Paul's Final Instructions
14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly (idle - ESV), encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
16 Rejoice always;
17 pray without ceasing;
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit;
20 do not despise prophetic utterances.
21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;
22 abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Th 5:14–28.
Paul is giving final instructions to the Thessalonians to help strengthen and encourage this church or community of believers who are under persecution and the strain it is causing upon them.
I. Church as a Community -
The term “community” can be a bit of a buzzword at times. People want to experience community, and churches want to foster it. But sometimes the results can be something other than desirable. Conflicts inevitably arise, personalities clash, and agendas (real or otherwise) are revealed. When that happens, community becomes messy and is usually not the kind of experience most signed up for. Sometimes the end result is that one community will dissolve in order to form a new one. But sooner or later the same problems creep in again.
John Byron, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, ed. Scot McKnight, The Story of God Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 180.
Community is what defines us, not what we feel or experience. We are bound together by our common faith in God, and our commitment to that faith not only allows us to experience community, but also helps hold us together when circumstances and situation within and without the community make it difficult to “feel” the things we would like to feel.
Example: Story of Israel Their common identity is based on their relationship with God. It was a community that God led out of Egypt. It was a community that God God gave his covenant. It was a community that God exiled when Israel broke that covenant and, and God returned them from exile as a community.