by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 10 February 23, 2014 Dayton, Texas
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
1901 ASV Translation:
5 how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and [in] much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.
I. The "Coming" of Our Gospel Unto You.
A. "In word".
1. The means by which the Gospel came into the existence of the Thessalonians: "in word".
a. The verb "came" is a word used over 600 times in the New Testament; its basic implication is the appearance on the scene of the thing that "comes" (it "comes into the existence of...").
b. The verb expects a "medium": our Gospel "came into your existence" by means of our proclamation in the form of words as well as demonstration by means of behavior.
2. There can be no denigration of "words" in the sense that they are "barely" necessary; but, likewise, there can be no over-exaltation of "words" in the sense that they have any inherent "power". Words are merely a medium of communication, necessary to some degree for that communication, but not having any guarantee that they will accomplish the goal(s) of the communicator.
3. Paul's choice of logos, translated "word", signals his desire to establish the fact that all of his individual "words" are tied to a larger "message" (logos). The Gospel is a comprehensive message made of many "words" and requires some "connect-the-dots" thinking to become transformative. Thus, there is a need for the "ability" to think in a "connect-the-dots" kind of way, without which there will be no transformation because there is no understanding.
B. "In power".
1. The "message" was accompanied by the required "ability" that made the words efficacious in terms of the accomplishment of the objectives of the Communicator.
2. "Messages" become efficacious by "faith": when the particulars (individual words) are believed, the intent for which they are uttered is accomplished.
3. There is, then, a need for "power" in terms of the generation of "faith" in the hearer.
C. "In the Holy Spirit".
1. The "and" is more than likely "epexegetical" (meaning that the following word/phrase is going to give the meaning of the previous word/phrase) and should be translated "even".
2. The "power" was that of the "Holy Spirit" as He moved to "convince" the hearers of the truthfulness of the message. Once "convinced" the hearers of the message were faced with the issue of their response. They would either embrace the reality presented by the message or they would begin the "resistance-dance" by which men attempt to avoid what they now know, being convinced, is the truth. This "resistance-dance" is called "unbelief"; it is a deliberate rejection of the truth against the knowledge that it is true. The alternative is the "embrace" wherein the hearer of the words ceases his war against God and His truth and yields to the meaning of the words that he now knows bear "truth".
D. "[In] much assurance".
1. In this phrase, the "in" is omitted, but heavily "implied"; i.e., Paul did not write it, but he absolutely did mean it.
2. The word translated "assurance" was originally "coined" to communicate "fulness of measure". The idea was that sometimes an expectation was, perhaps, just barely met, but when a "fulness of measure" was involved, no part of the expectation was lacking.
a. The root word has to do with being completely clothed by, or totally immersed in, something.
b. The "something" is dependent upon the context.
3. In this context, the issue of the apostle's thought is the "power" attending the proclamation of the Gospel, and his use of this "much assurance" is emphatic in respect to just how much "power" was involved to produce a rather unusually large amount of "faith" (strength of conviction, wedded to depth of understanding, wedded to depth of yielding), "love", and "hope".
4. The issue is not so much "assurance" as it is "fulness of impact".
II. Paul's Knowledge of the Election of the Thessalonians Was Rooted in This Unusually Significant Reaction.
A. Clearly, what happened in Thessalonica was abnormal; this is Paul's point. Such a high level of "the work of the faith, the labor of the love, and the endurance of the hope" was not generally achieved so quickly after the proclamation of the message.
B. But the abnormality revealed its roots in the choices of God before the foundation of the world.