Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
Thesis: "Believers" need both a legitimate, actual, visible demonstration of Truth and a persistent reminder of that historical "event/series of events" in order to keep their hope alive and vibrant.
Introduction: It should go without saying that down deep inside where all things spring forth, "believers" have a pretty well-deserved reputation for being fickle in respect to the things that are really important. Paul casts this need in terms of a conflict between flesh and Spirit and agrees that the internal conflict is a rather difficult warfare that many, if not most, do not survive well as the long, wearing, process of living goes on. This surfaces Paul's concerns in regard to the Thessalonians in regard to the great "HOPE" of "believers".
It seems that he sees the "brethren" with two crucial "needs" if their hope is to be kept both alive and vibrant. These two "needs" are: first, a legitimate, actual, visible demonstration of Truth; and, second, a persistent series of reminders to cut through the fog of rather persistent disappointments, time after time.
It is the core of Christianity that the Best comes Last and that there is, for most people, a rather long slog through a life that is, at best, a blend of "pain and pleasure", and, at worst, a rather constant reality of disappointment. Actually believing that the Best is real and eventual often gets lost in the details of the daily slog.
Paul knew this. Thus, the letter and the rather extended focus upon what the Thessalonians "knew" as a reality of the past and what they need to "know" for the immediate present.
May 25, 2014
- I. Paul's Double Focus.
- A. First, there is the indisputable fact of divine action in history to establish the given reality that God is, and that He willing to impart the Joy of Life to those who trust Him (1:5-6).
- 1. This is the established pattern of all of the Bible: God never asks anyone to "believe" Him until after He has laid down a valid framework for the summons to faith.
- 2. But, after He has laid down that framework, He will accept no excuses for any reluctance to be "believing".
- B. Then, there is the insistence by Paul upon the Thessalonians' awareness of the truth of this indisputable fact.
- 1. His references to what the Thessalonians "knew" by experience are constant.
- 2. His references to the "witnesses" also persist in a growing emphasis.
- a. They "knew" and "believed" what manner of men Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus were (1:5).
- b. They began to develop their own track record out of their faith, love, and hope (1:6 and following). (They were "witnesses" and began to be actors that others "witnessed".)
- c. God was also a witness regarding the inner, hidden issues (2:5) and both the Thessalonians and God were witnesses of the greater combined reality (2:10).
- II. Paul's Ready Admission.
- A. "Hope" is for the future and only minimally experienced in the present.
- 1. Our current text (1:9) clearly declares that the "hopeful life" is full of "labor and travail".
- a. The "For you remember" decidedly forces the issue of "less than pleasant reality" to the front line: this is part of what they "know", "have witnessed", and "have been reinforced by what God has been willing to share of what He has witnessed".
- b. It is impossible to dispute the fact that "hope" is for the future.
- c. Paul's "night and day working" to a given end also makes The Gospel not for those who are willing to sacrifice the future to present laziness.
- 2. The clear implication is one: "believers" are an impatient lot, wanting the promised reality to be now.
- 3. The attending reality is also one: impatient people are not faithful people; they get sidetracked easily by the persistent disappointments and the "reinterpretations" of the past offered to them by deceitful workers.
- B. Most, if not all, of the difficulties are self-induced by the choices made and actions taken in light of the Truth.
- 1. It was not the Thessalonians who decided that Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus should work so diligently.
- 2 It was Paul's own "made to be" value system that compelled the labor and travail.
- a. The "labor" is of "the Love" and it shows in application by "because you were made to become very valuable to us" (2:8) and by "brethren" (2:9).
- b. The "travail" is specifically identified as the outcome of the decision to refuse the provisions of those to whom The Gospel is preached (2:9 and 2 Thessalonians 3:8).
- III. Paul's Deliberate Focus.
- A. The Thessalonians were "believers" (2:10).
- B. Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus "were made to become "holy, righteous, and blameless" in their behavior because of the impact that behavior was to have upon the Thessalonians as those who "believed".
- 1. "Holy" has to do with an absence of physical corruption (exerting great effort requires all of the cylinders firing) -- Acts 2:27; 13:34-35.
- 2. "Righteous" has to do with producing the Fruit of the Spirit so that no unjust thing is done to others: a relational reality.
- 3. "Blameless" has to do with being received by God as a comment on His approval of the received: an issue of the spirit and its need for such approval [take note of 5:23, the only other place in the Bible where this adverb is used].
- C. There is no discounting the fact that a contrary example thrusts the persons exposed to it into a kind of "crisis of faith" where they have to decide what to believe.
- 1. Paul's answer is one: go with what has already been established and experienced.
- 2. This means, "ignore any and everything that would be contrary to that".