#190 “BLAMELESS CONDUCT AMONG LEADERS” (1 THESSALONIANS 2:9-13)

 

  1. But we were gentle (nēpioi, infant child) among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. Paul uses two family metaphors to highlight his integrity among the Thessalonians: an infant and a nursing mother. It was common in Paul’s day for traveling speakers to take advantage of the people. Therefore, Paul used familial language to communicate his efforts to protect and provide for the needs of the Thessalonians. He was innocent in his nurturing like a “wet nurse” caring and feeding a baby. Elsewhere, Paul conveyed the same tender care to the Corinthians: “Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children” (2 Cor. 12:14). In the OT, God described himself as a mother caring for her children (Isa. 49:15; 66:12-13).
  2. So, being affectionately desirous (deep longing; to yearn for someone) of you, we were ready (to take pleasure) to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. As an apostle, Paul used his authority to love and care for the Thessalonians. Affectionately desirous—A word not commonly used by Paul. The GK word is homeiromenoi, “to be drawn to someone with deep affection and longing.” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, “The rarity of the term selected in 1 Th. 2:8 brings out the peculiar nature of the relation of the apostle to the community. This consists in a “warm inward attachment.” The apostle is impelled by it to serve, not only in unconditional obedience to his commission, but also in heartfelt love for the community.” A simple translation can read, “Because we loved you so much, we were ready to share with you…”
  3. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. Once again (v. 5), Paul makes this known because one of the charges against him was that he only preached for money. We worked night and day—Paul, Silas, and Timothy worked as tentmakers so that they weren’t a financial burden to anyone (see Ac. 20:34; 1 Cor. 4:12; 2 Thess. 3:8). Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary, “One of the hallmarks of Paul’s Christian ministry was hard work to the point of physical exhaustion (2 Cor. 6:5), which he performed joyfully. Paul strove for godliness (1 Tim. 4:10) and worked harder than any who had been before him (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 11:23).”Gospel of God—The life-giving message Paul expounded to the Thessalonians included these eternal truths: (1) Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God, (2) Christ died for the sins of mankind, (3) Christ rose from the dead, (4) salvation comes by grace through faith, and (5) Christ will return for his church.
  4. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. The OT law required two or more witnesses to substantiate a person’s claim (Num. 35:30; Deut. 17:6; 19:15). Therefore, Paul invokes God and the Thessalonians as his witnesses to how he conducted himself among them. The Thessalonians prospered under Paul’s leadership and were able to withstand persecution and share their faith.
  5. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. Paul’s third family metaphor (“infant” and “nursing mother” v. 7) is of a father instructing his children. In the Greco-Roman era, the father was the primary teacher in the home. Paul’s ministry consisted of caring, exhorting, and teaching the Thessalonians on how to conduct themselves in the world. In a manner worthy of God—Paul told the Ephesians the very same thing, “I urge you to walk in a matter worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (4:1). who calls you—The theme of God’s election is littered throughout the letter (1:4; 3:3b; 4:7; 5:9, 24). His own kingdom and glory—A new phrase by Paul that speaks to God’s present and active grace on earth (advancing his kingdom through the gospel) and glory is the future consummation that Christians will experience in God’s kingdom for eternity. “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim. 4:18).
    • 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
    • 1 Cor. 4:20, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.”
    • 1:13, 14 – “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
  6. 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. Paul and his companions were spokesmen of God. They were not speaking from their own authority but from the authority of God. We, too, are called to speak God’s Word without compromise: “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 4:11).