Five Marks Of A Healthy Church

Bible Book: 1 Thessalonians  5 : 11-23
Subject: Church, Healthy; Church Life

Thessalonians is believed to be Paul’s first epistle. He writes them for the primary purpose of exhorting them to be strong in the Lord. Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia, located in the northern part of Greece. The modern city of Salonika makes Thessalonica one of the New Testament towns with a continuous history to the present. It was noted for its hot springs and was called Therma until about 315 BC when it was renamed Thessalonica after the half sister of Alexander the Great. It was a major city located on the major Roman highway connecting Rome and Constantinople.

The church was predominantly gentile and was not without its problems, among which appear to be those who had quit their jobs in anticipation of the Second Coming, some of whom were mad at the leadership for rebuking them, as well as immaturity and carnality among the members. This had created an atmosphere in the church which had quenched the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes because of his concern for the health of the church. In our text, some of Paul’s concluding words of his letter, Paul shares the five marks of a healthy church. A healthy church is marked by…

I. A Concern For People

Verse 11

Paul addressed two very specific ways that a healthy church must express its concern for people.

A. Healthy Churches Comfort the Brokenhearted

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together…” Those who had lost loved ones were struggling with what had happened to them, thus Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18, ending in “wherefore comfort ye one another with these words, ”vs. 18. This was the ministry of Jesus, i.e., Luke 4:18, “…   to heal the brokenhearted.” This is the Balm of Gilead. we are to comfort those who are dealing with …

1. The Sorrows Of Life

John 11:35. Loss always brings sorrow. Difficulty brings great sorrow. With sorrow comes the perfect supply of the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Note that comfort comes from God and the saints of God.

2. The Struggles Of Life

Galations 6:1-2. Difficulties, divorce, defeat, disappearing dreams, etc. We are to pick them up, hold them up, and build them up! Illus. 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. 400 meter race, Derek Redmund, torn right hamstring. Father, Jim Redmund, jumped from the stands to pick his son up and help him across the finish line.

B. Healthy Churches Encourage One Another

“and edify one another,” vs. 11.

Literally, “to build up.” Note Hebrews 10: 24-25. Unhealthy churches are made sick by discouragers, i.e., Nehemiah’s discouragers. A healthy church is marked by…

II. A Confidence In Leadership

Verses 12-13

It is most likely that the leaders of the church had rebuked some of the members for error and/or misconduct. The response of those rebuked appears to have been that of rebellion, disrespect, and harsh criticism, resulting in conflict and division in the church. Paul admonishes the church to demonstrate their confidence in leadership in two ways, knowing them and esteeming them. A healthy church has a confidence in leadership based upon…

A. A Biblical Understanding Of Leadership

“…know them which labor among you…”vs. 12. The word “know” implies both respect and understanding, i.e., respect because of who they are. There are three words the Bible uses to reveal the significance of pastoral leadership, both who they are and what they do.

Poimen, Shepherd,Pastor: Acts 20:28, “A shepherd, one who tends the flock, leads the flock, and feeds the flock.” This is the labor of the pastor. “which labor among you.” Note verses 12 & 13, 1 Tim. 5: 17.

Episkopos, Bishop: I Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:7, Literally “an overseer,” (epi, over and scopeo, to look or watch). One who watches over the flock., i.e., 1 Peter 5:2, “exercising oversight”. This is the superintending/ overseeing responsibility of the pastor, “and are over you in the Lord…”,vs.12. Note Hebrews 13: 17, “…they watch for your souls, as they must give account…”


Elder: 1 Tim. 4:14, 5:17-19, Speaking of the leadership of spiritual maturity. This is the preaching/teaching of the pastor. Their message to you, “and admonish you…,” vs. 12.

A healthy church has confidence in leadership which is committed to…

B. A Biblical Undergirding Of Leadership

“…and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake,” vs. 13. 1 Tim. 5:17 , “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine.” We esteem our leadership through…

1. Honor

1 Timothy 5:17, “double honor…” This is a respect for God’s man. To honor means to place great value upon, i.e., the weight of gold vs. silver. We respect him because we reverence the God who called him out and sent him to us. “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him…” 1 Timothy 5:1. The word “rebuke” (epiplesso), means “to strike at” (epi, upon or at, plesso to strike or smite), thus an attack with intent to do harm.

2. Financial Support

1 Timothy 4:18.

3. Guarding their reputation

1 Timothy 5:19.

4. Followship

Hebrews 13:17, “Obey them…”. Not to do so brings grief and is unprofitable for you, vs. 17.

5. Prayer

Hebrews 13:18, “Pray for us…”

II. Commitment To Maturity

Verses 14, 15.

This includes the maturity in several areas.

A. Biblical Discipline

“warn them that are unruly…” This is the same word used in verse 12 (admonish). This word “unruly” occurs only here in the NT and would be used of a soldier who had stepped out of the ranks. It was also used to describe disorderly conduct.

B. Biblical Devotion

“comfort the feebleminded (fainthearted)…” Again, this word is used only here in the NT. It means literally “little souls”, those easily discouraged or frightened.

C. Biblical Discipleship

“support the weak, be patient toward all men.” Anti- “against”, ekesthai- “to hold oneself”, literally, “to keep oneself directly opposite to another so as to sustain him.” Perhaps a reference to moral and spiritual weakness. We must uphold each other. We are far to quick to judge and condemn the weak.

IV. Consistency In Ministry

Verses 16-18.

These are the standing orders for the church. They never change. The imperative mood gives great weight to these injunctions. We are to be consistent in the following areas.

A. Rejoice

This is the celebration of the christian life.

B. Pray

This is the communion of the christian life.

C. Give Thanks

This is the gratitude of the christian life.

V. Cooperation With The Master

Verses 19-22, “Quench not the Spirit.”

We are called to be “Keepers of the Flame.” We cannot allow our coals to become cold. Herein is spiritual power, energy, and strength. “It is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord.” Quenching the Spirit can be described as rebellion against the Spirit, a refusal to abide in the Spirit, an unwillingness to yield to the Spirit’s influence, or neutralizing His work in the church. Literally, Paul says, “Stop putting out the Spirit’s fire.” There were some professional firefighters in Thessalonica. Disobedience, carelessness, and neglect quench the Spirit. Murmuring, faultfinding, gossip, slander, talebearing, and unforgiveness quench the Spirit. Rebellion, pride, and an unteachable spirit quench the Spirit. What are we to do? How are we to cooperate with God?

1. Despise not prophesyings

Verse 20. “Receive with meekness the engrafted Word.” Embrace a teachable spirit. Do what He says do! “Thy Word is a light unto my path…”

2. Prove all things

Verse 21. Put my life to the test. A picture of a crucible or a furnace. “Used of assaying or testing metals. A determination whether a thing is worthy to be received. I Cor. 6: 12, 19-20, 10:23. No compromise.

3. “Abstain from the very appearance of evil

Verse 22. Literally, “every kind of evil…” Make holiness your heart’s desire. A sick society deserves a healthy church. Question: “If every member of my church was just like me, what kind of a church would my church be?”