Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1
Thesis: It is possible to be effectively "hindered by Satan" while living by faith and walking under the overall Plan of God.
Introduction: There are two surprises in this next paragraph in 1Thessalonians Two: the degree to which Paul had tied himself to the Thessalonians; and the effective opposition of Satan. The first surprise is how quickly and deeply Paul shared his soul with those to whom he ministered (How did that happen?). The second is how readily he blamed Satan while being fully aware of the tension between God's omnipotence and Satan's opposition (Why would God allow Satan to hinder someone who was so deeply involved in loving others?). These are not unimportant realities, given the promises of God and the vitality of God's reaction to faith.
Therefore, this evening we are going to look into Paul's claims to see what we need to learn from them.
August 3, 2014
- I. Paul's Deep Soul-Connection: a Manifestation of the Heart of God.
- A. The indicators of the connection.
- 1. The term "brethren" is significant for two reasons.
- a. Paul uses it in 1 Thessalonians 18 times in five chapters in contrast with Romans (19 times in sixteen chapters) and 1 Corinthians (35 times in 16 longer chapters) and Galatians (11 times in five chapters).
- 1) The use in 1 Corinthians is instructive: calling someone a "brother" is to be taken as a mitigating force when something bad is going on (for Paul it was an expression of deep love, eliminating any selfishness on his part) [Galatians reinforces this].
- 2) It is used by Paul in deliberate harmony with his "first use": tying the idea of being a "brother" to the impressive and infinite love of the Father in election (1:4).
- b. He is tying the identity of the Thessalonians back to 2:11-12 (being a "brother" in the family of God is no small matter: 1 John 3:1 makes this identity a manifestation of the degree to which we are loved by God).
- 2. The unique use of "bereft".
- a. The word translated "bereft" is a rare term: found once in the New Testament and having only a very small footprint in Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon.
- b. Its root is only in John 14:18 and James 1:27 and the indicators are that it is a reference to the emotional upheaval that arises automatically when someone who is deeply soul-connected is taken away irremediably and long term.
- c. Paul's use is in spite of his own description in this sentence of the "shortness" of the separation.
- d. It almost looks like Paul is a basket case over the lack of a face-to-face reality.
- 3. The extraordinary effort expended by Paul to restore the "face-to-face" situation.
- a. Being "more abundantly" invested is no small thing given the use of the term in places like Hebrews 2:1 and Galatians 1:14.
- b. Tying "more abundantly" to "endeavored" is even more emphatic when we see how that term is used in the New Testament.
- c. To this he adds 2:18's "once and again".
- 4. The underlying "driver": "much intense desire".
- a. The term "desire" is typically used by Paul to identify why people are as wicked as they are, being motivated by "intense lust".
- b. Adding "much" or "great" only makes his case stronger: he is addressing something that is bordering on idolatrous obsession.
- B. Our options.
- 1. Either Paul is a soul-crippled emotional wimp...
- 2. Or Paul is a manifestation of the extreme love of God.
- II. Satan's Effective Opposition: a Manifestation of the Heart of God.
- A. Paul readily blames Satan for his failure to reconnect physically with the Thessalonians.
- B. But we all know that Satan can only do what God allows.
- C. Thus, we must see the Father through Paul's example.
- 1. "Allowing" extreme desires to go unmet is not a manifestation of a lack of love or will.
- 2. "Allowing" Satan to effectively oppose a highly motivated and godly servant only means one thing: there is something more critical at stake.
- 3. This forces us to consider God as the Master Planner Who even denies Himself in order to fulfill His promises to those who trust him.