1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
1. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Write down the various references to the “source” of Paul’s message (“gospel of God”, verse 2).
2. From whom did Paul get his authority and message?
Historical Insight: There was apparently a large conspiracy to attack the character of Paul, Silas (Sylvanus), and Timothy regarding their visit to Thessalonica. (Reminder: Acts 17:1-11 records this visit.) Paul’s defense is his conduct!
3. List the various “accusations” Paul is defending in this passage. In a sentence, what “rumors” do you think were being spread about them?
4. Now, explain in practical terms how Paul, Silas and Timothy’s conduct defended each of these accusations:
5. Read Acts 16:16-40. In 1 Thessalonians 2:2, Paul refers to this event. Why would his having been persecuted in Philippi be a factor in his defense of the accusations in Thessalonica?
6. Read 2 Corinthians 6:4-6. Summarize the persecutions Paul endured.
7. Gaining Perspective: The common reaction, then and now: “If you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger” and his/her motivations.
· Have you ever been “attacked” in such a way?
· Contrary to our normal reaction, how should we respond, and why?
8. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. In v. 4, Paul refers to Timothy, Silas, and himself as being “approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel.” (Vines Expository Commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians says the phrase means “found to have stood the test”). Use the following verses to discover how each was “approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel.”
· Timothy (Acts 16:1-2; Philippians 2:19-22) —
· Silas (Acts 15:22,40; 1 Peter 5:12) —
· Paul (Acts 9:1-16; 13:1-3; Gal 1:15) —
9. Clearly state the “gospel”—pure and simple—with which they were entrusted? Read Acts 17:1-4 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 plus any other verses to support your answer.
10. Deeper Discoveries (optional): Verse 4 says that it is God “who examines our hearts.” In effect, Paul is saying God examines every part of our being. From the following references, discover that the heart is the seat of many things. What are they?
· Matthew 9:4—
· Mark 2:6—
· Mark 11:23—
· John 12:40—
· John 16:22—
· Acts 2:37—
· Romans 6:17—
· Romans 9:2—
· Romans 10:10—
· 2 Corinthians 9:7—
· Colossians 3:15—
· Hebrews 4:12—
11. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:6-12. Paul, Timothy and Silas take on the roles of both mother and father in v. 7-12. Explain how they exemplify a “mother.”
12. How do they exemplify a “father”? See also 1 Corinthians 4:14-21.
13. How is their conduct different from the commonly displayed actions/attitudes of one who could have imposed a burden on them as stated in v. 7? See Philippians 2:6-7 as well.
Historical Insight: Paul denied any desire to get rich from his preaching. Itinerant philosophers and orators were common in the Roman Empire. Paul had little in common with their motivation. He had come to Thessalonica to give, not to get. Furthermore he did not demand that the Thessalonians acquiesce to his message because of his apostolic authority. However, Paul gave himself, not just his message, to the Thessalonians out of love for them, not for personal gain. In this Paul followed the tradition of Jewish rabbis for whom receiving money for teaching the Law was considered shameful. The measure of his love was the toil and trouble he expended as he worked constantly, probably making tents and other leather articles, so he would not be a burden to them. Paul was by trade a leather-worker. This is how he and his companions had heralded the gospel among them. See Philippians 4:16 and 2 Corinthians 11:7-11. (Constable’s Notes on 1 Thessalonians, p. 12-13)
14. From vv. 1-12, we have a beautiful, clear presentation of the “heart attitude of a minister/servant.” Describe this heart attitude in your own words. (Note: the opposite of this is found in Titus 1:10-16!)
15. Deeper Discoveries (optional): Read Ezekiel 34:1-16. Discuss God’s distinction between false shepherds and true shepherds.
16. Gaining Perspective: What is your heart attitude towards those you serve? Where do you need to improve?
17. Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12. What ultimately is Paul’s goal?
18. What do you think this means? Examine the following verses for help:
· Colossians 1:10—
· 1 Peter 1:15—
· 1 Peter 4:11—
Think About It: “Few temptations assail the preacher more strongly than this one to please men, even if God is not pleased, though with the dim hope that God will after all condone or overlook. Nothing but experience will convince some preachers how fickle is popular favour and how often it is at the cost of failure to please God.” (Constable’s Notes on 1 Thessalonians, p. 12)
19. Gaining Perspective: Just as Paul, we are called to be faithful to God and to please Him and not men. What gets in your way of doing this? How can we help one another to be faithful? Read Hebrews 10:23-25.
20. With God as “the examiner of their hearts” (v. 4), what kind of behavior did Paul and his companions display toward the Thessalonians?
21. Gaining Perspective: God, as the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17), can produce such a heart in you if you seek it. Read your summary of the heart attitude of a servant again and remember who is Paul’s source ... and yours ... for courage, character and proper conduct. Keeping this in mind, think of one person you can nurture this week a Paul nurtured his disciples.