by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 4 Study # 2 August 17, 2014 Dayton, Texas
19 For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
20 For ye are our glory and joy.
1901 ASV Translation:
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?
20 For ye are our glory and our joy.
I. Concludes with his view of the eternal future.
A. Paul raises the issue of how he will be evaluated by the Lord Jesus at His coming.
1. This is the second time a "chapter" of 1 Thessalonians ends with a reference to the "coming" of Jesus from heaven, an integral aspect of "the faith" (1:9-10 -- to serve and to wait for His Son...).
a. At the end of chapter one, the focus was upon Christ's deliverance of us from the wrath to come.
b. In this reference at the end of chapter two, the focus is upon how that "deliverance" is supposed to impact us so that we have "the joy".
2. In some respects, the evaluation of Paul is an example of how we all shall be evaluated.
a. According to 1 Peter 4:10, every person has been set into a "stewardship".
b. According to 1 Corinthians 4:2, the major consequence of having been set into a "stewardship" is that there will be an "accountability" event wherein a person will be dealt with in the light of that stewardship.
c. In this over-arching generality, everyone's evaluation will be the "same".
1) The fundamental issue of that evaluation will be the question of whether/how much the believer permitted the indwelling Spirit to be "the spirit of the living" (in the sense that everyone "lives" by "believing, understanding, making choices, taking actions" by some "spirit").
2) The secondary issue of that evaluation will be the degree of faithfulness exercised in permitting the Spirit to direct and develop the "gift(s)" that He brought with Him into our bodies at the point of His indwelling.
3. In other respects, Paul was a unique man with a unique stewardship so that no one will be evaluated by the same criteria that the Lord Jesus will use with him.
a. Since each "stewardship" is unique to the unique individual that received it, there can be no "sameness" in the particulars of the evaluation at the "accountability session".
b. Each person will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and receive from Him what the "deeds of his/her body" require -- not in the sense of imposed suffering for the failures in any kind of active sense, but in the sense of granted "joy" in measure according to the successes.
1) There is no "purgatory" (a legal term and action that denies the death of Christ for our sins).
2) But there is an active "loss" caused by the failure to be a good steward on any given time of day/night.
3) And there is an active emotional response to this "loss" that John describes as "shame" (1 John 2:28).
4) Alternatively, all activity undertaken out "of the ability which God gives" (1 Peter 4:11) will find itself rewarded in terms of "joy" in that day.
a) The "ability" which Peter mentions is iscus and it refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit" which produces the activities that meet the requirements of the stewardship, the Word which provides the foundation of both our understanding of truth and our confidence in it, and the by-products of the Spirit through His gifts to us through others.
b) None of the writers of the New Testament encourage us to walk apart from this "ability" in any sense because "a little leaven leavens the whole lump".
c. Paul uses four terms to identify the "outcome" of his evaluation in that day.
a) This term is used to refer to the promises of God, believed, that set up a certain expectation (such as Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41; and 1 Corinthians 3:8).
b) Paul's own "expectation" is the basis of his statement to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:8: there is a reward "laid up". This has Philippians 3:12 as an undergirding reality: every person has been "seized for a reason" by Jesus Christ and the only legitimate response is to "seize" that reason as the basis for life.
2) "Joy". This is the final "bottom line" of experience in eternity; for human beings only one thing matters: whether one ends up in "joy", or not.
3) "Crown of Rejoicing".
a) The "crown" is the victor's crown as the result of intense and diligent effort. There is a kind of "rejoicing" that is not a "crown" in that it is simply the outcome of being in God's amazing Kingdom and receiving what the Spirit produced through our bodies, whether we were "aware" of His activity or not.
b) The "rejoicing" is the "root of exulting".
c) The combined words frame a concept of an extraordinary level of "exulting".
a) A person's "glory" is the outshining of what he/she actually is.
b) Paul actually was "an apostle of Jesus Christ" and the Thessalonians are the evident manifestation of that identity as an "after-the-fact" proof.
d. The repeated use of "Joy" shows what he considered to be the bottom line. It is the only thing that actually matters; it is the very core essence of Life.
B. At issue is Paul's stewardship and the implication is that the bottom line is the people that he saw come into the faith through his ministry.
1. In this regard, it is "people" who are the object of all ministry and they become the basis for the Lord's evaluation of those who stand before Him.
2. However, there are layers of gifts and some of them are more "front line" in terms of their impact upon people than are others.
3. The facts of "grace" include the reality that the Spirit often uses people according to their stewardship commission even though they are pretty much unaware that He is actively at work.