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Thursday, March 10, 2022

2022.03.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 2:1–7

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them (1 Thessalonians 2:1)? What do they know? What had happened to Paul and company previously (1 Thessalonians 2:2)? Where? But what had they done in Thessalonica anyway? Under what conditions? From what three causes might exhortation wrongly come (1 Thessalonians 2:3)? But from where had Paul and company’s exhortation come (1 Thessalonians 2:4)? Whom do they not try to please? Whom do they try to please? What does He test? What did they never use (1 Thessalonians 2:5)? What were they never trying to cover (cloak) up? Who can attest to this? What didn’t they seek (1 Thessalonians 2:6)? From whom? What might they have done? How did they conduct themselves instead (1 Thessalonians 2:7)? 

There are three “For… But…” constructions that form these seven verses. This arranges the text into 1 Thessalonians 2:1-21 Thessalonians 2:3-4, and 1 Thessalonians 2:5-7. In these sections, the apostle reminds the Thessalonians of his and his companions’ earnestness, sincerity, and selflessness among them. It is vital that Christ-transformed ministers display a Christ-transformed character in those whom they are looking to Christ to transform. 

Earnestness1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

Paul reminds them that they had not come to Thessalonica “emptily” (1 Thessalonians 2:1 paraphrases it “in vain”). They didn’t come in a light manner, as if they bore news of something unimportant. They came bearing news that was worth suffering for in order to tell in Philippi (1 Thessalonians 2:2a) and was still worth suffering for in order to tell about in Thessalonica (verse 2b). 

Sincerity, 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4

There are many wrong reasons that someone might preach. He might preach from error. He’s come up with his own way of thinking or believing, and now he wants others to do so as well. This occurred already in the ancient world, and it happens much more readily now in the internet world.

A man might preach from uncleanness. This was probably something that the Jews in Thessalonica had accused Paul of—coming up with a teaching that allowed him just to keep careening onward in sinfulness. Certainly, some employ partial gospel-truths in this manner even today!  But the character of the apostle’s company repudiated such accusations. 

A man might preach from deceit. This connects to the third grouping. Such a man knows that what he’s saying is incorrect, but he’s still saying it anyway, in order to obtain some objective. It seems from 1 Thessalonians 2:5-7 that some had suggested that Paul and company were really just saying what they thought would bring in the donation denarii (‘dollars’). Truly, there are still those today who “go into preaching” in order to make an “easy” buck and even appear respectable doing it.

Contrasted to these wrong motives for preaching was the actual motive that was compelling Paul, Silas, and Timothy: stewardship. God had entrusted them with the gospel as a sacred charge. God didn’t just give them a job to speak words that He would hear; He also gave it to them as a stewardship that He entrusted to them. And God Himself would see their hearts and whether they took this stewardship as a serious privilege and responsibility. 

Selflessness, 1 Thessalonians 2:5-7

The problem with accusing Paul and company of preaching from self-interest is that the Thessalonians and God Himself had witnessed the opposite: selflessness. You can often tell when someone is speaking flattering words (1 Thessalonians 2:5a) to try to get something out of you.

Such words are a “cloak for covetousness” (verse 5b), but the apostle asserts that God can see that this was not the case with them. Not only did they not want money or property from the Thessalonians (verse 5), but they weren’t motivated by a desire to be praised by them either (1 Thessalonians 2:6a). Interestingly, he teaches us that an apostle would have been worthy of both (verse 6b).

But the apostle’s group were among them “as a nursing mother nourishes her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). Such was their conduct that if they had begun to ask for money or honors, it would have seemed as out-of-place as for a mom to demand compensation from her babe-in-arms.

We are all called to minister. Elders to congregants. Parents to children. And every part of the body to all the other one-anothers in the body. Let all who minister consider what their character communicates about the genuineness of the gospel that they proclaim. Not only should we want to commend the truth well by our character, but should the enemies of Christ attack the message by attacking the messenger, we ought then to have lived in such a way as to plainly discredit all such accusations.

To whom do you minister? What can they see about your character? How does this help your ministry to them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, sometimes we find ourselves not even earnest, sincere, or selfless with You—let alone with each other. Forgive us, we pray, and form in us the sort of character that will commend well Your truth as we speak it to others, which we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

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