Thursday, March 17, 2022

2022.03.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 2:8–12

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:8–12

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostolic group feel for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:8)? What two things were they pleased to impart to them? Why? What two things do they remember (1 Thessalonians 2:9)? What did they do at what times? Why? What did they preach? What were the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:10)? What three attributes characterized the apostolic group’s behavior? What three things did they do (1 Thessalonians 2:11)? To how many of them? In what manner? How did they want them to walk (1 Thessalonians 2:12)? What was God doing to them? 

Chapter one had focused largely upon the effect that the Spirit had produced in the Thessalonians, to display to Paul, Silas, and Timothy that He had done a genuine and powerful work. Now, in chapter two, that apostle and elders are reminding the Thessalonians that the Spirit had also displayed evidences of His work in them to the Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-7, they had reminded the Thessalonians of their character and motivations toward them. Now, in 1 Thessalonians 2:8-12, the apostle and elders remind the Thessalonians of three aspects of their conduct among them: affection, effort, and fatherly counsel.

Affection, 1 Thessalonians 2:8
The word translated “affectionately longing” describes their strong emotional attraction and expression toward the Thessalonians. Yes, they had come to bring God’s gospel, God’s treasure to the Thessalonians (not to get the Thessalonians’ treasures for themselves, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:21 Thessalonians 2:4). But it wasn’t just God Who was loving them with deep affection. 

The word for “lives” in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 is actually “souls”—the image is of a mother nursing her baby and cherishing and nourishing them with such affection that it’s not just milk that she gives but with great emotional/affectionate love feels herself to be giving her whole self to the child. Such was the affection of that apostle and elders as they preached, and the Thessalonians could feel their dearness to them (cf. “you yourselves know” in 1 Thessalonians 2:1).

Effort, 1 Thessalonians 2:9
Just as the Thessalonians’ effort had shown their love (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3), so first the apostle’s and elders’ efforts had shown theirs. There are three, intense “effort” words in 1 Thessalonians 2:9, describing the service that someone might get from his most diligent slave. Indeed, the phrase “night and day” implies that sort of effort. It is rare from slaves, and sadly in the culture in which I write, it is rare even from parents. 

But in whatever culture and from whatever relation, it is the kind of sweat and strength and endurance that is put out by devoted love. Anything that they could do to make it easier on the Thessalonians, they eagerly did. They wanted the Thessalonians to have every advantage for receiving the ministry well and for responding well to the ministry, so they added to the preaching at the end of 1 Thessalonians 2:9 the night-and-day pastoral laboring of the beginning of verse 9. There’s probably an implication here of their willingness to labor for their financial needs as well, though Paul, Silas, and Timothy had only been there for three weeks (cf. Acts 17:1–10). It’s the night-and-day pastoral laboring that is more in view here (cf. Acts 20:20).

Fatherly counsel, 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12
Not only did the apostle and elders have a preaching ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:8), and a pastoral ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:9), but they also had a very personal ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12).  It was marked by devotion (“devoutly”), uprightness (“justly”), and blamelessness. 

There was one particular part of the ministry where these all shone: personal counsel (1 Thessalonians 2:11). There were three kinds of fatherly speech that they had for “every one of you.” Every Thessalonian believer had received from them words of exhortation (instruction), comfort (consolation/cheering), and charge (imploring/pleading/urging). A father who ignores one of his children while attending to the rest is a monster. A father who leaves out one of these kinds of speech is a failure. This apostle and elder conducted themselves like good fathers—having personal words of every needful kind for every one of their “children” in the congregation.

Why? Because these were the children of God. They had been called to His own kingdom. They had been called to His own glory. And they needed the “parenting” of 1 Thessalonians 2:11 to produce the appropriate “walking” of the children of God in this world (cf. Matthew 5:45, Matthew 5:48; Philippians 2:15). He who is entrusted with the spiritual parenting of the children of God must see to it that he doesn’t leave out words of exhortation, consolation, or urging from any one of those children.

When we pray for our elders to be full of the Holy Spirit, we are praying that they will shepherd with this sort of affection, effort, and fatherliness. And, when we seek from God to give us elders who are full of the Spirit, we are seeking that He would provide men of such affection, effort, and fatherliness. And when men seek to become elders (a good thing to do, 1 Timothy 3:1), or men who are elders seek to be ones in whom the reality of the Spirit is displayed, we are seeking to have lives that exhibit such affection, effort, and fatherliness. 

When do you pray for your elders to be full of the Spirit? What are you praying to see when you do so? When a congregation displays evidence of true spiritual life and when elders display evidence of true spiritual ministry, whom should we glorify? How do we do that?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for the evidences of Your Spirit’s work in our congregation and in the undershepherds that You have given her. When we read about these displays of Your work in the Thessalonian church, we realize how much we still fall short. Forgive us, we pray! And do that work that You alone can do in us, so that You will get all the glory in it, we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH546 “God of the Prophets!”

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