Note:  CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS STUDY:

PRAYER AND THE LORD’S FAITHFULNESS

2 THESSALONIANS 3:1-5

2 THESSALONIANS 2:13-17 Key Word “salvation”   Today we pick up our study on salvation and love.

“Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Note:   The duty of salvation is to stand fast and to cling to the Word of God by those who are truly saved.  The word “traditions” (paradoseis), means all the Word of God whether it is taught or written.

Leon Morris quotes J.B. Lightfoot:  “The prominent idea of paradosis {tradition] … is that of an authority external to the teacher himself.”

Leon Morris himself says: “This is another way of putting the truth…that the gospel is not of human origin, and the preacher is not at liberty to substitute his own thoughts for that which he has received” (The Epistles of Paul to the Thessalonians, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, p. 138). 

As Christians we are careful to stand fast (Ephesians 6) and cling to the Word of God.  We are not to buckle under to the world and its enticements.  We are not to cave in, as the followers of the Antichrist will do.  We are to stand fast and to cling to the Word of God, no matter the inducement and opposition. (The Preachers Outline and Sermon Bible, page 103).

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I love you: continue ye in my love” (John 15:9).

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, un moveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58). 

“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27). [Christ wants unity]

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (I Peter 5:8-9).

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17).

“But cleave unto the LORD your God, as ye have done unto this day” (Joshua 23:8).

2 THESSALONIANS 2:16-17  – Key Words – the resources of salvation are many

“Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.”

1. The person who is truly saved receives the love of God and of Christ (John 3:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:16).                        

LOVE  is the great need for which Paul prayed and which is the supreme need of every believer—the need for love, to grow in love more and more  (I Corinthians 13; I Thess. 2:13; I Thess. 3:12-13).

  • The word increase (pleonasai) means to abound, to multiply over and over.
  • The word “abound” (Perisseusai) means to excel and overflow (Amplified New Testament).

As stated, the great need is to grow in love—to abound and multiply—to excel and overflow in love.  But note the crucial point: the love being spoken about is not what the world means by love.  This is seen in two significant points.

a. The love that we must grow in is the love that makes us love ALL MEN, not just one another.  Note I Thessalonians 3:12-13, “The Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.” The love we are to have is the love that reaches out and overflows and multiplies toward EVERYONE.  This means to the person that is:

*the unattractive    *the unclean           *the poor

*the orphan              *the homeless        *the unclothed

*the sick                    *the prisoner          *the widow/widower

*the hateful              *the diseased          *the sinner

*the enemy               *the spiteful            *the opponent

*the murderer         *the oppressor       *the dictator 

Good Questions are:

  1. How in the world can we love some of these people?
  2. How can we abound in love for them?
  3. How is it possible to love those who do evil to us?
  4. How can we abound in love for those who treat us as enemies?

2. We can love all men because the source of love is the Lord. There is no other source, not for the kind of love that can love ALL MEN.  This is the reason Paul went before the Lord and requested such a love.  Paul knew that it was impossible for him or the Thessalonians to work up the kind of love that could reach out and abound toward all men.  A love that could love those who ignore, neglect, abuse, and shamefully treat us could only come from God. 

NOTE THIS:  there are four kinds of love. The meaning of AGAPE LOVE is more clearly seen by contrasting it with the various kinds of love.

The English language has only one word for love to describe all the affectionate experiences of men; the Greek language had a different word to describe each kind of love or affectionate experience.

1. There is PASSIONATE LOVE OR EROS LOVE. This is the physical love between sexes; the patriotic love of a person for his nation; the ambition of a person for power, wealth or fame.  Briefly stated, EROS LOVE is the base love of a man that arises from his own inner passion.  Sometimes Eros love is focused upon good and other times it is focused upon bad.  It should be noted that Eros love is never used in the New Testament.

2. There is AFFECTIONATE LOVE OR STORGE LOVE. This is the kind of love that exists between parent and child and between loyal citizens and a trustworthy ruler.  STORGE LOVE is also not used in the New Testament.

3. There is an ENDEARING LOVE OR PHILEO LOVE. Phileo love is the love of a husband and wife for each other, of a brother for a brother, of a friend for the dearest friends.  It is the love that cherishes, that holds someone or something every so dear to one’s heart.

4. There is SELFLESS AND SACRIFICIAL LOVE OR AGAPE LOVE. Agape love is the love of the mind, of the reason, of the will.  It is the love that goes so far…

  • that it loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved.
  • that it actually loves the person who is utterly unworthy of being loved.

Note four significant points about agape love.  Let’s explore them a little before we move on: 

a. Selfless or agape love is the love of God, the very love possessed by God Himself.  It is the love demonstrated in the cross of Christ.

  • It is the love of God for the ungodly.

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

  • It is the love of God for unworthy sinners.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

  •  It is the love of God for UNDESERVING ENEMIES.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10).

b. Selfless or agape love is a gift of God.  It can be experienced only if a person knows God PERSONALLY—only if a person has received the love of God into his heart and life.  AGAPE love has to be shed abroad, poured out, flooded, spread about by the Spirit of God within the heart of a person.

“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

c.  Selfless or agape love is the greatest thing in all of life according to the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And Jesus answered him; The first of all the commandments is, Hear O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all they strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

d. Selfless or agape love is the greatest possession and gift in human life according to the Scripture.

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love)”

(I Corinthians 13:1-13) Key words:  love — stablish: the great result of love is to be presented unblameable before God when Christ returns to earth.  This is the most glorious result imaginable.  Note several facts:

1. The word “establish (sterixai) means to prop, support, confirm, fix, make fast, set. Note:  it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who establishes our hearts before God.  No one else has the right or power to set us before God; no one else can make us acceptable to God.  (Note:  the word heart here refers to the whole person or personality of man.).

2. The word “unblameable” (amemptous) means to be free from fault and blame; to be free from all charges (Vine).  The word “holiness” (hagiosune) means to be set apart and separated to God.  It is the Lord Jesus Christ who can make our hearts unblameable in holiness before God.  He alone can free us from the faults and charges of sin; He alone can present us unblameable in holiness before God.

Who else has such power? If Christ does not have the righteousness and power to present us unblameable and holy before God, then we are hopelessly doomed.  Why?  Because He is the only person who has ever risen from the dead to never die again and to live eternally with God.  If He is not our Savior, then we shall die and never arise, never live with God.  Man’s only hope is Christ, only He can present us unblameable and holy before God (Ephesians 1:3-6).

The last word is AGAPE love (I Corinthians 13:13), the very love of God Himself.  It is this love that enables us to love ALL MEN.  Agape love—the love that LOVES ALL MEN—is the kind of love that is to flood our hearts and lives– the kind of love that is to flow out toward every person no matter who they are:

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

“Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy].  Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9).

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you” (I Thessalonians 3:12).

“Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1).

“If ye fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well” (James 2:8).

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (I Peter 1:22).

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (I John 4:7).

DEEPER STUDY: I Thessalonians 3:12:  Love:  the kind of love which the believer is to have for all people is AGAPE LOVE, the great love of God Himself.  To do this we will look at Peter’s conversation with Christ. 

See: John 21:15-17- Key Words: love—commitment.  There is a difference between the three questions Jesus asked of Peter.  Question one: Jesus asked Peter who he loved the most, the Lord or “these.”  Just what He meant by “these” is not clear; Jesus could have been pointing to the disciples sitting around.  If so, He meant do you love me more than you love these men or your family?

Or, Jesus could have been pointing to the fish, the nets, and the boat.  If so, He was asking do you love me more than your profession and career (John 21:3).  Perhaps Scripture is unclear at this point in order to make “these” apply to everyone, anything, and everything in our lives.

Question two:  Jesus asked Peter if he loved with God’s love.  This is seen in the Greek word for love.  Jesus used one word, but Peter used another.  Jesus used the word AGAPE, the highest form of love, the love of God Himself.  But Peter did not reply, “Yea Lord, I AGAPE you.”  He said, “Yea, Lord I PHILEO you.” That is, I love you just like a brother; I love you with a brotherly love.”  PHILEO means brotherly love, the love between two brothers.

Question three:  This question probed the genuineness and loyalty of Peter’s love.  Here He descended to the human level of love.  He used PHILEO.  He simply asked Peter, “Peter, do you really love, PHILEO me—even as a brother?”  And the questioning of his loyalty of his love grieved Peter.

But Jesus assured Peter that his love would one day reach the ultimate height (John 21:18).  Peter would be called upon to demonstrate AGAPE love, the sacrificial love of God.  Peter would be called upon to die for Christ, to give his life for preaching the love of God to those who do not care for it and who react violently against it.

What Jesus was doing was preparing His disciples for a new kind of love that was yet to come.  Up to the time of Christ’s death and ascension, the greatest love known to man was PHILEO love, the willingness of a man to die for a friend.

But in Christ, God was showing the world a new kind of love,  AGAPE LOVE.  AGAPE LOVE is a love so new that a new meaning had to be given to the Greek word “agape.” Agape became the love that was willing to give and die even for any enemy.

The early Christian leaders recognized this new dimension of love, so they lifted the meaning of agape love up to God’s love for the world.  Agape love is the highest level of love possible; it is the love of God. “God [who] so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

AGAPE LOVE IS CHRIST DYING…

  • for people who have no strength (Romans 5:6).
  • for the ungodly (Romans 5:6).
  • for sinners (Romans 5:8).
  • for the enemies of God (Romans 5:10).

Peter and the disciples did not yet understand this.  They could not because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given “agape love” which is shed abroad in the heart only by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).  It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit Galatians 5:22.

In this study we have examined God’s love for the unbeliever, as well as for the true believer.  The question that now confronts us is:  “have you accepted Christ as your personal savior?” If you truly want to go to heaven, then read John 3:16 and Romans 10:9-13 again and ask yourself if you have ever followed the road to heaven outlined in Romans 10:9-13.  If no, and you truly want to go to heaven,…the steps must be followed.

You must truthfully confess and repent of your sins, ask God to forgive you and give you His free gift of salvation, Ephesians 2:8-10.  Declare yourself to be a disciple of Christ.  And plainly state to Him, that you love Him and will follow His Word {the Bible}.

We will move back to Revelation 17 in our next study, leaving our study of the love and principals connected.  And consider further “false Religion,” the Antichrist and other things connected to the end time.

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