2016-07-17 - 2 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Paul's Care for the Thessalonians
Verses 7-12: So Paul had come to the Thessalonians under a great deal of persecution, but with a great deal of enthusiasm and hope for these believers. He came to them with love and a desire to truly care for them. They have heard a number of accusations against him. These seem to have had some effect, so he wants to remind them of the truth. Truth is the best defense against any charge.
Paul describes his care of the Thessalonians as similar to that nursing mother provides.
“The image here is of a mother nursing her child. The mother caresses her children, comes down to their level, uses their language, and plays their games. Paul likened himself to a mother who nurses, caresses, and cherishes her children.” 1
Instead of enforcing his authority as an Apostle, he cared for them. This is seen as the ultimate in gentle concern for another, the care for one whom is helpless. Paul's focus was on the needs of these people, with no concern for his own. The result of this concern was not only the giving of the Gospel, but his life as well. In the time he was there, Paul lived for them.
How did Paul demonstrate this care? He said he worked day and night, so that they would not have to support him, so he would not be a burden on them. The underling idea is one of heavy, exhausting labor. He wanted them to have to only focus on his words, the truth of the Gospel. He reminds them that they were witnesses to this behavior, and that God Himself is also a witness to the truth of Paul's words. This was proof of his integrity.
His concern was expressed both by his walk amongst them and the way he taught them. They were trained, taught, strongly encouraged, as a father trains his children, to accept the Lord as Saviour, and to grow in their relationship and obedience to Him, to be the persons that God desired them to be.
Paul calls them to walk worthily of what God had done for them. God is also calling them to a future in His kingdom, His eternity. The Kingdom can probably be understood as both (1) the Messianic age, for Paul is looking to the day when Christ comes to establish His reign, and (2) the ongoing manifestation of the Kingdom now, lived out through believers.
The results of Paul's and the others' efforts have already been seen in his comments in Chap 1:8-9.
“For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (ESV).
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.