Closing the Gap – Week 47 Study Guide

By November 25, 2018Small Group Study Guide

Commentary on 1 Thes. 5:16-18 and 1 Cor. 11:17-26

1 Thess. 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

These three good habits have been called the standing orders of the church. They represent the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. The words in Christ Jesus remind us that He taught us these things during His earthly ministry and He was the living embodiment of what He taught. By teaching and example, He revealed to us God’s will concerning joy, prayer, and thanksgiving.[1]

5:18 Giving thanks to God should be the Christian’s native emotion. If Romans 8:28 is true, then we should be able to praise the Lord at all times, in all circumstances, and for everything, just as long as in doing so we do not excuse sin.

1 Cor. 11:17-26, In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter! For I received from the Lord what I also pass on to you: the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

The early church often met in the homes of wealthy believers because their homes had the capacity to accommodate many people. In the Corinthian church, the wealthy believers held a worship gathering and a meal in their homes. The less wealthy believers worked long days and typically arrived late at the worship gathering and meal. Apparently, the wealthy believers did not wait for them; instead, they ate without them, getting drunk and leaving no food for them. This caused division between the wealthy and poor believers. Paul urges these Christians to wait for one another so that all may eat together[2]

[Paul] had no praise for what he heard about their behavior at the Lord’s Supper. Their action did more harm than good. The Lord’s Supper should be a celebration of unity; instead divisions among the church were magnified.

Paul repeated the words of institution to point out they are participating in Christ’s body and blood (see 10:16–17). To participate in an unworthy manner, with divisions among them, profanes the supper and invites God’s judgment. Paul exhorted them to examine their motives, their methods, and their manners as they gathered to worship the Lord at His supper.[3]

11: 20-22 To the church’s shame, the scene Paul describes seems typical of a pagan setting. Instead of coming together in unity, members were focused on their own selfish desires.

11: 23-25 I received from the Lord most likely means Paul was given a special revelation from Jesus about this matter. For other instances where Paul received such revelation, see Ac 18: 9ff; 22: 18; 23: 11; 27: 23-25; 2Co 12: 7. Christ’s selflessness in giving his life for others stood in stark contrast to the Corinthians’ selfishness during the Lord’s Supper.

11: 26 The phrase as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup emphasizes that the solemn remembrance of Christ’s death is a corporate declaration of “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (2: 2) until he comes again.[4]


Study Guide:

  1. Read 1 Thes. 5:16-18. Is it hard for you to imagine giving thanks in all circumstances? If so why?
    • Would you consider yourself a grateful person?
    • Are you a grumbler? What drives that.
    • What could you do to align your actions with gratitude.
  1. Being a thankful person is essential if we’re to Close the Gap on Christlikeness. Jim said that if we’re to do this then it is important that our ideas about gratitude align with the reality of God’s will. Take some time and discuss the four realities of gratitude that Jim talked about. Identify areas where you may be living outside of reality and the things you can do to align with God’s will. Share them with your group members.


  1. The First reality: Understand that our thankfulness can be misguided.
  2. Second Reality: Thankfulness moves our thoughts from ourselves towards God and others.
  3. Third reality: Remember Jesus’ example.
  4. The Forth reality: We are to live continually with an attitude of thankfulness by remembering what Christ has done.


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2043). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Co 11:18). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Dockery, D. S. (1998). The Pauline Letters. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 558). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] CSB Study Bible

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