Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
Thesis: That "faith" will be tested, with the possibility of failure, is a given; so what is the solution?
Introduction: With our last study, we wound up our consideration of chapter one. Chapter One is given over to Paul's memories of what happened in Thessalonica when he brought the Gospel into that place. His words are "remembering without ceasing" (1:3). According to 1:4, these memories were pretty much "proof" that God was potently "in the mix" of that "happening". And, according to the majority of the content of that chapter (1:5-10), the element of human involvement is very important because that is the way God "mixes" the Gospel with the "elect" (the Spirit with the Gospel and the human "types" with their enthusiastic proclamation). At issue: will the hope that drives this entire on-going saga stay "alive"? The answer, of course, depends upon both of these historical realities -- God's powerful involvement and men's willingness to be "imitators".
As we begin our considerations of Chapter Two, we need to understand its place in Paul's thought. That "place" is revealed in a comparison of 2:1 and 3:5. According to Paul's understanding, when God's work has been shown to be "not in vain", the tempter swings into action to attempt to bring it to vanity. This has one very large "conclusion" that we must draw: when "faith" has been exercised, it will be tested. That is a "given". The question that it raises is this: how do we "survive" the test? I believe the answer is to be found in our studies of Chapter Two.
April 6, 2014
- I. What Do "Brethren" Know?
- A. Paul uses this "know" word 16 times in the five chapters of 1 Thessalonians.
- B. Clearly, Paul "believes" that what people "know" is supposed to get them beyond the test.
- C. Just as clearly, Paul also "believes" that what people "know" is highly likely to get buried under the rubble field of the test (note carefully what happened in the churches of Galatia according to that letter).
- D. Thus, in this "believing", Paul once again brings God's power into the mix by doing what he always did: proclaiming the truth in the expectation that the Spirit would attend the proclamation.
- E. So, what did he "proclaim"?
- 1. First, he zeroed in on what the Thessalonians "knew".
- a. "For yourselves know" with the "history" of the perfect tense.
- 1) They "knew" what happened.
- 2) They "knew" what that happening caused.
- 3) They "knew" right into the present time what all that "history" had brought to the table (primarily, the benefits of the Gospel and the inevitability of the test).
- b. The "yourselves" is emphatic as opposed to the idea that their "knowing" is somehow only the residual impact of someone else's knowledge.
- 2. Second, he took the "evidence" at face value.
- a. In 1:4 he claimed that this "evidence" was "proof" of their election by God.
- b. Now in 2:1 he calls them "brethren" (he wrote this letter after 3:6).
- 3. Third, he pointed them to the facts of 1:9-10.
- a. At issue: what happened when we "entered" Thessalonica?
- 1) This "entrance" is introduced into Paul's argument by the use a word used only five times in the New Testament with highly significant associations.
- a) The first "association" is the incarnation (Acts 13:24).
- b) The second "association" is the impact of the incarnation upon those who believe in respect to their ability to enter into the very personal presence of God (Hebrews 10:19).
- c) The third "association" is the future result of this ability in respect to the everlasting Kingdom of God's Christ (2 Peter 1:11).
- 2) This "entrance" is the repeated event that brought about the "Life" they entered.
- b. What "happened" is that their entire Love/Faith world was finally "righted".
- 4. Fourth, he declared that the "what" that they "knew" is that the impact of his "entrance" into them "has not been in vain".
- a. This "knowing" consists of this historically validated fact [perfect tense]: what happened when we "entered" is reality.
- b. This knowing establishes the validity of their grasp upon the "hope".
- II. What Are Brethren To Do With Their Knowledge?
- A. Paul has one thing in mind: to keep the "results" flowing.
- B. Believers are to "fall back upon" historical realities rooted in God's involvement with them.