Walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:12

Contrary to much that is being said and practiced in churches, true worship is not something that we “do” in the hope of appearing to be religious!

True worship must be a constant and consistent attitude or state of mind within the believer, a sustained and blessed acknowledgment of love and admiration. If we have this awareness in our own lives and experience, then it is evident that we are not just waiting for Sunday to come to church and worship.

Having been made in His image, we have within us the capacity to know God and the instinct that we should worship Him. The very moment that the Spirit of God has quickened us to His life in regeneration, our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition!

That response within our beings—a response to the forgiveness and pardon and regeneration—signals the miracle of the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the kingdom of God. Thus the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration.

Lord Jesus, many people in our country and around the world are not yet born again. I pray that Your Spirit will restore many lost souls to intimate fellowship with God today.[1]

The father as producer

so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (2:12)

Like a father whose goal is the mature wisdom of his children, the apostle Paul concluded his exhortation by affirming that a spiritual father will endeavor to continue his efforts until he produces sons and daughters who walk in a manner worthy—live mature lives. Walk refers to daily conduct, as it often does in the New Testament epistles (e.g., Rom. 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 5:16, 25; Eph. 2:10; 4:1; 5:8; Col. 1:10; 2:6; 1 John 2:6). In referring to the God who calls, Paul was again directly referring to the truth of the Thessalonians’ election, which he stated in 1:4 (see the discussion in chapter 1 of this volume) and again mentions in 5:24.

Here the divine call, as always in the epistles, refers to the effectual saving call. By it God, through the faith graciously and sovereignly granted to sinners, regenerates, justifies, and sanctifies them. And Paul stated the singular end of that call—entrance into His own kingdom and glory. Though they, as all believers, had not yet seen either the millennial kingdom or the eternal kingdom, they were already citizens of the redeemed kingdom over which God now rules (Luke 17:21; Col. 1:13; cf. Rom. 14:17). Thus they had a present share in the glory of God as well as a promise of the future glory in the kingdom yet to come. All believers look forward to sharing in the full glory of the heavenly kingdom when God raises them to be like Christ and with Him for eternity (Ps. 73:24; Prov. 3:35; Rom. 9:23; 1 Cor. 15:43; Phil. 3:20–21; Col. 3:4; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 5:10; cf. Matt. 5:12; John 14:2; Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17; Heb. 4:9; 11:16; 1 Peter 1:3–4; Rev. 7:16–17).

The parental pictures of spiritual leadership in 1 Thessalonians 2:7–12 clearly demonstrate that leadership in the church must be balanced. It is not enough for leaders just to be compassionate, tender, and caring as spiritual mothers. They also need to live uncompromising, pure, and exemplary lives as spiritual fathers—lives that, in their motives and actions, set the standard for all to follow (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1). Furthermore, they need to teach the truth faithfully, building up the saints in spiritual wisdom (cf. Eph. 4:11–16) and displaying the courage of conviction to come alongside and exhort and call their spiritual children to obedience, through both strong discipline and tender consolation. These efforts lead their congregation to live in a way that honors God, who has called them to His eternal kingdom and glory.[2]

12 The fatherly treatment included “encouraging, comforting and urging.” “Encouraging” (parakaleō, GK 4151) can in some contexts signify a note of comfort, but here it has the hortatory flavor of “exhorting.” “Comforting” is covered by the second participle (paramytheomai, GK 4170). “Urging” (martyromai, GK 3458) adds a note of authority. These actions were more than mere requests. Their goal was a worthy lifestyle. “Live” (NASB, “walk”) represents the figure of “walking around” (peripateō, GK 4344), a common way of designating conduct in both biblical and nonbiblical Greek (cf. Best, 107). In reference to the Christian life, it relates primarily to the moral sphere. Conduct should be on the plane of God’s standards.

The call of God “into his kingdom and glory” is an incentive to a high quality of life. The articular present participle tou kalountos (“who calls”) probably has a substantival force with little attention to a continuing call (cf. Best, 107–8; Hiebert, 105–6), since God’s character as a caller is indicated by a comparable construction in 5:24 and Paul uses kaleō (GK 2813) only in the aorist and perfect indicative, never in the present indicative. This participle displays no duration but looks back to the initial call of these readers, which in Paul is always effectual (cf. Lightfoot, 29).

In one sense, God’s “kingdom” is already present (Mt 12:28; 13:1–52; Ro 14:17; 1 Co 4:20; Col 1:13), but ultimate realization of the messianic kingdom with its future glory is in view here (cf. Ac 17:7). As frequently in the Thessalonian literature, those whom Paul is addressing are pointed to the kingdom bliss ahead as incentive to godly living now. “Glory” (doxa, GK 1518; cf. 2:6) is that unhindered manifestation of God’s presence in which believers will share (Ro 5:2; 8:18).[3]

2:12 The goal of Paul’s ministry was that the saints might walk worthy of God who calls them into His own kingdom and glory.

In ourselves we are unworthy of God or of a place in heaven; the only worthiness we have is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. But as sons of God, we are expected to walk worthy of the high calling. We can do this by submitting ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit and by confessing and forsaking sin in our lives continually.

All who are saved are subjects of God’s own kingdom. At the present time that kingdom is invisible, and the King is absent. But the moral and ethical teachings of the kingdom apply to us today. When the Lord Jesus returns to reign, the kingdom will then be set up in visible form, and we will share the glory of the King in that day.[4]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (pp. 52–53). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 392). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2028). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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