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1 Thessalonians 2:8-13: The Word at Work in Us!

In a day when multitudes are overloaded with self-love, man-centered preaching only fortifies man in his lost condition. It may add a little religion to his life, even a bit of assurance to which he vainly clings, but it does not bring him into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Every preacher is in danger of telling his people what they want to hear. I have had people tell me, “You really tell it like it is!” But is that what we want to hear? How about, “Preacher, you really tell us what God says!” After all, isn't that our task as preachers of the Gospel?

What is the motive for people-pleasing preaching, larger paychecks, greater applause, or bigger crowds? Wouldn’t you rather have the applause of God than the applause of men? If the preacher is called by men, then he may do his best to please those who called him. But if he is called of God. How can he dare but speak the truth of God? That’s what these Thessalonians were saying, “you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God!”

Verse 8a: “So, affectionately longing for you…”

The Greek word is, homeiromai, a longing or yearning after. It means to desire, to be affectionately desirous of. The word expresses an experiencing of a strong feeling intensified by an inner attachment and thus a longing for, having a strong affection for or loving very much. This word is used only here in Scripture and indicates the yearning love of a mother for her children. Paul's pastoral heart is laid bare in these verses as he continues the figure of the nursing mother picturing her as not satisfied with nursing the child, but interesting herself affectionately in all that concerns the child.

“Whatever its origin, it denotes the warm affection and tender yearning that the missionaries felt for their spiritual babes at Thessalonica. The present tense marks the constant nature of the learning and affection the new believers experienced.” –D. Edmond Hiebert

Verse 8b: “…we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.”

It has been well said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care! Paul gave both his care and his knowledge, and we who desire to make disciples of all the nations should do no less! Paul, in addressing the Ephesian elders said, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

“Impart” in Greek is metadidomi it means to share with someone what you have, to communicate, to give a share or part of. It refers to transferring something to another. It is the giving of something by which the giver retains one part and the receiver another so that they both share in the matter. The word means more than “to give.” It means to give from oneself.

“metadidomi…means to share, or give someone something of which one retains a part. That is exactly what happens when Christians impart to other people divine truth. They give someone else the good news of salvation, yet without losing possession of it themselves.”

–John MacArthur

Give It Away: “Parents, teachers, and school board members in central Texas were astounded when a retired couple offered 4-year college scholarships to all 45 children in a local school's first-grade class. The only conditions are that the child stays off drugs, graduates from the high school in that district, and attends an accredited Texas public university, junior college, or trade school. Years earlier, a company had paid half the college tuition for one of the donors, and he never forgot. ‘They helped me,’ he says, ‘and now it's my turn.’

All of us have received a gift we can share with others. Although it may not be money, it's something that has enhanced our lives. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that ‘we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us’ (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

What has been given to you that you need to pass along in the name of Christ? The gift of listening when someone needs to talk? Sharing in a Bible-study group where people learn to nourish themselves from the Word? Sending a thoughtful card to someone with a heavy heart? The gospel is always most effective when it is shared by people who joyfully give themselves away.

The message you may give,

The words that come from you,

Most truly honor Jesus

When love is given too. —D. De Haan

God gives to you so you can give to others.” —David C. McCasland, Our Daily Bread

Verse 9a: “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”

Verse 9, The Message: “You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you.”

“In Paul’s day men stopped work when darkness came, then they went to bed. It was unusual for a person to work night and day, but that was what Paul did. Many a lonely hour in the night he was trying to help some soul come to Christ, to understand the tremendous issues that were latent in the gospel message, and praying with them. He was laboring night and day. There was many a late hour when Paul was alone on his knees before God getting the power and strength and the wisdom to know what to do the next day as he sought to be a true servant of God. The Christian life is not a continuous vacation. Christians should have vacations even as Christ took His disciples off to rest awhile. But the Christian life should not be a question of doing as little as possible. Rather like Paul our lives should be poured out in service for the Lord.” –adapted an edited from John Walvoord

“Paul is continuing his picture of…a mother’s work. We are familiar with the expression: ‘Man’s work is from sun to sun, but a woman’s work (or a mother’s work) is never done.’ A mother is not a paid nurse. Paul is saying that he wasn’t a paid nurse who worked by the hour. He wasn’t a hired baby-sitter. He did not belong to a union. Have you ever heard of a mothers’ union which insisted a mother would work only for eight hours of the day? Have you known any mothers who punch the clock and then turn away from their crying babies because they refuse to work anymore? Maybe some mothers will work out some kind of union agreement like that, but I don’t think real mothers would want it. Mothers work a little differently—night and day.” –McGee

Paul didn’t have to work night and day. He recognized his right to be supported by those to whom he ministered but he gave up that right to set himself apart from missionaries of false religions. Paul denied his rights to a normal remuneration for his work. He set a higher standard upon himself.

1 Corinthians 9:1-6; 12-14, “Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’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? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?…But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ…Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”

Verse 10a: “You are witnesses, and God also…”

They knew the truth of what Paul was saying. The Thessalonian believers were ready and willing to give a character witness of Paul, Silas and Timothy, how their lives were were marked by holiness and righteousness, and how careful they were to give no offence in anything. Paul said, “You very well know how we acted the part of a father to each one of you, as we exhorted, and encouraged, and solemnly charged, so that you might respond to the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:10).

Paul makes a direct appeal to the memory and testimony of the Thessalonians concerning he and his team’s conduct during the 3 or more weeks they had been in Thessalonica. The Thessalonians had witnessed character and behavior and could testify to the their integrity.

Three things are essential for one to qualify as a witness: 1) The witness has seen with his own eyes what he attests. 2) He is competent to relate it for others 3) He is willing to testify truthfully.

Verse 10b: “…how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe.”

“devoutly” in Greek is hosios, is an adverb which is marked by a conscientious regard for divine law so that one behaves in a way pleasing to God or in a holy manner. “It is that quality of holiness which is manifested in those who have regard equally to grace and truth; it involves a right relation to God…” –Vine

“The term holy (devoutly) relates to inward disposition and points to the religious aspect of life; righteous covers the moral aspect, relating to that integrity and uprightness of conduct that must mark the Christian life.” –Hiebert

“Justly” in Greek is dikaios means right conduct, waking morally upright outwardly or in a right way which is in accordance with what God requires. It is a more general description of observable “rightness” in all aspects of life. Paul, Silas and Timothy’s conduct came up to the full standard of what was right or just and concordant to the performance of the duties of life.

“Blamelessly” in Greek is amemptos meaning, means irreproachably, faultlessly. The noun describes that which is without defect or blemish and thus describes not being able to find fault in someone or something. Paul and his companions' life before the Thessalonians was such that there was no legitimate ground for accusation. This doesn’t mean that his enemies didn’t accuse him—because they did—but the charges didn’t stick.

“People will say ugly things about you, but the important thing is to make sure the criticisms are not true. Paul and his companions maintained a holy life. A holy life does count. It has nothing to do with obtaining your salvation, but it has everything to do with the salvation of folk around you, because they are watching you.” –McGee

Verse 11: “…as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charge every one of you, as a father does his own children.”

Paul again appeals to the personal knowledge the Thessalonians (“as you know”). This evidence is a confirmation of the devout, just and blameless lives of the missionaries and is in full harmony with their personal knowledge. Every believer needs to be so transparent in his life that everyone will know, the Greek suggests this literally means “perception by sight.”

“as you know” in Greek I eido/oida which “speaks of absolute, beyond the peradventure (chance) of a doubt knowledge, a knowledge that is self-evident…a positive knowledge…to know absolutely and finally…to know absolutely… a sure knowledge, a positive knowledge…an absolute acquaintance with something." Wuest

“Exhorted” in Greek is parakaleo, to come alongside and encourage. It suggests the idea of giving help or aid but the primary sense in the New Testament is to urge someone to take some action, especially some ethical course of action. Sometimes the word conveys the idea of comfort, sometimes of exhortation but always at the root there is the idea of enabling a person to meet some difficult situation with confidence and care.

“Comforted” is paramutheomai in Greek. In the New Testament it means to come near, encourage, console (to serve as a source of comfort in disappointment, loss, sadness, trouble). The idea is to speak kindly or soothingly so as to comfort or pacify. It denotes the soothing and encouraging side of exhortation, inspiring the converts to continue the desired course of action. It means to encourage in the sense of comfort and consolation which is critical in assisting spiritual growth because of the many obstacles and failures Christians can experience.

“This word carries the same idea of “encouragement,” with the emphasis on activity. Paul not only made them feel better, but he made them want to do better. A father must not pamper a child; rather, he must encourage the child to go right back and try over again. Christian encouragement must not become an anesthesia that puts us to sleep. It must be a stimulant that awakens us to do better.” –Weirsbe

Verse 12: “…that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

Here is the supreme purpose of his mission, that the Thessalonians would live lives worthy of God. No greater goal is conceivable in this life for it impacts the eternal life to come! And there is no greater goal for the pastor or leader in God’s church, than to lead people to live worthy lives.

“Walk” in Greek is peripateo, meaning literally to go here and there in walking, to tread all around. Most New Testament uses are figurative meaning to conduct one's life, to order one's behavior, to behave, to make one's way, to make due use of opportunities, to live or pass one’s life (with a connotation of spending some time in a place).

“God will help us when we cannot walk, and He will help us when we find it hard to walk, but He cannot help us if we will not walk. (and so even though you fall, you must try again.)” –McDonald

Colossians 1:10, ‘that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…”

Ephesians 4:1-3, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

“Worthy” in Greek is axios, to weigh, weight or value, tipping the scales, bringing into balance and hence equivalent or equal value/similar worth. Axios has the root meaning of balancing the scales, what is on one side of the scale should be equal in weight to what is on the other side. By extension, axios came to be applied to anything that was expected to correspond to something else. A person worthy of his pay was one whose day’s work corresponded to his day’s wages.

“The statement expresses the divine estimate. The world counts those who are true witnesses to God not worthy of itself. God reverses the comparison. Separation from the world and its ways always brings its contempt. The world will one day be compelled to acknowledge that God is right.” –Vine

“Two points may be noticed here. (1) Paul directs his converts’ attention not to a list of commandments or directory of prescribed behaviors, but to the character of God. This reminds us that for Paul, internal motivation, not simply external actions, is of critical importance. (2) Paul does not view any of this activity as having anything to do with earning or generating God’s love or attention. Instead, it is clearly a response to the God who, on his own initiative, ‘calls’ them ‘into his own kingdom and glory.’” –Michael Holmes

Verse 13a: “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth…”

Paul and all the other apostles declared repeatedly their absolute and invariable conviction that what they delivered to us was not their word, but the word of Almighty God. The Thessalonians received the word of God as it is in truth. Paul presented it not as the word of men, and the Thessalonians received it as the word of God.

“Not everyone receives this message as the word of God. Yet when they do not receive it, it reflects upon them, not upon the message. That you have not perceived spiritual things is true; but it is no proof that there are none to perceive. The whole case is like that of the Irishman who tried to upset evidence by non-evidence. Four witnesses saw him commit a murder. He pleaded that he was not guilty, and wished to establish his innocence by producing forty persons who did not see him do it. Of what use would that have been? So, if forty people declare that there is no power of the Holy Ghost going with the word, this only proves that the forty people do not know what others do know.” –Spurgeon

“How do you receive the Word of God? Do you receive it as the Word of God? Or do you get angry? Does the hair stand up on the back of your neck? Twice in all my years of ministry I was approached by a man after a sermon and asked if I had him in mind when I preached the sermon that morning. My friend, I didn’t even know those men were there! They were giving themselves an added sense of importance that wasn’t justified. But the real issue is that they weren’t receiving the Word of God as the Word of God.” –McGee

Preacher, you are preaching the word of God? Pew-sitter are you receiving the Word as the word of God?

2 Timothy 4:1-5, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Galatians 1:8-10 “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

Our authority is the word of God! “We preachers deal with the most significant issues mortals will ever face, life, death, hope, destruction, eternal salvation, and eternal condemnation. But do we handle these issues with any passion? Do we actually believe what we are preaching? How convinced are we that hell is real for those without Christ? If our listeners doubt our earnestness, how can they believe? Jesus preached as one having authority (Matthew 7:28,29). God's word tells us we can do the same, Titus 2:15: “Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority…” Those who have lost confidence in authority of the Bible as the word of God are left with little to say and no authority for their message.” –

Leonard Ravenhill wrote: “Preacher brethren, it's time to blush that we have no shame. This is the time to weep for our lack of tears. The time to bend low that we have lost the humble touch of servants. The time to groan that we have no burden. The time to be angry with ourselves that we have no anger over the devil's monopoly in this end-time hour. The time to chastise ourselves that the world can so easily get along with us and not attempt to chastise us.”

Verse 13b: “…the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

Paul's confidence in the word of God wasn't a matter of wishful thinking or blind faith. He could see that it effectively works in those who believe. God's Word works, it doesn't only bring information or produce feelings. There is power in the word of God to change lives.

Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

2 Timothy 3:15-17, “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Everyone has heard of the Mutiny on the Bounty. Do you know the rest of the story? Nine mutineers with six native men and twelve Tahitian women put ashore on Pitcairn Island in 1790. One sailor soon began distilling alcohol, and the little colony was plunged into debauchery and vice.

Ten years later, only one white man survived, surrounded by native women and the children they had had. an old chest from the Bounty, this sailor found a Bible. He began to read it and then to teach it to the others. The result was that his own life and ultimately the lives of all those in the colony was changed. Discovered in 1808 by the USS Topas, Pitcairn had become a prosperous community with no jail, no whisky, no crime, and no laziness. God’s word works!

John Wesley said, "I want to know one thing—the way to Heaven; how to land safely on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way: For this very end he came from Heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God. I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book."

**Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB).**

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