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1 Thessalonians 2





As we looked at chapter one yesterday, we saw Paul in the role of an evangelist.  Much of that first chapter is about how he and his friends came to Thessalonica and preached the Gospel “in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

In the chapter that we have before us today, we see a different role for Paul.  In many ways this chapter is not about Paul the evangelist but Paul the pastor.  God’s plan for the Gospel is to use people to take the Good News to those who haven’t heard/believed.  That’s evangelism.  But His plan is also to use people to help those who are believers to be nurtured and matured in the Gospel.  That’s pastoral care.

As Paul begins to talk about his role as pastor, he speaks about the fact that God “entrusted” him with the Gospel.  God took something of infinite value (the Gospel) and gave it to Paul.  In every sense of the word, this means that Paul was to be a steward or manager of that Gospel.  God gave Paul the Gospel to use in such a way that it would bring glory to God and good to others.

But the first responsibility of a steward or manager is to be faithful with what the owner would want.  That’s the reason in verses 4-6, Paul puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that what he was doing was being done to please God not man and to make sure God got the glory and not man. 

From the description of a steward or manager, Paul moves on to comparing pastoring to the responsibility of a mom caring for young children (verse 7).  Young children are completely dependent upon their mom for their survival.  Moms love their babies.  Moms make sure their babies stay warm, safe and well fed so they can grow. 

New believers are much like very young children.  They need a lot of personal attention.  They need mature believers to care for them and care about them.  They need mature believers to help them grow.  Paul’s solution to that for the Thessalonians was to share the Gospel with them but also to give himself to them.  New believers desperately need the Gospel.  They also need mature believer to walk with them because personal relationships are so important.

Paul shifts the comparison again.  In verse 11, he compares himself to a father.  He speaks of teaching the believers and encouraging them.  As children get older, instruction becomes very important.  Dads need to teach their children how to live right.  But kids also need encouragement when they don’t do so well. 

Paul speaks of challenging those Thessalonians to live in a manner worthy of God (verse 12).  That means Paul had to teach them.  He had to encourage them.  He had to correct them.  He had to walk alongside of them.  By the way, that’s not a bad description of pastoral ministry.

The chapter ends with Paul speaking like any good parent.  He speaks of being separated from his friends in Thessalonica.  He speaks of wanting and trying to get back to see them.  But since he had not been able to get that done, he at least wrote them this letter. 

And because he wrote to them, he also writes to us.  And in this most personal letter, we are reminded of the power of the Gospel not only to save us but to sanctify us.  We are also reminded of the incredible value of having other people in our lives as we walk through this Christian life.  Thank God for a great Gospel, good friends and good pastors who do this so well for so many.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

1 Thessalonians 1





Today we start a new book.  This letter and its companion, 2 Thessalonians, were among the very first that Paul wrote.  It is written to a church that Paul planted as a direct result of the Macedonian call.

Historians tell us the city of Thessalonika had a population of about 200,000 when Paul visited there.  Interestingly enough, the city still exists today.  It is one of the few cities that have survived since the New Testament days but it still exists.  Actually, it has grown over the years with a current estimated population of around 300,000.

As Paul opens his letter, he uses a very familiar pattern. He begins by introducing himself and those with him when he was writing this letter.  Silvanus, by the way, is the Roman rendition of the name Silas. 

After introducing himself, Paul typically identifies his audience.  In this case it is the church at Thessalonica.  The word church, ekklesia in the Greek, means the called out ones.  It is a great word picture.  On one hand, those in the church have been called out of the world to be a part of God’s forever family.  On the other hand, those in the church have been called out of the church to go back into the world with the Gospel. 

Paul identifies this church with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Any church that is separated from the Father and the Son is not a church.  The church is certainly an organization but it is so much more.  It is a living organism.  It is a group of called out, redeemed folks who are united by the Spirit, informed by the Son, and committed to obeying the Father.

Finally, Paul’s greeting ends with “grace and peace”.  Paul uses that phrase a lot.  The order of those two words is most important.  We can never know real peace apart from God’s grace. 

As Paul gets into the body of this letter, we see that he is most proud of this church.  They were in a difficult place but they were thriving in incredible ways.  That is not to say they were a perfect church.  Every church is made up of humans.  All of them should be redeemed but none of them are perfect.  So, we should never expect that a group of imperfect humans could make up a perfect anything.  However, the church at Thessalonica was an exceptional church and better than many.

When Paul and his missionary team visited Thessalonica, God did an amazing work.  The Gospel was proclaimed in “power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (verse 4).  And a church was birthed in just a few short weeks.

In verse 6, Paul makes an interesting and important statement.  He said the Christ followers in Thessalonica had become imitators of Paul and his team as well as of the Lord.  There are some important principles in play here.

One principle is that new believers need more mature believers to model the Christian life for them and disciple them into that life.  Another principle is the fact that as Christ followers our lives should be exemplary enough that if someone lived like we did, that person would be more Christ like.  A third principle is someone is always watching how you live and making decisions based on what they see in you.  The question is this.  What are they seeing?

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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