Paul approaches every group with a variety of arguments, believing that if one doesn’t work he will try another. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of his experience and of their own. He asks that they recall his gentle approach and willingness to overlook his status as an apostle, though he notes that he could have taken advantage of status had he so desired.
Paul encourages the Thessalonians to remain strong in the faith by his own example. He endures despite the persecution he suffered while in Philippi. By his example, Paul teaches us all to persevere. Faith does not guarantee anyone an easy ride. It does promise us strength and guidance for living through the difficulties that inevitably arise along life’s journey.
Paul commends his ministry team to the Thessalonians as honest and hardworking. True faith doesn’t try to trick people into becoming followers of Jesus. Nor should it be used to build up the reputation or influence of any individual. Pleasing God is far more important than pleasing mere mortals. We can easily get distracted by desiring the approval of friends and neighbors and forget that God may have different priorities for our lives.
Paul in his apostleship does not emphasize quantity of converts but integrity of relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He asserts the authority of his position; he has “been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel.” Paul is not being arrogant in this claim. Paul lets his readers know that in order to claim any authority, he views his work through the lens of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection.
Loving God, may we always be aware of the path that leads to you, and may the Holy Spirit ever be our guide. Amen.
Deuteronomy 34 narrates Moses’ death and Joshua’s succession, both the end of Moses’ life and the continuation of his influence. Psalm 90 is ascribed to Moses, and the tone suits the setting portrayed in Deuteronomy 34. In First Thessalonians Paul continues his recollection of the relationship between himself and the Thessalonians. Paul and his coworkers acted out their love of neighbor, a love that is possible only because of their prior love of God. The Gospel places Jesus in a setting of controversy with the religious leaders of the day. The exchange about the greatest commandment demonstrates that the religious authorities in fact observe none of the commandments because of their inability to understand properly what Jesus calls the “ rst” and “second” commandments.
• Read Deuteronomy 34:1-12. How is God speaking to you about your life? What endings seem imminent? What new beginning is God forming you for?
• Read Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17. Notice all the references to time. How do you experience time when you perceive God’s work in your life? How do you measure time when God seems absent?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8. What relationship is God using to form you spiritually? Who are you tenderly sharing the gospel and yourself with so that God is using you in someone else’s life?
• Read Matthew 22:34-46. The writer states, “It is impossible to love God without also loving those created in God’s image.” What are the implications of this statement on your life? the life of your church?
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