God Used Men to Write His Word - The Bible
INTERESTING FACTS : John Adams, SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; JUDGE; DIPLOMAT; ONE OF TWO SIGNERS OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS; SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
"Without religion, this world would be something not fit to be mentioned in polite company: I mean hell. The Christian religion is, above all the religions that ever prevailed or existed in ancient or modern times, the religion of wisdom, virtue, equity, and humanity."
Daily Reading : 1st thessalonianS 1 - 4
TEXT : 1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. 1Th_2:2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. 1Th_2:8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 1Th_2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
THEME : Inspiration
Preface to the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonians
Thessalonica, now called by the Turks Salonichi, a mere corruption of its ancient name, is a seaport town of Turkey in Europe, situated on what was called the Thermaic Gulf, and was anciently the capital of Macedonia. According to Stephanus Byzantinus, it was embellished and enlarged by Philip, king of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, who called it Thessalonica, or the Victory of Thessalia, on account of the victory he obtained there over the Thessalians; prior to which it was called Thermae. Strabo, Tzetzes, and Zonaras say that it obtained the name of Thessalonica from Thessalonica, wife of Cassander, and daughter of Philip.
In 1431, it was taken from the Venetians by the Turks, in whose possession it still continues. It is still a large, rich, and populous city, being ten miles in circumference, and carrying on an extensive trade in silk, the principal merchants being Greek Christians and Jews.
Christianity has never been extinct in Thessalonica since the year 51 or 52, in which it was planted there by the Apostle Paul; see Acts 17, etc. It contains at present thirty churches belonging to the Greek Christians, and as many Jewish synagogues, besides some Mohammedan mosques. Thessalonica is the see of an archbishop; and is well fortified, being surrounded with walls flanked with towers, and defended on the land side by a citadel; and near the harbor, with three forts.
St. Paul, in company with Silas, first preached the Gospel in this city and the adjacent country, about a.d. 52 or 53. Though the Jews, who were sojourners in this city, rejected the Gospel in general, yet a great multitude of the devout Greeks, i.e., such as were proselytes to Judaism, or the descendants of Jewish parents, born and naturalized in Greece, believed and associated with Paul and Silas, and not a few of the chief women of the city embraced the Christian faith. Act_17:4.
As the Jews found that, according to the doctrine of the Gospel, the Gentiles were called to enjoy the same privileges with themselves, without being obliged to submit to circumcision and other ordinances of the law, they persecuted that Gospel, and those who proclaimed it; for, moved with indignation, they employed certain lewd fellows of the baser sort - the beasts of the people, set the city on an uproar, assaulted the house of Jason, where the apostles lodged, dragged him and certain brethren before the rulers, and charged them with seditious designs and treason against the Roman emperor! The apostles escaped, and got to Berea, where they began anew their important evangelical labors: thither the Jews of Thessalonica, pursuing them, raised a fresh tumult; so that the apostle, being counselled by the brethren, made his escape to Athens; Act_17:5-15. Thus he followed the command of his Master: Being persecuted in one city, he fled to another; not to hide himself, but to proclaim, in every place, the saving truths of the Gospel of Christ.
It does not appear that St. Paul stayed long at Athens; he soon went thence to Corinth, where Timothy and Silas were, but probably not before Timothy met him, for whom he had sent, Act_17:15, to come to him speedily; and whom, it appears, he sent immediately back to Thessalonica, to establish the believers there, and comfort them concerning the faith; 1Th_3:2. While Paul abode at Corinth, Timothy and Silas came to him from Thessalonica, and hearing by them of the steadfastness of the Thessalonian converts in the faith of Christ, he wrote this epistle, and shortly after the second, to comfort and encourage them; to give them farther instructions in the doctrines of Christianity, and to rectify some mistaken views, relative to the day of judgment, which had been propagated amongst them. See the preface to the second epistle.
Who the persons were who formed the apostolic Church at Thessalonica is not easy to determine. They were not Jews, for these in general persecuted the apostle and the Gospel in this place. We are therefore left to infer that the Church was formed, 1st, of Jewish proselytes, called, Act_17:4, devout Greeks. And 2dly, of converts from heathenism; for, on the preaching of the Gospel to them, it is said; 1Th_1:9, that they turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God. Though some of the Jews believed on the preaching of Paul and Silas, Act_17:3, Act_17:4, yet it is evident that the great bulk of the Church was composed of Grecian proselytes and converts from heathenism. Hence we find in this epistle but few allusions to the Jews, and but few references to the peculiarities of their religious or civil institutions.
There is a remarkable reading in the text of Act_17:4, which I neglected to quote in the note on that place: instead of των σεβομενων, Ελληνων πολυ πληθος, of devout Greeks a great multitude; the Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Bezae, both in the Greek and Latin, two others, with the Vulgate, read των σεβομενων και Ἑλληνων, of the devout, i.e., those who worshipped the true God; And of the Greeks, i.e., those who were previously heathens, a great multitude; so that,
1. Some few Jews;
2. A great number of those who acknowledged the true God; and
3. A great multitude of heathens, besides many of the chief women, received the doctrine preached by the apostle, and became members of the Church at Thessalonica. See Dr. Paley's remarks on this various reading.
The First Epistle to the Thessalonians is allowed on all hands to be the first epistle that St. Paul wrote to any of the Churches of God; and from it two things may be particularly noted:
1. That the apostle was full of the Spirit of love;
2. That the Church at Thessalonica was pure, upright, and faithful, as we scarcely find any reprehension in the whole epistle: the Thessalonian converts had Faith that worked, a Love that labored, and a Hope which induced them to bear afflictions patiently and wait for the coming of the LORD Jesus Christ.
This epistle has been divided into different parts by commentators; but these are arbitrary, the apostle having made no division of this kind; for, although he treats of several subjects, yet he has not so distinguished them from each other as to show that he had any formal division in his mind. In the divisions imposed on this epistle by commentators we do not find two of them alike; a full proof that the apostle has made no divisions, else some of these learned men would have certainly found them out. Technical distinctions of this nature are of little use to a proper understanding of the contents of this epistle. [Adam Clarke]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "GOD USED MEN TO WRITE HIS WORD - THE BIBLE."
There is nothing more important than the doctrine of the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. If God did not write the Bible, then you would have nothing to believe in, to rely on. Everything you trust in concerning the LORD Jesus Christ and all that is associated with him lies on the foundation of Biblical inspiration. In other words, without God having truly written the Bible, you cannot trust in anything it says. It would be just another book, another philosophy. It would only be the work of man.
However, the Holy Scriptures constantly affirm that God wrote them. Throughout the Bible, you have expressions such as -"thus saith the LORD," "the LORD said," "God said," "the LORD spake," etc. and so forth. In fact, the expression - "thus saith the LORD" alone, is used 415 times in the King James Bible. Therefore, the Bible claims not to be a Book written by man, but rather written by God himself, even though he used men to write down his words.
In our text of 1st Thessalonians, you have one of the most important statements concerning inspiration in all of the Bible. The Apostle Paul said -
"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
Notice that the Apostle Paul first states the Thessalonians "received the word of God." Then, he goes on to say they heard it from the Apostles. After that, he commends them for not receiving the words of the Apostles as merely the words of man, "but as it is in truth - the word of God." Here, you have the fundamental concept of the Holy Scriptures. The Scriptures are God's Word, written and delivered by men. This is also what the Bible states about itself - all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (to men). Therefore, you have the combination of God's Spirit and man's soul. Both are found in the Scriptures.
As already stated, without an inspired Bible, you have nothing to rely on. It is just another book. However, in addition to Biblical claims to inspiration (that is, what the Bible says about itself) you also have the witness and testimony of archaeology, history, fulfilled Bible prophecies, and most of all - the personal experience of seeing God work through the Scriptures in your own life. In other words, there are many "infallible proofs," that the Bible is indeed written by God. The Bible does not stand on empty claims.
This is what the Apostle Paul was conveying in our text. He stated - "the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." This is an engaging statement. Primarily so, because the word - "worketh," comes from the Greek word from which we get our English word - "energy." Anyone who has believed and put faith, real faith, in the Word of God knows in his or her experience that it "works." This is one of the greatest testimonies to the reality of an inspired Bible. It works.
Like the Thessalonians, you may not have all the intellectual or academic information to defend the Holy Scriptures. Yet, if you have true faith as defined in the Bible, you find repeatedly that it works. This is the wonder and beauty of the Word of God. You know that it is the Word of God because it - "effectually worketh in you." There can be no better proof than the fact that it works.
This is exactly what the Apostle Paul was saying. In essence, he was saying that you know it is the Word of God because you see it working. You do not need to know exactly how something works in order to use it. You use many things every day from your car to your refrigerator that you may not completely understand "how" it works. Yet, you do not need to know how it works - as long as it works.
With the Holy Scriptures, it is a bit different. In the Bible you understand it is God speaking. Therefore, you expect it to work. However, what is so amazing is that you see things happen in your life (as well as prophecy coming to pass in the age in which we live), and this confirms and sustains the reality of God's Authorship of the Bible.
Much of the inspiration of the knowledge of the Scriptures (for the individual) depends on his or her obedience to the commands of Christ. Jesus stated -
"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (Joh_7:17)
Here, Jesus clearly states that through obedience to his commands an individual will know that God wrote the Bible. Jesus tells you that doing God's will authenticates the reality of inspiration. That is, you will know without a doubt that the Bible was written by God. You will know it within yourself. This, by the way, is given by the witness of the Holy Spirit. Further, it is a powerful truth. To know inside yourself that the Bible was written by God - all 31, 102 verses of it, gives you great confidence. It is a tremendous encouragement.
God used men to write his Word - the Bible. He will use you also in performing his will for your life. Further, he will always fulfill his promises that are based on his principles.
-  John Adams, The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, Charles Francis Adams, editor (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1856), Vol. X, p. 254, to Thomas Jefferson on April 19, 1817. ; John Adams, Works, Vol. III, p. 421, diary entry for July 26, 1796
-  Adam Clarke LL.D., F.S.A. Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible. Public Domain, 1715 - 1832.
-  Act_1:3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: