Setting

The passage of this lesson extends from and expands on the opening chapter, in which Paul gave thanks to God for the exemplary church in Thessalonica. Now he asks the believers to recall the time when Paul and his companions first brought the gospel to them. In defending against false allegations, Paul calls upon the Thessalonians and God to be witnesses to testify to the integrity of the ministry Paul and his fellow workers had conducted. Then, at the end of the passage, he gives thanks to God once again for the Thessalonian believers’ reception of the gospel and strong faith.

Key Verse

(2:10)

Did You Know...?

“Spitefully treated at Philippi” (2:2): Read Acts 16:16–40 for the account on this event.

Outline

  • Boldness in Conflict
    (2:1-2)
  • Genuine Preaching
    (2:3-6)
  • Genuine Conduct
    (2:7-12)
  • Thanksgiving
    (2:13-16)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Observe the shift in focus from the previous passage to the present passage. Who is this passage mainly about?

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    Paul and his fellow preachers.

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  • 2a.

    Verses 1-6 consist of many negatives (“not…,” “neither…,” “nor…”). Record each of these.

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    “Not in vain” (1); “did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit” (3); “not as pleasing men” (4); “neither…did we use flattering words, nor a cloak for covetousness” (5); “nor did we seek glory from men” (6).

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  • 2b.

    Verses 7-12, on the other hand, stress many positives. Record these also.

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    Gentle, as a nursing mother cherishes her own children (7); affectionately longing, impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives (8); labor and toil (9); devoutly, justly, blamelessly (10); exhorted, and comforted, and charged, as a father does his own children (11).

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Segment Analysis

  • 2:1-2

    1.

    What is Paul’s evaluation of their ministry in Thessalonica?

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    It was not in vain (1). In other words, their preaching was not weak or ineffective.

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  • 2a.

    What enables a preacher of the gospel to be bold despite persecutions?

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    Their boldness came from their reliance on God (“bold in our God”) (2). It is God who gives His witnesses courage.

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  • 2b.

    What positive impact can a preacher’s boldness in sufferings bring upon the believers?

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    It demonstrates that his preaching is not “in vain” (1), but that God’s power is at work. His persistence in suffering also shows that the message he preaches is genuinely God’s word, which is worth risking one’s life for. Furthermore, his boldness serves as an encouragement to other believers to also preach the gospel without fear (Php 1:12-14).

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  • 2:3-6

    3.

    The apostles’ exhortation did not come from error (in their message), uncleanness (in their motives), or deceit (in their method). Elaborate on each of these negative things and why they are detrimental.

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    1. Error—Preaching a false gospel will only mislead others and lead them to destruction (Mt 15:14).
    2. Uncleanness—A preacher with impure motives will seek his own good at the expense of his followers.
    3. Deceit—A false image of piety can only deceive people temporarily. When the person’s pretense is uncovered, he becomes a stumbling block to the believers.

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  • 4a.

    Why did God entrust the gospel to Paul and his companions?

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    They have been approved by God to be worthy to carry out the gospel (4; 1Tim 1:12).

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  • 4b.

    What reason can we see in verse 4 why a preacher of the gospel must speak to please God rather than man?

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    God tests our hearts. We need to be faithful to God in our preaching because God continually evaluates our inner motives. It is to Him, rather than anyone else, that we have to be personally accountable.

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  • 2:3-6

    5.

    What “right” did the apostles relinquish? (6)?

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    The apostles did not make demands on the believers based on their apostolic authority.

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  • 6.

    What lessons did you learn from this passage concerning your service?

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  • 2:7-12

    7.

    What point is Paul making in comparing themselves with a mother and a father?

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    Instead of ruling over the believers with authority (6), the apostles were gentle and kind toward the believers. Just as a parent loves his/her child without any ulterior motive, the apostles served the believers out of heartfelt concern for them.

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  • 8a.

    What two things were the apostles willing to give to the Thessalonians? (8)

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    The gospel of God and their own lives.

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  • 8b.

    Are you willing to do the same for those whom you minister to? In what ways can you give your own life to them?

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  • 2:7-12

    9.

    What is Paul referring to by “laboring night and day”?

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    The missionaries worked to support themselves while they were preaching in Thessalonica.

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  • 10.

    What can we learn from verse 10 about what a minister of the gospel should aim to accomplish?

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    As ministers of the gospel, we need to aim for pure and upright conduct before God and before others. In fact, this is no more than what God expects of every believer. In doing so, we can please God, be an example to those who hear the gospel, and silence those who slander the gospel (cf. 1Tim 4:15-16; 1Pet 2:15; 3:15-16)

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  • 11.

    What does it mean for us to “walk worthy of God”?

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    To walk worthy of God means to live in conformity with the likeness of the One who has called us (Eph 4:20-24; 1Pet 1:15-16).

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  • 2:13-16

    12.

    Why do Paul and his fellow workers thank God without ceasing concerning the Thessalonians?

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    They thank God without ceasing because the Thessalonian believers welcomed the gospel message not as the word of men but as the word of God (13).

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  • 13.

    What can we learn from the Thessalonians in terms of our attitude in receiving the message we hear? Why is such attitude important?

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    When we listen to the message of the Scriptures, we must accept it as the word of God even though it is delivered to us through men. Only with this correct attitude will we not give glory to men or reject the word of God when we see the shortcomings of the preachers. We will build our faith solely on Christ.

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  • 14.

    How have the Thessalonian believers not only believed, but also experienced, that the word they heard was indeed the word of God?

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    They have experienced the effective workings of God’s word in them (13).

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  • 15.

    How did the Jews incite the citizens of Thessalonica to persecute the Christians? (see Acts 17:5-10).

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  • 16.

    What sins did the Judeans who opposed the apostles commit? What was coming upon them as a result?

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    They killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and persecuted the apostles. They did not please God and were contrary to all men (i.e. hostile to all men), forbidding the apostles to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved. They were heaping on themselves the full extent of God’s wrath (15-16).

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