1 Thess 2:1-16 – The Apostle’s Ministry in Thessalonica

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1 Thess 2:1

  1. Paul had enemies in Thessalonica and it certainly seems that in Paul’s absence they accuse him of various things (Acts 17:5-6, Acts 17:13).
    1. Paul responds by pointing out that he trusts the Thessalonians’ own judgment, since they themselves saw how Paul behaved when he was with them.
    2. Despite the opposition Paul faced in Thessalonica, he managed to start a vibrant and exemplary church. The church in Thessalonica thus becomes its own testimony that Paul’s enemies are wrong.

1 Thess 2:2

  1. In Philippi, Paul and Silas were flogged and imprisoned but escaped thanks to an earthquake (Acts 16:22-40).
  2. By this Paul wants to show that he does not preach the gospel for his own well-being, but on the contrary, he often had to suffer for the gospel.

1 Thess 2:3

  1. In Paul’s time there were many different religions and many opportunists who tried to make money or power by promoting their religion. Paul’s enemies seem to have accused him of being one of these, preaching the gospel only to flatter, please and rob people.

1 Thess 2:4

  1. On the road to Damascus, Paul was entrusted with two missions from Jesus; to bring the name of Jesus before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel, and to suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name (Acts 9:15-16). He had succeeded in both of these missions in Thessalonica.
  2. It is very easy for a Christian to try to adapt the gospel so that it fits better into society and is easier to receive. But this pleases people instead of God and misses the fundamental point that all people must first repent before they can have their sins forgiven (Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38).
    1. Paul changed the way he preached depending on the audience, but he never changed the message of the gospel. In the same way, today we should preach the gospel in a way that ordinary people understand while never compromising the message of the gospel.

1 Thess 2:5

  1. If you turn around what Paul says he is not, you get a checklist to see if someone is a false apostle:
    1. Trying to please people instead of God by adapting or watering down the gospel message.
    2. Flatter the audience with fine rhetorical speeches.
    3. Taking the audience’s money.
    4. Striving to be honored by men instead of God.
    5. Acts unlovingly and unjustly.
    6. A burden on people.
  2. Although Paul’s enemies accuse Paul of behaving in this way, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they themselves know from their own experience that this is not the case.

1 Thess 2:6-7

  1. The one who has his eyes fixed on Jesus does not worry about being honoured by people, getting high positions or becoming famous. Instead, one who follows in the footsteps of Jesus will be concerned with carrying out the mission that Jesus entrusts to one. Then you will probably suffer as Jesus did, but you will also be filled with the joy and peace that only God can give.

1 Thess 2:8-9

  1. Just as a mother does not demand money from her child, so Paul did not accept any money from the Thessalonians. Just as a mother gives everything for her child, Paul gave everything he had for the Thessalonians.
  2. Paul writes elsewhere that he and other gospel workers need not be ashamed to receive wages for their work because “the laborer is worthy of his wages” (1 Corinthians 9:14, 1 Timothy 5:18). But Paul still did not want to accept the wages to which he was entitled because his enemies might then accuse him of being an opportunist.
  3. Paul was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3) and was able to support himself and others by it (Acts 20:34).

1 Thess 2:11-12

  1. Paul was not afraid to “admonish” the Christian Thessalonians if they were living ungodly, which becomes proof that he was not trying to please men but was concerned with what God thought.
  2. Paul was also careful to “encourage” those who did the right thing so that they would get a boost in the right direction.
  3. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in one or the other, which quickly becomes wrong. It is better to both admonish and encourage.
  4. Paul exhorted and encouraged “everyone”, not just those he was fond of or particularly fond of. In the same way, a pastor today should not forget to admonish and encourage everyone in the congregation.
    1. Missing this, it is easy to “forget” to admonish certain people because they are on the board, for example, or to “forget” to encourage those who faithfully serve God year after year but are not seen on the platform.

1 Thess 2:13

  1. Here the ancient prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, that the word of the Lord does not return in vain without having done what God wants (Isa 55:10-11).
  2. The preacher of the gospel does not need to try to force anyone to convert or try to embellish the gospel message, but can calmly relax and let the Word work in the hearts of the hearers (Acts 2:37-41, Rom 10:4).
  3. Although Paul’s enemies tried to stop the Christians by smearing Paul, it did not work on the Thessalonians because they knew Paul and had already received God’s word.
    1. In the same way, today we should also make sure that we are well grounded in God’s Word so that we do not waver in our faith whenever someone says something wrong.

1 Thess 2:14

  1. Paul comforts the Thessalonians that they are not the first to suffer for the gospel; Jesus sacrificed his life and the first Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted.
  2. Paul does not pit Christians against Jews, for he himself was a Christian Jew (Acts 21:39).
    1. We are all guilty of Jesus’ death; a Christian betrayed Jesus (Mark 14:45), the Jews handed Jesus over (Mark 15:1), and the Gentiles killed Jesus (Mark 15:15).

1 Thess 2:16

  1. It is important not to take matters into your own hands and try to stop any persecution in the wrong way. It is better to endure and let God deal with the punishment instead (Rom 12:19).
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