Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
May 18, 2014
7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
10 Ye [are] witnesses, and God [also], how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father [doth] his children,
12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
1901 ASV Translation:
7 But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children:
8 even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us.
9 For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
10 Ye are witnesses, and God [also], how holily and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe:
11 as ye know how we [dealt with] each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging [you], and testifying,
12 to the end that ye should walk worthily of God, who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory.
- I. The Text.
- A. There is a difference between texts as to whether Paul wrote nhvpioi or hvpioi because, according to the textual evidence he wrote nhvpioi, but the explanation of his meaning turns his word choice on its head. Vhvpioi typically means "an infant". Hvpioi typically means "gentle". So, according to the textual evidence, Paul claimed he was made "an infant" among the Thessalonians "as a nurse cherishes her own children". His only meaning would have to be "we were made to be as harmless as an infant among you" so that we treated you with great care -- "as a nurse...". The lesser supported word would give Paul's actual meaning as illustrated in his only other use of it: 2 Timothy 2:24; the servant of the Lord must be "gentle".
- B. Personally, I think Paul threw the Thessalonians a "curve" by saying he had been made to become an "infant" in their midst. My reasons are that the support for this odd reading is greater, and that Paul often threw words into his sentences that were designed to make his readers pause and think about what he had said. Clearly, he means to say that he was "as a nurse among them"; this is the explanation of his word. But, there are few words in Greek that would make Paul out to be completely, and totally, "harmless" as easily as the word "infant". This word is a complete contradiction of Paul's generally received character: he is typically seen as "fearless" and "bold" and commensurately "dominantly active"; about as far from "infant-like" as one can get. Thus, the self-characterization is all the more important for the Thessalonians because they knew him as both a selfless, bold, proclaimer of a hated message, and a personally "harmless" person who would help a person in every way he could.
- II. The Characterization.
- A. The same verb is used as is in verse five where the focus is upon someone who has been "caused to become" something. The point is that Paul was "made to become as an infant" in their midst. It runs counter to the "bold, confrontational, preacher" that he typically seemed to be. This is the work of the Spirit in the man: He makes him "to become" Jesus-like according to the need of the moment.
- B. The sphere is identified as "in your midst". This is how he can continually say "as you know" as a foundation for his arguments that they stay the course because the messenger has validated the message by conforming to its character.
- C. The explanation: as a "wet nurse" who "takes special care to make sure of the kind of care that her own children receive is completely to their benefit". This comes out more strongly in 2:9 where he makes certain that they understand that they do not exist for his benefit, but he for theirs.
- 1. The "as a nurse" phrase mixes two ideas: the "nurse" is generally a "wet nurse" (someone hired to provide nourishment to a newborn because, for whatever reason, its mother does not); and Paul focuses upon "her own children" (not the children she was hired to nurse).
- a. Clearly Paul does not say "as a mother". This would assume a greater intimacy with the Thessalonians than Paul could claim.
- b. The notion of a "nurse" is someone brought in from outside to do what the "mother" cannot do.
- c. The focus upon "her own children" explains how she can be a "wet nurse", but also deepens the issue of the level of commitment by the nurse.
- 2. This explanation lays the foundation for the claim of 2:8 that the "affection" was very great.
- III. The Conclusion.
- A. The cause: "because you were made to become 'beloved' to us". Paul continues to maintain the idea that people are "made to become" whatever they are. Theologically, this is critical in that it is the work of the Inner Spirit of Jesus that "makes a person become" something they would not typically be.
- B. The fact: you were the object of our earnest longing.
- 1. Resulting in our being "willing to give".
- 2. The items "given".
- a. The Gospel of the God.
- b. Our own "souls".
- 3. The methods of "giving".
- a. The Gospel was "imparted" by the preaching/teaching/living example.
- b. Our own souls were "imparted" by the level of emotional investment made by the apostle and his ministry team. However it happened (we were made to become...), clearly Paul is saying that he allowed a bond to develop between himself and the Thessalonians that put him "at risk" in the realm of emotional dependency: he allowed what the Thessalonians chose to do to make, or break, his emotional life. This was in no way an "idolatry" (God was the source of the willingness to accept the risk), but it could have looked that way to an outsider looking in. This is typical Paul as revealed in Romans 9:3.