1 Thessalonians 2
It’s only by the leading of the Spirit that these first-generation church planters find themselves in this most disagreeable city (although it seems there’s no place Paul can go without causing a commotion). Likewise, it is neither by chance nor by any human power that these people are drawn out of their comfy old habits into a radical new way of living. A miracle really takes shape when, by trading in their old ways of living, believers take to heart the message of Jesus, and their unshakable faith shakes up conversations everywhere.
Kingdom work begins at the surrender of life, by giving yourself away and expecting nothing in return. Real change is then ushered in by the loving touch of the Spirit, moving out from people living transparently faithful lives even in the middle of commotion.
2 Brothers and sisters, you yourselves know that our coming to you was not a waste of time. 2 You remember how we had just suffered through brutal and insulting attacks in Philippi; but because of God, we boldly stepped into the open to tell you His good news, even though it would likely mean more conflict for us. 3 For we haven’t approached you—or anyone else for that matter—with some error or impure motives or deceitful agenda; 4 but as we have been approved by God and entrusted with the good news, that’s how we are telling the world. We aren’t trying to please everybody, but God, the only One who can truly examine our motives. 5 As you know, we didn’t sandwich the truth between cunning compliments—we told it straight—and before the eye of God, we never conspired to make a single cent off of you. 6 We didn’t come seeking respect from people—not from you or anyone else—although we could have leveraged our position as emissaries[a] of the Anointed One, the Liberating King. 7 Instead, we proved to be gentle among you, like a nursing mother caring for her own children. 8 We were so taken by you that we not only eagerly shared with you God’s good news, but we also shared with you our own lives. That’s how much you’ve come to mean to us.
9 Don’t you remember, my brothers and sisters, how hard we worked and struggled? We worked day and night so that we wouldn’t be a burden to any of you and so that we could continue to proclaim to you the good news of God. 10 Both you and God can confirm how well we treated the believers: we were always holy, just, and blameless. 11-12 As you know, we comforted and consoled each of you as a father soothes his own children, encouraging you to live lives worthy of God—of the One calling you into His own kingdom and into His glory.
Unlike the Corinthians who struggled to break their old religious and cultural ties when they came to faith, the Thessalonians followed Jesus wholeheartedly and thus faced persecution for their devotion.
13 So we have good reason to give thanks to God without pausing. For you have taken into yourselves the word of God we brought to you and received it as a message from God—not just something whipped up by someone like you or us—and that word is at work in you who believe. 14 And, brothers and sisters, you even became imitators of the churches of God in Jesus the Anointed that gather in Judea because you were willing to suffer at the hands of your own countrymen as they suffered from the unbelieving Judeans. 15 These are the same people who killed the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophets, and continued attacking until they drove all of us out. They don’t just offend God; they are clearly hostile to the rest of the people 16 because they are trying to silence our life-saving message to the nations; and as a result, their sins are always filling up and overflowing. But in the end, they will face God’s wrath.
17 Brothers and sisters, we are like orphans, separated from you for a short time (in presence, yes, but not in heart); and we desperately desire to see your faces again. 18 However, as much as we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, assure you we tried again and again—Satan thwarted our plans. 19 For what is our true hope, our true joy, our victor’s crown in all this? It is nothing if it isn’t you standing before our Lord Jesus the Anointed at His arrival. 20 You are our glory! You are our joy!
- 2:6 Literally, apostles