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1 Thessalonians 2:116 comment (0)

December 11, 2008

By Robert Olsen

Related Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:116

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

1 Thessalonians 2:1–16

Bold Teachers (1–4)

Paul begins to sum up his visit to the Thessalonians (see Acts 17:1–9). As seen in the account in Acts, Paul and Silas were slandered by several Jews who made trouble for them in the city of Thessalonica. This crowd also speaks ill of Paul and his companions so that he feels the need to respond to their defamation. Paul recounts the trials and persecution he and Silas faced in Philippi prior to coming to Thessalonica (see Acts 16:11–40). Despite this, Paul and Silas journeyed to Thessalonica in order to preach the gospel there as well — the very gospel that had resulted in their mistreatment in Philippi.

Paul’s purpose in recounting these trials and persecution was to demonstrate his desire to preach the gospel was not for personal gain or to win praise and favor from men. If that were the case, then surely he would have preached a different message, one that did not result in beatings. Paul’s steadfastness in the face of such persecution should inspire us to be bold in spreading the gospel in our lives as well. Sharing the gospel is not always an easy task and can lead to alienation from our friends and family. Learning from Paul, however, we should not allow this to deter us.

Caring Teachers (5–8)
In order to convince the Thessalonians of his pure motives in sharing the gospel, Paul describes the way he and Silas presented their message. Initially Paul mentions how he was not trying to win them over by use of flattery. His goal was not selfish; it was the exact opposite. Paul’s goal was that the Thessalonians might have salvation in Christ. He was not motivated by greed, unlike many false teachers of the ancient world who demanded fees for their services. In fact, even though Paul, as an apostle, could have asked for remuneration (see 1 Cor. 9), he did not demand any compensation from the Thessalonians.

In addition, Paul and his companions were not motivated by praise from men. They did not preach the gospel so that they could feel appreciated. Instead Paul was motivated by love for the Thessalonians. Paul and Silas serve as a model for us and how we witness to the people we come in contact with. As we witness to others, we should have a pure spirit, being motivated by concern and love for the unbeliever.

Devout Teachers (9–12)

In order to reinforce the veracity of his message, Paul recalls how he lived among the Thessalonians. He refused to be a burden to them monetarily, most likely providing for himself as a tentmaker (see Acts 18:3). By refusing to be an inconvenience to them, his message was freed from claims of greed and selfishness. Also, by working hard and sharing his life with the Thessalonians, they were able to see the sincerity of heart by which Paul preached to them.
His relationship with these people was one of intimate friendship. Knowing his heart allowed the Thessalonians to be more prone to receive the gospel, since they could tell that Paul was not preaching out of a desire to gain anything from them, only that they receive the free gift of salvation.

Paul held up his life and actions as a model to follow. We need to be careful how we live so when we present the gospel, our audience will not be able to look at our lives and wonder why we do not practice what we preach.

Receptive Learners (13–16)
When Paul and Silas preached the gospel to the Thessalonians, they accepted it as the word of God, not the word of man. As a result, they were persecuted for their beliefs, just as the churches in Judea had been persecuted for the gospel. This persecution is actually encouraging in that it demonstrated their commitment to the Lord.

We often try to avoid persecution and trials, but it is not uncommon for Christians to face persecution. In fact, the Bible tells us we will face persecution for being a Christian. The key is to remain steadfast in the midst of the trials we face. In many parts of the world, we see Christians who are persecuted for the faith. Let us pray for them that they remain firm in their calling as servants of Christ.

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