Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
Thesis: There is a "need" for a "fellow worker" when believers are not yet established in their faith.
Introduction: If our argument from the last study holds water, there is an extremely dangerous period of time for those who are new to the faith. Apparently, Paul considered the possibility that his labor would be vain if those new believers in Thessalonica were successfully "tempted" by the "tempter" during the period between believing the Gospel and being "settled" into that faith. This scenario of "vain labor" bothered Paul so much that he "vainly" attempted to return to Thessalonica several times and then, finally, sent Timothy in his place.
The text before us this evening tells us who Timothy was and what he was expected to do in Paul's stead. There are a couple of very potent implications in this action by Paul that we need to take seriously. The first one is that God is no respecter of persons and the second is that new believers seriously need the presence of capable help in the time of their "temptation".
As we noted last week, there is a biblical pattern of "initial faith" being allowed to be "tested" for its "heart" reality before any significant reactions are given by God. In this pattern, we need to understand the issues involved in Paul's commission of Timothy to return to Thessalonica.
August 31, 2014
- I. God is No Respecter of Persons.
- A. The characterization of Timothy.
- 1. He is "our brother".
- a. As we have already pointed out in an earlier study, Paul's use of "brother" tends to show up in contexts where there are serious problems regarding "faith".
- b. The major issue of "brother" seems to be expressed most clearly by John (1 John 3:1) and the author of Hebrews (2:11).
- 1) The concept of John's comment is that God has met the most potent of all "temptations" by calling us His children.
- a) Arguably, man's greatest need is to believe that he/she is at the top of someone's priority list.
- b) By the same reasoning, if the priority list is God's, there is no other place to turn.
- c) So that we may say that being a "brother" to those who are established in the faith means that one has "believed" that he/she is critically important to God and that "suffering" difficulties does not alter that reality one whit.
- 2) The concept of Hebrews 2:11 is of the same stripe.
- a) "Shame" is a particularly significant element to one's "spirit", which is the point of man's behavior.
- b) Being "unashamed" means that the link between "brethren" is unbroken by any of the things that might create "shame".
- c. Paul's use of the term in regard to Timothy means that Paul has no qualms about whether Timothy can effectively support the Thessalonians in their time of temptation.
- 2. He is God's "fellow worker" in the Gospel of the Christ.
- a. Being a "fellow worker" signals ...
- 1) First, that the "work" is worth doing.
- 2) Second, that the "worthiness" of the work has been established by God, the other "Fellow Worker".
- 3) Third, that the "fellows" involved are in solid agreement about both values and methods.
- 4) Fourth, that the only thing it takes to be a "fellow worker" is "spirituality" (i.e., walking by the Spirit so that Jesus is presented to those who observe the physical activity of the worker).
- b. That the focus of the work is "the Gospel of the Christ" indicates where, on the scale of God's interests, the work of the faith is: there is no greater "methodology" for the accomplishment of significant results.
- 1) The Gospel has never been very high on the priority lists of most human beings, including those who identify themselves as "believers".
- 2) This just reveals how far apart men and God are -- revealing why the Gospel is called a "summons" by God.
- 3) Jesus' comments in Mark 8:35 and 10:29 clearly establish this reality.
- B. The reason for the characterization.
- 1. Almost everyone, both men and (fallen) angels, make the mistake of thinking that it takes a particular "person" to be an effective "fellow worker" with God.
- a. Satan blocked Paul's return to Thessalonica but did not block Timothy's.
- b. Paul's characterization of Timothy indicates that he anticipated the Thessalonian notion that "Timothy" is not "Paul".
- c. But remember what Paul said in Galatians 2:6.
- 2. Paul publicly revealed his confidence in Timothy's "spirituality" as the key to his task.
- II. The Need New Believers Have for a Competent Helper.
- A. According to Paul's commission to Timothy, he was to "establish" the faith of the Thessalonians.
- 1. This is particularly the domain of God's activities (of the four uses of this term in the letters to the Thessalonians, three clearly attribute the accomplishment to God: 1 Thessalonians 3:13 and 2 Thessalonians 2:17 and 3:3).
- a. The reason is obvious: settling one's faith into the heart is not in the power of man.
- b. That Timothy was given an impossible-to-man task simply reinforces the thesis that he was a "spiritual" man (all the works of "spiritual" men are works by the Spirit through their willing bodies).
- 2. At issue is the tenuous condition of "initial" faith as opposed to "tried" faith.
- B. According to the second issue of Paul's commission to Timothy, he was to "encourage" them to "believe".
- 1. This is our old friend parakaleo.
- 2. This is Timothy's "methodological tool": he is to do whatever kind of "summoning" is necessary to attempt to get the Thessalonians to double down on their value in God's eyes and not let their circumstances sway them from the Truth.