1 Thessalonians Bible Study, Chapter 2

Paul and his team chose to please God, not to please men

Tod Kennedy, September 23 and 30, October 7, 2009

Some observations from Chapter 2

  1. The ministry in Thessalonica was profitable—not in vain, kenos=empty, fruitless, without purpose or result 1 Corinthians 15:10, 14, 14— (1 Thessalonians 2:1).
  2. Persecution did not stop Paul, Silas, Timothy, Jason, and others from doing God’s work (1 Thessalonians 2:2).
  3. They were honest in what they said (1 Thessalonians 2:3).
  4. They fulfilled God’s trust (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
  5. Their desire was to please God (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
  6. They did not flatter, seek personal glory, or push his authority unless it was absolutely necessary (1 Thessalonians 2:5-6).
  7. They were gentle, affectionate (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
  8. They taught the biblical gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:8-9).
  9. They gave their lives over completely to God’s service (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
  10. They held jobs so the Thessalonians would not have to pay them (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
  11. Their purpose in service with them was so the Thessalonians could walk worthy of God.
  12. They had a good reputation (1 Thessalonians 2:10).
  13. Some of the Thessalonians became believers in Christ (1 Thessalonians 2:10).
  14. They treated the new believers as a father would his own children (1 Thessalonians 2:11).
  15. They wanted the Thessalonian believers to walk or live worthy of God (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
  16. Believers are called into God’s kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
  17. The Thessalonians received his word to them as the word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  18. God’s word does its job in those who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  19. The Thessalonian believers suffered for Jesus Christ just like the believers in Judea—Jews persecuted new believers (1 Thessalonians 2:14-15).
  20. The antagonistic Jews of Paul’s day were doing the same to biblical believers as they did to Jesus and the prophets.
  21. Those antagonistic to Jesus did not please God (1 Thessalonians 2:15).
  22. Those antagonistic to Jesus were hostile (enantios opposite, opposing, contrary) to all people (1 Thessalonians 2:15).
  23. Those are hostile because they hinder God’s people from proclaiming the saving biblical gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:16).
  24. Those hostile fulfill (anapleroo, to complete, fulfill, finish) their sins=probably do what is natural for them to do (1 Thessalonians 2:16).
  25. God’s wrath is come upon (phthano, to reach beforehand, to overtake) them (1 Thessalonians 2:16).
  26. Paul and his men left the Thessalonians but were eager to return (1 Thessalonians 2:17).
  27. Satan prevented them from returning to Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
  28. Satan was the aggressor (1 Thessalonians 2:18).
  29. The Thessalonians will be Paul and his team’s true hope, joy when Jesus comes (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
  30. The Thessalonian believers are Paul and his team’s glory (doxa) and joy (chara) (1 Thessalonians 2:20).​

Main points to emphasize in 1 Thessalonians 2

  1. Paul and his team put up with much opposition so that they might boldly communicate God’s word to the people of Thessalonica. They were successful in their ministry. The opposition included untrue accusations, mob riot, and charges by the civil government. Let’s not give up when ministry becomes difficult.
  2. They were successful in their ministry because they chose to please God and not people. They were not deceitful, nor did they flatter or falsely praise, nor serve to gain money, nor were they authoritarian (different from authoritative). Let’s make pleasing God a governing principle in our lives.
  3. Paul and his team gently cared for the new believers and, just like a mother, they gave of themselves daily for their care; and just like a father, they appealed and encouraged and cheered up and urged these believers to walk worthy of God. Are you a Christian leader or someone responsible for helping believers grow up? If so, Paul sets the pattern. Care for those you serve. Encourage them. Appeal to them. Cheer them. Urge them to walk worthy of God. Treat them as a loving father and mother would treat their children.

Exposition of 1 Thessalonians 2

  1. 1 Thessalonians 2:1. The ministry of Paul, Silas, and Timothy was effective.
    • Paul wrote that it was “not in vain” (kenos, empty, fruitless, empty handed, without value, without purpose or result). Kenos is also used in 1 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 15:10, 14, and 58; Galatians 2:2; Philippians 2:16; and other passages. Mark 12:3 has a concrete use to help us understand the meaning. The ministry accomplished what Paul desired—spreading the biblical gospel, teaching new believers, and the new believers themselves joining beginning a fruitful ministry. This should be the pattern for local churches. We tell the biblical gospel to those who need it; we then teach believers Bible doctrine; and these new believers continue the pattern that has been established. How about our Christian service? Is it in fruitless and without purpose or result? In context Paul spoke to please God (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
    • Even the political-religious uproar and Paul having to be sent away did not change his perspective of his ministry in Thessalonica. Opposition does not predict failure. Opposition does not have to produce discouragement.
  2. 1 Thessalonians 2:2. Gross opposition (suffered propascho, to suffer before; mistreated hubrizo, to scoff, insult, treat spitefully) did not make Paul timid or hesitant to continue what God called him to do. In fact, it encouraged him. Boldness is parresiazomai, to speak freely and openly.
    • The gospel of God is the biblical message about Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection (Acts 17:2-5). This tells us what the gospel of God is and what we should be emphasizing. We tell people who Jesus Christ is (identify) and what he did (history).
    • The word for opposition is agon. This first is a gathering, then a place of a contest such as the Greeks at national games, and then a struggle even for life and death. Paul was in a life and death struggle with the forces of darkness. See Ephesians 6:12, “against the world forces of this darkness.”
  3. 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4. Paul and his team’s appeal to the Thessalonians was not from sinful motives (1 Thessalonians 2:3), but because he wanted to please God, not men (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:3. Their appeal (parklesis, summons, request, exhortation, encouragement) to the Thesslonians was valid. They did not attempt to lie, cheat, or base the ministry on wrong doctrine.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:4. God examines (present active participle of dokimazo). God’s testing resulting in approval (approved perfect passive indicative of dokimazo) and so entrusted them with the ministry. Note that examines and approved are the same verb (dokimazo, to test, to do an assay and so approve). God who examines hearts examined and approved Paul and his team. The result was that God considered them trustworthy (pisteuo in the aorist passive infinitive, to believe to trust, to put faith in) to travel and evangelize and teach and start churches. How did God know to entrust or delegate the ministry to them? Because he knows everything—even what people think (God is omniscient). He examines and selects certain ones for certain ministries. They wanted to please (aresko to make good, to please, to win favor, to accommodate) God—do what he wanted in the way he wanted. See the doctrines of Good Works and Ministry
      • The interpretation is that God read or examined Paul and his team. What were their motives? Did they want to gain favor and fame from people? No. Who did they want to please and gain favor from? Only God. Were they prepared enough? Was the message accurate? Would they endure suffering, attacks, ridicule? God saw the answer. It was yes. He approved them for the job ahead and entrusted what had to be done to them. The results were recorded in Acts and the epistles.
      • Does this have application to us? I think so. God who is omniscient reads or examines our thoughts, motives, strengths, and weaknesses. This is an examination that we all go through. If he approves us for service, he then entrusts or delegates ministry to us. The primary question in our test whom do we want to please? Note the many times Paul writes about pleasing God. First, Haggai 1:8, Malachi 1:8, 10, 1 Corinthians 7:32-33, 1 Corinthians 10:5, and 2 Timothy 2:4 record incidents or illustrations of pleasing someone. Some of Paul’s usage of “please” include Romans 8:8, 2 Corinthians 5:9, Galatians 1:10, Ephesians 5:10, Colossians 1:10, and 1 Thessalonians 4:1.  Peter writes of this in 1 Peter 2:15 and John in 1 John 3:22.
      • The point is that to pass God’s approval for ministry, he wants us to please him more than please people. Each of us needs to ask ourselves the question, “whom do I most want to please?”
  4. 1 Thessalonians 2:5-12. That they successfully carried out their trust showed in their on the job ministry with the Thessalonians. Though they were serving people, their higher and defining purpose was to serve God. Paul and his team understood the principle of 1 Peter 5:1-4: 1. under Jesus Christ, 2. shepherd the flock, 3. willingly, 4. not for excess gain, 5. eagerly, 6. not as a dictator, 7. as an example.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:5. They did not flatter people so the pay would be good.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:6. They did not seek earthly or human glory, praise, or honor.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:7. They treated the Thessalonian believers with great care, just like a mother does for her young children.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:8. They did not only impart (metadidomi, to give a part of, to give a share, to distribute) to them correct doctrine, but also their time and energy and experience.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:9. They worked on the side so they could without charge or offerings proclaim the biblical gospel. These were no easy jobs (labor, hardship, night and day).
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:10. Their personal lives were above reproach.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. They led the new believers to maturity just like a father would his children, by exhorting (paralakeo to summon, invite, appeal, encourage, comfort, exhort) and encouraging (paramutheomai to encourage, speak soothing to, reassure, support, console, cheer up) and imploring (marturomai to call to witness, invoke, give testimony, to urge, to affirm).
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:12. The practical purpose for their ministry was that the Thessalonian believers would walk (preposition eis with the article and the present active infinitive of peripateo, to walk or live) worthy (adverb axios of like value, worthy of, suitably, in synch with) of God. God was the one who is calling them into His kingdom and glory. Believers are in God’s kingdom.
      • Walk worthy of the vocation–humility (Ephesians 4.1).
      • Walk worthy of the Lord (Colossians 1.10).
      • Walk worthy of God, who called you into His kingdom and glory (1 Thessalonians 2.12).
      • Doctrine of walking, Doctrine of God’s kingdom.
  5. 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16. Paul is thankful that the Thessalonians readily accepted his and his team’s teaching and realized that it was God’s word, not their opinions. God’s word changed these new believers—it did what it was meant to do. What stood out in Paul’s mind was that the Thessalonians, just like the Judean believers, witnessed for Christ and applied the biblical doctrine they learned. As a result they suffered, yet they did not stop speaking out or quit the faith.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Constantly thank God. Constantly is adialeiptos, an adverb that expresses constant or unceasing prayer. Paul was busy, but he expressed his gratefulness to God for his divine direction, building in the faith, and blessing on those to whom he ministered. Are we like Paul—devoted to thanksgiving and requests?
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Word (logos) of God.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Which it really is shows Paul’s view of God’s revelation. He was convinced of the source and reliability of God’s revelation.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Performs its work (energeo to be in action, to operate, to effect; present middle indicative).
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15. The unbeliever Jews persecuted believers just like their fathers had done. Though these Jews thought that they were pleasing God, they were wrong. How often do we now think we are pleasing God when in fact our viewpoint is not God’s; it is the viewpoint of the world and is wrong.
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Paul was actually hindered (koluo means to prevent, to forbid, to hinder). Though he was prevented from preaching, he continued to find people and ways to preach the saving message. By hindering the gospel, they were adding (fill up, anapleroo, to fill up, to complete, to supply) to their sins. “But wrath has come,” means that God’s judgment has been pronounced upon them. This refers either to the coming destruction and dispersion of the Jews or to God’s judgment of unbelievers in the coming tribulation. “Has come” means judgment has been pronounced. All of this because they rejected Jesus and were trying to prevent others from hearing about him.
  6. 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20. Though Paul and his team were forced to leave Thessalonica, his affection for them did not decrease and with that his desire to see them face to face again. The great enemy, Satan, hindered (egkapto, to oppose, to check, to hold the breath, use strong measures to prevent something) them.
    • The apostle and his men maintained their affection for these young believers. Paul has said this repeatedly. Yes, there is affection for those in one’s ministry.
    • The spiritual conflict raged against the apostle and his team. Can we expect anything less? No. Satan acts to stop any progress of the gospel and Bible teaching. He will raise political opposition, religious opposition, even family opposition, and opposition by believers.
    • God is the king over all creation. At times he redirects a mission as in Acts 16:6-7. This was to send Paul to areas ready for the gospel (Macedonia). People were saved and grew in Philippi and in Thessalonica and in Berea and later in Athens. At other times he allows Satan to hinder ministry in order to demonstrate dependence on God by believers, as here and as noted in Job 1-2. Either way, God is sovereign.
  7. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. The faithful believers whom Paul served in Thessalonica will be the cause of his reward and happiness at the coming of Jesus for the church (the rapture).