Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 1
July 6, 2014
13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received [it] not [as] the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they [have] of the Jews:
15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
1901 ASV Translation:
13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, [even the word] of God, ye accepted [it] not [as] the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe.
14 For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus: for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews;
15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and please not God, and are contrary to all men;
16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
- I. A Second Cause of Gratitude.
- A. Paul's first mention of "giving thanks" is in 1:2 where the following matters of gratitude involve the three characteristics of the Thessalonians' response to the Gospel.
- 1. In this first mention, it is "the work of the faith", "the labor of the love", and "the endurance of the hope" that are in focus.
- 2. In the second mention, it is the Word of God that is "working in you who believe" that is in focus.
- B. This second mention of gratitude has the Thessalonians' response to The Message in mind.
- 1. Because they accepted "The Message" as a "God thing" rather than simply the notions of some men, it has a potent impact.
- 2. Nothing "works" like God's Word received.
- a. The gratitude flows "unceasingly" to God.
- 1) Gratitude is invariably a response to a sense of "being graced" (God's action on our behalf).
- 2) Gratitude for what others have done assumes that what they have done is important to the one giving thanks. Unceasing gratitude assumes that what they have done is really important.
- b. The reception of "a message of God" heard from us.
- 1) This "reception" is expressed by the combination word paralambano.
- 2) Paralambano has the same prefix as The Gospel (as paraklesis). At issue is the "proximity" of the thing "received". It is taken "alongside" of oneself so that it has a more potent ability by reason of its closeness. If one "takes" a thing, but holds it at arm's length, the point is that the "thing" is being kept from having its greatest impact. When God "summons" us "alongside" of Himself, He is attempting to get us to get close enough that His presence rubs off on us. When a person "receives" a person/thing "alongside" of himself, he is allowing it to get close enough to rub off.
- a) This "proximity" issue is the reason for the gift of the Holy Spirit as an Indwelling Presence of God.
- b) "Proximity", obviously, does not solve all of the problems, but it does set the stage for such problem solving. The major obstacle is Paul's doctrine that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump". When those with "Indwelling Proximity" then turn to an incipient "Leaven Proximity", the entire process is severely stunted in terms of any progressive development of good. Over time, leaven overrules even the Spirit of God because He requires a committed faith in order to actually work in His host.
- c. The embrace of that word not as "a message of men", but as it truly is "a message of God".
- 1) At this point, Paul alters his terminology. He switches from parakaleo to another word (decomai) that typically signals a stronger "grip" upon the person/thing than simply taking hold of him/it.
- 2) The word decomai is used by Paul in his second letter to these same people when he faults others who "received" not the love of the truth so that they might be saved. Clearly Paul considered the various "levels" of "acceptance" that people give to The Gospel and said, in effect, that the "acceptance" level had to be a matter of a tighter "grip" than many people give. In his mind, everything begins with the attitude that a person takes toward "truth" as a most fundamental issue. One who is not genuinely interested in "truth" will never embrace The Gospel at a sufficient level so as to be actually changed by it.
- 3) The grammar builds a picture. The people "heard" the message. They "took it alongside of themselves". Then, they strengthened their "grip" upon it so that they could not be separated from it.
- d. That message is working in you who believe.
- 1) This clearly indicates that Paul was not into "conversions" as simply people who make a profession of faith in what he had to say.
- 2) Paul is clearly interested in The Gospel being "embraced" much as a seed is embraced by fertile soil so that the seed is able to germinate and grow. There is an analogy in our body's ability to marshall its "infection fighters" so that they surround a "new" and "foreign" body and push it out of the body, or, failing that, to at least surround it in a "pocket" so that it cannot make any further inroads. This is the danger to those who let The Gospel "in", but then surround it with preventative measures so that it cannot do its work. Another analogy is the introduction of a new queen bee into a hive. It must be placed in the hive in a protective covering until the odor of the hive has time to permeate it and, thus, identify it as an acceptable element of the hive.