Thessalonians - Glorification by Faith in Christ

By E. S. (Emanuel Sprankel) Young



The Apostle Paul wrote nine Epistles which he addressed to seven churches. These have been especially written for the instruction of every Christian. Every word of Scripture in these nine letters is about him and all contain a complete course of Christian education. The other Epistles written by the Apostle are addressed to individuals and not to churches, and are also meant for the Christian and for his learning, but they do not contain the truths concerning the Church of God, the Body of Christ or tell how the Jews and Gentiles are being made one Body in Christ. This presents a marked difference between the Epistles written to the churches and those written to individuals.


God's Book contains special instruction for each period of the human race. The first book of the Bible contains an Outline of the entire Word of God. During the progress of the human family, God revealed Himself more fully and made plain what was contained in the first book of the Bible by adding book to book until the Word of God was complete in sixty-six books. These contain God's purposes and plans for the human family. It is the only book that God has left with the human race by which her origin, history, and destiny can be known.


After God created the world He made man, and gave him dominion over that which He had created. In the beginning God's government was universal and included the entire human family. Because of man's failure to respond to God and His Word, God called a family through which to reveal Himself as the Redeemer of the world. That family developed and became known to us as the Jewish nation. He made conditional and unconditional covenants with this nation and a very large part of the Bible is given to show the origin of this nation, her history during periods of faithfulness and unfaithfulness and her final destiny. The nation having failed in the mission entrusted to her, became a scattered nation and but a remnant, the elect of God, are worthy to be used in bringing about, through the suffering of this remnant, the Church of God. Therefore, we have three divisions in the human family: Gentiles, Jews, and the Church (1 Cor. 10:32).


It took sixteen hundred years to write the inspired Word of God which contains special teaching for each of the three classes into which the human family is divided. The Apostle Paul, living during the period when part of this Word of Truth was revealed, understood fully how very important it is to use the teaching in the Word of God for the class to which it was written. The Apostle, who is the author of these nine letters to these seven churches, attended school and was under instructors who were either not honest or were ignorant as to the right division of the Word of God. It was by the use of literature, not in harmony with the Word of God, and by the instruction of unfaithful teachers of the Word that he himself became a bitter enemy of the truth and a persecutor of the Church. Paul met his Lord on the way to Damascus and was told by Him what he must do. He was told that he must follow God's plan and God's truth. By doing so his eyes were opened and he became one of the most faithful writers and expositors of the truth of God.

Paul is no longer a persecutor but a revealer of Christ, and as a chosen vessel, he becomes acquainted with God's Word and under the direction of the Holy Spirit is able to comprehend the Scripture given by God to the Gentiles and Jews and to write these letters to the seven churches for Christian education.

The Jewish church, ignorant of the Word of God, and not able to rightly divide it, rejected Christ as the redeemer of the world. The Jews had a system of religion of their own which was supported by their own literature. Since they were ignorant of what God had promised the nation in the different covenants, they were unprepared to receive Christ, who is so fully revealed in the Old Testament, “He came unto His own (things) and His own (people) received Him not, but as many as received Him (of the Jewish people) to them gave He power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on His name,” (John 1:11-12). We have learned what the Jewish nation did because ignorant of the Word of Truth and not capable of rightly dividing it. The same results will follow when the last warning given by the Apostle Paul to all Bible teachers is not heeded, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Humanity does not like what God says, but what man says.


Christ's teaching and work as Redeemer of the world was constantly opposed by the Jewish Church. The time came for the disciples as well as all His followers to have some knowledge of the progress of the Kingdom when opposed by the world and strongest religious body then on earth. Christ gave this information in seven parables (Matt. 13:1-53), These show the progress, successes and failures of the Kingdom of God in this entire age of grace. This is Christ's prophecy and he interprets the same which has been found true in every century since the parables have been spoken. They set forth man's ignorance and rejection of the Word, and through disobedience to the Word of God as forseen by Christ we cannot expect the nations to turn unto Christ and progress be made toward universal salvation.


Christ uttered another important prophecy concerning the literature for Christian education in this age of grace (John 16:12-14), “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: (all the truth) for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” Christ uttered this prophecy and we look to Him for its fulfilment. Christ had prophesied sometime before this to His disciples, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” (Matt. 16:18). When He said this He was making preparation for His church of the future which could not be organized until after His death on Calvary, burial in the tomb, resurrection, and ascension unto the right hand of God. The church He was to build would then have a Head, Christ, the Author of Truth, sitting at the right hand of God. He told His disciples that He had much unrevealed truth that would not be revealed until He would send the Holy Spirit, the comforter who is the Guide into all truth.

1. When, Where, and How Was This Prophecy of Christ Fulfilled? These are the things that Christ promised would happen after the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, was come: First, He shall guide you into all the truth; Second, He shall not speak of (or from) Himself; Third, He shall show you things to come; Fourth, He shall glorify me; Fifth, He shall receive of mine and show it unto you. Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” (John 14:6). There is only one way by which man may find his way home to God and that is by the way of the cross. Christ is the all-truth. It is this all-truth of Christ that the Holy Spirit is to reveal unto the churches in this age. Christ then is the only source of the all-truth capable to give instruction in the building of His church. To build the Church of God, there was need to have the Gospel of Grace as presented to the seven churches. The four Gospels are the completion of the Old Testament history as well as the beginning of the New. The King and the Kingdom had been prophesied and promised all through the ages. The Jews both rejected the King and the Kingdom and put the King to death. This surely is not good news. God's future judgments for the rejection and death of the King are revealed in Scripture. In the early days of the Christian Church, Christ, through the Holy Spirit and the Apostles, gave to the nation an opportunity to repent of her sins and become reconciled to God (Acts 3:18-21), however they rejected the Holy Spirit's teaching and put to death the message bearers (Acts 4:1-4, 5:17-20, 7:58, 12:1-4).

2. The Gospel of Grace is revealed in the Epistles to the seven churches. Christ is the author of the four Gospels given by Him while in preparation for the Church and dwelling in His physical body. He, being the all-truth and at the right hand of God, became the author of these Epistles to the Seven Churches; therefore, the Epistles and Gospels have the same person as author and are of equal weight and importance. No difference can be made between them without jeopardizing the very essence of inspiration. By making a difference in weight and authority, we reduce the Bible to the position of any man-made book and practically question the words which the Holy Ghost teaches. That there is a difference is true, but this difference can only be understood (as we have said before) by a right division of the Word of Truth. We know that the things Christ said, while on earth, are necessarily of the highest importance to us dispensationally and show how the Jews rejected God's plan for the nation, thus opening the way for salvation to be offered to the Gentiles. The instruction given to the Jew was intended for the Jew and would be only of historical value to the Church of God, for Christ had not begun the building of His Church and the churches to whom Paul addressed the Church Epistles were not in possession even of the Four Gospels.

The things that Christ taught while on earth are of utmost importance to every Christian, and contain much valuable truth for all in this church age. However, the Four Gospels were spoken by the Lord to the nation to which He belonged, and the Scripture of the Old Testament as well as much of the New will be of great value to the Jewish nation, even after the Body of Christ has been formed and the church age closed. This is not true concerning the letters for the seven churches which contain the real Gospel of God for this age. When the Body of Christ has been formed and the church age closed, the church literature for it, found in the nine letters to the seven churches, will be only of historical value to the Jewish nation as much of the Bible is at this time to the Christian church. We cannot insist too strongly upon all Biblical students accepting the all-truth of Christ, given through the Holy Spirit, using Paul to formulate this truth in nine letters, as the special Gospel of God for this age of grace. We do not mean by this that the literature of Christ, given in the Four Gospels, should be less studied and emphasized, but that more attention by all Christian people should be given to the part of the Bible that contains the truth of Christ by which souls may be saved, trained, perfected, and glorified.

3. The Arrangement of the Gospel of Grace found in these nine letters for the building of the church was not given until after Christ's death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God. There are just seven churches addressed by the Apostle Paul in writing these nine letters. Seven is a number of spiritual perfection. Seven is the number frequently used in the Inspired Word. Christ spoke seven parables (Matt. 13:1-53) and gave seven letters to seven churches (Rev. 2:1-3:22). The names of the nine letters written to the seven churches are as follows: Romans, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians. These embody the truths of the Spirit's teaching for the churches. Christ prophesied that when the Holy Spirit was come, He would guide into all the Truth. The Holy Spirit had no truth of His own to give and, therefore, could only give what He received from another (that is from Christ). He was not only to bring this truth which was to be of special value to all who would receive Christ, but the Holy Spirit was to have the privilege of revealing new truths as an inspiration to the members of the Body of Christ. All of this is contained in the prophecies uttered by Christ concerning this church literature, as is testified and experienced by all who know and live this truth.

These nine church letters were not written in the order in which they appear in the Bible, but in almost the inverse order. Thessalonians was written first, and in the arrangement, appears last. In all the Greek manuscripts the arrangement is the same as we have in the Bible. This is not true of all the other books of the New Testament. Even these nine letters may appear in some other division of the New Testament, but the order of the nine letters is always the same. These letters themselves, as well as their order, are of Divine weight and authority. Their origin and arrangement is due to Christ's authority and under the direction of the Holy Spirit. A careful study of each of these letters will help the student to understand why they appear in the order presented. The Holy Spirit knew which book to place first and last in order that the Christian might begin right and end right. The following classification will help us to understand the systematic order for study that right progress may be made in Christian education. If these books were studied in the inverse order, beginning with Thessalonians and ending with Romans, it would be much more disastrous than for a person to try to master geometry before learning the multiplication table. This no doubt is the cause of so much misdirected effort in the mission of the church, as many of the members of the church are ignorant of what Christ teaches. If a person is ignorant concerning this course of study supplied by Christ for those who accept Him, he must necessarily be an easy prey for every new teacher who presents some speculative philosophy of man. Christ has not only given us this literature, but has appointed teachers, evangelists and prophets to use it for the perfecting of the saints, that they might not be at the mercy of every “wind of doctrine,” (Eph. 4:14).

4. Classification as to Subject. For man's use the order, number, and purpose is spiritually perfect, and can be studied under three heads. First: Justification through faith in Jesus Christ—Romans, Corinthians and Galatians. Romans is the beginning book in Christian education. Jews and Gentiles are lost and need a Savior. God's wrath is revealed unto all who are dead in trespasses and sins. Adam was disobedient; through one act of disobedience sin and death came upon the whole human family. Through one act of obedience of the second Adam, Christ, even the death on the cross, many are made righteous. Through faith in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, we become justified before God. There is no condemnation or separation from Christ of those who are thus related to God. Paul's Gospel to the Romans is the A B C book in Christian education, which finds man in sin, and through faith in Christ, he stands justified before God. The Holy Spirit closes this first text book by calling attention to the Gospel mystery (16:25-27). This mystery is taken up in the second text book (Ephesians) written for an advanced course in the school of grace.

Second: Consecration Through Faith in Jesus Christ. The Christian's salvation has been completed at the cross as presented in Romans and he is now ready for the study of the book of Ephesians. Romans gave man a picture of his sinfulness and showed how to obtain God's righteousness. The Holy Spirit in Ephesians shows God's part in salvation, that even before the foundation of the world, Christ had been called, and when He was called, those who are in Him were called. God had two great purposes; one to establish a Head and the other to establish a Body. This Body is the mystery (The Church) as revealed in the third chapter. In this advanced course we are told that our Head is dwelling in the Heavenlies, and therefore, we who are in the Head are also dwelling in the Heavenlies. This book contains the doctrinal teaching for those who are in Christ Jesus and who are dwelling in the state of sanctification. Having reached this place in Christian education, the student is ready for the last text book in the course.

Third: Glorification Through Faith in Jesus Christ: Thessalonians. This, the Apostle calls a model church. We would have many model churches at the present time if the members were trained in this course of Christian education given in Romans and Ephesians, as was this Thessalonian Church. The Thessalonian Church had heard from Paul himself, the truth he later embodied in the Roman letter and in the Ephesian letter. There has always been some opposition to this advanced spiritual teaching found in Thessalonians. This is true because persons have failed to follow the course outlined by the Holy Spirit to prepare for this truth of the church. A person may be a good student of the Old Testament, even of the Life of Christ, as presented in the Four Gospels, but ignorant of Romans and Ephesians, and therefore not prepared to understand this advanced truth which comes only to those who know and experience the truth of Christ as found in Romans and Ephesians. In Romans we are in sin; in Thessalonians crowned. In Romans we are lost and in ruin; in Ephesians we dwell in the Heavenlies; and in Thessalonians we are glorified.

5. Four Text Books for an Advanced Course in Bible Study. These four text books include the important teaching, Romans: Justification Through Faith in Christ (two volumes); Ephesians: Sanctification Through Faith in Christ; Thessalonians: Glorification Through Faith in Christ. The other four letters, written by the Apostle to the churches, will not be included in this course, but will appear in book form and will be given their proper place among these nine epistles. Corinthians and Galatians follow Romans, and were written to show that these churches did not fully comprehend and practice the teaching of Romans —Justification by Faith. The Corinthian Church had failed to practice the teachings of Romans, while the Galatians had failed in the doctrinal teaching.

Paul wrote three epistles while in prison. The Ephesian letter contained in a large measure, the all-truth on Sanctification. In writing to the Philippian and Colossian churches, Paul clearly shows that those churches had not fully understood his instructions in the book of Ephesians, because the Philippian Church failed to practice this teaching and the Colossian Church failed because of not fully understanding the doctrine.