart-ache over the religiously lost Jews lead him to do two things. First, pray for them. Second, teach them whenever and wherever he could (Acts 9:20, 28; 13:14; 14:1; 16:13; 17:2, 10; 18:4; 19:10; 28:17). Paul’s first course of action whenever he came to a new town was to find the local synagogue and teach the Jews why Jesus was the Christ (ref. Acts 9:20; 17:1-3).

There is no doubt, Paul had a heart for the lost. His constant plea was for others to follow his example (ref. 1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:9). With that in mind, how then can you follow Paul’s example and have a heart for the lost?

How To Imitate Paul’s Heart For The Lost:

Be grounded in your faith.

  • Paul was definitely a man who knew what he believed (ref. 2 Timothy 1:12). He was “rooted and built up… and established” in his faith  (Colossians 2:7). A well grounded faith is a must if you are to have a heart for the lost. Otherwise, what will you share with them if you don’t really believe it yourself.

Have a sense of urgency.

  • Why did Paul constantly travel from city to city teach others? Because he had a sense of urgency, he knew the eternal punishment that awaited the lost (ref. Colossians 1:28-29; 2 Timothy 4:1-2). Time and time again, he alerted people to the destruction that awaited those who reject Jesus as Lord and Savior (Philippians 3:19). If you are to have a heart for the lost then you must live with a sense of urgency because of the destruction that awaits the lost.

Allow your emotions to drive you.

  • Paul’s heart for the lost manifested itself in an outpouring of emotions for them (Acts 17:16; Philippians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 2:4; Romans 9:2-3). His emotions were a catalyst for action. I’ve met far too many Christians who think it is a godly virtue to not allow their emotions to drive them to do anything spiritual. However, if you are going to imitate Paul’s heart for the lost, then you must allow your emotions, especially the heart-ache, to drive you to act. Driving emotions will come when you are grounded in your faith, and have a sense of urgency.

Share the good news of Jesus with someone today.

  • Paul’s heart for the lost was evident by his actions. He shared the good news of Jesus with someone everyday of his post-conversion life. If you are truly going to be a person who has a heart for the lost, then you must do something to help bring them to Jesus. There are two things that Paul did that you can do too, pray and share. Pray for the lost, and share Jesus with them. Then it can be said that you have a heart for the lost.

We live in a lost and dying world, a world full of people who need the saving message of Jesus. Will you follow Paul’s example, will you have a heart for the lost? May the haunting words of an old hymn be a constant reminder of your need to have a heart for the lost:

When in the better land before the bar we stand,

How deeply grieved our souls may be;

If any lost one there should cry in deep despair,

“You never mentioned Him to me.”

“You never mentioned Him to me,

You helped me not the light to see;

You met me day by day

and knew I was astray,

Yet never mentioned Him to me.”

May we all have a heart for the lost. If I can help you in anyway email me at clay@claygentry.com.

Don’t Grow Weary In Doing Good


Don't Grow Weary
The worst enemy of enthusiasm is weariness. That tired feeling that results from having run out of strength, patience, and endurance. All of us have been there. We decide to start something great and wonderful, and then in the matter of a few days, or weeks, or months we are tired of it. What once was a joy, has now become a wearisome burden. Vacationers get tired of rest, millionaires get tired of money, kids gets tired of toys, and Christians get tired of doing good. What is true in the twenty-first century was true in the first century. Christians must battle against the weariness associated with doing good. Paul exhorted the saints in Thessalonica saying, “do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). For our lesson let’s look at some of the factors that would have contributed to the Thessalonians’ weariness. Along the way, we will make some application to ourselves.

Don’t Grow Weary In Doing Good Even When…

You’re Persecuted:

The church of the Thessalonians was started amid the heat of persecution (Acts 17:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8; 2:13-16). The persecution these believers endured was not isolated to the beginnings of the church. Rather, they seem to have continued sometime after Paul’s initial visit, since he mentions in his second letter, their “persecutions and the afflictions that [they were] enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:4). Therefore, we see that the Thessalonians knew nothing but persecution.

Yet even in the face of such persecutions and afflictions the Thessalonians continued to do good. Paul commends this faithful band of believers saying,

“We remember before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

“For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and in Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need to say anything” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).

“We ought to always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

The Thessalonians continued to do good because their focus was not on personal comfort, or fulfillment, or happiness, but on the glory of God and the fulfillment of their purpose of spreading the saving message of the gospel. This is why their faith in God and love for one another continued to grow.

Persecution will happen to everyone. Paul told the Thessalonians that Christians “are destined” (appointed – KJV) for persecution (ref. 1 Thessalonians 3:3b-4). Perhaps we are more familiar with the wording of 2 Timothy 3:12, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

Faithful believers must expect persecution and suffering of various kinds from a world that has rejected Christ. Does Satan tempt us through persecutions? Yes he does. (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5). He tempts us to give up, to grow weary and tired. However, remember the words of James and Peter, that it is through the temptation of persecution, that our faith is made stronger and purer through persecution (James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 1:6-8). That is what we see with the Thessalonians, and that is what we will see in our lives if we don’t grow weary in doing good, even when we are persecuted for our faith.

Don’t Grow Weary In Doing Good Even When…

The World Around You Is Wicked:

The Greco-Roman world was engrossed with sex[i]. Both male and female prostitutes were the staple of many, idolatrous temples and worship rituals. The atmosphere surrounding Thessalonica would not have been an exception, rather it would have been the rule. I have heard it said that Thessalonica was the ancient equivalent to Las Vegas. Its from this kind of sex-crazed, idolatrous background that, according to 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, many of the Thessalonians left to follow the living God. So, with their background, it shouldn’t surprise us that Paul gave them these instructions:

“Finally, then, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warn you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)

The pull of their world around them, coupled with their former lifestyle of idol worshippers made the temptation of sexual sins all the stronger for the Thessalonians. This is why Paul not only taught sexual purity while he was with them, but reminded them again, that we as Christians are called to lives of purity and holiness before God. He did not want them to grow weary in resisting the constant pressures of sex crazed culture. Because to do so, would mean the loss of their souls.

The world we live in today, while vastly different in terms of modernity, suffers from the same disease of sexual promiscuity. Any words that I might use to describe the world’s obsession with all things sex would be an understatement, no matter how well I might articulate it. The world is mad for everything sex. While the times have changed, the message has not, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” 

Some of the strongest language of condemnation in all the bible is used against sexually immoral people (Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 21:7-8, 22:14-15). Hear what Paul said in Ephesians 5:6 “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things” these things being the sins listed in the previous verse which included sexual immorality, “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” This verse should strike terror in every heart to think that the wrath of the creator God is coming upon those who practice sexual immorality. Now, if you are inclined to think that this warning does not apply to you, because you have never cheated on your spouse or fooled around, think again. Because Jesus said that if you even look at a women or man with lustful eyes, then it’s just the same as if you bedded down with them (ref. Matthew 5:27-30). Therefore, we must heed the words of Paul and “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). That encompasses the act itself, or people that would entice us, or material that would stimulate improper thoughts must be left in the dust of our tracks. The world around us is a wicked place. It’s a wicked, sex crazed jungle out there. We must remain vigilant against Satan’s attacks and not grow weary in doing good, even in the face of such perverse sexual wickedness.

Don’t Grow Weary In Doing Good Even When…

Others Take Advantage of You:

It has often been said that many within the Thessalonian church had stopped working and were idle because of their misunderstanding teaching regarding the coming day of the Lord. The reason for this conclusion is based on the fact that both problems are addressed in Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians. While it is true that some within the church were not working, I would submit to you, that it was not because of a misunderstanding of the Lord’s return, but because those who were not working were lazy sloths – nothing more, nothing less.

Paul’s teaching on the importance of Christians working and supplying their own needs was a common theme in Paul’s teachings[ii], so it should be no surprise that Paul teaches on this subject when he first arrives in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). Of the many things Paul taught the saints during his stay in Thessalonica, the need to work with their own hands and supply their own needs was stressed. Not only did Paul teach this while he was among them, he practiced it as well (2 Thessalonians 3:7-8; cf. Acts 20:4; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 11:9). In addition to his original teaching and example, Paul again instructed the Thessalonians through his first epistle to, “work with your hands” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) and to “admonish the idle” that were among them (1 Thessalonians 5:14). Then in his second epistle, Paul calls for the church to separate themselves from those who had not heeded his earlier teachings on the matter (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).

Behind the scene are the faithful Thessalonians who were compassionately supporting the idle. The idle were not only ignoring Paul’s commands to earn their own bread but were burdening those who were working by taking advantage of their generous hearts (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:8). This is the context of Paul’s exhortation to the faithful, “As for you brothers, do not grow weary in doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). The hard-working believers were had been taken advantage of by their lazy brethren. However, Paul reminded them that the truly needy still required help and that the Thessalonians must not be negligent toward them. No doubt, people will take advantage of your generosity. However, you can’t allow those people and those times of disappointment to harden your heart toward help others who are truly needy. Let us not grow weary in doing good, even when others take advantage of us.

Don’t Grow Weary In Doing Good Even When…

Your Resources Are Few:

One of the great works of Paul was the collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem. First, by James during the meeting recorded in Acts 15 (cf. Galatians 2:10), Paul solicited funds from the predominantly Gentile churches in the Greek regions of Achaia and Macedonia (cf. Romans 15:25-27), though churches in Galatia also participated as well (1 Corinthians 16:1). Achaia included the congregations of Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 8-9) and Cenchreae (ref. Romans 16:1). Macedonia included the congregations of Philippi (Acts 16:11-40), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9), and Berea (Acts 17:10-15).

Paul commended the churches of Macedonia (and by extension the Thessalonians) for their desire to help their needy brethren, even in their great poverty, saying to the Corinthians:

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints – and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)

In spite of their difficult financial circumstances, the Thessalonians possessed an “abundance” of, or surplus of joy, which translated into a “wealth of generosity.” The Thessalonians did not grow weary in doing good, even when their resources were few. Paul’s language indicates that they lived in extreme poverty (perhaps a reflection of their persecutions cf. Hebrews 10:34), yet “they gave according to their means” and “beyond.” The Thessalonians did not wait until they had enough to give, they simply gave what they could and sacrificed so they could give more. Let us remember that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Whether the giver is rich or poor, God loves those who cheerfully give out of the abundance of the blessings He has given them. Let us follow the example of the Thessalonians and not grow weary in doing good, even when our resources are few. Let’s give ourselves to the Lord and then to the service of others with whatever the Lord has placed within our hands.

Don’t Grow Weary In Doing Good Even When…

Others Have Grown Weary And Given Up:

There is no doubt that many of us can think of someone who was once so faithful to the Lord, but now has turned their back on Him and His church. Such was the case with Demas. As part of Paul’s band-of-brothers, Demas demonstrated substantial commitment to the Lord’s work as a “fellow worker” of Paul’s (Philemon 24; Colossians 4:14). However, a love for the world led Demas to desert Paul in Roman prison and head to Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4:10). It is believed by some scholars that Thessalonica may have been Demas’ home town. It is not out of place to think that someone from the Christian community there would have seen Demas or would have gotten word of his abandonment of the faith. Think of the discouragement this would have brought to the believers in Thessalonica, knowing that faithful, hard-working Demas had left the faith for the pleasures of this life.

There have been, and will continue to be, brothers and sisters, who for whatever reason decide that this life is more important than the next and will abandon God and us. There is no doubt about it is discouraging. However, we cannot allow ourselves to grow weary in doing good, even when others do not.

There are many reasons to grow weary in doing good. We have surveyed some of those that the church at Thessalonica faced, and I’m sure that we could have considered many more. Let’s end with Paul’s closing words of his second epistle,

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

This characteristic of our Lord is needed by all believers engaged in the great spiritual battle that surrounds us. May we all look to Christ for peace in times of weariness. May He establish us in every good work as we serve Him. Amen.

If I can help you on your spiritual journey, please email me at clay@claygentry.com. As always, share the good news of the Lord with someone today.

 


[i] I found this to be helpful in understanding the connection between idolatry, sex and the church at Thessalonica.

The Real Reason Some of the Thessalonians Were Idle


In Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, two themes rise to the top of the list of those touched on most often: the coming day of the Lord and the need for the Thessalonians to work and earn their own living. I have often heard it said that these two issues are linked together. That is, some of the Thessalonians misunderstood Paul’s teaching about the day of the Lord, believing that His return was imminent, and therefore they had quit working. However, upon a closer examination of the text, a different picture begins to form that shows these two issues are not related and that idleness was always a problem within the church at Thessalonica.

The Thessalonians’ Misunderstanding of the Day of the Lord:

During Paul’s three weeks with the believers in Thessalonica, (Acts 17:1-10) he taught them the nature of the coming day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:5). Paul continued his teaching on this topic and the resurrection in his first epistle (ref. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-11). When Paul wrote his second epistle he addressed the subject again (2 Thessalonians 2:4-12) because there was some confusion regarding the coming day of the Lord. However, the confusion and misunderstanding was not that they believed that day of the Lord was forthcoming, but rather that it had already come. Read carefully 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3:

“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together with Him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.”

The faith of some of the Thessalonians had been shaken because they had received a letter, which seemed to be from Paul, stating the exact opposite of what he had taught them (cf. 2 Timothy 2:16-18)Their focus was not that the day of the Lord was looming, they were afraid it had already passed and they had missed it! So, the idea that the Thessalonians misunderstood Paul’s teaching on the subject is not supported by the text.

Paul’s Pleas for the Thessalonians to Work

Within the church of the Thessalonians there was a segment that worked hard to avoid work. During Paul’s three week stay with them (ref. Acts 17:1-10) he taught them that as Christians, they were “to aspire to live quietly, and to mind their own affairs, and to work with their hands.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) And, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Paul also addressed this issue in his first epistle, reminding them of what he had taught them (1 Thessalonians 4:11) and commanding that those who were still idle should be “admonish[ed]” by the church (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

By the time Paul wrote his second epistle, the problem of idleness was still not resolved (2 Thessalonians 3:11). Therefore, the situation called for Paul’s strongest words on the issue:

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” (2 Thessalonians 3:6, 11-12)

Why does Paul tell the church to “keep away” from idle brethren? Because of their hardheartedness toward apostolic authority. Paul has repeatedly taught the Thessalonians to work and earn their own living but, there were some who simply refused to heed his teaching and remained idle. The end result was that the church was to “keep away” from, or “withdraw” themselves, from such rebellious people.

So what did we learn? The Thessalonians’ misunderstanding about the coming day of the Lord was not that it was eminent; rather, they their faith had been shaken, believing that it had already passed. This misunderstanding did not have any bearing on the idleness of some in the church. Rather, this had been an issue among the believers there in Thessalonica from the very beginning of Paul’s ministry there.

It’s my hope that this short study has helped further you knowledge and application of the scriptures and especially the church of the Thessalonians.

Live Every Day Like It Is The Last Day


Today is October 21, 2011, and according to Harold Camping, the Lord is supposed to return today… again. You might recall that back earlier this year, Harold Camping predicted that the Lord would return on May 21st, well obviously He didn’t (Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

It’s little wonder that the likes of Harold Camping and other date setters are unsuccessful in predicting the Lord’s return, because the Lord Himself, in characterizing His return by saying,

“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” I will come (Matthew 25:13). 

And, the apostles, Paul and Peter, both established that the Jesus’ return would be unannounced, like a thief coming in the night (cf. Matthew 24:42-44).

“Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2). 

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10).

These passages clearly establish that we cannot know the day, nor the hour, that the Lord will return. However, while the passages clearly show that the likes of Harold Camping and other date setters will always fail in their predictions. They do teach us, that as believers, we need to live everyday as if it is our last day on earth. We must live everyday as if it is the day of the Lord’s return. We need to live every day, as if it is the last day we will have breath and life.

Let me ask you a question; are you ready, are you ready to meet your maker? Are you living every day, are you living today, as if it is the last day? The same passages that we would you to establish that Harold Camping is wrong in his predictions, are the same passages that encourage us to live every day as if it is truly our last day.

I hope that you are making preparations in your spiritual life to stand before your Lord and Maker. If I can help you in any way with that, just drop me a line at clay@claygentry.com. I would love to hear from you. God bless you.