1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
1 For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, about our coming to you – it has not proven to be purposeless.
2 But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of much opposition.
3 For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit,
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.
Context: In the previous passage, Paul provided more details of how the Thessalonians changed and how that news spread everywhere. Now Paul describes how he declared the gospel with courage despite his previous persecution and opposition.
For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, about our coming to you – it has not proven to be purposeless –
Meaning that the conversion of the Thessalonians, described in chapter one, was proof that Paul had a purpose in coming to Macedonia. That purpose was to preach the gospel.
But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, as you know –
When Paul said we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, he is referring to the same event. That is the persecution they received before coming to Thessalonica. See how it is described below from the book of Acts.
Acts 16:11 We put out to sea from Troas and sailed a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 16:12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia, a Roman colony. We stayed in this city for some days. 16:13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the side of the river, where we thought there would be a place of prayer, and we sat down and began to speak to the women who had assembled there. 16:14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearing woman, listened to us. he Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. 16:15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me to be a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house.” And she persuaded us.16:16 Now as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit that enabled her to foretell the future by supernatural means. She brought her owners a great profit by fortune-telling. 16:17 She followed behind Paul and us and kept crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 16:18 She continued to do this for many days. But Paul became greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out of her at once. 16:19 But when her owners saw their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 16:20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion. They are Jews 16:21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us to accept or practice, since we are Romans.” 16:22 The crowd joined the attack against them, and the magistrates tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 16:23 After they had beaten them severely, they threw them into prison and commanded the jailer to guard them securely.16:24 Receiving such orders, he threw them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the rest of the prisoners were listening to them. 16:26 Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so thatthe foundations of the prison were shaken. Immediately all the doors flew open, and the bonds of all the prisoners came loose. 16:27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he assumed the prisoners had escaped. 16:28 But Paul called out loudly, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 16:29 Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and fell down trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. 16:30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” 16:32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him, along with all those who were in his house. 16:33 At that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized right away. 16:34 The jailer brought them into his house and set food before them, and he rejoiced greatly that he had come to believe in God, together with his entire household. 16:35 At daybreak the magistrates sent their police officers, saying, “Release those men.” 16:36 The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent orders to release you. So come out now and go in peace.” 16:37 But Paul said to the police officers, “They had us beaten in public without a proper trial – even though we are Roman citizens – and they threw us in prison. And now they want to send us away secretly? Absolutely not! They themselves must come and escort us out!” 16:38 The police officers reported these words to the magistrates. They were frightened when they heard Paul and Silas were Roman citizens 16:39 and came and apologized to them. After they brought them out, they asked them repeatedly to leave the city. 16:40 When they came out of the prison, they entered Lydia’s house, and when they saw the brothers, they encouraged them and then departed. 17:1 After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue.
we had the courage in our God –
- Strong’s Definitions: παῤῥησιάζομαι parrhēsiázomai, par-hray-see-ad’-zom-ahee; to be frank in utterance, or confident in spirit and demeanor.
- Some English versions say, we were bold in our God.
- Meaning the persecution they received did not cause them to shrink back, but they had the courage in their God to continue their ministry of speaking the gospel.
- This courage to continue comes from fully trusting in God and His sovereign plan for our lives. No matter what happens in life, whether good or bad, it is within God’s plan for us. Therefore, we may have courage and be confident that we are right where he wants us to be.
- Lost souls may get their courage in a bottle, but a Christian gets his courage in God.
- Describe a time when you had courage to go through a difficult time knowing that you were experiencing God’s plan?
- Can you describe areas in your life where you have shrunk back due to fear caused by suffering instead of continuing forward with courage?
to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of much opposition-
- Strong’s Definitions: λαλέω; laléō,lal-eh’-o; to talk, i.e. utter words.
- They word just means to talk. But since they were bold and had courage in God, some English versions translate the word stronger, to declare.
B) the gospel of God
- 1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 15:2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you – unless you believed in vain. 15:3 For I passed onto you as of first importance what I also received – that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 15:8 Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.
C) in spite of much opposition-
- Through their courage in God, Paul and his companions declared the gospel to the Thessalonians even after suffering in Philippi and being opposed by the Jews in Thessalonica.
- 7:1 After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 17:2 Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, 17:3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 17:4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 17:5 But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason’s house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. 17:6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, screaming, “These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too, 17:7 and Jason has welcomed them as guests! They are all acting against Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another king named Jesus!” 17:8 They caused confusion among the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 17:9 After the city officials had received bail from Jason and the others, they released them. 17:10 The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea at once, during the night. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 17:11 These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. 17:12 Therefore many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men. 17:13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica heard that Paul had also proclaimed the word of God in Berea, they came there too, inciting and disturbing the crowds. 17:14 Then the brothers sent Paul away to the coast at once, but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. 17:15 Those who accompanied Paul escorted him as far as Athens, and after receiving an order for Silas andTimothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.
For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit-
- Strong’s Definitions: παράκλησις; paráklēsis, par-ak’-lay-sis; imploration, hortation, solace
B) does not come from error
- Meaning their gospel message was not a false teaching.
- Meaning their message was not only free of complete error as mentioned above, but it was also free of any defect. Instead, their message was perfectly pure.
D) or with deceit
- Strong’s Definitions: δόλος; dólos, dol’-os; from an obsolete primary verb, δέλλω déllō (probably meaning to decoy; a trick (bait), i.e. (figuratively) wile.
- Meaning Paul was declaring this pure message for their benefit and not to trick them nor take advantage of them.
- Titus 1:10-11 (NET) 10 For there are many rebellious people, idle talkers, and deceivers, especially those with Jewish connections, 11 who must be silenced because they mislead whole families by teaching for dishonest gain what ought not to be taught.
- Can you think of an example from the news or from your experiences where someone knowingly deceived others for their own gain? Do you know of an example from the Christian world?
but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel-
A) have been approved by God
- Strong’s Definitions: δοκιμάζω; dokimázō, dok-im-ad’-zo; to test (literally or figuratively); by implication, to approve.
- Think of a product that has been tested at the manufacture and given their approval stamp.
- Paul and his coworkers were tested or proved by trials in the gospel work to prove that they could be….
B) entrusted with the gospel
- Strong’s Definitions: πιστεύω; pisteúō, pist-yoo’-o; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well-being to Christ).
- Meaning through the testing of trials, God found them faithful to carry forth His gospel. God trusted them.
so we declare it – not to please people but God, who examines our hearts-
a) so we declare it – not to please people but God
- Meaning inasmuch as God has proved and trusted Paul and his coworkers with the gospel, then they must declared the gospel with the motive to please the One who entrusted them and not to please men.
- Paul did not please the men in Philippi by ruining their business with the healing of the slave girl, nor did Paul please the Jews in the synagogue of the Thessalonians with his gospel message of Salvation though faith and not by trusting the works of Moses’ law.
- See a similar statement that Peter made in the book of Acts 5.
- [Act 5:27-29 NET] When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people.
B) who examines our hearts
- The word, examine, is from the same Greek word above translated approved. The word means to prove or test. It is God who tests our hearts. If we do not do his will because we would rather please people, then our conscience will be pricked by the Holy Spirit. After our internal struggle, we must please God instead of man.
- Can you describe an example where you had to displease a person or persons so you could please God by speaking His truth?
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
Are You Courageous to Continue?
Your small suffering is much different than the suffering of My Son for your sins or the suffering of Paul for the sake of my gospel. You have not suffered much in life. However, I know you have suffered a little, and those sufferings shook your faith and are still causing you to shrink back a little.
I’m glad you held onto Me through suffering, but I want you to continue onward with courage in spite of the fear. Don’t let fear hold you back. Continue to serve me, to risk relationships, to get out and live. Yes, more suffering is coming, but look to My Son and to Paul and how they kept going – even to death.
Continue to declare the gospel. It is true. It is pure. Teach it with a pure motive.
Stand up for Me, My Son, and for righteousness. Do not compromise My truth to please the world, friends, or even family.