Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 11
Thesis: The behavior of the apostles was a significant element in the amazing work of God in the making of the church in Thessalonica.
Introduction: We have considered the significance and importance of the message of the Gospel. We have looked into the significance and importance of the "power" of the Holy Spirit. Now we are going to look into the significance and importance of the behavior of the messengers.
As we have said over and over, the impact of the Gospel in Thessalonica was remarkably superior to that of the other churches that Paul established. There was no difference in the Message, nor was there any significant difference in the messengers. The bottom line seems to be that God's plan was to do a remarkable thing for the same reason that Paul presented to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:14-16. That God does not have the same plan for all in terms of the details (1 Corinthians 4:7) is a given, but it is just as much a given that God's works are to be made clear so that whatever is His plan for each one can be implemented to His satisfaction. There is no doubt that God's plans for Paul included an extraordinary dispensation of grace upon him that went far beyond the "norm" (1 Corinthians 15:10), nor can there be any doubt that His plans in Thessalonica greatly surpassed what His Spirit did in many of the other churches.
That said, however, we do need to look at what Paul is claiming in his reference to the behavior of the messengers at the tail end of 1 Thessalonians 1:5.
March 2, 2014
- I. The "Point" of the Behavior of the Messengers.
- A. In 1:5 Paul points to three basic elements in the demonstration of what can happen if a person gets heavily involved in "faith" with a sustaining vibrancy of "hope".
- 1. His point is that every one of us should not allow ourselves to be restrained in our participation in the Life because "this" is what is possible when the message and the Spirit are given free course.
- 2. His words consist of three main issues.
- a. An accurate "Gospel" understanding.
- b. A clear grasp upon the "whence" of the power of the changed life ("power" explained as the impact of the Spirit).
- c. An awareness of the impact of the lifestyles of those bearing the message.
- B. The impact of the lifestyles of the messengers is significant but not determinative.
- 1. Paul's three elements include what the translators call "much assurance".
- a. The translation is context-determined because the word so translated really does not contain, in itself, any reference to "assurance" (Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon says that it is used to indicate that whatever is "expected" is fully, and maybe surpassingly, met).
- b. The word itself simply means "with a great deal of protective covering".
- 1) A pictorial example of the meaning is given by the "layers of clothing one puts on when intending to go out into brutal cold".
- 2) A "need" for such a covering is implied and suggests the presence of some sort of "danger".
- 3) The nature of the covering is that it is more than adequate to meet and subdue the dangerous element.
- c. The context is that of a living hope that is faced with many reasons to "die" and is given a layered set of reasons not to "die".
- 2. In this context, the "layers of covering" are connected linguistically to the behavior of the messengers.
- a. The "just as" clause means that the knowledge the Thessalonians had of Paul's behavior is connected backwards to the "much assurance" idea.
- b. The point is that the behavior provided layers of visible argument that the truth was trustworthy so that every cause of doubt was met with a behavior-based demonstration of the lies behind the doubts.
- 3. We need to keep in mind that this behavior-based demonstration would not, of itself, be an efficacious basis for extraordinary living, but it, just like the Word, is a necessary element of the base of that extraordinary life.
- a. Paul's behavior was relatively consistent throughout his ministry, but the response he got was inconsistent; thus, the behavior is not the dominating issue.
- b. But everywhere in the New Testament we are told of the impact that others make upon us and that we make upon others; thus, the behavior is necessary, but not determinative.
- II. The Parts of the Impact of the Behavior.
- A. The "knowing".
- B. The "physical presence".
- C. The "driving motive".
- III. The Conclusions.
- A. There is a basis for impersonal ministry, but it is not the best setting.
- B. There is a need for a demonstration of what "faith" yields in life.