Being encouraged by the results of God’s Word and work, Paul summarized the missionary’s ministry and motives among the Thessalonians. He wrote of their –
A. Responsibilities in ministering the Word of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 He wrote of –
1. The Unchanging Message. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6
They were faithful in preaching, taking the message to the people.
a. They did not change their method. 2:1 “…our entrance in unto you…”
“Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”
He knew God’s will and we are exhorted to know the same –
1 Corinthians 1:21-23 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
And so we praise the Lord also that –
b. They did not change their message 2:2
Look at the message preached – the Gospel –
1). The message that was preached to the Macedonians.
Acts 17:3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
After being forced out of Thessalonica and Berea, Paul arrived in Athens. Look at –
2). The message that was preached to the Athenians.
Acts 17:31-32 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
And having little influence in Athens we see –
3). The message that was preached to the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 4:5 (KJV) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
These missionaries preached the truth of God, the Gospel, to these people as though they were involved in a great contest “…contention.” The word is “agon” from which the word agony is derived. It pictures determined struggle to overcome as one engaged in an Olympic wrestling contest.
Paul described this same struggle as he was involved in a physical and a spiritual contest over the souls of the believers. He wrote to the church in Colosse –
Colossians 2:1 (KJV) For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
And he described to us that struggle which we face daily as the children of God –
Ephesians 6:12 (KJV) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
This being the case, the victory to be won is in the power of God. We cannot change the rules of engagement that God has set forth thinking that we will gain the advantage. We must trust God going forward in this battle according to His Word –
Ephesians 6:11 (KJV) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Take note that they refused to change the message –
Acts 4:12 (KJV) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
And they were faithful to the Lord –
1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Some heard and believed. Some heard and rejected. Many of those who rejected the message also rejected the messengers, persecuting them. In the face of all of this – the message was never changed to accommodate the hearers. The hearers would be changed by belief in the message.
The missionaries were true to God. Throughout the ministry –
c. They did not change their motive. 2:3-6
Some did and some still do. Remember what Paul told Timothy about Demas – “…Demas hath forsaken me having loved this present world…” Demas had been a faithful labourer in the ministry with Paul, but over time he saw that Paul was not interested in gaining the things of the world while false teachers were being materially rewarded. Do you remember another who forsook the Lord for material gain? Judas lived day to day with the Lord Jesus and the other disciples for three years, but it was not enough for him. It happens, and so it is important to thank the Lord for those who serve the Lord for His glory, not for what Peter described as “filthy lucre” and the motive that Paul described as the root of evil – “the love of money…”.
Paul continued to write of –
2. The Undaunted Courage. 1 Thessalonians 2:7,8
The Lord put into the hearts of these men a love for these that had turned to Him in faith and trusted Him for salvation. Paul, Silas, and Timothy were living examples of the Lord’s words to His disciples as noted by John –
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Paul illustrated their care for them in such a way that we can all understand – a mother’s love. An applicable example of a mother’s love took place just a few years ago in India. A woman was working in a field when a leopard came from the forest and attacked her 7 year old son. As the animal dragged the boy back into the forest, the mother gave chase with only a cutting sickle in her hand. She forced the leopard to release the child and the animal escaped into the forest. The child survived because its mother was willing to lay down her life for his. This is what Paul is expressing – their devotion to these new born children of God.
Of course, there are those who would ask “Why did you all leave when the trouble started? He then explained –
3. The Unblameable actions. 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Paul told the brethren to remember how He, Silas, and Timothy had behaved while ministering the Word of God to them. The Thessalonian believers should rebuke those that brought accusations against them and remind the accusers how these men –
a. Worked from dawn to dusk to supply their needs. 2:9a
b. Witnessed to them faithfully through the preaching of the gospel. 2:b
c. Walked among them reflecting the holy life of the Lord Jesus Christ. 2:10
d. Watched over them as a father. 2:11,12
Paul not only emotionally cared for them as a mother loves her children, he also emphatically challenged them as a father would to stand up for the Lord, as David stood up to the evil Goliath, challenging his own brothers and countrymen “Is there not a cause”! or as Joshua set forth the challenge to the world “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We see through the ministry of the Word of God how God blessed through them and what He did to them in their testimonies – The unchanging message, The undaunted courage, and their unblameable actions. How do we measure up to this work of God today? Would those who know us be able to defend us of accusations from others by telling them “they never changed the message, they love us and will lay down their lives for us, and they glorify the Lord through their lives”?
What does the Holy Spirit reveal to you today? Where is the praise unto God deserved or the prayer unto God demanded? Will you obey the Lord’s direction today?