August 18th, 2022 – 1 Thessalonians 2:7

Paul, in these scriptures, was defending his own ministry as well as his character before the people of Thessalonica. It was not because Paul was insecure regarding his ministry to them, but because of all the enemies he had in Thessalonica who spoke evil of him in his absence. This was especially because of his quick departure from Thessalonica. Paul when arriving there, went out and declared Christ to the Jews. “Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Acts 17:1-3. Some of them believed and joined Paul. But many became jealous and sought Paul to arrest Him. However, he was warned and helped to escape. “And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.” Acts 17:10.

After a time, He returned to Thessalonica and Paul he needed to show his integrity and that he could be trusted. “For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1. When he had first come there many heard the truth and believed. Paul strongly repudiates any thought that he had wasted his time in aimless pursuits. He had come with a definite purpose and had been successful. They had suffered much in Philippi, but in boldness they were going to speak the gospel as well. And they were doing it in a way that pleases God. “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed, God is witness, nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3-6.

There were three things Paul was no-doubt accused of which he needed to address. First, that he was preaching things of God that were not true. “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit.” They were declaring that Paul was seducing the people by telling them lies in such a way that would appeal to their sinful human nature. However, they were not trying to deceive the people, but to help them understand the truth that God loves them and has provided a way of salvation. God has approved them to preach the gospel, but not in a way that pleases men necessarily but pleases God. He was not trying to lead people into error, but to the truth of the gospel. Nor did they approach them with words that made them feel good about themselves through flattery. Also, they did not come to make themselves look good in the eyes of people. They did not seek approval from anyone but God. They had not preached for worldly gain or popular applause; and he reiterated they preached for God’s approval and the testimony of a good conscience.

The point is this. While Paul served men, he did not live to serve them. His service was primarily to God, and he delighted to refer to himself as ‘the slave of God. In every age this needs emphasis, for the Christian preacher is always tempted to accommodate his message to the desires of his hearers. Preachers and teachers today must be careful not to water down the truth in order to give people what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. And those who are not preachers or teachers but are those who witness to people regarding the truth of the gospel must do the same, in love for both God and men. This is our calling. One of my absolute favorite verses lays out God’s great commission to us. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. And as seen above, this is to be done in love for God, and for the people we reach out to. And with all honesty, integrity, and humility. When we do this we may come under attack by those who hate our message, but who knows the affect we may have on them as well as those we are ministering to. 

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

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