#188 “WHERE DOES YOUR APPROVAL COME FROM?” (1 THESSALONIANS 2:3-6)
- 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity (impure motives; a term used for bait catching) or any attempt to deceive—Paul refutes his critics who were spreading lies that Paul was no different than the cult leaders who were taking advantage of the people. It was common practice among eastern cults in the Roman Empire to perform immoral acts and rob people of their money. Error—The term can denote false teaching. John the apostle shared in his open letter, “We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 Jn. 4:6). Impurity or any attempt to deceive—Paul didn’t use his notoriety to take advantage of the people. His motives were genuine, and his objectives were to give back and care for the people, not fool them into believing a lie.
- 4 but just as we have been approved (to test the genuineness of something; to judge as good) by God to be entrusted (to place in the care) with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. Paul was no novice. He wasn’t motivated by greed, pride, or lust. He devoted his entire life to serving God and accomplishing what he was set out to do. Gal. 1:1-2, “Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—and all the brothers who are with me.” Please God—The GK word is areskō, the “desire to please; to accommodate,” and is used by Paul 17 times. Paul was so confident that his ministry pleased God that he enlists his approval from God who will vindicate his life.
- 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. This is Paul’s first mentioning of money. Personal profit was never Paul’s ambition. 2 Cor. 2:17, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” Nor did Paul use flattery as a means to gain approval from man and get people to buy into his belief system.
- 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. The ancient Mediterranean world was filled with imposters and sages who turned their speeches into public spectacles. Demands—There were times Paul encouraged the churches to support those who ministered to them (see 1 Cor. 9:3-14; 2 Cor. 11:7-11; 2 Thess. 3:9). Jesus, himself, told his disciples that the laborer deserves to be paid for his work (Mk. 6:7-13).