1 Thessalonians 2 - Cold, Hard, Gentle Truth
The Gospel never has been or will be popular, but it is authoritatively true.
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1 Thessalonians 2 (ESV)
1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain.
though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know,
we had boldness
in our God
to you the gospel of God
in the midst of much conflict.
3 For our appeal does not spring
from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive,
4 but just as
we have been approved by God
to be entrusted with the gospel,
so we speak,
not to please man,
but to please God who tests our hearts.
5 For we never came
with words of flattery, as you know,
nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.
6 Nor did we seek glory from people,
whether from you
or from others,
though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.
7 But we were gentle among you,
like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.
being affectionately desirous of you,
we were ready to share with you
not only the gospel of God
but also our own selves,
because you had become very dear to us.
9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil:
we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.
11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
13 And we also thank God constantly for this,
that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us,
you accepted it
not as the word of men
but as what it really is,
the word of God,
which is at work in you believers.
14 For you, brothers,
of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.
For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,
15 who killed both
the Lord Jesus
and the prophets,
and drove us out,
and displease God
and oppose all mankind
16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—
so as always to fill up the measure of their sins.
But wrath has come upon them at last!
17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers,
for a short time,
not in heart,
the more eagerly
and with great desire to see you face to face,
18 because we wanted to come to you—
I, Paul, again and again—
but Satan hindered us.
19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming?
Is it not you?
20 For you are our glory and joy.
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1 Thessalonians 1 Summary
It's important to understand that Christianity is not now, and has never been, a 'movement.' Movements are not in and of themselves bad (think of the Civil Rights Movement for example), but by their very nature movements depend on getting large masses of people to actively support a particular idea and goal.
For a movement to be successful, it must first be popular. Even movements that begin with noble goals often implode because they are fueled by words of flattery or with a pretext for greed (v5).
Paul reminds the Thessalonians and us that the Gospel was anything but popular. Quite the opposite: it resulted in suffering, shame and conflict for those who were convicted by it (v2).
Rather than being a movement requiring popularity, the gospel is a divine announcement of good news. It's true and valid not because of the people who believe it, but because it is the word of God which is at work in you believers (v13). This means that these words have authority like nothing else in the world.