1 Thessalonians 2:1-16

Paul’s Conduct Among them: As a Nurse and a Father
1 Thessalonians 2:1-16
1 Thessalonians 2. In this chapter Paul presents himself and his companions as an example for the young believers in Thessalonica to imitate. Examples are often used by God to teach us how we should conduct ourselves. In some places where Paul speaks of himself it is to establish his apostleship, as in 2 Corinthians. But 1 Thessalonians was not written from Paul as an apostle (see ch.1) though he was one, but instead as a spiritual father. As such his puts forth his conduct as an example for the saints to follow. Even just in the few weeks Paul had been with the them (between two and four) there were lessons that could help the Thessalonians. Paul and his companions exemplified first of all purity in their motives and second of all purity in their conduct.

Paul’s Conduct Among the Thessalonians (2:1-12)

1 For ye know yourselves, brethren, our entering in which we had to you, that it has not been in vain; 2 but, having suffered before and been insulted, even as ye know, in Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the glad tidings of God with much earnest striving. vv.1-2 Paul’s Entering into Thessalonica. When Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica (Acts 17) it had a powerful effect. He references the prior events in Philippi, namely of their being beaten at the hands of the Gentiles, humiliated (“insulted”), and thrown in jail for the sake of the gospel. Rather than have the effect of depressing and discouraging Paul and his companions, the persecution actually made them more “bold” and “earnest” in their preaching when they came to Thessalonica, where they were met with persecution from the Jews. Their stripes were probably still fresh when they reached Thessalonica, but they were undeterred. They were “bold in our God”, not in self-confidence.
Purity of motives. Paul addresses the motives they had in preaching in vv.3-7. Sadly, when we look around today in Christendom, it is all too obvious that many preachers and teachers are in their profession for the wrong reasons. However, a servant of the Lord doesn’t need to fall into something as grievous as preaching a prosperity-gospel to be guilty of serving with the wrong motives. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). There is a tendency in us, because of our flesh, to carry forward with service (especially public) for the wrong reasons, such as self-exaltation. God seeks to “prove” the hearts of His servants to keep them not only doing the right things but for the right reasons.
3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile; v.3 Their intentions were honest. When Paul and the others were in Thessalonica, they were preaching the gospel and “exhorting” the people there to obey the gospel. The efforts of Paul and his companions to convert the Thessalonians was not of “deceit”, which means there was no hidden agenda. It was also not of “uncleanness”, which means there was nothing immoral at work. And finally, it was not “in guile”, which means they were not pretending to be something they were not. These are motives that a minister of the gospel should not and must not have.
4 but even as we have been approved of God to have the glad tidings entrusted to us, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who proves our hearts. v.4 Their commission was authentic. Paul and his companions labored with the consciousness that they were “approved of God” to be ministers of “the glad tidings”. This is important. Who are we laboring for? Whose approval are we looking for? “Not as pleasing men, but God”. These ones knew that their commission was straight from God, and they lived for His pleasure. Another thing that characterized Paul and his companions was humility in service, in that they viewed it as both a privilege and a responsibility. Our brethren cannot see our hearts, but God does (1 Sam. 16:7). In His grace, God “proves” the hearts of His servants, by allowing opposition and trials in our lives. These things test us, manifest our state, and cause us to judge wrong motives, and maintain righteousness in our walk.
5 For we have not at any time been among you with flattering discourse, even as ye know, nor with a pretext for covetousness, God is witness; 6 nor seeking glory from men, neither from you nor from others, when we might have been a charge as Christ’s apostles; 7 but have been gentle in the midst of you, as a nurse would cherish her own children. vv.5-7 Their heart was right. Paul gave three negative examples of wrong motives in service. “Flattering discourse” would be using words to pander to the pride in others, usually in order to gain favor or applause from men. By contrast, the gospel presents the ruin and lost condition of man, and this is completely opposite from flattering words. “A pretext for covetousness” refers to preaching or teaching with the goal of getting money or support from the people. From other scriptures we find that it is right and proper for the Lord’s people to support those who serve, just as Paul says “we might have been a charge as Christ’s apostles”, meaning that it would have been justified. But money should never be the goal. “Seeking glory from men” is very subtle, and can easily creep into the hearts of any of us, if we are not walking in communion with God. The love of respect, attention and applause are often as powerful motivators as the love of money. Finally, Paul gives a positive example of service with a right heart: that of himself and his companions. They were toward the Thessalonians “as a nurse would cherish her own children”. A nurse is usually trained and hired to care for the children of others, but how “gentle” and sincere and thorough the care of a nurse for her own children! An example of this would be Jochebed who nursed Moses, her own child. The point is this: Paul’s motives were as deep and pure as those of a mother. Unconditional and unselfish love is the proper motive for service.
Simon the Sorcerer. An example of one whose motives were wrong is Simon in Acts 8. Before Philip came to Samaria, Simon had “used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one” (Acts 8:9). He had a place of prominence in the city. But when Philip came with the gospel, and then Peter and John came from Jerusalem, and through the laying on of their hands the Holy Ghost fell upon the believers, Simon’s power was eclipsed by the power of the Holy Spirit. It says that “Simon himself believed also” (Acts 8:13), but this was a human belief, and not genuine faith. “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:18-23). Simon had believed without repenting, and this meant that his conversion was false. The connection between Simon and 1 Thessalonians 2 is this expression: “thy heart is not right in the sight of God”. How natural it was for Simon to seek, shortly after his conversion, to regain his status in the community through the use of spiritual gifts! Peter detected that Simon’s motives were wrong, and concluded that he was “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity”. Although Simon was an extreme case, certainly we can see the same tendency in many places today to use preaching and teaching as a means to get money, admiration, and power from followers. This is perhaps one of the areas in which the church has failed most publicly, especially in the West with the rise of televangelism.
Purity in Conduct. Paul then proceeded to speak of their conduct among the Thessalonians in vv.8-12. 
8 Thus, yearning over you, we had found our delight in having imparted to you not only the glad tidings of God, but our own lives also, because ye had become beloved of us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and toil: working night and day, not to be chargeable to any one of you, we have preached to you the glad tidings of God. vv.8-9 Full Dedication. Paul’s love for the saints was intense, and it led to intense feelings; such as yearning over them, and delighting in serving them. But the love Paul had for these dear saints translated into action. They not only imparted the gospel to the Thessalonians, but also gave their “all”; “our own lives also”. This is an important aspect of service, especially in evangelism and shepherding. People had an intuitive feeling whether preachers, teachers, and pastors who come to them really have a care for their souls. Are they invested? For Paul and his companions, it wasn’t like a rich man handing out pennies. It cost them to give, and the saints saw and appreciated it. This came out in the fact that Paul and the others wouldn’t “be chargeable” or allow the saints to support them financially. They could see how much he cared for them in that he labored to provide for his own needs.

Wherever he traveled, Paul worked with his own hands as a tent-maker for his personal needs (Acts 20:33-34). On occasion, when he was in need, Paul would receive support from individuals and assemblies, such as the Philippians, who "sent once and again unto my necessity" (Phil. 4:16). Paul had never taken money from the Corinthians (2 Cor. 12:13-14), who were relatively wealthy. He speaks of "robbing other churches" (2 Cor. 11:8-9). In 1 Cor. 9 we have a little light on why Paul chose not to receive financial support from the Corinthians: because it left him free to preach and teach whatever the Lord asked him, without any possibility of an accusation of corruption. There was a worldly spirit among the Corinthians, and Paul felt it might compromise his ministry to take what was rightfully his from the Corinthians. Paul also wouldn't receive from the Thessalonians because he wanted to set a good example to them as new converts (1 Thess. 2:9), and also because some among them had a problem with laziness (2 Thess. 3:6-12). Nevertheless, scripture is clear that it is right and proper for believers to financially support those that serve them (1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18; Gal. 6:6), and it is a tremendous privilege to do so, and an opportunity to further the cause of Christ (Phil. 4:17).

10 “Ye” are witnesses, and God, how piously and righteously and blamelessly we have conducted ourselves with you that believe: v.10 Their Practical Conduct. Paul and his companions were good role-models for the young converts in Thessalonica. Their conduct was “pious” or separate from sin, “righteous” or consistent with the mind of God, and “blameless” or above reproach. It is important to be a good testimony toward unbelievers, but it is equally important to maintain a good testimony among believers. This conduct was something that the saints had witnessed in Paul’s short stay in Thessalonica, but also God was their witness.
11 as ye know how, as a father his own children, we used to exhort each one of you, and comfort and testify, 12 that ye should walk worthy of God, who calls you to his own kingdom and glory. vv.11-12 Their Instructions. Finally, Paul addresses the instructions he gave the Thessalonians. His manner with the young converts was “as a father his own children”. We have already read of the mothering character of Paul’s ministry, but now we read of the fathering care. A father is to model the behavior he expects to see in “his own children”, and Paul did this (v.10). A father also pays careful attention to the behavior of his children, and has wisdom to know when and how to “exhort” at one time, “comfort” another time, or “testify” (speak some truth) another time, for the benefit of his children. A father is willing to speak sternly, or exercise discipline if needed, for the blessing of a wayward child. The substance of the exhortation was that “ye should walk worthy of God”. Mention is made of the call of God. We are to walk worthy of our calling! See Eph. 4:1. A sense to the grace that called us will have a practical effect. In Ephesians and Colossians our calling has more to do with the church; “called in one body” (Col. 3:15). In Corinthians it has to do with “the fellowship of His Son”. But here in Thessalonians it has to do with direct association with God Himself; “to his own kingdom and glory”. It is a stupendous truth that God has incorporated each believer into that which concerns Himself!
As a Mother, as a Father. Paul mentions two aspects of his ministry among the Thessalonians. The first aspect is the maternal side, which has to do with gentleness, nourishing, and cherishing the saints. The second aspect is the paternal side which has to do with exhorting, comforting, instructing, and modeling good behavior toward the saints. The maternal side comes first for an important reason. Just as in the growth of a child, the care of a nursing mother is what is first needed. In fact, a young father can feel somewhat useless for several weeks after a baby is born. The child must first be established through the love and care of the mother. In the care of souls it is important that they be nourished with the maternal aspect of ministry first. But it is equally important that this be followed up with the paternal aspect of ministry. Those who are deprived of the exhortation and shepherding of a father often experience stunted or imbalanced spiritual growth. Both are required for the spiritual development of a new convert. In days of lukewarmness and declension, the spirit of a mother is often what God uses to stir His people up. Under the law, when someone found a bird’s nest with young, the young could be taken but the mother must be let go (Deut. 22:6-7), “that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days”. A fertile mother is the source of life in nature, and she would be able to produce more afterwards. We can apply this to the assembly. We need to take care never to quench the mothering spirit, because without it we have lost the means of revival when decension comes in. Deborah in Judges 5:7 seemed to understand this: “The villages ceased in Israel, Ceased until that I Deborah arose, That I arose a mother in Israel.” Even the apostle Paul felt his need for mothering care, and a sister in Rome had been toward him as a mother (Rom. 16:13). But the role of a mother in a spiritual sense is not limited to women, as Paul demonstrated to the Thessalonians. He was to them as both a mother and a father! By grace, we can do the same.

The Result of Paul’s Ministry in their Lives (2:13-16)

13 And for this cause we also give thanks to God unceasingly that, having received the word of the report of God by us, ye accepted, not men’s word, but, even as it is truly, God’s word, which also works in you who believe. v.13 Receiving the Word of God. This verse commends the faith of the Thessalonians. Paul and his companions were merely vessels, which brought the Word of God to them, but the saints received it as from God and not from man. It was “mixed with faith in them that heard it”. This should be the aim of every preacher and teacher. We want the saints to believe it, not because we say it, but because it is God’s Word. This is certainly true in the gospel. The Word of God is what has power, and it will stand the test of time. The same follows in teaching. A good teacher will leave you resting your feet, so to speak, on the solid foundation of the Word of God. If it is only the word of men, it will be hollow and ineffective. But when we receive the “good seed” of the Word of God into our hearts, then God will work in us and it will produce fruit. We should never get too far from the Word of God. Like newborn babes, we should always have a hunger for the Word.
14 For “ye”, brethren, have become imitators of the assemblies of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus; for “ye” also have suffered the same things of your own countrymen as also “they” of the Jews, 15 who have both slain the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and have driven us out by persecution, and do not please God, and are against all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the nations that they may be saved, that they may fill up their sins always: but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost. vv.14-16 Suffering Persecution. One of the primary manifestations of the Thessalonians’ faith was that they persevered in spite of persecution. Persecution Think of the seed that fell on stony ground. Paul says that the Thessalonians were “imitators of the assemblies of God which are in Judaea”, in that they were persecuted by the Jews living in their area. When we sre saved we are brought into the fellowship of those who suffer for the name of Christ. It is remarkable that the saints in Judea were persecuted, not by the Romans, but by the Jews. Persecution from religion is often more intense than persecution from secular authorities. The same hatred that led to the stoning of the prophets and then the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus carried on into Christianity. It resulted in the saints being “driven out by persecution”, and scattered abroad (Acs 8:1). Note that while Christ laid down His life and no man took it from Him, the nation is guilty of His death as a martyr, as much as they intended it. The great antagonists of the gospel are (1) against God first of all in that they rejected His Son (although they claim to please Him), and (2) against all men in that they caused trouble and induced rebellion wherever they went, and (3) against the apostles and ministers of the gospel by “forbidding us to speak to the nations that they may be saved”. The Jews wouldn’t believe the gospel, but they vehemently resented it being preached to the Gentiles (Matthew 23:13). Those under law cannot tolerate the preaching of grace. The truth of the mystery was something the Jews equally resented, because it put the Gentile on equal footing with the Jew, and for this, Paul could say in Col. 4:3, “I am also in bonds”. This bitterness on the part of the Jews was directed at the Thessalonians as well (Acts 17:5). This animosity was the “filling up” of their sins in rejecting the witness of the Holy Spirit, and the bringing of God’s wrath upon them. Israel is under God’s wrath in that they are set aside in God’s ways, and under the impending sentence of judgment, which will be carried out in the Great Tribulation and indignation.