Good Morning Church Family!
On Sunday, Pastor Ginger preached on the grace and wrath of God and asked you to respond in a couple of specific ways: to memorize Romans 12:19-21 and also to write down any questions you have from studying Thessalonians these last several weeks. I am including the verses in this post for your convenience in both NRS and NIV versions, as well as Ginger’s answers to the questions she has received so far! If you still have questions you need to ask, you will have the opportunity to do so this Sunday.
Romans 12:19-21 (NRS) Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:19-21 (NIV) Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Questions from Studying Thessalonians:
Is self-defense considered as revenge?
No. The Bible does not say that it is wrong to defend yourself. Jesus asks of us to consider our heart’s motive. Also, be wise, and learn to settle disagreements. If we are looking for a way to retaliate or have ill will toward someone, then we are cautioned to change our heart. (See Matthew 5:21-26)
Jesus sometimes says to flee. Once, after feeding the 5,000, some people came to Jesus to take Him by force and make Him king. He withdrew to a mountain. (See John 6) So sometimes we must just get away from the conflict.
Other times we stand up to it. There are numerous examples where Elijah or Moses or Elisha or Paul stood up for themselves. For example, when Paul was about to be flogged he stopped the officials in charge by defending himself, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who is uncondemned?” He stood up for his rights. He was released. (See Acts 22:22ff)
What do we know about the city of Thessaloniki at this time? In what ways does Paul address the needs there?
The church still thrives in Thessaloniki. The 2015 Pew Report says 90 percent of the population is Greek Orthodox. There are 50,000 Catholics and 30,000 Evangelicals, mostly Pentecostal. (Total metro area population in 2011 was 1,012,297). All Greek students in primary and secondary schools attend Christian Orthodox instruction. In addition, the Constitution prohibits proselytizing by other religions.
It seems reasonable to believe that the lessons we have learned from the books vibrantly speak to Christians at Thessaloniki today in the same way they speak to us. Most likely, the books would also strongly remind them of their early church’s influences on the surrounding areas, their strong Christian heritage, and how Christ has held them up over centuries of wars, trials, threats against the church, and changes in governments. What an encouraging heritage. Perhaps they take the books Paul wrote to them very seriously!
Have a blessed week!