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If our previous study in chp.1 created the impression that everything was going ideally as Paul and his team proclaimed the gospel, chp 2 will soon correct that perception! Paul makes frequent reference to the opposition they experienced - opposition to the message and the messenger.

Read 1 Thess. 1/6;  2/2;  2/14; 3/3,4; 3/7              Read also John 15/18

Paul's defence in chp. 2 suggests that this attack was verbal and involved slander concerning Paul's motivation.

Question: How can we counter when people attack our motives for the ministry we exercise in the Kingdom of God?

Let Paul explain how he responded and, using those insights, let's apply them to our own circumstances. We will do so under three simple headings - Motives, Methods and Models

[1]  MOTIVES

It certainly seems that Paul's motivation was being called into question. Paul understands that if the messenger can be discredited then the message is also discredited. The integrity of Paul was being questioned.  It is not so much that Paul is now defending his personal reputation; rather he is defending the gospel and its acceptance by the people at Thessalonica.

Chp.2/1 "Our visit to you was not a failure".  Paul refuses to accept that their mission to Thessalonica was a failure. Furthermore, he now proceeds to expose the nature of the slander against him and to demolish such charges. Let's watch and learn.

PERSECUTION (v.2) - People with less than honest motives don't submit to the kind of suffering Paul and his team experienced both at Philippi and subsequently at Thessalonica.

ERROR (v.3) -Paul is accused of teaching error and thus deceiving the people. Note how he refutes that charge in 2/13

IMPURITY  (v.3) - less than pure motives. Again, his reasons for sharing the gospel with these people are called into question. Sometimes, mud sticks even when there is no proof of wrong-doing.

DECEIT (v.3) - deliberately misleading people - imagery here is that of the bait used by fisherman - trickery

SELF-GLORY (4,6) - was Paul on a giant ego-trip - seeking applause and praise from men. Paul rightly points out that God alone is the one who examines the motives of our hearts.

FLATTERY (v.5) - Charge = Paul used flattery to manipulate others to his advantage. Response = the Thessalonians knew very well that never once did Paul stoop to such an activity. Case closed!

GREED (v.5, 9) - Paul's mission was motivated by greed, lust for money. Paul's appeal in v.9 puts this accusation to rest decisively.

No!!  None of these accusations stand the scrutiny of the facts as they all knew them. On the contrary, Pauls' ministry was wide open for all to see. V.10 sums up the whole the whole argument about Paul's motivation.

Read 1/5;  2/10;  Read also John 18/19-23

Being authentic and having integrity is so very important for Christians. Whether in the factory, the office, the classroom or wherever, we need to be able to say "You yourselves are our witnesses — and so is God — that we were pure and honest and faultless toward all of you believers".

When we are able to make a statement like that, our witness to Christ and the gospel will be powerful and effective.

[2]  METHODS

Question: "The key to Paul's successful evangelistic ministry is found in chp. 2 and v.8". Assuming that statement is true, in your own words, describe what that key was, and why it 'worked'?

The best method of evangelism involves not only giving the message but giving ourselves to those we are seeking to reach. In other words, "relational evangelism" helps connect us to them. This approach has been called by some "incarnational evangelism". There is a common saying going around at the moment: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care"

We refer to Jesus' first coming into our world as the Incarnation. He came not only to give us God's message but to give Himself to us - the message packed in a caring person! Here is another reference to "not simply with words" of chp.1/5. Words were used (of course) but not exclusively. Relationships were forged that allowed for the communication of the Gospel.

Question: "The people we are most likely to influence and win to Christ will not be strangers; they will be people with whom we have some kind of relationship - at least, enough for them. How do you respond to that statement?

[3]  MODELS

Paul then employs 2 models or illustrations that identified the nature of his relationship with the Thessalonians.

1. Nursing Mother  (v.7) - gentle, caring - to cherish, care for tenderly

2. Caring Father (v.11) - encouraging, comforting, urging, motivating

Given this deep commitment by Paul, it's no wonder the Church was maturing with a start like that!!

They treated the teaching as the very word of God - which is what it was

But there would come a time when that parental model would have to change so that their growing maturity could come to the fore. While they were babes in Christ, the parental relationship was appropriate. But it would become stifling if it stayed indefinitely.

APPLICATION

The more we seek to serve the Lord, the more we are likely to encounter opposition in the form of slander,  misinformation and ridicule. The only appeal we can make in the presence of this opposition is an open life and an open ministry.

Question: What is the key point that has caught your attention as you have worked your way through this study? Is there some specific action you need to take?

What fits into the following categories if you take the session seriously?

a) Information (knowing)

b) Participation (doing)

c) Transformation (changing)

 

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