This second letter to the church in Thessalonica is very similar to the first one.

It commends the believers’ perseverance under persecution and teaches about the Second Coming of Jesus.

Since the content is similar to the first letter, it is generally thought to have been written a short time after the first. Probably while Paul was still in Corinth about 50 A.D.

It is natural for any dynamic group of believers to have questions about many things, as well as problems. But this is especially true of a new fellowship. So it is not unusual the relatively young church in Thessalonica would have issues Paul needed to address.

This letter is filled with encouragement to continue to follow Jesus as well as correction about some false ideas.

Paul is a good student of Jesus. Remember how Jesus explained many things to His disciples when He was present with them? But no more so than in the hours before His death!
This was because He knew His departure would alter His relationship with them. He would be physically separated from them.

Here Paul is in a similar situation, having been forced to leave Thessalonica because of death threats. And like Jesus, Paul has a strong desire to communicate the truths they need to survive in his absence.

No doubt, Paul would prefer to speak face to face with them about the problems he has heard about in the church there. Unable to do so, he writes a second letter to clear up some misunderstandings that have developed.

There are four themes in the letter:

1. Commendation for the progress in faith they have made.
2. Encouragement to continue in the face of persecution.
3. Correction of certain behavior arising from false ideas about Jesus’
immediate return.
4. Instruction about the true nature and time of Jesus’ return.

The overall thrust is to establish the church on a more firm foundation.



May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.

Is it possible to be thoroughly sanctified, set apart for God? Is a blameless life attainable for students of Jesus?

Paul says it is!

But how?

Here is the precise point many students of Jesus go wrong. They mistakenly think holiness depends only on their efforts. They attempt it on their own.

They fail of course. Sin often, get discouraged with themselves and sometimes give up! The exact opposite result Paul hopes for the new believers in Thessalonica!
Students of Jesus can grow in the likeness of Jesus, sin less and less, and do many good things, but they can never live completely blameless/sinless lives.

Being blameless can only come through trust in Jesus's work, not personal effort. It is not something believers can do for themselves! Note carefully what Paul wrote about this:

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is praying for someone to keep them blameless! But who?

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

It is God, through Jesus’ life, forgiving every sin and declaring us to be blameless. Keeping us blameless in spite of our many failings!

Students of Jesus cooperate with the leading of the Spirit. Often overcome sin and do the right thing. Fulfill their destiny, become more like the Teacher! But...

The very best student of Jesus can never be blameless in their thoughts and actions. Yet, by the grace of God the worst students are kept blameless! What an encouraging thought to close this Letter!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.



I Thessalonians 5:16-22

Be joyful always…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Is it possible to be happy all the time? Happy when you lose a job? Happy when the doctor gives you a bad report? Happy when a loved one dies?

Sorrow and pain are a part of every life. So how can one be joyful in such circumstances?

Paul is not talking about living without some negative feelings when bad things happen. He is saying that students of Jesus can maintain a joyful spirit even in the worst times.

Jesus said - In the world you will have trouble. Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world!

Our deep and lasting joy is belonging to Jesus. This joy transcends circumstances. Our most valuable possession – our relationship to Him – cannot be destroyed by any of the bad things that happen in life.

Paul continues by giving advice for being joyful always – Pray continually. By communicating our problems to God, we gain a measure of peace because we trust Him to work everything out for our ultimate good.

Paul also counsels – Give thanks in all circumstances. In every situation – good and bad – students of Jesus learn to find something for which to be thankful. They learn to look up and see beyond the temporary setback to the ultimate victory Jesus has already won for them.

You will never meet a thankful person who is not also a happy person. When we focus on what we don’t have or what is wrong with what we do have, we are caught up in ourselves. But when we thank God, our thoughts are on Him.

We can be joyful always because we know God wants us to be happy. And God is powerful to make us so. Joy…is God’s will for us!



Live in peace with each other.

Peace with God, peace within and peace between people! What is more important than peace? Every good thing is possible only in peace.

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, because He alone can create peace in all of these areas of life.

He is our peace with God. He makes this peace by His death on the cross in our place. Paying for our sins!

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God forgives all who trust in Him. Forgiven by God we enjoy a clean conscience before Him. Inner peace!

At peace with God and peaceful in our souls, we make peace with others. If we receive the peace of Jesus, we freely give what we have been given. We do everything to live in peace with everyone else.

Paul gives some very practical advice about how to keep the peace in all our relationships.

First, he counsels respect for our spiritual leaders. If everyone is doing their own thing without regard for those God has appointed as leaders, chaos – not peace – is the result.

Paul encourages a strong work ethic. Staying busy occupies the mind and body productively and effectively removes many temptations and troubles between people.

Paul advises help and encouragement toward the weak. And patience with everyone! He also warns against the tendency to get even when someone wrongs us.

In these ways, a student of Jesus becomes more like the Teacher - a peacemaker! Making peace is how Jesus lives. Only following Him makes this kind of life possible for us!

Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.



About times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Here Paul echoes the words of Jesus. The Lord’s return will be unexpected. Like a thief in the night!

But Paul says students of Jesus who are paying attention to the Teacher will not be surprised - But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

We may not know the time of Jesus’ second coming, but we know He is coming! The logical response is to be prepared all the time. In this way, students of Jesus will be prepared whenever it happens.
They prepare by staying alert and self-controlled. Watchful and expectant! Restraining behavior contrary to the desires of the Teacher!

In fact, Paul here repeats the caution to be self-controlled, because giving in to temptations leads to an unprepared heart and life. Surprised by the Lord’s sudden arrival!

Paul also encourages them to live in faith, love and hope. These three work together to create a prepared heart and life.

Faith in Jesus leads to choices pleasing to Him. Love proves and sustains our relationship with Him. And hope produces constancy and endurance.

Those who do not trust Jesus, love Him, and hope for His return will not be prepared when it happens. Paul says such people are in the darkness.

On the other hand, students of Jesus are in the light. They understand. And together, they support one another in staying prepared.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.



Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

Apparently some in Thessalonica think only those who are alive when Jesus returns will be saved. They mistakenly believe they will be forever separated from their loved ones who happen to die before Jesus comes.

Not so! Paul tells them the dead will actually the first to be with Jesus!

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive...will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep…For the Lord himself will come down from heaven…and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Here is the order: Jesus returns. The dead rise to meet the Lord. The living join them.

This is what the resurrection of Jesus means to His students. Death is not the end of the relationships they hold so dear in this life. There is no final Goodbye at the grave.

This is the great hope of the resurrection of Jesus. It means Jesus is alive and those who follow Him will be with Him. And it also means they will also be re-united with all other students of Jesus, even those who are in the grave!

We do not want our closest relationships to end. We want them to continue forever! The resurrection of Jesus answers this great desire of our hearts.

When Jesus returns what a reunion it will be! How long will it last? Paul says – forever!

And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.



Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you…

God supernaturally intervened in human history. God came down to earth…Jesus came! His birth, death and resurrection! Amazing things!

Jesus also ascended into heaven, promising an even more spectacular return to claim those who believe in Him.

Those who lived at the time of these incredible events naturally expected Jesus to return any day. Imagine the temptation to interrupt the daily routine of work and all the essential chores of life. Why bother if it will all end soon?

Simply stop and wait expectantly for Jesus to come back and rescue from all of life’s struggles. Run around excitedly, talking of nothing else!

It is this temptation Paul addresses here. Since nobody knows when Jesus will return, he reminds the Thessalonians of his prior instructions about this. Settle down, mind your own business and keep your job!

As students of Jesus, they have an obligation to be good employees and good citizens. They should be concerned about their influence with those who do not yet share their enthusiasm for Jesus.

…so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

If they become idle, shiftless and dependent on others, it won’t be long before students of Jesus will be the object of scorn by hard-working, conscientious people. The very people they should be influencing to become students of Jesus also!

Today, with nearly 2,000 years between us and the mind-boggling events of Jesus’ life on earth, students of Jesus better understand this truth. Life goes on, and so must we…even if we expect Him to return any time now.



Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.

Paul reveals an amazing truth here. It is possible to live in such a way that God is pleased!

Paul doesn’t say the believers could live perfect lives. If such were possible then Jesus’ death on the cross would make no sense, since He died for the sins of the world!

But Paul does say our lives can be pleasing to God. Not sinless, but sinning less by becoming more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit within.

Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

With the help of the Holy Spirit within, becoming more like the Teacher is a growing, developing life-process - Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

As students of Jesus learn to think and act more like Him, God is more and more pleased!

This is an awesome thought! What we think about, what we say and what we do is of interest to our Creator. And we have it within our power to please Him!

Pleasing God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is on the mind of these students of the Teacher. Though Paul reminds them who they are following - For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Twice Paul uses the phrase, more and more, to describe his expectation for the believers in Thessalonica. Becoming more and more like Jesus is the destiny of every student of the Teacher!



Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again...

Why does Paul write? He is in relationship with these new Christians and desires to communicate with them any way he can! If he can’t be with them in person, he writes a letter!

Communication is the essence of relationship. Proof of love, care and concern! Without it, there is no living connection.

Sometimes people speak of a personal relationship with Jesus, but few can explain what this these words actually mean.

Some think they have a relationship with Jesus because they pray to Him for forgiveness. Others may think they have a personal relationship with Jesus because they go to church.

Going to church and believing Jesus is the Savior does not necessarily lead to a close personal relationship with Him.

Praying on Sunday at church is fine, but what about all the other days in the week? See you next Sunday, Jesus!
Is it possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus only one day in the week?

Students of Jesus are in close contact with the Teacher. They are developing the discipline of awareness of His presence! They seek to be in personal moment-by-moment dialogue with Him.

Each moment of every day the relationship renews as every experience is shared with the Teacher. In real-time communication! Not only in church, at meals or before sleep at night!

The more a student pays attention to the Teacher, the closer the relationship becomes as positive changes create greater desire for more communication. In this dynamic personal relationship, students are changed to become more like the Teacher.



But, brothers, when we were torn away from you…out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.

We strongly desire to be with those we love. Something is missing when we are separated from them. That’s how Paul feels about the students of Jesus in Thessalonica.

When he was forced to leave the city under extreme duress, he missed them. He wanted to return to be with them, because he grew to love them.

Paul had another relationship. A personal connection with the Teacher, Jesus Christ! It changed his life!

Being a student of Jesus filled his heart with such love and joy. He wanted to share this relationship with those who didn’t have it. That’s what led him from his home in Tarsus to the city of Thessalonica in the first place.

There, he found men and women who – through his life and teaching – entered into a relationship with Jesus also.
The relationship Paul enjoyed with his new brothers and sisters was the creation of Jesus. A bond second in intensity only to his relationship with the Teacher!

It is Jesus who creates relationships. He came to earth to bring people into a relationship with God, through Him. And everyone who comes into relationship with Jesus enjoys a connection with every other believer.

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

This is the unique and amazing thing about a relationship with Jesus and those who follow Him – There is no final parting, no end!



For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children...

Paul reminds the believers in Thessalonica how he treated them when he was with them. He behaved like Jesus. That’s what good students of the Teacher try to do.

Jesus not only taught His followers about love, compassion and mercy, He lived His message. He practiced what He preached. His students experienced a personal demonstration of the truths gave.

The life of Jesus reveals a Teacher who was patient with His students. They often failed to understand His teaching at first. And they were slow to change their way of thinking and living.

Time and again, Jesus gently repeated the principles of the kingdom of God, using examples from everyday life, parables and illustrations. Above all, Jesus kept living the principles in His own life.

Understanding the Teacher’s way, Paul also exhibited patience with those he hoped would become students of Jesus - we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.

Jesus was a living example of the kind of life He called everyone to live. By following Jesus, Paul also served as a model of good behavior before his hearers - You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

Paul was a good student of the Teacher. He reminds the believers in Thessalonica how he treated them. - Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Paul personally experienced the love of Jesus and it changed his life - We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…

Students of Jesus become like the Teacher!



We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

Why do students of Jesus do what they do? Of course, it is important to try to do the right thing, but perhaps more crucial – from God’s point of view - are the motives for our actions.

Paul knows what he is talking about from personal experience. Both as a persecutor of Christians in his early life and now as an apostle in later life!

In both instances, Paul seeks to please God. He persecutes Christians when he mistakenly thinks it pleases God. Then he meets Jesus and begins to teach the Good News for the same reason!

Paul sums it up with these words - We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.

Here Paul informs the believers in Thessalonica about what motivates him to teach about Jesus. To become successful students of Jesus they too must learn to have a higher motive for following Him than seeking the approval of people.

With the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.

Knowing this is a tremendous encouragement to the new Christians because they too face opposition. Like Paul, they must learn to seek to please God even if it means the disapproval of others.

Pleasing the Teacher is the motivation for every successful student of Jesus. For to become more like Him will sometimes bring persecution from others! Why?

Sometimes because of jealousy or prejudice! Often because doing the right thing makes those who are unwilling to change their lives feel condemnation by comparison. If anyone can change for the better, then everyone could! People do what they do, but God is testing their hearts, the motives.



You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Paul is extremely complimentary to the Christians in Thessalonica. In spite of persecution, they are not side-tracked from the purpose of every student of Jesus. To become more like the Teacher!

These new Christians find a living model of Christ-likeness in Paul and his missionary partners. They not only believe the message about Jesus Paul preaches, they want to become like Paul in their way of living.

This happens because Paul is an example for them of what it means to be a good student of Jesus - You know how we lived among you for your sake.

Every student of Jesus has an influence on every other student of Jesus. Here we see a living example in the lives of Paul and the Thessalonians how powerful a model of Christ-like living can be to change lives!

Paul mentions the joy given by the Holy Spirit. It is through the work of the Spirit in our lives that becoming more like Jesus is possible.

Jesus is the perfect model for Paul. Through Paul’s example, the Thessalonians look to Jesus as a model for their lives. Then something else happens.

The Thessalonians became a model for others also - And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

Apparently their faith is so strong it motivates them to spread the message of Jesus beyond the city of Thessalonica. Others, who never met Paul, begin to speak of the Thessalonians as a model of changed lives.

They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven …Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.



We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.

Paul’s predominate emotion is gratitude. Thankfulness to God and gratefulness for the faith of the believers in Thessalonica!

When persecution forces Paul to flee the city after only three weeks, he could not be surprised if the believers give up their new-found faith. Instead, Paul is relieved and happy to hear they stand firm in the face of fear!

They do more than hang on to their faith, they grow spiritually. Paul mentions three things about their spiritual condition for which he is thankful:
1. Faith produces works
2. Love prompts labor
3. Hope in Jesus inspires endurance
Real faith changes behavior. Trusting in Jesus leads students of the Teacher to change their guiding principles for life.

The world says - Live for today as if there will be no tomorrow! Jesus says – Live for today as if there will be no end to the tomorrows!

Faith changes the way the Christians in Thessalonica live their lives. Their behavior reflects a mind-set of faith – not only in tomorrow – but in an eternity of tomorrows!

Faith empowers them to say no to the sinful pleasures of their past way of life and to say yes to the new life of seeking to please Jesus.

Real love produces changes also. Love for Jesus seeks to please Him. And when the love of Jesus fills one’s heart, it spills over into loving actions toward others, behaviors inexplicable to those without such love.

And real hope of a future resurrection and life eternal leads to a lifestyle that seems extravagantly wasteful to those who cannot see beyond today.



This letter is one of the most enjoyable to read in all of the New Testament. It is filled with so much hope and gratitude.

No wonder! Paul is in high spirits! Good news has just arrived about the faithfulness of the fledgling church in Thessalonica.

From the book of Acts we learn Paul only preaches in the city of Thessalonica for three weeks, then flees for safety. Traveling on, Paul didn't know what was happening to those he left behind.

Did they succumb to the pressures of persecution and give up?

In Corinth, Paul finally receives a positive report from Timothy. His short time in Thessalonica produces surprising results! The church had not only survives but thrives.

Paul immediately sits down and pens this letter in a relieved and grateful state of mind. One can feel Paul's joy as he writes this happy letter.

This letter is very personal. We look inside Paul’s heart. Why does he do what he does, going from place to place teaching about Jesus?

Paul is a premier student of Jesus. His obsession? Making new students for Jesus.

Why? Because Jesus not only died for the sins of the world, Jesus rose from the dead. Paul serves a living Teacher!

And as he explains in this letter, Jesus will return to earth. There will be an end to things as they are now. Those who believe in Jesus and are faithful to Him will be with Him forever.

Paul can almost see the final resurrection day, when he will happily stand before Jesus with these Christians from Thessalonica! His time in Thessalonica is not lost. His work is not in vain.
We can see the smile on Paul's face as he writes, because he can see the smile of approval on the face of the Teacher he seeks to please!



What counts is a new creation!

Here Paul makes one final argument against those who are seeking to require the Christians of Galatia to keep certain customs of the Law, specifically circumcision. And it is the most persuasive one.

He simply says being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t really matter at all!

That’s because the only thing that really matters is whether one is being changed. A New Creation!

The Law of Moses, indeed any law or custom alone can never change a person’s heart and life. No human effort can produce a peaceful relationship with God. No amount of rule-keeping can provide a clean conscience before God.

Only Jesus can do these things for us.

This is why Paul says - May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The only way we can ever be in a right relationship with God is through Jesus. By His death on the cross, Jesus took the penalty for our sins and only by trusting what He accomplished will we ever find confidence before God.

It is the persistent tendency of religion to substitute imperfect human effort at rule-keeping for the perfect work of Jesus on the cross! So the apostle Paul says if you must have a rule, take this one - A New Creation!

By faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection we have forgiveness for all our failures in keeping God's rules. We are born again and set upon a path that leads to becoming more and more like Jesus in heart and life. This is the rule for students of Jesus.

Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.



Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

What if opportunity knocked and nobody answered?

It happens all the time, because life is constantly presenting us with chances to do something good for someone and sometimes we fail to recognize them.

Students of Jesus learn to be aware of these occasions. Paying attention to the Teacher is how we develop the skill of seizing the moment.
We see in His life how this is accomplished. In fact, Jesus’ life is described in these words – He went about doing good!

Sometimes people approached Him and asked for His help. More often it was His insight into the situation at hand that led Him to do something good for someone. Jesus intentionally set about to be good to everyone He met.

Our Teacher shows His students how to take the focus from themselves in order to see the need of others in the moment.

The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are filled with stories of Jesus’ encounters with people. All kinds of different people in the normal day-to-day routine of His life!

For those who – like Jesus – are paying attention, opportunity constantly knocks at the door of our hearts. And like the Teacher, good students answer by thoughtful words and loving actions.

This is one very important way in which students become more like their Teacher. And like the Teacher, use their time on earth for good!

This passage of Scripture also provides a priority for our limited time and abilities. Our first concern must be for other students of Jesus, believers. But our love is broader in scope than this. It extends to all we have opportunity!



A man reaps what he sows!

Paul isn’t talking about agriculture. He’s talking about life!

Yet as surely as a farmer can only harvest what he has planted, a person’s life can only yield the fruit of the seeds of thoughts and actions.

Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Students of the Teacher have a God-given destiny to become like Jesus. To achieve this destiny we must purposely sow the seeds of Jesus’ own attitudes and actions in our lives!

This is what being a student of Jesus is all about.

Allowing the Teacher to shape our character as we follow Him and listen to Him. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit as our hearts are changed, our character transformed!

The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life!

On the other hand, ignoring the Spirit’s leading produces another kind of harvest - The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction!

Unlike agriculture which has distinct times of planting and reaping, life is a constant process of sowing and reaping. We are sowing every minute of every day by what we think, say and do. And if only imperceptibly at times, we are experiencing a personal harvest.

This is because our hearts – our lives - are the field into which seeds are constantly being planted. Every moment of every day! All the time!

Conscious of this reality, students of Jesus purposely seek to be led by the Teacher and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.



Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Every student of Jesus feels certain responsibilities to every other student.

This is the law of Christ - the way of love.

It is Jesus’ law because it is how he lived His life. With a sense of responsibility for everyone else!

That’s how He lived from day-to-day! Reaching out to the poor, healing the sick, comforting the broken-hearted, freeing those ensnared by sin and bringing God’s message to everyone He met.

That’s also how He died! His death wasn’t the result of any wrongs He committed. Jesus died for the sins of everyone else!

Like Jesus, His students share each others burdens.

Yet Paul also says here:

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

Are these two statements contradictory: Carry each other’s burdens. Each one carries his own load?

Apparently there are some burdens we can share and some we cannot. For each person must ultimately take responsibility for their own actions.

This is what Jesus did. While He helped others and died for others, He took full responsibility for His own relationship with the Father.

Likewise, students of Jesus can encourage one another and help one another, but one student of Jesus cannot be a good student for anyone else. Every student is individually responsible to become more like the Teacher.
Being a good student of Jesus is about YOU and ME!



But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Students of Jesus live by the Spirit of God, not the letter of the Law. Living by the Spirit is a higher calling than rule-keeping. The Law cannot change hearts, but Jesus can!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

This is an amazing statement! It is possible for students of Jesus to enter into a process that changes their hearts, their emotions and their desires to be more like Jesus!

Here’s a way of life no Law can offer: Jesus changes the heart and so changes the behavior!

The Law says – Change your behavior! Avoid the wrong and do the right! And we fail!

Jesus says – Let me change you! Then you will desire to avoid the wrong and do the right! And we find joy in the person we are becoming!

The Law merely informs a person about what is right and wrong. The Holy Spirit transforms a student of Jesus! Taking them beyond the requirements of rules into a life of freedom to actually become more and more like their Teacher!

The Teacher lives in His students representatively through the Holy Spirit. The classroom is always in session, because life is the classroom and the Teacher is always present.

What is the curriculum in the classroom of life?

Sounds like Jesus…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.



You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

It is somewhat ironic that Paul says one can fall from grace by trying to be right with God through rule-keeping. But the fact is, to ever be justified by keeping God’s rules would require one to keep all the rules perfectly, all the time!

However, everyone sins. Nobody is perfect. That’s why grace is needed in the first place!

In truth, if people could live perfectly sinless lives, they would have no need of the grace of God. They could earn their right standing before God through their own perfection!

Paul wants the Christians in Galatia to see the stark choice before them. They cannot choose part Grace and part Law. It is all one way or the other!

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

How good one is or how bad is not the test when it comes to being accepted by God. Only one Person has ever been good enough to stand before God. His name is Jesus.

It is only by faith in Him that people can be right with God!

Of course, Paul is not saying behavior isn’t important. That it doesn’t matter how imperfectly we live! Students of Jesus are in the process of becoming more like their Teacher.

As we become more like Jesus our lives naturally change for the better and we become more pleasing to God. So Paul writes:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.



These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants.

Paul uses the story of two Old Testament women to illustrate the choice before the Christians of Galatia. The choice is between two extremes. Legalism which leads to slavery or Grace which brings freedom!

God promised Abraham that through his descendants the world would be blessed. This promise was the future coming of Jesus who was born in the lineage of Abraham.

But Abraham, who was married to Sarah, grew to old age without ever having a son. Abraham mistakenly decided to have a son by one of the servants in his household. In due time, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

In the course of time, God kept his promise to Abraham. He and Sarah had a son named Isaac.

This resulted in confusion and contention in the household and Abraham sent Hagar and her son away. The child of the slave woman was not to share in the inheritance of the son God promised!

But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."

The analogy is perfect. Hagar’s child represents human effort. Sarah’s child was God’s promise, a miracle child born in old age.

Those who taught the necessity of keeping the Law of Moses represented slavery to human effort in order to please God. While Paul’s message of Jesus represents the miracle promise of Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

In this figure, Paul is urging his converts to cast out the teaching of slavery and to continue living in the promise Jesus provides.

Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.



My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…

Here we learn what Paul thinks is most important for every student of Jesus. To be transformed into the image of Jesus! Christ...formed in you!
Transformation into the likeness of Jesus! This is the goal of every student of the Teacher. To become more like Him in heart and life!

Here Paul calls the Christians in Galatia his dear children. For he labored to bring them into the new birth of faith in Jesus. They became students of Jesus and were on the way to becoming more like Jesus.

Sadly, this process is in danger of being interrupted by false teachers, who seek to enslave these students of Jesus with requirements of the Law of Moses.

You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Paul’s work is in danger of being destroyed if the Christians of Galatia turn their focus away from inner spiritual transformation. If they become entangled in religious customs that have nothing to do with being a good student of Jesus!

We can imagine Paul’s concern. He is far from them. He isn’t sure what is going on - how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

Paul does what he can. He writes this letter warning them to refuse the teaching of those who do not care about this truth - Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.

Now as then, there is a persistent temptation for students of Jesus to think that customs and rituals are as important as spiritual formation. Falling for this leads to the dead-end of legalism, rather than the life-changing process of becoming more like Jesus which leads to eternal life.



So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

The inheritance of God! This is everything God gives to those who are His sons and daughters. This includes forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life in heaven some day!

One does not qualify for the inheritance by the keeping of the Law, but by faith in Jesus. Not because of human effort, but because of Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection!

Only a son or daughter can inherit from the father. And only those who are sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father can claim a portion in the inheritance God gives?

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

It is by faith in Jesus one becomes a child of God. It is by the grace of God – a free gift – not by efforts in keeping the rules, as important as that may be. In fact, Paul compares a life lived under the Law with slavery.

And a slave cannot receive the Master’s inheritance!

So how do we know we are His children?

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."

It is the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that validates our claim to the inheritance God gives His children. The Spirit of Jesus is proof of our relationship with the Father. By this we know we are His children.

It is through the Holy Spirit living in us that we know we are forgiven and living in the Family of God. And it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in our preparation to live forever in the Family of God - our final inheritance in heaven.

With Jesus as our Teacher and the Holy Spirit as our Tutor, we become more like Jesus and prepare ourselves to live forever in God’s Family.



For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Paul uses familiar imagery here. Everyone knows clothes cover. Clothes also protect against the elements, cold and heat.

And certain clothes are needed for different occasions. What one wears to work in the field would not be suitable dress before a King.

What is the proper spiritual attire necessary to come before God and be pleasing to Him? There is only one answer – Jesus!

Anyone who comes to Jesus is covered! To be covered by Jesus means that nothing else is needed to be fully dressed before God. Without Jesus, even our best efforts at keeping God's commands leave our sins uncovered.

Paul is continuing to refute the idea that keeping parts of the Law of Moses could add anything to one’s standing before God. To be covered by Jesus’ life and death is the only way to be properly dressed before The King!

Paul reminds his readers of how they came to be clothed with Jesus. At the point their faith in Jesus led them to be baptized, they were clothed with Christ! Faith came alive and they became Sons of God by faith!

Their right standing with God did not come through any human effort. Believing is not a work. It is trusting in Jesus.

Being baptized is not a work. It is something to which one submits. In fact, it is a passive act, something that one allows another to do to him.

When faith leads one to submit to Jesus through the act of baptism in water, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit. Then with the help of the Holy Spirit a student of Jesus can actually become more like the Teacher in heart and life. It is being clothed with Jesus that matters.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.



So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

Paul continues to marshal arguments against the teaching threatening the new churches he established in Galatia. Against the false teachers who were attempting to bind certain requirements of the Law of Moses upon students of Jesus!

He advances two arguments against keeping the Law of Moses:

1. The promise of salvation by faith in Jesus pre-dates the Law of Moses - The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

2. If salvation depends on keeping the law, then the promise shared with Abraham would be unnecessary - For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

Paul then proceeds to answer the question – Why then was the Law of Moses given?

It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come…Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

The Law cannot save from sin, because nobody can keep the Law perfectly. That’s why salvation must come through the grace of God. A promise of God, not a covenant of Law.

The coming of Jesus is the promise made to Abraham. Salvation then is by faith in Jesus, not by keeping the Law. Those teaching the necessity of keeping parts of the Law of Moses are mistaken.

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Students of Jesus are only and completely saved by faith in Jesus!



After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

This is Paul’s question to those who may be tempted to live by the Law of Moses in order to have a right relationship with God. He reminds them that God – the Holy Spirit – came to live in their hearts by faith, not by law-keeping!

Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

Law – even God’s Law – does not have the power to save anyone. Law only informs a person about what is right and wrong, it cannot transform a life. Nor can keeping rules make anyone right in the sight of God, for nobody can keep the law perfectly.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

God gave the Law of Moses to show what kind of life is required to please God. Of course, God knew man would not be able to keep these rules perfectly. Man’s failure was supposed to help him realize the need for something else.

That something else is the coming of Jesus, his perfect life and sacrificial death on our behalf.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that…we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

It is only by faith in what Jesus has done for us that God declares us to be right before Him. And only the Holy Spirit living within can give power to change our hearts and live a life pleasing to God

Paul reminds every student of Jesus that becoming more like the Teacher requires Divine Help. Human effort alone will never do it.

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.



I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Jesus was Jewish. All of the apostles were also. In fact, most all of the first students of Jesus were too!

So who can blame some of the early Jewish Christians who wrongly believed that Gentile Christians should keep the traditions and customs of the Law of Moses as they actually continued to do?

Jewish festivals, circumcision and other customs continued to be valued and practiced by Jewish Christians. Becoming a student of Jesus didn’t change their cultural orientation overnight. And it was difficult for some to understand why Gentiles shouldn’t become more Jewish in their behavior.

But God sent Jesus to save everyone, including the majority of people in the world who are not Jewish, rather Gentile. And receiving the Good News of Jesus – becoming a student of Jesus – was never intended to be a conversion to Judaism.

Neither did Jesus intend to destroy the Law of Moses. How could He, when He is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and all of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Jesus is the embodiment of Judaism’s promise to the world.

A promise given to Abraham years before Moses was even born. That through his descendents One would come who would bless all nations.

What we see in the Book of Galatians is a collision of cultures with a question hanging over it. Just what if any of the customs of Judaism will be required by Gentile when they become students of Jesus?

Paul’s answer is nothing is needed except faith in Jesus and willingness to follow His teaching. This was the truth for Jewish Christians and for Gentiles too. Only Jesus!

So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.



Galatians 2:1-10

For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.

Paul continues to defend himself against those who were attacking him in order to discredit his message. These false teachers were requiring the Gentile Christians to be circumcised in order to be saved.

Paul wants them to know that even in Jerusalem; the church does not require Gentiles to be circumcised.

Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem…yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.

He tells of false brothers who tried to require Titus to be circumcised. Paul wants them to know how he stood against this - We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

At issue in all of these details is whether a relationship with Jesus is sufficient for a person to be saved. By adding legalistic requirements, the false teachers are saying Jesus isn’t enough. It is Jesus, plus this or that!

Paul concludes by letting them know that the apostles in Jerusalem accepted him and his mission to the Gentiles. And they did not advise him to require circumcision as a part of the message of Jesus. That belonged to the custom of the Jews.

James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.



I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

False teachers have come into the churches of Galatia after Paul left and undermined His teaching. Because of this, Paul is in the unenviable position of defending His credentials as an apostle in order to defend his message.

He doesn’t do this to promote himself, but rather to show that His teaching comes directly from Jesus. Whereas, these false teachers do not have the authority of an apostle as Paul does.

Paul’s concern is for the spiritual health of the churches he worked so hard to establish. He fears they will fall from the grace of God into a system of legalism being taught by others. He only presents his credentials to underscore the truth of what he taught these Christians, so they won't be led into error.

Paul’s defense of his authority as an apostle of Jesus indicates something of what these false teachers must have been saying about him.

But when God…was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was…

Apparently, these false teachers were saying that Paul does not speak for the other apostles, some of whom were still in the city of Jerusalem.

Perhaps they made the argument that the other apostles felt as they did, that the Gentile Christians should be circumcised and keep the law. And therefore, Paul was wrong not to require they keep the custom of the Law of Moses.

Paul, therefore, is forced to present his credentials as someone called by Jesus. And that his message to them was only what Jesus Himself had revealed to him.

While the apostles in Jerusalem are primarily seeking to teach Jews, Jesus has given Paul the special mission and revelation to the Gentiles.