Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2
Thesis: Being a member of God's Church automatically makes one a target.
Introduction: We considered Paul's declaration that "believing" that the message is from God creates a situation in which that "word" works within a person to accomplish the desire of God for that person. Paul is enthusiastically grateful for this reality in this paragraph. In the larger context, this reality is a practical manifestation of the reality that The Summons is all about people becoming participants in the Kingdom and the Glory that are both to come.
In our study this evening we are going to look into Paul's direct focus upon the reality of the "word" energizing people to act like the people of God.
July 13, 2014
- I. The Evidence of the Focus.
- A. For the ninth time, Paul casts the issues in terms of "being made to become".
- 1. This is as forceful as a concept can be (six of the eleven uses are found in 2:1-14).
- 2. The automatic issue of the term is the answer to the question: what/Who made this reality?
- B. For the second time, the "becoming" is focused upon the issue of "imitation": an earlier example that becomes a later standard for what is expected (1:6; 2:14).
- C. For the second time, the issue of what it means to be a "church" comes into play (1:1; 2:14).
- 1. The "church" of the Thessalonians has become an "imitation" of the "churches" of Judea.
- a. The concept of "church" is rooted in what Paul has made a central concept in what God has done in Thessalonica: the issue of "calling" ( ek + kalew ).
- 1) The basic message, called The Gospel, is cast in the form of The Summons (2:3).
- 2) This idea of "summons" is then reinforced by the use of the characterization of a "father" who "summons" (2:11) as a mirror of the God Who yet "summons" (2:12).
- 3) Then Paul summarizes the idea with the return to the concept of "church" (those "summoned" out of a former group and setting into a new group and setting).
- b. This concept of "church" also has, as its most necessary attendant characteristic, the response of the "summoned".
- 1) Paul's says the only legitimate response to The Summons is "faith".
- 2) By pulling "faith" into the mix, he introduces a certain element of "inevitability": what a person "believes" becomes the "ground" for future attitudes, choices, and actions.
- a) The weak link exists at the level of whether "believing" is considered an aoristic notion, or a present tense notion.
- b) In 2:13 the issue is "active believing", making the essence of The Summons a call to Faith, and making the case that all of the future working of the Word within us is dependent upon a "faith" response.
- 2. This leads immediately into what happens when people in this world, time, and setting, "believe" The Summons: inevitable conflict that will eventually lead to persecution.
- a. The process is semi-automatic: faith sponsors choices and actions that run counter to this world's values and beliefs and, thus, actions so that there is inevitable conflict.
- b. Paul said in Galatians that those of the flesh persecute those of the Spirit as an automatic continuum (Galatians 4:29).
- II. The Impact of the Focus.
- A. The "churches" are said to be "of the God".
- 1. Thus, it is "the God" who is doing the on-going "calling".
- 2. That He is "the God" completely eliminates every other competitor for the idea of the availability and applicability of "power" so that dependence upon any other becomes idolatry.
- 3. That the "faith" is that "the God" has actually spoken in true words that form The Word (The Message, The Gospel, The Summons) means that the "believer" addresses his/her situations in life through the lens of "the truth of The God".
- B. The "churches" are said to exist in the same context: persecution.
- 1. The inevitable result of being a believing member of "a church of The God" is "suffering the same things" (categorically the "same" as 1 John 2 declares though the particulars may vary).
- 2. The text makes the "suffering" a consequence of proximity.
- a. The closer a "believer" is to an "unbeliever", the more likely he/she is to suffer from that close associate (even as Cain slew his brother): thus, countrymen (the only time this term is used in the New Testament) become the persecutors.
- b. This cuts in multiple ways, beginning with the reality that one's closest associates should not be the ones who do the persecuting and, because they are, the soul's "safety" becomes a huge matter of interest and the danger is "unbelief" in the promises of The Summons as they impact the "soul".
- III. The Question of Applicability Within the Context of the Illegality of Persecution.
- A. Paul's declaration is that persecution is inevitable (2 Timothy 3:12).
- B. This "inevitability" factor is complicated by historical developments wherein certain cultures have outlawed persecution because of religious beliefs.
- 1. Believers are somewhat spared the intensity that illegality holds in check.
- 2. But there is no way that all "suffering" can be controlled by "law".