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First Thessalonians: 1 Thessalonians 2:16-Unregenerate Jews Living During the Times of the Gentiles Experience the Wrath of God Lesson # 33

First Thessalonians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:20:18
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First Thessalonians: 1 Thessalonians 2:16-Unregenerate Jews Living During the Times of the Gentiles Experience the Wrath of God

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1 Thessalonians 2:13 And so we too constantly thank God that when you received God’s message that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human message, but as it truly is, God’s message, which is at work among you who believe. 14 For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews. 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God and are opposed to all people, 16 because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they constantly fill up their measure of sins, but wrath has come upon them completely. (NET)
1 Thessalonians 2:16 contains three more assertions which further describe the unregenerate Jews who are described in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15.
The first assertion in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 is an adversative clause which asserts that God’s wrath has been experienced by these unregenerate Jews described in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 until the end.
The second assertion is a causal clause, which presents the reason why they were experiencing God’s wrath and asserts that they were hindering Paul, Silvanus and Timothy from communicating the gospel to unregenerate Gentiles in order that they might be saved.
The third assertion is a result clause, which presents the result of these Jews hindering Gentiles from hearing the gospel that they might be saved and asserts that they had been constantly bringing to completion their full number of sins.
These unregenerate Jews were experiencing God’s wrath until the end because they hindered the Christian community from communicating the gospel to unsaved Gentiles in order that they could be saved.
This “wrath” refers to the period in which God is disciplining the nation of Israel which is called in the Scripture “the times of the Gentiles” and is prophesied about in Daniel chapters 2 and 7 as well as Daniel 9:24-27.
Unrepentant, unregenerate Jews like unrepentant, unregenerate Gentiles will experience the wrath of God throughout eternity in the lake of fire as a result of not accepting by faith the Father’s one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
These unregenerate Jews were described as experiencing God’s wrath because they were living during the times of the Gentiles which is a period of time in which God is disciplining the nation of Israel for not exercising faith in Him.
They demonstrated this lack of faith in Him by rejecting His Son Jesus Christ and having Him crucified and then by hindering the gospel about Him to be proclaimed to both Jew and Gentile alike.
Thus, the idea in this adversative clause is that these unregenerate Jews were manifesting they were under God’s wrath which is consistent with God disciplining the nation of Israel for their rejection of Him and His Son.
“The times of the Gentiles” refers to an extended period of time when the Gentiles are the dominant world powers and Israel is subject to those powers and extends from the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar (586 B.C.) and continues through the Tribulation (Revelation 11:2).
Until the end” speaks of end of the period in which God is disciplining the nation of Israel for their rejection of Him, which is called the times of the Gentiles and is described in the prophecy of the seventy weeks of Daniel recorded in Daniel 924-27.
The end of this period is the end of the seventieth week of Daniel (cf. Dan. 9:24-27; cf. Rom. 11).
Therefore, this preposition phrase is referring to the period in which God is disciplining the nation of Israel for their rejection of Him, which is described in Daniel 9:24-27 and is called the times of the Gentiles.
Thus, this prepositional phrase speaks of the end of this period in which God is disciplining the nation of Israel for their rejection of Him.
The seventieth week in this prophecy will end with the Second Advent of Jesus Christ because at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, the majority in the nation of Israel will trust in Him as Savior and elect angels will remove all unregenerate Jews from the earth.
So therefore, in 1 Thessalonians 2:16, the prepositional phrase “until the end” which appears at the end of the adversative clause is speaking of the end of the seventy weeks of Daniel, which ends with the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.
The causal clause in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 asserts that these unregenerate Jews were hindering Paul, Silvanus and Timothy from communicating the gospel to unregenerate Gentiles in order to be saved.
Wanamaker writes “Acts has numerous references to Jews hindering of the Pauline mission to the Gentiles (cf. 13:45–50; 14:2, 19; 17:5–9, 13; 18:12), and such activity probably forms the background to 2 Cor. 11:24, where Paul speaks of the numerous beatings he had received at the hands of the Jews.”[1]
Acts 17 records these unregenerate Jews hindering Paul and Silvanus from proclaiming the gospel in the city of Thessalonica.
The result clause in 1 Thessalonians 2:16 states that they had been constantly bringing to completion their full number of sins.
When 1 Thessalonians 2:16 asserts that these unregenerate Jews were bringing to completion their full number of sins, it is speaking of unregenerate Israel in corporate terms.
Therefore, when it speaks of these unregenerate Jews bringing to completion their full number of sins, it refers to unregenerate Israel committing the full number of sins which God sovereignly decreed they would commit as a corporate unit throughout history.
By hindering unsaved Gentiles from hearing the gospel in order that they would be saved, these unregenerate Jews were committing their full number of sins which God sovereignly decreed they would commit as a group of people during this period of the seventy weeks of Daniel and the times of the Gentiles.
This interpretation is supported by the assertions in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15.
That the Jews described in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 are speaking of unregenerate Jews of the Old Testament is indicated by the reference to the prophets in 1 Thessalonians 2:15 which is a reference to the Old Testament prophets of Israel.
That these Jews are also referring to unregenerate Jews of the first century A.D. is indicated by the fact that they are described as severely persecuting the Jewish Christian community in Judea in 1 Thessalonians 2:14.
Also, they are described in 1 Thessalonians 2:15 as murdering the Lord Jesus and severely persecuting Paul, Silvanus and Timothy.
The Jewish Christian community in Judea, the Lord Jesus and Paul, Silvanus and Timothy all of course lived during the first century A.D.
Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 2:16 asserts that unregenerate Jews described in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 were under the wrath of God since they were opposing God’s plan to save not only Jews but also Gentiles.
By hindering Paul, Silvanus and Timothy from proclaiming the gospel to unregenerate Gentiles, these unregenerate Jews, were living in opposition to these Gentiles and thus the entire human race and opposing God’s plan.
Now, the purpose of 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 is two-fold.
First, these verses were designed to encourage the Thessalonian Christian community by reminding them that the persecution they were suffering from their own unregenerate Gentile countrymen was in keeping with the crucifixion and death of Jesus and the suffering of the Jewish Christian community in Judea as well as the suffering experienced by Paul, Silvanus and Timothy.
Jesus, the Jewish Christian community in Judea as well as Paul, Silvanus and Timothy all suffered persecution at the hands of their own countrymen who were of course, unregenerate Jews.
Therefore, these verses are encouraging the Thessalonian Christian community that they were not alone in suffering persecution from their own countrymen.
Secondly, 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 was also designed to build unity between the Jewish and Gentile communities throughout the Empire.
Both groups were suffering persecution because of their identification with Jesus Christ and obedience to His teaching which was communicated by His apostles, evangelists, prophets and teachers (cf. Eph. 4:11-16).
[1] Wanamaker, C. A. (1990). The Epistles to the Thessalonians: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 115–116). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
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