Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
May 25, 2014
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:
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. You Remember.
- A. Throughout this section Paul insists that the Thessalonians "know" certain realities.
- B. This is another declaration that they, indeed, do know; otherwise they could not remember.
- C. This constant repetition insists that "knowing" is not to be discounted, or set aside, by reason of any other consideration (scenario building, contrary "evidence", personal lusts/fears, etc.).
- II. The Things Remembered.
- A. Our "labor".
- 1. This is the term used in 1:3 to state the fact that the Thessalonians were involved in "the labor of the love". This is a more intense term than the concept of "the work of the faith".
- a. At issue is the place on the sliding scale of "values" that a given issue takes. If it is high on the scale, the labor is commensurately "intense"; if it is low on the scale, many things can come into play to make the "objective" no longer "worthy" of "labor" and it is commensurately "light".
- b. The identified "labor" is "night and day work". All work involves the expenditure of energy; a more tightly held "value" leads to greater expenditure and a less tightly held leads to less effort.
- 2. This comes immediately off of 2:8 and its declaration that the Thessalonians had been made to become "beloved to us".
- a. This is a "precise fit" in that Paul's claim that they had been made to become "beloved" as this is the terminology of "values held". They "they had been made to become" is the declaration that their "value" in Paul's eyes had been pushed upward on his scale of what/ who is important.
- b. The addition of "brethren" simply invests the concept of "being beloved" with another term that not only invests, but is invested by, "love". This is the reality of the danger of not "loving your brother".
- B. Our "travail".
- 1. Not a widely used term in the New Testament. The only other book that contains it is 2 Corinthians (at 11:27) where Paul is magnifying the level of effort involved.
- 2. 2 Thessalonians 3:8 is an exact parallel to this verse. The "travail" is having to work to keep from being chargeable to others for the necessities of life.
- 3. Paul writes of "expending energy" night and day to the "end" that they would not be a "burden" to them as they preached "The Gospel of God".
- a. This adds to our grasp of "values" as they interact within the "system". Paul "loves" the "brethren", but he also "loves" The Gospel in its purity from, specifically, the notion of a hidden, selfish, agenda. He is not so much interested in keeping himself from being a burden (he did accept the "support" of others, though he did not seek it) as he is in keeping The Gospel from being conceived of as a deceitful method of self-enrichment. This is crucial to the purity of "T"heology because God is Absolute Giver and Absolutely Not Taker.
- b. Part of "The Gospel of the God" is the movement of the self-absorbed into the giving love of the God. In Philippians 4:17 Paul clarifies the reality that in keeping himself from being a burden, he is also mitigating the "fruit" that those possess who take on such burdens. This is also "T"heology in that God does allow, and even instigate, our labors on His behalf, not so that His needs may be met but that ours may be.
- III. You And God Are Witnesses.
- A. The repetition creates a recurring echo of things regarding which Paul wants the Thessalonians to be firmly settled: the Gospel is not for sale and it needs to be kept from the greediness of men.
- 1. In 2:5a the Thessalonians were witnesses of Paul's lack of use of "flattery"; in 2:5b it is God who is the witness. Both are "witnesses" of things they observed. Now, both are again called "witnesses" of Paul's character among them; the Thessalonians witnessed the outer fruit and God witnessed the inner motivations.
- 2. In both cases, Paul's case is established and no arguments can unseat it.
- B. The things "witnessed".
- 1. "Holy" behavior.
- a. This adverbial form of "holy" here is the only use in the New Testament.
- b. The noun is only used in eight texts, two of which are Acts 2:27 and 13:35 where the meaning is tied to the physical body that was not permitted to "see" corruption. It is used in these texts as "proof" that a physical resurrection was predicted through David.
- 2. "Righteous" behavior.
- a. This adverb form is only found in five texts in the New Testament.
- b. It is clear from those contexts that "righteously" means, "based upon any/every sense of 'justice', we deserved what we received" (Luke 23:41). It is used in 1 Corinthians 15:34 to contrast with acting sinfully because "some have not the knowledge of God". Titus 2:12 uses it as the alternative to indulging in ungodliness and worldly lusts. Peter uses it to directly bring "judgment" into view (1 Peter 2:23). The issue: relational peace between brethren; this is the issue of "righteousness".
- 3. "Unblamable" behavior.
- a. This adverb is used by Paul twice in this epistle and is found in no other text of the New Testament.
- b. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 brings the concept of "blamelessness" into play in respect to "your whole spirit and soul and body". At issue: being preserved by God unto the coming of the Lord as acceptable to Him.
- C. The "root": we were made to become.
- 1. Paul uses the concept of becoming something by the action of Another eleven times in this letter with chapter two being the majority user (2:1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 14).
- 2. It is fundamental to his "T"heology that God is the Author (absolute) of legitimate action. Boasting is, by this, completely eliminated for two reasons: no one can "boast" who cannot do legitimate action; and God, Who is the absolute Author of legitimate action, should always get the "credit" for it. The root of this "T"heology is one fact: the Creator, alone, can "create" in such a way that the "creatures" can act legitimately because He works within them to do so.
- D. The perspective: to those who are believers.
- 1. "Believers" need a basis for "belief" and throughout this section of Paul's letter, that "basis" is what God has made the messengers to "become" so that their example is strong evidence that He speaks truly.
- 2. The focus is upon "believers" because "to the impure all things are impure". Only those who are of a "believing" heart can see that alternative to the cynicism of the unbelieving.
- 3. This focus upon "believers" means that the vitalization of their "hope" is the current, and key, issue of Paul's interest. Keeping hope alive is crucial to a life of faith, hope, and love.