The Apostle Paul was in Corinth when he wrote the first letter to the mid-1st century city of Thessalonica in Greece. The letter is addressed to the Christians in Thessalonica and it talks all about their successes and issues. The city of Thessalonica sat on the Egnatian Way, the famous highway that went east to west through Macedonia. Thessalonica was also an important port and a melting pot city with cultures from all over the world.
The context of the second chapter of 1 Thessalonians is Paul’s explanation:
- That he ministered with sincerity and love, not by using flattering words or seeking personal glory,
- That the Thessalonian members suffered persecution for their belief in Jesus Christ,
- And the Second Coming brings hope and joy to believers.
Too Many Christians Pitch the Gospel as if Selling a Product.
There were a staggering variety of religions and religious professionals in Thessalonica. But many ministers of those religions were motivated by greed and gain. In Paul’s day “holy men” of all creeds and countries, popular philosophers, magicians, astrologers, crack-pots, and cranks, the sincere and the phony, the righteous and the rogue, swindlers and saints, jostled and clamored for the attention of the believing and the skeptical.
Most of these religions were missionary-minded and sought to spread their faith using itinerant evangelists and preachers. Most of these missionaries were opportunists, who took everything they could from their listeners, and then moved on to sell their ideology to someone else who would support them.
But Paul was among the Thessalonians to give something to them, not to take something from them. He did not come making demands as an Apostle.
The Contrasting Christian Apostles
The gospel of Christ is designed to mortify corrupt affections and bring people under the power of faith. This great motive for sincerity considers that God not only sees all we do, but knows our thoughts, and searches our hearts.
Apostle Paul had no worldly design in his preaching. The matter of the apostle’s exhortation was true and pure. His speaking was without guile. The purity of Paul’s message made it apparent that there was no deceit, uncleanness, or guile in his ministry.
The uncleanness Paul defended himself against, in 1 Thessalonians 2:3, was uncleanness of spirit or uncleanness of the flesh. The context seems to suggest more of an uncleanness of motive or spirit. At that time the word “uncleanness” more indicates moral and especially sexual uncleanness (it often appears in lists with the term fornication).
The evidences of the apostle’s sincerity were:
- that he avoided flattery and covetousness,
- he avoided ambition and vain glory,
- and the Apostles had been tested by God and had been approved by God “to be entrusted with the gospel “(1st Thessalonians 2:4).
Paul used the word “approve” which was associated with approving someone as being fit for public service. He indicated that the Apostles were tested before they were commissioned as God’s messengers.
Paul knew his Gospel wouldn’t always please men, but he knew that it was pleasing to God. While Paul tried to make the Gospel as attractive as possible, he never changed its central character or focus. Paul never compromised issues like:
- man’s need,
- God’s Savior,
- the cross,
- the resurrection,
- and the new life.
Paul understood that covetousness is always concealed by a noble-sounding goal. But Paul did not use the flattering words that often are a cloak for covetousness.
Self-satisfaction grows out of complete disinterest in the rights of others – an attitude foreign to Paul and his helpers. Greed and ambition are followed by innumerable corruptions, and the whole man turns to vanity. Greed and ambition are the two sources from which stem the corruption of the whole of the ministry.
The Gospel of Christ Should Not Be Discounted for the Soft Sell
True grace remits none of its diligence for fear of disapproval or the hope of a reward. When Paul ministered among the Thessalonians, he was not concerned for his personal glory. He didn’t need fancy introductions or lavish praise. His satisfaction came from his relationship with Jesus, not from the praise of people.
Paul didn’t seek glory from men because his needs for security and acceptance were met primarily in Jesus. This meant that he didn’t spend his life trying to seek and earn the acceptance of people. He ministered from an understanding of his identity in Jesus.
Those called by God to witness should have no end in view other than His glory in the salvation of souls. You should not use the Gospel to sell yourself, your blog, or your church, but you should spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not say “Go forth and increase the numbers in your denomination.” He said that you should go and teach “them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20).
In conclusion, the Daily Bread email message sent on 10/31/2022 says,
1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 – For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed — God is witness — nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. (NASB)
Paul knew his Gospel wouldn’t always please men, but he knew that it was pleasing to God. While Paul tried to make the Gospel as attractive as possible, he never changed its central character or focus.
Those called by God to witness should have no end in view other than God’s glory in the salvation of souls. You, and your priests and pastors, should not use the Gospel to sell yourself, your blog, or your church, but you should spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not say “Go forth and increase the numbers in your denomination,” He said that you should go and teach “them to observe all that I commanded you.” (Matthew 28:20).
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