Good morning, Bereans. We are continuing our study of 1 Thessalonians this morning, and we will be looking at chapter 2 and verses 8-12. Keep in mind that in chapters 2 and 3, Paul is defending himself against critics who were attacking his motives and his methods. He is defending his motives and objectives, not so that he would look good, but because he knew that if these critics succeeded in undermining his integrity, they would also undermine the gospel that he proclaimed. Paul says over and over to the Thessalonian believers, "Please remember what you know to be true about me."
We ended last time with verse 7 where Paul pictured himself as a nursing mother, tenderly and affectionately caring for her own children.
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 1 Thessalonians 2:7 ESV
Do you remember what we said about the word "gentle"? While some ancient manuscripts read "gentle" (ēpioi), others insert a word that differs by only one letter in the Greek ("infants" (nēpioi). The evidence from the manuscripts themselves favors the reading "infants."
They were like babes among them, so hardly those who threw their weight around. Giving the rendering "infants" (nepioi) still stresses a non-threatening presence which fits with those who refused to be a burden.
I think it is interesting that Paul uses both feminine imagery and masculine imagery (v. 11) to describe his discipling of the believers. He said to the Galatians.
my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! Galatians 4:19 ESV
What is he trying to say by the feminine imagery? A mother is someone who sacrifices her needs to meet the needs of her offspring. She gives of her life to her children because she loves them.
Therefore, there is a mothering aspect to discipleship. Far from being greedy, licentious flatterers seeking power, prestige, sex, and money and desiring to manipulate and abuse, Paul's states that they are like a tender, gentle, nursing mother providing her children around-the-clock, personal, intimate care.
Paul was an imitator of God who applied the maternal image to Himself. Yahweh represented His relationship with Israel as a mother caring for her young.
that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious abundance." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip, and bounced upon her knees. Isaiah 66:11-12 ESV
Verse 8 serves as a kind of transition verse. It follows up on Paul's analogy of a nursing mother by calling attention to his deep affection for the Thessalonian saints. He was intimately involved in the lives of those he served, and he opened his life up to them. You can't be more intimately involved than a nursing mother.
Paul wasn't there to make a buck for himself. He wasn't there to enrich himself or to get glory for himself. He was there because he loved them earnestly with a godly love and wanted to bring them the glorious truth of Yeshua which had transformed his own life.
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. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV
The language Paul uses to speak of their love for the congregation is not found elsewhere in the New Testament and is even rare in the literature of the era. This word "affectionately" is from the Greek word homeiromai which means "to have a kindly feeling, to long for someone." As already stated, this word appears nowhere else in the entire New Testament, and It is used in the Septuagint only in Job 3.
who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, Job 3:21 ESV
The word "long" here is homeiromai. It is used negatively here of one who suffers and longs for death. In its only New Testament use, it conveys the most positive, tender sense of a mother's attraction for a child. The term is found with this use in Greek literature. It is used on a grave inscription describing the parents' sad yearning for their deceased child and seems to indicate deep affection and great attraction.
"To share with you not only the gospel of God." The word "share" here is the Greek verb metadidōmi. It carries the idea of giving someone something of which you retain a part. That's cool. We share what we have. We share the gospel because we have believed the gospel.
"The gospel of God." Paul keeps emphasizing the gospel of God (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2:2, 4, 8, 9; 3:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2:14) because the gospel is the foundation for everything in the Christian life. If you're wrong on the Gospel, you're damned.
But what exactly is the "Gospel of God" as Paul uses it? I think that when we think of the Gospel, we think of the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua the Christ.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV
To us this is the Gospel. Yeshua died for our sins and was raised from the dead. But is that all it's about? What did it mean to Paul's audience? Is that an important question? Yes, it is. We must understand the historical context if we are going to understand what Paul is saying. Historical analysis involves seeking a knowledge of the setting and situation in which the books of the Bible were written. Too often we come from the ego-centric perspective that assumes that whatever the Bible says, it says to us and our generation! Yet, that hermeneutic ignores the historical context. When interpreting Scripture, we must always be aware that every verse, every line, and every statement has just one interpretation, yet many applications.
The word "Gospel" is the translation of the Greek noun euanggelion which means "Good News." In its Greek verb form (euanggelizo) it means "to bring or announce Good News." Both words are derived from the noun angelos which means "messenger." In Classical Greek an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. In addition, euangelizomai (the middle voice form of the verb) meant "to speak as a messenger of gladness, to proclaim good news." Further, the noun euanggelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought joy.
To a Jew in Paul's day, the word "Gospel" looked back to Isaiah. The Greek verb euanggelizo is used in the LXX version in Isaiah 52.
Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. Isaiah 40:9-10 ESV
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns." The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they see the return of the LORD to Zion. Isaiah 52:7-8 ESV
That Paul sees Isaiah 52:7 as speaking of the euanngelion is made clear in Romans 10.
And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" Romans 10:15 ESV
The messenger was to bring to Jerusalem the good news of deliverance from Babylon and the personal return of YHWH to deliver them from exile. The Jews would hear Paul say that he was set apart as a messenger of the Good News of the arrival of Messiah, Israel's anointed king, to bring God's people back from exile. They would understand that the salvific promises God made to Israel are now being fulfilled.
How would the Gentiles view the Gospel? Was it good news to them of Israel's salvation, of her return from exile? No! In the Mediterranean world the fastest growing religion was the Imperial cult, the worship of Caesar. In ancient Rome, the phenomenon known as the cult of Caesar arose from the worship of Roman emperors.
As the imperial cult grew, its "good news" was that Caesar, the son of God, was now the lord of the whole world, claiming allegiance from everybody in return for bringing salvation and justice to the world. Resistance was met with crucifixion. The system was based on sheer power.
The Greek word Lord is kyrios, the word by which citizens of the Roman empire acknowledged the divinity of Caesar. Within the empire there was a test phrase used to check the loyalty of the people. It was "Kyrios Kaiser," and it meant "Caesar is Lord."
A comparison of the "good news" of the Caesar cult with Paul's words shows a deliberate parody of the pagan message. Paul's readers must have understood this, and he must have intended them to. But Paul's ideas do not derive from the Caesar cult; they confront it.
N.T. Wright wrote:
When Paul refers to "the Gospel," he is not referring to a system of salvation, though of course the Gospel implies and contains this, nor even to the good news that there now is a way of salvation open to all, but rather to the proclamation that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth has been raised from the dead and thereby demonstrated to be both Israel's Messiah and the world's true Lord. "The Gospel" is not "you can be saved, and here's how"; the Gospel, for Paul, is "Jesus Christ is Lord."
It is a royal summons to submission, to obedience, to allegiance; and the form that this submission and obedient allegiance takes is, of course, faith. That is what Paul means by "the obedience of faith." Faith itself, defined conveniently by Paul as belief that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead, is the work of the Spirit, accomplished through the proclamation.
Notice that Paul says that this Gospel is "of God." It's important that Paul said that because people were used to hearing the euangelion of the Roman Empire. On the contrary, the Good News that Paul proclaimed was not from Caesar but from God!
Paul is emphasizing that the gospel comes from God. It wasn't a message that Paul thought up on his own. It doesn't come to us from the collective wisdom of religious thinkers down through the centuries. It comes to us from God Himself. It is the good news that God has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him.
The gospel in our day is under attack. It is being attacked by the health and wealth heresy which teaches that believing in Christ will cure you of every disease and bring you financial prosperity. It is attacked by the Lordship movement that teaches you must live an obedient life or you cannot be saved. It is attacked by the Church of Christ that says you must be baptized by immersion by a Church of Christ minister or you cannot by saved. It is attacked by the universalist who says we don't need to be saved because everyone is already saved. The gospel of grace is constantly under siege.
"We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves." This again is the picture of a nursing mother who sacrifices her time and her life to feed her child. This shows the costliness of the ministry as well as the love of the Apostle.
As we will see in the subsequent verses, Paul, Salvanus, and Timothy sacrificed their lives without charge, they toiled to the point of weariness, they struggled against many hardships, and they worked long hours (part of the day and part of the night making tents)—all in an effort to demonstrate to the Thessalonians that they loved them and only wanted what was best for them.
Verse 8 also serves as a bridge to what he is about to say in verses 9 and 10. Paul already referred to his example of not being deceitful or impure. His motive was not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. He said that he never came with flattering speech to manipulate people for his advantage. He was not motivated by greed or personal glory. Rather, as a gentle, loving spiritual mother, he showed his tender affection for these spiritual children. Now he compares himself to a loving father who trains his children by example and by verbal instruction.
Tell me one thing that you know for sure about a father. A father is a man. That is something in our culture that we sadly have to establish. Notice what Paul told the Corinthians.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13 ESV
This command can be confusing to some today because masculinity is under attack in our culture. The feminists have convinced many to believe that men are toxic and evil, and they need to be more like women. If you're confused as to what it means to act like a man, the next command in the verse is explanatory. Act like men—be strong.
This command for men to be strong is countercultural. Men today are weaker physically, emotionally, and mentally than men of past generations.
This little phrase "act like men" is one word in the Greek, the verb andrízomai. This is an interesting verb. It means to conduct oneself in a courageous way. Men are to have courage and they are to be strong. This is the only time this verb appears in the New Testament, but it is used 24 times in the Septuagint, so we can see how the New Testament Greek terms were used in the Tanakh. The following examples are found in Deuteronomy chapter 31.
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV
Here "strong" isandrízomai. Men are to be strong and courageous.
Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. Deuteronomy 31:7 ESV
Again, "strong" isandrízomai.
As David was dying, he said to Solomon his son:
"I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 1 Kings 2:2 ESV
Men are to be strong; that is what God made us to be. Woman are pictured in the Bible as weak.
In that day the Egyptians will be like women, and tremble with fear before the hand that the LORD of hosts shakes over them. Isaiah 19:16 ESV
A sword against her horses and against her chariots, and against all the foreign troops in her midst, that they may become women! A sword against all her treasures, that they may be plundered! Jeremiah 50:37 ESV
The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting; they remain in their strongholds; their strength has failed; they have become women; her dwellings are on fire; her bars are broken. Jeremiah 51:30 ESV
Behold, your troops are women in your midst. The gates of your land are wide open to your enemies; fire has devoured your bars. Nahum 3:13 ESV
Women are the weaker sex. Notice what Peter says in his first letter.
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7 ESV
To be clear, "weaker vessel" is not a question of spiritual strength, or intellectual strength, or strength of character. I think the idea of "weaker vessel" is referring to emotional and physical strength.
Whether women want to admit it or not, whether they like it or not, makes no difference. God has designed the woman with a strong need to be provided for and to be protected by a man in exchange for loving service rendered to that man. There is a difference between the sexes; men and women are different. But our society is doing everything possible to destroy the distinction between the sexes. Believers, I don't think that you should have to closely scrutinize someone in order to tell whether he or she is a male or a female. Men ought to look like men, and women ought to look like women. God created the sexes to be distinct.
And God created men to be the strong, courageous sex. Men, we are called by God to be strong. How do we do this?
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV
We are strong when we realize our weaknesses and trust in God for His strength. Men, our strength comes from our dependence upon God.
When we men aren't fulfilling our roles by taking on our responsibilities to be strong and courageous and aren't doing what we were created to do, we hurt ourselves, the women around us, the future generation of children, and society at large.
Before we leave this subject, we need to make certain we aren't promoting the "caveman mentality." Notice that after Paul tells men to be strong, he adds:
Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV
Let's go back to our text.
For 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. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ESV
"For you remember, brothers." Paul is appealing to what they know of his own example. He continually asks them to remember.
"Our labor and toil." "Labor" is the Greek kopos which refers to "laborious toil, trouble, difficulty." And "toil" is mochthos which, according to Strong's Concordance, is toil, that is, (by implication) sadness: - painfulness, travail. It refers to the kind of labor that is a genuine hardship. These are strong synonymous terms which are often combined together. They simply speak of hard and exhausting labor.
Greek society designated labor as only for slaves. Paul, being a Jew, respected manual labor. He often encouraged it, especially in this Thessalonian correspondence because some in the fellowship had quit their jobs to wait for the Second Coming.
"We worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you."
Paul is referring to the fact that he worked hard making tents (Acts 18:1-4) so that he didn't have to take any support from the Thessalonians while he was planting the church there. In his second letter, he says that he didn't even eat anyone's food without paying for it (2 Thessalonians 3:8).
All rabbis had to have a trade or livelihood. Paul, as a rabbinic student of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), was obliged to learn a vocation. By working for his needs, Paul followed the tradition of Jewish rabbis for whom receiving money for teaching the Law was considered shameful.
Elsewhere, Paul taught that it is legitimate for the person who labors in the gospel to be supported by the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:1-15; Galatians 6:6).
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer deserves his wages." 1 Timothy 5:17-18 ESV
"Double honor" refers both to the respect that is due to faithful pastors who teach the Word and also to financial support.
As an apostle, Paul had a right to be supported by the gospel, but he chose to give up that right so as not to cause a hindrance to the gospel. While Paul was ministering in Thessalonica, more than once Timothy brought financial support to him from the Philippian believers (Philippians 4:16). He would also take support from other churches, but to avoid the appearance of taking advantage of new believers, Paul wouldn't take support from the church where he was currently serving.
Another factor here is that the church in Thessalonica was very poor.
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 ESV
They were very generous and sacrificial and sent an offering to Paul to take to the poor saints in Jerusalem, but it's clear there they were very poor.
You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 1 Thessalonians 2:10 ESV
"You are witnesses, and God also." Paul again invokes two witnesses—the Thessalonians and God himself—to give testimony to their character. The Old Covenant law demanded at least two witnesses to adequately corroborate a statement (Num 35:30; Deut 17:6; 19:15–21), as does the New Testament (Matt 18:16; 26:65; John 5:31–32; 8:17; 2 Cor 13:1; 1 Tim 5:19; Heb 10:28).
"How holy." They acted in a holy manner (adverb hosiōs). This term is not the same as that which is commonly translated "holy" (hagios). It speaks of the way people conformed to what was ordained or permitted by the deity. Such people acted "piously." This word describes that conduct which conforms to divine laws. For example, Socrates was said to have been "satisfied with being just (dikaios) in his dealings with men and religious (hosios) in his attitude towards the gods."
"And righteous." The Greek word is dikaios. It stresses one's relationship to men in a manner consistent with the directives of the Word (honesty, truthfulness, purity, goodness, charity or acts of love).
"And blameless was our conduct." Here the word is amemptos. It means free from charges or blame (not faultless in the sense of sinless, but free from blame). Though he and his partners had been accused of wrongdoing, the charges were all false.
The testimony that a person lived blamelessly appears frequently in ancient epigraphs, especially in funerary inscriptions, to describe people who had faithfully fulfilled their obligations throughout their life.
But Paul emphatically states that their actions conformed to both divine and human law and that, in all this, they acted blamelessly. Paul didn't have to say, "Please don't look at my life. Look to Yeshua." Clearly, Paul wanted people to look to Yeshua, but because he was imitating Yeshua, he could also tell them to look at his life.
For you know how, like a father with his children, 1 Thessalonians 2:11 ESV
Paul has already described the way a nursing mother cares for her child, selflessly nourishing and caring for her beloved offspring. There is a sense in which Paul's ministry was like that. But as an infant grows into childhood and then beyond to adulthood, the father has a very important leadership role to play. Like a good father, Paul did not burden his children to support him (2: 9) but provided spiritual leadership and protection for them. A father's responsibility is to set the standard of integrity in the family. That's a spiritual leader's responsibility.
we 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. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ESV
Note the emphasis of "each one." While he taught and dealt with them as a group, he also dealt with them as individuals.
"We exhorted each one of you." Exhorted" is parakaleo which conveys the meaning of "to exhort" or "to urge" a person to follow a certain mode of conduct.
This important New Testament word has both a prospective appeal in the sense of "obey, respond," and a retrospective appeal in the sense of "comfort, encourage." Children need to be both encouraged and challenged. The emphasis here is on the former idea because of the synonym which follows.
"Encouraged." This is the adverbial participle paramythoumenoi which conveys the idea of "encourage, cheer up, console" one who has suffered some kind of tragedy or the death of a loved one. But over and over outside the New Testament this word is encountered in contexts where one person seeks to encourage or persuade another to a certain type of action.
"Charged you." This participle is martyromenoi. It suggests the idea of insisting or requiring that a certain course of action be adopted.
"Walk in a manner worthy of God." "Walk" is the Greek verb peripateo which means "to walk, live, conduct one's life." It literally means "to walk about or around." While peripateo is used in the New Testament of one's literal walk, it is often used metaphorically of one's behavior and conduct in the way he lives.
This metaphor refers to our continuing lifestyle which must reflect our Master. The norm that should govern the Christian's walk is the life lived worthy of God. In a similar way, Ephesians exhorts its readers/hearers "to live a life worthy of the calling you have received" (Eph. 4:1), and Philippians calls believers to "conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Phil. 1:27). Similarly, Colossians reminds believers to "live a life worthy of the Lord" (Col. 1:10). Believers, how we live is very important.
Later in this letter Paul says:
Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Yeshua, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 1 Thessalonians 4:1 ESV
Our walk/life is to be pleasing to God.
"Who calls you." Many say that this ls like 1:4 and is referring to their election. But "Who calls you" is in the present tense and not in the past tense (Who has called you). It points to a continuous work of God. God, who had called them to salvation, (a finished transaction), is still calling believers to His kingdom and glory.
Let me just add that there is a Greek manuscript variant in the tense of this phrase. (1) manuscripts א and A have the aorist, like Galatians 1:6. This would emphasize God's initiating call. (2) Manuscripts B, D, F, G, H, K, L, and P have the present which would emphasize God's continuing call to holiness. The UBS4 which is A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament gives option #2 a "B" rating (almost certain).
"Into his own kingdom and glory." The words "kingdom" and "glory," joined as they are by "and," probably indicate a hendiadys, an expression of a single idea by two words connected with "and" (e.g., nice and warm). This is a figure of speech that can be translated "glorious kingdom." Paul was referring to the spiritual kingdom of which the Thessalonian Christians were already members.
Only two texts in the Thessalonian Epistles refer to "kingdom" (1 Thess. 2:12; 2 Thess. 1:5). In both instances, Paul refers to the worthiness of the Thessalonian believers to be in the redemptive realm of God's kingdom.
The kingdom of God is not a territory but is rather the rule of God that has begun to be exercised in the present time. Paul here speaks about the future coming of this kingdom, the time when God's glory would be revealed. When is this to happen? When is the kingdom to come? Is it here now or is it yet future? When Yeshua began to preach, He said that the kingdom of God was "at hand." It was near!
Later in His ministry, Yeshua said that the kingdom had arrived.
But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. Matthew 12:28 ESV
If the kingdom of God had come in the first century, then it should be clear that the nature of the kingdom was spiritual. Time defines nature. Yeshua said that the kingdom "has come." This was the TIME, so the NATURE of His kingdom must be spiritual. I think that Yeshua tried to stress this point by saying that the kingdom did not come with observation.
Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, Luke 17:20 ESV
The spiritual nature of the kingdom is easy to understand if you see that the kingdom is the church. I believe that the kingdom and the Church are synonymous. The two words are used as synonyms in Matthew 16:18-19.
As you read various writer's views on the kingdom of God, you will come across what many call the "already, but not yet" view of the kingdom. Those who hold this "already, but not yet view" approach the study of the kingdom with the presupposition that there is at least a spiritual kingdom which is already established, but there is a physical kingdom which is yet to come. This view accepts the spiritual nature of the kingdom and the time statements that clearly teach that it arrived in the first century, but they still hold to a future physical kingdom also. They do this because they don't understand the distinction of the "ages" or the clear Scriptural teaching concerning the transition period. During the first century, the kingdom was "already" inaugurated, but "not yet" consummated.
Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28 ESV
The word "receiving" is from the Greek word paralambano. It is in the present tense to show progression. The kingdom was being brought into its fullness during the first century by progression. This "kingdom that cannot be shaken" is the church of Yeshua the Christ; it is the New Covenant; it is Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem.
This "already, but not yet" was only a first-century condition. The kingdom was fully consummated in A.D. 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple.
As Paul's opponents attack him, he calls on the Thessalonian believers to remember their conduct while they were with them. Who could be negative about pastors who were compassionate like a selfless mother to her children and concerned like a father caring for the spiritual welfare of his home? To demean or tear down this ministry meant that the accusers either knew nothing about it or they were lying.