Thessalonians 5:25-28 (NKJV)
25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
Intro: Paul’s final request to the church, pray for us! Pray for the pastor, show affection for one another, and submit to God’s Word. I wish I could remember half of what I have learned at Seminary. I will always remember (I hope anyway) my Church History Professor making the statement that a church is an organism and he went on to say this organism (The Church) is the only organism that eats its own.
1. A Request for Prayer: vs. 25 “Brethren, pray for us.”
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.” Ephesians 6:18-20 (NLT)
It is one of the most profound and simple things to do, yet for many Christians today it isn’t done! Prayer is an afterthought, only done when in dire need. Paul’s simple request that the Thessalonian brethren would pray for him that all believers would pray for their pastors. Paul was simply stating since we are together in the family of God, is it too much to ask to continue to pray for me. I have told everyone who has been a part of any of my ministries for any length of time that there will come a time, where I will let you done, I will make a mistake. You will get angry with me. Even when it does happen the responses I get from church members is I can’t believe you did that. I did, I have and I will continue! Please pray for me! If ever there was time where I could relate to the scriptures and what I believe Paul was trying to say it would be “Brethren pray for us!”
Let’s hash tag this! Let’s give it thumbs up: make these prayers a habit. Pray for the pastor’s safety, there is a little bit (a lot) of evil going on in the world. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Pray for the pastor’s wisdom in service. To make good leadership decisions and exercise wise judgment in resolving potential conflicts. Please pray that my future plans and priorities are consistent with God’s will for me. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.” “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Gardiner Spring solicited prayer for spiritual strength this way: Brethren, pray for us, that we may be kept from sin; that we may walk carefully, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time that our hearts may be more devoted to God, and our lives a more impressive example of the Gospel we preach; that we may be more completely furnished for our work and our conflicts, and put on the whole armor of God; that we may be more faithful and wise to win souls, and that we may discipline our body, and bring it into subjection, lest having preached to others, we ourselves be cast away.
2. A Request for Affection: vs. 26 “Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.”
Paul’s second parting desire for the Thessalonians was that they would display loving affection for one another. “Greet each other in Christian love. All the churches of Christ send you their greetings.” Romans 16:16 (NLT)
The idea of the kiss is to demonstrate love for one another. In Paul’s day, it was customary for people to greet a superior with a kiss on the foot, knee, elbow, or hand; but friends kissed one another on the cheek. Of course most of us know the story of an individual who twisted this custom with hypocrisy; (Judas). And yes we do have modern day Judas’s that will kiss you on the cheek and stab you in the back. Just remember if Christ can do it – “we can do all things thru Christ who strengthens!”
Among believers, the holy kiss became a symbol of genuine love and affection; but it was more than a liturgical sign or ritual gesture performed only during worship services - it was a spontaneous, personal display of affection practiced whenever believing friends met.
Eventually people in the church began to abuse the holy kiss and by the thirteenth century the Western church abandoned the custom. Christians in Western culture now generally express affection by shaking hands or embracing one another (Hugging). Paul commanded believers to love one another in a demonstrable fashion.
3. A Request for Submission: vs. 27 “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.”
It this third departing desire, Paul declared the importance of submitting to God’s Word! There used to be a day where a man’s word was his solemn oath or contract. You didn’t have to write it done or have a Notary to witness. Paul’s request should be our desire to make a solemn oath to submit to God’s word. We might not here it, but the Holy Spirit is telling us “I charge you” to submit.
Public reading of Scripture was essential to the spiritual accountability of the people of God. “Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.” 1 Timothy 4:13 (NLT)
Initially, there was only one treasured copy of the epistle, which made it impossible for everyone to read it individually. Most of the church members would likely have been unable to read it because of illiteracy. The letter was to be read as God’s Word, a revelation from heaven that was true and authoritative, requiring belief and obedience.
4. A Closing Benediction: vs. 28 “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.”
This is the closing Benediction, the closing blessing. A blessing we can still receive today, years later. “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:3
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. His grace is truth and His truth can set us free, if only we believe.”
The closing requests Paul made to the Thessalonians match what all dedicated pastors desire from their own churches: that their people pray for them, that their people demonstrate affection to them and to one another, and that their people hear, read, study, and apply God’s Word. The evangelical church now resides in a time when so many people assume that it can accomplish its mission by man-centered methods, programs, and strategies. Those same people minimize the need to seriously and faithfully pray for their pastors, or the necessity to regularly rely on the divine, all-sufficient resources contained in Scripture. It is a lie from Satan that pastors can do without the divinely energized prayers of their people, but it is God’s truth that, through those prayers, He will powerfully enable pastors to fulfill their callings and help build His church.
Don’t Be Confused!
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