< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: 1st Thessalonians 2 Part 1

Thursday, March 25, 2010

1st Thessalonians 2 Part 1

In chapter 2 we get the idea that the hostile Jews were spreading lies about Paul and his companions; about their motives, conduct and the truth of their gospel. So Paul presents evidence that he and his associates are true servants of God.

1st Thessalonians 2:1-12 1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

In this section Paul explains how he understood Christian ministry in general to be and also how he and his colleagues preformed in light of this understanding. It’s a good portrait of what a Christian ministry should be.

1. It should be (and Paul’s was) a courageous God-ordained ministry. Paul’s beating and imprisonment in Philippi, which is talked about in Acts 16, and the great opposition he encountered at Thessalonica would surely have intimidated and silenced a self-appointed, self-serving person. But, not a messenger of God. If God wants you to do something, He will give you the strength and courage to do it.

Look again at verse 2: “we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God.”

And the results are in verse 1: “God was active in our ministry among you.”

2. It was a sound and faithful ministry. He said their appeal didn’t spring from error (probably meaning erroneous interpretation of the scriptures.) Paul taught that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled prophetic hopes concerning the coming of the Messiah.

Sometimes when people try to persuade others about something, they sugar coat the message, even if it’s ever so slightly. But Paul never changed his message to make it more acceptable. His aim was to please God, his judge, not people. I’m sure some ministers are often tempted to shy away from controversial topics in their sermons, but you can’t.

3. It was a selfless and self-giving ministry. Verse 5 said their words were never a cloak of greed. You not only share the gospel; you share yourself! What a minister is is as important in transforming lives as what a minister says. He should be Holy, righteous and blameless.

4. It was a self-supporting ministry. Paul worked long hours as a tentmaker. Paul knew that as an apostle of Christ, he had a right to live off the gospel.

1 Corinthians 9:3-14 3This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4Don't we have the right to food and drink? 5Don't we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord's brothers and Cephas[a]? 6Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain."[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. 13Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
But when he was with the Thessalonians he wanted to be financially independent of them. While ministers today aren’t expected to work for free, they have to be careful about greed and also how they are supported, so they won’t be tempted to flatter.

5. Paul taught them through example, patient exhortation and encouragement. He says in verse 1 that they were Holy, righteous and blameless when he was among them and that he encourage them, as a Father would, to live lives worthy of God.

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