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1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 NOTES

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 - EXEGESIS


CONTEXT:  We would do well to stop occasionally to remind ourselves that chapter and verse markers were not part of the original text, but were added later to help us navigate the scriptures. They serve an enormously valuable purpose, but they sometimes create an artificial break in the text that hinders, rather than helps, our understanding.

That is the case here, with the beginning of chapter two. The chapter break obscures the fact that, in verse 1:5b, Paul began a defense of his ministry (and that of his colleagues, Silvanus and Timothy) that continues into chapter two. With his statement, "You know what kind of men we showed ourselves to be among you for your sake" (1:5b), he set the tone for that which follows.

Paul signals the continuing nature of his argument by using the word "for" (Greek: gar) in verses 2:1 and 2:3. That word points us to the text that preceded it, to include 1:5b-10.

Paul needed to defend his ministry at Thessalonica because opponents were challenging him. From his defense, we can deduce the nature of the accusations against him:

  • The first accusation was that Paul's exhortation (and that of his colleagues, Silvanus and Timothy) was in error or unclean or deceptive (2:3).
  • The second accusation was that they had tailored their preaching to please their listeners rather than God (v. 4)-with flattery being one of their tools (v. 5a).
  • The third accusation was that the motive behind their preaching was greed (v. 5b).
  • The fourth accusation was that they were seeking personal glory (v. 6).

In his defense, Paul reminded the Thessalonian Christians that:

  • They had "received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit" (1:6).
  • They had thereby become "an example to all who believe in Macedonia and Achaia... (and) in every place your faith in God has gone out" (1:7-8).
  • Paul and his colleagues had received reports that these Thessalonian Christians had "turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven" (1:9-10).

Now, as we come to our text in chapter two, Paul concludes that "our visit to you wasn't in vain" (2:1)-and that, despite having been persecuted for preaching the Good News in Philippi, he and his colleagues had nevertheless preached boldly in Thessalonica (2:2).


For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that ourreception among you was not in vain, 2 but after we had already suffered and been treated abusively in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.


"For you yourselves know, brothers, our visit to you wasn't in vain" (v. 1). As noted in "The Context" above, the word "for" (Greek: gar) points us back to that which preceded this verse-the positive response of these Thessalonian Christians to Paul's preaching-and their witness to Macedonia, Achaia, and beyond (1:5b-10).

In this verse, Paul begins to outline some things that they were NOT:

  • Their work was NOT in vain (2:1). • It was NOT characterized by error, uncleanness, or deception (2:3).    • Their preaching was NOT aimed at pleasing people instead of God (2:4).    • They did NOT use flattery (2:5a).    • They were NOT greedy (2:5b).    • They did NOT seek personal glory (2:6).

"For you yourselves know" (v. 1a). Paul first used this phrase (or a variant) in 1:5, and will use it again in 2:2 and 2:5. He needs not introduce anything new in defense of his ministry. It is far better simply to remind these Thessalonians of that which they already know-that which they have seen with their own eyes and felt in their own hearts. They know that Paul is telling the truth. They just need a little reminder.


"brothers" (v. 1a). A wonderful, collegial way to address these fledgling Christians! Paul could lean on his credentials as an apostle and insist on the respect that he is due, both as an apostle and as the one who brought them to the Lord. Instead, he addresses them as brothers (which they are, in Christ) and equals (which they are as sinners, in need of God's grace).


"but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as you know, at Philippi" (v. 2a). The story of their shameful treatment in Philippi is found in Acts 16:16ff. Paul had encountered a girl whose possession by a demon made her commercially useful to her owners, who used her as a fortune-teller. Paul exorcised the demon, ruining the girl's potential for making money. The girl's owners seized Paul, Silvanus (known in Luke's writings as Silas), and made false charges against them to the magistrates (judges). The magistrates had Paul and Silvanus stripped, beaten with rods, and jailed. An earthquake freed them, but they remained with the jailer, converting him and his family. When daylight came, the magistrates issued word to release Paul and Silvanus, but Paul countered with charges that the magistrates "have beaten us publicly, without a trial, men who are Romans. Do they now release us secretly?" (Acts 16:37)-whereupon the magistrates, who had clearly exceeded their authority, begged Paul and Silvanus to leave the city, which they did.


"we grew bold in our God to tell you the Good News of God in much conflict" (v. 2b). From Philippi, Paul and Silvanus went to Thessalonica, where they began their proclamation in a Jewish synagogue, converting some Jews, a multitude of Greeks (Gentiles), "and not a few of the chief women" (Acts 17:4). "But the unpersuaded Jews took along some wicked men from the marketplace, and gathering a crowd, set the city in an uproar" (Acts 17:5). They assaulted the house of Jason, one of the Christian believers-which leads us to assume that Paul and his colleagues were lodging there. Paul's opponents made false charges against Paul and his colleagues, that they were acting "contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus!" (Acts 17:7). The magistrates required Jason to post bond, and Paul and his colleagues were forced to leave Thessalonica. They went from there to Berea (Acts 17:10 ff).

  • A bit later in his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul will say: "But we, brothers, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart, tried even harder to see your face with great desire, because we wanted to come to you-indeed, I, Paul, once and again-but Satan hindered us" (2:17-18).
  • Faithful preaching often stirs opposition, because God's ways run counter to the world's ways. Faithful preaching will often run counter to monied interests. When wealthy and powerful people believe that their interests are threatened, they marshal their resources to counter the threat.


For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not intending to please people, but to please God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is our witness- 6 nor did we seek honor from people, either from you or from others, though we could have asserted our authority as apostles of Christ.


As noted above, in this section, Paul outlines a series of things that he and his work are NOT.

"For our exhortation is not of error" (Greek: plane) (v. 3a). The Greek word plane can mean error or delusion, but it can go deeper and indicate deceit or fraud. No doubt, Paul intends here to defend his preaching against this whole range of meanings. He has not inadvertently made a mistake, and he has certainly not been guilty of deceit or fraud. He has been telling the truth-a truth about Jesus that many people didn't want to hear.

"nor of uncleanness (Greek: akatharsia) (v. 3b). The word akatharsia connotes uncleanness, whether physical or moral.

  • The idea of clean versus unclean has its roots in the Torah, where God specified in great detail what was and was not clean with regard to food, bodily emissions, leprosy, and other things. While "clean" was often used with regard to ritual practices, it was also used with regard to a person's behavior-behavior that had the potential to darken people's understanding and to separate them from God (Ephesians 4:17-19; 5:3; Romans 1:24).

"nor in deception" (Greek: dolos) (v. 3c). The word dolos has to do with fraud or deceit. Paul has been guilty of neither.


"But even as we have been approved (Greek: (dokimazo) by God to be entrusted with the Good News, so we speak" (v. 4a). We naturally look for recommendations or credentials when determining whom they should trust. After all, there are many competing interests that vie for our attention. Most are, to some degree, self-serving, and many are blatantly dishonest. Whom should we trust?

Paul says that he and his colleagues have been approved (dokimazo) by God. The word dokimazo includes the idea of testing, such as trial by fire, to determine authenticity. Paul is saying that God has tested him and his colleagues, has found them trustworthy, and therefore has stamped them with God's seal of approval.

God has entrusted them with the Good News-not so that they might bury it and keep it in hiding, but so that they might proclaim it boldly (see the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14ff). That they have done.


"not as pleasing men, but God, who tests (Greek: (dokimazo) our hearts" (v. 4b). Here is that word dokimazo again (see v. 4a). Again, it suggests both testing and approval. Paul and his colleagues have passed God's test and won God's approval.

  • This brings to mind the words of Peter, who countered the high priest's command not to preach about Jesus by saying, "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

In this letter to the Thessalonians, Paul speaks of pleasing God rather than obeying God, but those two actions are part and parcel of the same thing. Faithful preaching is God-centered in the sense that God has given the message to be proclaimed and has chosen the messenger to proclaim it. The faithful preacher doesn't allow him/herself to be distracted by crowds or popular fads. He/she is focused on the task at hand (proclaiming Christ)-and the one who entrusted him/her with that task.

  • The church is always tempted to tailor its preaching to cater to people-to adopt popular philosophies or fads-and to avoid unpopular subjects. One of my old professors once encountered a student who advocated this kind of preaching. When asked why, the student replied, "to win people!" The professor asked, "Win them to what?" Good question!

"For neither were we at any time found using words of flattery, as you know" (v. 5a). Flattery is the art of saying nice things about another person-or saying things that the other person wants to hear-with the intention of gaining something from that person. In short, flattery is deceptive and self-serving-practiced for personal gain. Paul says that he and his colleagues have not used flattery. These Thessalonians know that this is true. Instead of using flattery, Paul has spoken Godly truths that have often offended people. His approach has been the opposite of flattery.


"nor a cloak of covetousness (Greek: pleonexia en prophasis) (God is witness)" (v. 5). The Greek word pleonexia means covetousness or greediness. Covetousness is an inordinate desire for something that belongs to someone else-desire so intense that it has the potential to provoke the covetous person to do whatever is required to get the desired object. The last of the Ten Commandments prohibits coveting a neighbor's house or wife or servant or ox or donkey or "anything that is your neighbor's" (Exodus 20:17). Colossians 3:5 equates covetousness with idolatry.

  • The word prophasis indicates a pretense used to cover one's true motives. Greedy people often use pretense to make them appear more benign than they really are. Otherwise, people would have nothing to do with them.
  • Paul is saying that he and his colleagues have never resorted to pretense to hide a burning greed-because they have never been greedy. A powerful proof is the fact that Paul "worked night and day, that (he) might not burden any of you" (1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). He worked as a tentmaker to pay his own way (Acts 18:3).

When speaking of flattery, he said "as you know" (v. 5a). Now, speaking of covetousness or greed, he says, "God is my witness" (v. 5b). His motives have been clear both to God and to those to whom he preached.

"nor seeking glory from men (neither from you nor from others), when we might have claimed authority (Greek: dynamai eimi baros) as apostles of Christ" (v. 6). The NRSV divides this differently-begins verse 7 with the last half of this verse.

  • Paul didn't seek "glory from men" by calling attention to his rightful authority as an apostle. He was a humble servant who thought of himself as a clay vessel entrusted to embody the precious Good News of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:7).

"when we might have claimed authority" (dynamai eimi baros). This Greek phrase translates more literally as "had the power or the authority to be a burden." Paul is saying that he and his colleagues could have expected financial support from those to whom they had brought the Good News of Jesus. However, as noted above, Paul worked as a tentmaker to provide his own support.

  • Paul uses the word "apostles" (plural). I have been unable to find another reference to Silvanus (known in Acts as Silas) or Timothy as apostles. However, there were several more apostles than the original twelve-to include Paul. Luke refers to "the apostles, Barnabas and Paul" (Acts 14:14). Paul refers to "James, the Lord's brother" as an apostle (Galatians 1:19). Paul refers to Epaphroditus as an apostolon (Philippians 2:25). So when Paul says, "we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ," it seems likely that he regarded Silvanus as an apostle-and possibly Timothy as well.
  • The word apostle comes from the Greek word apostolos. It means "sent one" or "the one who is sent." Jesus was sent by the Father (Mark 9:37), and Jesus sent the apostles to continue his work.


But we proved to be gentle among you. As a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children, 8 in the same way we had a fond affection for you and were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.


"But we were gentle (Greek: eipioi or neipioi) among you, like a nursing mother cherishes her own children" (v. 7). In verses 3-6, Paul emphasized what they were not. Now he begins to tell what they have been and are.

There is a question about the word that is translated "gentle" here. The Greek word eipioi means gentle and neipioi means infants. The best manuscripts use neipioi (infants), but that word doesn't seem to fit. The word eipioi (gentle) fits more nicely, but might have been a later scribe's attempt to "fix" a verse that didn't seem to make sense.

  • In either event, the meaning is clear enough. Paul and his colleagues were concerned for the well-being of these Thessalonian Christians-as caring for their welfare as the mother of an infant is for her baby's welfare. This, of course, is a powerful image, because the devotion of mothers to their infant child tends to be total. A mother who had to choose between her life and the life of her baby would almost always sacrifice her own life to save her baby.

"Even so, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the Good News of God only, but also our own souls (Greek: psyche), because you had become very dear to us" (v. 8). Paul and his colleagues gave a twofold gift:

(1) the Good News of God and

(2) their own souls.

  • The Greek word psyche is related to the word for breath, and is usually translated soul. Paul and his colleagues weren't just physically present with the Thessalonians. They weren't just going through the motions of caring. They had given the Thessalonians their souls. The Thessalonian Christians "had become very dear" to them.
  • Pastors develop that kind of deep affection for people in their congregation. I have been in ministry more than fifty years, but my thoughts often go back to the people in my first parish. It was a small rural church, sometimes referred to as a "student church" because I was a "student pastor." I think about Webb, a lonely old man living in his tiny house. I think about a couple whose twelve-year-old daughter died in surgery. When I parked my car in front of their house, the father came running to me with open arms, crying "What are we going to do? What are we going to do?" I remember a young man who had just begun college-but his dreams were shattered by a long-distance phone call from his father. I remember a family of four, three of whom were afflicted with serious ailments of various sorts-but who nevertheless exuded joy in living-and who treated me as an honored guest in their home.
  • I had no idea at the time that, fifty years later, I would still care so much about those people-but I do. Most of them are dead now-but alive in my heart. So when Paul tells these Thessalonian Christians that they had become very dear to him, I believe him. I can imagine how deeply embedded they were in his heart.


For you recall, brothers and sisters, our labor and hardship: it was by working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, that we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how devoutly and rightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

"For you remember, brothers, our labor (Greek: kopos) and travail" (Greek: mochthos) (v. 9a). Paul began chapter 2 with the words, "For you yourselves know" (2:1). Now he calls the Thessalonian Christians to remember that which they already know. They don't have to wonder about Paul and his colleagues. They have no reason to believe the false charges that they hear from Paul's critics. They better. They have only to call to mind that that which they have seen with their own eyes-that which they have experienced first-hand in their dealings with the apostles.

  • The Thessalonians had not seen greed or deception. Instead they had seen the apostles working (kopos) and travailing (mochthos). The word kopos suggests wearisome labor-exhausting work-unremitting effort. The word mochthos is similar to kopos, but emphasizes even more strongly the exhausting nature of the work.

"for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached to you the Good News of God" (v. 9b). In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul will remind them that he and his colleagues did not "eat bread from anyone's hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you" (2 Thessalonians 3:8).

  • Paul's trade was making tents (Acts 18:3). The tentmaker would cut leather and use an awl to stitch it together-or weave goat's hair to make fabric. A tent of any size would require much weaving (goat's hair) or cutting and sewing (leather), and the resultant tents would be quite heavy. Tent making was not a profession that a dilettante would choose to pursue. However, for an itinerant such as Paul, it had some advantages. The tools required (knives, awls, needles) were inexpensive and portable, allowing the tentmaker to leave on short notice-carrying the tools required to resume business elsewhere.
  • Paul's point is that he and his colleagues have supported themselves financially, while also preaching the Gospel. They did this so that they might not impose a financial burden on the Thessalonian converts.

Paul was not categorically opposed to receiving financial support. He accepted support from believers in Philippi who sent him gifts (Philippians 4:13-19). He also quoted the verse from the Torah that said, "You shall not muzzle the ox when he treads out the grain" (Deuteronomy 25:4).

  • In his first letter to Timothy, he quoted this verse from Deuteronomy to defend the practice of giving financial support to elders who preach and teach (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
  • In his first letter to the church at Corinth, he defended his right to expect financial support from people to whom he was ministering. But he went on to say, "Nevertheless we did not use this right, but we bear all things, that we may cause no hindrance to the Good News of Christ" (1 Corinthians 9:12).

Paul and his colleagues understood that accepting financial support could provide an opening for critics, so they went great lengths to protect their reputation. By refusing support, they could easily defend themselves against charges of greed.

  • Paul's work as a tentmaker has given rise to the phrase, "tentmaker ministry," which is used today for ministries where the minister works at a secular job to provide his or her own financial support.

"You are witnesses (Greek: martys) with God" (v. 10a). A martys (witness) is someone who has firsthand knowledge of something, and is therefore able to verify it or testify to it.

  • Paul reminds the Thessalonians that, not only have they witnessed the apostles' righteous behavior, but God has also witnessed it. Is there is a veiled threat here? Is God looking over the shoulders of these Thessalonian Christians? Will God tolerate their criticism of the apostles? If the Thessalonians fail to serve as faithful witnesses, won't God hold them responsible for their treachery?

"how holy (Greek: hosios), righteously (Greek: dikaios), and blamelessly (Greek: amemptos) we behaved

ourselves toward you who believe" (v. 10b).

  • The Greek word hosios means sacred, holy, or pious. The hosios person is one who performs righteously-who does what is right.
  • Dikaios means "righteous" or "just." The person who is dikaios-RIGHTEOUS will try to live his/her life in accord with God's will. The person who is dikaios-JUST will deal with other people fairly and honestly.
  • Amemptos means blameless or faultless.

With these three words, Paul claims that he and his colleagues have adhered to a very high standard of ethical/moral behavior toward those to whom they brought the Good News. The Thessalonian Christians have seen this, and know it to be true.


"As you know" (v. 11a). Again, Paul says "as you know" (see 2:1, 2:9). In this instance, he means that they know the compassionate nature of the apostles' work among them.


"we exhorted (Greek: parakaleo), comforted (Greek: paramutheomai), and implored every one of you, as a father does his own children" (v. 11b). Paul uses three words to describe his work (and that of his colleagues) among the Thessalonians. NOTE: Some translations divide the verses differently here, placing the following three words in verse 12 rather than verse 11.

  • The Greek parakaleo is a combination of para (alongside-to the side) and kaleo (to call). It can mean "to exhort" or to strongly urge, but it can also mean to encourage or to comfort.
  • Paramutheomai means to comfort, encourage, or console.
  • Martyromai is related to the word martys, which means a witness. It means to bear witness or to affirm.

These three words, used together, give a picture of the apostles using every means of persuasion at their disposal (but only positive persuasion-not punishment). Their posture was that of a father or mother trying to shepherd his/her children to keep them on the right path-always watching for the one who was about to stray-giving this one a nudge in the right direction-and then that one.

This is what Paul meant earlier, when he said, "We were well pleased to impart to you, not the Good News of God only, but also our own souls, because you had become very dear to us" (2:8).


"to the end that you should walk (Greek: peripateo) worthily (Greek: axios) of God" (v. 12a). Some translations say, "live worthily," but the Greek word is peripateo, which means "walk." From very early times, Jews used the word "walk" to speak of the manner in which one conducted one's life (Genesis 5:22, 24; 6:9; Psalm 1:1; 119:3). The New Testament continues that tradition (Romans 6:4; 13:13; 1 Corinthians 7:17; Ephesians 4:1, 17; 5:8, 15; etc.)

  • What does "walk worthily" (axios) mean? A person who has been accorded high status in life needs to honor that gift by living in accord with high personal standards.

In this instance, God has called these Thessalonian Christians "into his own Kingdom and glory" (v. 12b). They need to keep in mind that they are constantly in the presence of the King of Kings, so they need to hew to the very highest personal conduct.

  • This is a point at which the evil one has warped and distorted the world in which we live. In many cases, those who have been accorded high status (celebrities, entertainers, sports figures, and politicians) exhibit conduct so sleazy that I am at a loss for words to describe it. In some cases, they have gone on record as not owing anyone anything (in terms of setting an example). In some cases, they trade on their "bad boy" or "bad girl" persona as a way of gaining publicity.
  • As Christians, we need to be careful not to honor that sort of behavior. If God blesses us with high status, we need to be careful not to succumb to the temptations that it brings.
  • If we achieve high status, we need to be aware that the evil one will turn up the heat-will tempt us in ways that we could scarcely have imagined possible. One of the great tragedies is when a celebrity who has linked his/her name with Jesus then falls into some sort of disgraceful behavior that dishonors the Lord that he/she claimed to serve.

"who calls you into his own Kingdom and glory" (v. 12b). As I was preparing this exegesis, I happened to run across an article about people who had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth. The article was accompanied by photos of those being honored-dressed in fine, conservative, formal clothing-kneeling before the queen (who was standing) while the queen tapped their shoulders with her sword. We can be certain that those being honored practiced in advance so their behavior in the queen's presence would be appropriate.

  • I saw that Elton John had been knighted some years earlier. I am quite sure that he left his ducky suit at home-and that he modified his sometimes outrageous persona to honor the fact that he was in the queen's presence.
  • With that in mind, consider how you should dress and act when invited into the throne room of the King of Kings-before whom even the Queen of England will someday kneel and present her homage.
  • Again, the evil one has warped our sensibilities here. In our desire to make sure that everyone feels welcome in church (a good motive), we have encouraged people to come as they are-wearing tank-tops, shorts, flip-flops, or whatever (a bad outcome). We need to recover a sense of awe in the presence of the King-and wearing respectful clothing is one way to do that.



1 Thess. 2:1-12 - Bible Study Notes


INTRODUCTION:  In this beginning section of Chapter two we see Paul's defense of his apostolic conduct and ministry to the Thessalonians. Why does he defend his actions and ministry? He defends his actions and ministry for at least two reasons. First, the Jews that had come in to fill to void after he left Thessalonica were attacking him. They were maligning his name and conduct. Even saying things like, all Paul wanted was your money. He's not even an apostle, what gives him the right to tell you what to do? Secondly, we are reminded of the Pauline theology of imitation. He defends his ministry so that we can understand what is proper conduct as we engage in ministry as well.

In the process of his defense we learn a lot of things. We learn what false teachers are like and what they do. We learn what their motives are and what they're really out for. We also learn what true Gospel ministry looks like. So, in the process of Paul making his defense we learn how not to engage in Gospel ministry and then the positive, how to engage in Gospel ministry.


1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (ESV)


1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.


For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.


  1. Paul's First Defense...We Spoke Boldly in Much Affliction (2:1-2)

2 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.


He begins by reminding the Thessalonians what they already know. He uses a phrase that will be repeated over again... you yourselves know. They already know how he and the missionary team conducted themselves while in the great city. What Paul is going to do is to contrast his actions and the resulting effects with the charges brought against him by the Jewish opponents who were making up lies trying to discredit Paul.

Have you ever had someone make up lies to try and hurt you or your reputation? It's so important that we live pure lives being honest and forthright in all our dealings so that when we are slandered we will also have a defense. Children, it is vital that you begin at a young age to live according to God's commands. Beginning with the command to obey your parents. As you grow up obeying God's commands you will reap what you have sown. You will gain great benefits as you submit to your parents. This will greatly help you to learn to submit to God's rule over you. We all must live in a way that would lift us above the slander. You see Paul and the others could rise above it simply by reminding others of what they witnessed first hand concerning them.

False teachers are simply trying to make a name for themselves and get rich. Paul and the others are contrasting their ministry with the lies and greed of the Jews who had come in to make a name for themselves.


2 Peter 2:1-3 (ESV)


But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.


How Paul contrasts this is by reminding others that their message didn't bring ease and riches to the messengers but had brought suffering and shameful treatment by those who opposed them. Their opponents were treating the gospel messengers poorly. The gospel was good news to the believers but brought hardship to the preachers.

While the apostle was suffering because of the message he was still speaking it boldly because it was not from him but from God. He wasn't afraid of man because he knew this message was from God.

He and the others were bold because they had complete confidence in their message. He tells us that we had


boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God.

We must speak the Gospel of God with others as well. We will, no doubt, encounter opposition. Rather than retreating or watering down the message, we can have confidence and speak fearlessly because our confidence is in God and not in ourselves and our abilities because the Gospel is His message not ours. Will you speak the Gospel to others? Will you speak the Gospel to others even in the midst of affliction and opposition?

      2. Paul's Second Defense...Our Goal Was to Please God Not Man (2:3-8)

For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.


  1. Goal to please God

The defense comes when he writes that the appeal they made to the Thessalonians came from pure motives not selfish gain or deceit. Their goal was to please God and not to please men.

Look with me at how Paul argues his case: He has been approved by God for the ministry of the Gospel, he received the Gospel from God, and he speaks to others in order to have God's approval because, in fact, God knows his motives already. There is not much here in his defense concerning whether or not others believe. His goal was to preach God's gospel that he has been entrusted with in a way that at the end of the day, God would say well done good and faithful servant. This had nothing to do with whether or not those who heard would believe. Their belief is between them and God our job, like Paul is to speak the good news in a way that God would approve.

It's important that we teach our children to think about what they do and that they should do it for the glory of God. Kids, you are not too young to think about your actions. You are not too young to understand that everything you do, do it for God's glory.


1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)


31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


We discover then that simply speaking the Gospel is not entirely approved by God but we must do it with pure motives and in an accurate way. There were others who were telling them a gospel that was not accurate and doing so with impure motives.


  1. How Paul did not preach the Gospel-

For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.


Verses 5 and 6 show the negative side, in other words, this is what Paul did not do but he is hinting at the fact that this is how false teachers preach the Gospel.

He again appeals to what they already know... For we never came with words of flattery, as you know. What is flattery? Flattery is music to a sinner's ears. It is a drink that goes down smooth. It's candy to the taste buds. Flattery is very kind and endearing words. It is words that we like to hear because they are good words about us. The goal of the flatterer is to gain an advantage over the flatteree. By securing favor with kind words the flatterer will gain approval with the other person.

There are false teachers and preachers today who use this method. Smile at them and tell them what they want to hear, never speaking about sin, repentance or hell. Turn the reality of the Gospel into a message of improvement and this just a little because after all God loves you just the way you are. Our modern day mega church evangelists often fit this bill. They flood us with flattery, deceit, and greed. Their motives are financial gain and sitting on the top of the Ponzie scheme. The health and wealth false gospel works for those on top. If, after a message of the Gospel you feel good about yourself based on you then you have just been lied to and sold a bill of goods. You've bought oceanfront property in Arizona. The true Gospel must break us and bury us as we see the vividness of our sin. It must relay the fact that you shouldn't feel good about yourself because there is absolutely nothing good there. The good feeling comes after we realize that it is all Christ and there is very many things good in Him. He is our goodness and righteousness.

These are the things the modern day health and wealth preachers just never get around to telling us...their time is up before truth comes out.

Paul did not preach like these people.

We must never use people for selfish gain. We must never speak the Gospel connected with flattery. Be on your guard, when someone begins to tell you how good you are, they're usually out to get something from you.

Children, it's always a good practice to tell the simple truth. Do it kindly and clearly. If you've done something wrong, for example, and your parents ask you about it don't lie or try to flatter them. Simply tell the truth.


  1. How Paul preached the Gospel-

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.


Do you see the difference between Paul and the false teachers? He really cared for them and loved them. The false teachers, on the other hand, just used them for selfish gain.

The missionary team really cared about the listeners. Paul writes they were gentle among them. Gentle like a mother with her nursing infant. He was tender, considerate, kind, and concerned with their well being rather than like the false teachers who cared only for themselves and used these people as stepping stones to wealth and fame.

In verse 8 he goes on to explain that not only did they share the Gospel with them but they also shared themselves. It's so important to share the truth with others and to do it sincerely showing them love as well. The truth shared by a rigid, stern, unloving person is not as effective as the same message coupled with true love flowing from the evangelist or witness.

Paul then declares the reason they were so willing to not only preach the Gospel but give of themselves. He writes, because you had become very dear to us.

In such a short time the new Christians and Paul's team had bonded in love so strong that they were willing to give of themselves and it didn't seem like giving in the extreme but when Christian love is the bond giving becomes natural.

I have seen many of you give to each other in ways that have been an encouragement to me. I've seen you give financially to others. I've seen selfless service to others. I've seen such a strong commitment to one another that, while we are not perfect, I think we have some of what Paul is speaking about. You love each other. When we love each other our words become more powerful; they have a stronger meaning when they are accompanied with care and love.

I really believe that this is why true Christian growth is best seen in the context of the local church. Let me say it like this...

You will grow more here as you listen to truth and love and serve others in this church than you will any other way.

   3. Paul's Third Defense...Blameless Conduct (2:9-12)

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.


Here is Paul's last defense against his opponents. He reminds the Thessalonians how he and his team worked night and day to be self-supporting in order to minister to those in the city. The missionary team earned their money while in the City of Thessalonica. They did not seek money from them.

I have to say that I struggle when missionaries or church planters seeking support contact us. Many times they are people we don't even know. It usually goes something like this: God has called us to go to fill in the blank and we are at 75% of our support goal. We would really like for your church to pray for us and con-sider partnering with us financially. They usually put the prayer part first but what they really are after is money. My problem is this, are they really trusting God and do they really believe God has called them to go?

I can remember back when we started this church, we didn't have any support. We knew God had called us to do it so we just did it. We worked night and day and God granted us His favor and here we are.

Paul didn't tell the Christian back in Jerusalem that he was raising money so he and his team could go to Thessalonica, once they knew God had called them to go, they immediately went. I wonder what would happen if a missionary would just go like those missionaries did in the past?  


10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.


Again he calls on those Christians to remember his blameless conduct while with them. I want to remind you just how vital our conduct is. If we are to be an effective witness for Christ, we must also seek to walk blamelessly. Our conduct matters.

Have you ever noticed how when you begin speaking with a lost person about the Gospel that many times they bring up an example of poor conduct of someone they know who claims to be a Christian? Very often this happens. They can use the poor and sinful conduct of "Christians" to diminish the effectiveness of your witness.

The Apostle goes on to make another very important comparison. He said that these new Christian were cared for and loved like a nursing mother loves her child. Now he writes, 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.


Here's what we must learn from this: there are times beloved that we must care for and be gentle with other Christians. Then, like a father, we must exhort, encourage, and charge other Christians. There are times when it's appropriate to be gentle and then there are times when it's appropriate to be firm.

Exhort means to put pressure on someone to move them in the right direction. Along the way we encourage and then we also at times charge them to walk in a worthy manner.







1 Thess. 2:1-12 Extra Commentary


Verses 1-2: Paul denies his adversaries' accusation that his ministry in Thessalonica had been in vain, that is, "empty" of proper motive. That he had been physically abused (suffered), and insulted (shamefully entreated), previously at Philippi, yet was bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel, verifies the purity of his ministerial motives.

Otherwise, persecution for the gospel would probably have prevented his courageous preaching. There was no impure incentive of any kind in his ministry (verse 3).

1 Thessalonians 2:1:  "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:"

"Not in vain": Paul's ministry among the Thessalonians was so fruitful that not only were people saved and a vibrant, reproducing church planted, but the church also grew and flourished even after Paul left (1:5-8).

Paul says you know that the message we brought was Truth and you received it unto yourself. It was empowered by the Spirit of God and now you received it so fully that you are empowered with that same Spirit to minister.

Paul had asked nothing from them in return for bringing the gospel to them. His reward was in knowing that they received the True Word of God and were transformed into servants of the Most High God.

1 Thessalonians 2:2: "But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention."

"Entreated ... at Philippi": Paul and Silas had been brutalized in Philippi before coming to Thessalonica (Acts 16:19-24, 37). They suffered physically when beaten (Acts 16:22-23), and incarcerated (Acts 16:24). They were arrogantly mistreated with false accusations (Acts 16:20-21), and illegally punished, in spite of their Roman citizenship (Acts 16:37).

"Much contention": Like their treatment in Philippi, Paul's team was falsely accused of civil treason in Thessalonica (Acts 17:7), and suffered physical intimidation (Acts 17:5-6).

Paul never allowed a little persecution to keep him from bringing the gospel message to all who would receive it. Contention, in this verse, means conflict or fight. Everywhere Paul went, there seemed to be conflict. Most of his problems came from the Jews.

He had been a Pharisee of the Pharisees, before he came in close contact with the Light of the world on the road to Damascus. It seemed the conflict at Philippi had been so great that he had left there and come to Thessalonica. He did not stop preaching because of the conflict, he just moved locations.

Paul counted it a pleasure to be able to suffer for Christ and the gospel message. The message that Paul had brought to Thessalonica was not made milder by the conflict, but if anything was even bolder and more sure. Paul's boldness seemed to increase with every persecution.

1 Thessalonians 2:3: "For our exhortation [was] not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:"

Paul used 3 distinctly different words to affirm the truthfulness of his ministry, each expressing a contrast with what was characteristic of false teachers. He first asserts that "his message" was true and not erroneously false. His "manner of life" was pure, not sexually wicked. His "method of ministry" was authentic, not deceptive.

Paul was not a man of untruths. He spoke the message of God, exactly the way the Lord had given it to him. He did not alter the message to please man. Guile, in this verse would possibly mean trick.

Paul had not tried to trick anyone. He knew the Jews were caught up in the outward cleanness of a man. He explains that he was not an unclean man. Paul's message was straightforward. He never varied to the right or the left. He spoke Truth.

1 Thessalonians 2:4:  "But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts."

"Allowed of God": It could be that some false teachers came into the church to discredit Paul's ministry. This would account for his emphasis (in verse 1-12), on his divine appointment, approval, integrity, and devotion to them. (Acts 9:15; 16:9-10).

Allowed and trieth translates the same Greek verb dokimazo differently because it has two different meanings in this same verse. "Allowed", means that God had carefully examined Paul and found him to be fit for the ministry, thus entrusting the apostle with this responsibility.

"Trieth" means that the Lord examines him daily to see whether he remains fit and can continue in the ministry. This habitual divine scrutiny is the reason Paul seeks to please God rather than men. God then, is the ultimate cause and motive of Paul's ministry, not impurity (verse 3), or covetousness (verse 5).

I love the word "allowed" in the verse above. Paul counted it a privilege to be trusted with the gospel message. We should count it a privilege to be allowed to work for God ourselves. Paul spoke as an oracle of God. Paul did not choose what he would say. He turned his tongue over to God and spoke the words as the Spirit gave him utterance.

Most ministers today have this all turned around. They are preaching what the people want to hear. The Bible calls that preaching to itching ears.

2 Timothy 4:3 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"

This verse in Timothy is speaking of ministers called of men to preach, not called of God. Paul was called of God to carry the message God chose to the people. The people did not always want to hear what the Spirit of God speaking through Paul had to say. It many times, stepped on their toes. The Spirit brought out sins in them that they thought no one knew about but God knew.

Paul had no desire to please men. His desire was to bring the message God wanted the people to have as accurately as he could. Paul's desire was to please God, not man.

If it brought persecution, so be it. God looks on the heart, and judges righteously. He looks on the heart of the minister, and the people he is ministering to. Let me mention, one more time, the gospel is (good news).

Verses 5-6: "Flattering words": Paul used 3 disclaimers to affirm the purity of his motives for ministry:

(1) He denied being a smooth-talking preacher who tried to make favorable impressions in order to gain influence for selfish advantage;

(2) He did not pretend to be poor and work night and day (verse 9), as a pretense to get rich in the ministry at their expense; and

(3) He didn't use his honored position as an apostle to seek personal glory, only God's glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

1 Thessalonians 2:5:  "For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God [is] witness:"

"Cloak" (Greek prophasis), signifies "excuse," "cover up," or "front"; for an impure motive of greed.

Paul was not trying to get anything from them. He did not covet anything that belonged to them. When someone flatters you, they are usually setting you up to get something from you. Paul had none of these desires. He was compelled within himself to bring the Truth of the gospel to all who would receive it.

Some believe that Paul was trying to make up for the times when he himself had persecuted the Christians. I really believe that Paul loved God so much that he wanted everyone to know and love God as he did. He was truly grateful that God had loved him enough to turn him around on the right path.

I believe that Paul loved God even when he was persecuting Christians. He even thought he was doing that for God. His eyes of his understanding had not been opened where he could see Jesus for who He really is. Paul knew that even if the people did not understand what he was trying to do, God did. He really had to answer to no man but God.

1 Thessalonians 2:6: "Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor [yet] of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ."

"Might have been burdensome": may be rendered, "though we could have wielded authority". Paul and his coworkers did not seek esteem (glory), from men nor from the Thessalonians (neither of you), although they could have 'thrown their weight around" as the apostles of Christ, and thus demanded honor.

"Apostles of Christ": This plural is designed to include Paul with the 12 for the sake of emphasizing his unique authority. Silvanus and Timothy were "apostles (messengers), of the church" (Rom. 16:7; Phil. 2:25).

We already mentioned in the book of Philippians that Paul would not accept any gifts from any of the churches except the church at Philippi. Paul preached the gospel to them with no strings attached. He did not even ask for an offering from them.

We see in this that Paul was not seeking to be thought of as the great apostle. He included Timothy and Silas in this letter right at the beginning. Paul was not looking to be honored by these people. He knew his reward would be in heaven. He did not ask them to think of him as the number one apostle.

Verses 7-8: Paul may have had in mind Moses' portrayal of himself as a nursing mother to Israel (Num. 11:12). He used the same tender picture with the Corinthians (2 Cor. 12:14-15), and the Galatians (Gal 4:19).

Paul's affection for the Thessalonians was like that felt by a mother willing to sacrifice her life for her child as was Christ who was willing to give up His own life for those who would be born again into the family of God (Matt. 20:28).

1 Thessalonians 2:7:  "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:"

"Nurse cherisheth": Just as a nursing mother selflessly cares for her children, so Paul gave himself to the Thessalonians. He changes the figure of speech to that of a father (In verse 11).

Paul had made himself as one of them. He had not elevated himself up above the people. His message to them had been a message of the love of God. He was tenderly teaching them as a parent would his own child.

1 Thessalonians 2:8:  "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us."

In this, Paul was bringing them the good news of the gospel of Christ, but wanted them to feel the love that he had for them as well. Paul had such great love for them that he would have been willing to face most any hardship to bring them this message that would bring Life to them.

He is also saying that he preached from his heart. He was not trying to scare them out of hell, but love them into heaven.

1 Thessalonians 2:9:  "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God."

"Laboring night and day": Paul explained this (in 2 Thess. 3:7-9). He did not ask for any money from the Thessalonians but rather lived on what he earned and what the Philippians sent (Phil. 4:16). So that his motives could not be questioned, unlike the false teachers who always sought money (1 Peter 5:2).

Paul did not stop when the sun went down. He preached into the night when necessary. He also prayed for the people he preached to. The call of God is not an 8 hour a day job. The called of God are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the rest of their life.

Paul is saying that he will not be held responsible by God for not telling them the good news of the gospel. He told them all. He will have a clear conscience