1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 – Gospel Workers
1For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
- One of the qualities of the gospel work of Paul and the apostles was their boldness in declaring the gospel.
- Despite suffering, shameful treatment and conflict they were bold in their message, which meant that their time was not in vain. Boldness amidst adversity ensures that we make the most of the opportunities given to us by God
- Their boldness was not in themselves but ‘in our God’. We need to have a greater boldness in what God might do in, through and around us if we trust him.
3For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
- GODLY CHARACTER
- Here we see that the godly message of the gospel is complemented by the godly character of the apostles. The character of the apostles was not wayward, impure or deceitful but rather truthful, sincere and transparent.
- Paul and the apostles had been ‘approved by God and entrusted with the gospel’. This is certainly true of their role as the first communicators of the gospel, but also applies to us that we would be approved/tested by God and be entrusted with the gospel
- Paul and his companions spoke ‘to please God’, not man. Even though the gospel saves sinners it is God’s message, him who tests us and him whom we please. Therefore we must not dilute the gospel message simply to ‘please people’
5For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others,
- NOT SELF-SERVING
- We see that the ministry of Paul was not self-serving, they did not come to flatter people for their personal gain or glory. We cannot and should not flatter people into the kingdom, and neither is their involvement in our ministry proof of their belonging to the kingdom.
- There is a danger that we ‘try too hard’ to win people through gimmicks and flattery, and we only ever win them for ourselves, not God. All churches and leaders are susceptible to the temptation to seek glory, to be the biggest and best church in town.
though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
- Paul could have made demands in his authority as an apostle but chose to be gentle, like a mother taking care of her baby
- We must be gentle and not demanding, especially as leaders
- Paul uses the word ‘nurse’ (nursing mother) as one who gives nourishment (where the word ‘nurse’ comes from) – the job of leaders is to nourish their people, not burden them
So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
- HEART & SOUL
- The apostles had such a yearning for the Thessalonians that they were willing to give their hearts and souls for these people
- Many noble people will give of their time, money and energy for a cause, but is is a special thing for someone to give their heart and soul to something
- We need to be a people who give our hearts and souls for others
9For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
- NOT A BURDEN
- Even though the apostles could have received money, food or other means of support from the Thessalonians during their ministry, they didn’t, as not to be a burden on them
- We must ensure as believers, that our lives are not burdensome to others in any way, in emotion or deed. Coming across as a burden only detracts from the gospel, as people move away from us they also move away from the gospel
10You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11For you know how, like a father with his children, 12we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
- The Kingdom of God is a family, not an organisation – this is not about submitting to one another out of power or rank, but doing so being part of the family of God
- Discipleship comes through exhortation, encouragement and calling each other to walk in a manner worthy of God – we deal with each other like family
13And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
- EMBRACING THE WORD
- Paul shows that one true mark of gospel presence and genuine believers is that the embrace and submit to the word of God
- They do not see it simply as the ‘word of men’ which is prone to error and can be held lightly, but that it really is the ‘word of God’ and so there is a far greater weight and authority to it
14For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!
- WILLINGNESS TO SUFFER
- Paul says that the Thessalonians became ‘imitators’ of other churches because of the same suffering and rejection they experienced
- Whilst it is not our intention to face rejection or hardship in life, we accept that this does happen – simply because the human nature is opposed to the gospel
- Yet we do not yield to this to please man and make ourselves happy, because as Paul has already said, we seek to please God who tests our hearts