Specifically, I am trying to connect 1 Thessalonians 2:1 and 2:2 in my head and it seems that what Paul is saying is that his purpose in Thessalonica was spurred by his suffering in Philippi. There is significant connections in Pauline writings about the suffering of those who follow Christ. See Philippians 1:29-30 and Jesus' words in Luke 9:23. What are your thoughts?
In Paul’s letter to the church in Thessalonica, he wrote openly about the gospel and its potential impact in their lives. Just like Paul, we also are entrusted to deliver the message of the gospel. Whether with our mouths or through our actions and deeds, we should always be a witness of the power of the gospel. And here are four points we need to remember about the power of the gospel:
It’s a superior message. The gospel is more important than anything we’ve ever heard, because the mind of God is in it.
It’s a simple message. We can never fathom all the wisdom of God, yet His saving message is easy enough for a child to comprehend.
It's a sure message. Anyone from anywhere can be saved when they embrace the gospel.
It’s a sufficient message. The Bible contains an answer for every trial or situation we encounter.
The Key Verse in our passage (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8) is verse 4:
...but 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.
(1 Thessalonians 2:4, ESV)
The first several verses in the passage alludes to what had happened in Philippi to Paul and his companions. Apparently, they went to Thessalonica after they had been in Philippi. We have to read Acts 16 and see what happened to Paul in Philippi to fully understand what he is talking about here. He was "mistreated" in Philippi and he says to the church in Thessalonica that they had already heard about how he had been mistreated. Even though Paul had been mistreated there, he writes in our passage that they had the boldness to declare to the Thessalonians the Gospel.
Paul was not discouraged by what had happened in Philippi. He was emboldened! He didn't let the circumstances that transpired in Philippi discourage his mission. A few things regarding observation:
λαλέω is the Greek word for declare and it is used twice in our passage. It is in verse 2 and verse 4. Implications?
The priority of the Gospel getting to all people was forefront for Paul and nothing was going to stand in the way. He was a mission minded man who kept his eye of the job at hand. What are the implications of this today for us who suffer?
"...we speak to please not man but God who tests our hearts..." It is clear that humankind does not "test" our hearts. It is God who tests our hearts and knows our intentions. What are the implications of a life that lives with this truth in mind?
Great passage. There is lots happening here. Until next time,
My text for October 23, 2011, is 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8. The title of my sermon is "The Gospel Life." It's amazing that I have a couple extra weeks to work on this sermon! LOL. So, putting procrastination behind me, let the study and talking begin.
I am so thankful for a wonderful time at the beach last week with my family. Two of my favorite pictures are included. We spent the week in Panama City, FL, and the four of us really enjoyed our time together. The Fughs are thankful for the wonderful family that let us spend some time in their place at Edgewater Beach Resort.
One of the best things for all of us to do is to take some time to rest and refocus our attention on God and family.
What a difficult passage to preach on! Over the next couple days, I am going to share some thoughts about this sermon that I preached on 7/3/2011. You can listen to it in its entirety by click here.
I like what NT Wright says about this passage: “There is no denying that this passage is extremely convoluted. It goes to and fro in a manner which, at first glance, seems quite bewildering.”
Because of the convoluted nature of this text, I’ve got to be vulnerable for a moment. Studying this passage this week has been quite a task just because of its complex thought pattern. Some have looked at this passage and hailed it as a profound insight into the human condition for everyone – about who we all are on the inside. Others have dismissed it as muddled ramblings by Paul.
What we see here in this passage is Paul baring his very soul; and he is telling us of an experience which is of the very essence of who we are. He knew what was right and wanted to do it; and yet, somehow, he never could. He knew what was wrong and the thing he wanted was not to do it; and yet, somehow, he did. He felt himself to be a split personality. It was as if two men were inside the one skin, pulling in different directions. He was haunted by this feeling of frustration: his ability to see what was good and his inability to do it; his ability to recognize what was wrong and his inability to avoid doing it.
Paul was not alone in his first century situation. Lucius Seneca was Rome’s leading intellectual during the middle of the first century and he talked about “our helplessness in necessary things.” He talked about how people hate their sins and love them at the same time. Ovid, the Roman poet, had penned the famous tag: “I see the better things, and I approve them, but I follow the worse.”