by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 11 March 2, 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 Issue of "What Manner of Men We Were Among You".
A. This is a significant issue given the fact that 2:1-12 is almost completely given over to a detailed statement of "what manner of men we were".
B. The declaration is grammatically tied to the potency of the Gospel in Thessalonica.
1. There are three issues: the open demonstration that led to the "you know" declaration; the matter that was "known" (the manner of men); and the link between what manner of men the apostles proved themselves to be and their motives for so doing.
a. The "just as you know" phrase is rooted in the overt demonstration of character by the apostles, and is tied to the idea of the "great fulness of covering" concept translated "much assurance".
1) The "much assurance" concept is, as we saw in our last notes, a matter of being fully "covered" by something. It is, pictorially, a person planning to go outside in the frigid north in the dead of winter and, therefore, simply "covers" his/her body with layers of clothing to keep the elements at bay.
2) In our context, the behavior of the apostles is the "soup" into which the Thessalonians were "immersed" so that they were "fully covered" by evidences on every hand that the theology of salvation unto "hope" is imminently trustworthy.
b. The specifics of what the Thessalonians "knew" are summarized in the phrase "what manner of men we were" (which is a translation of just two Greek words).
1) Just as mentioned above, the "manner of men" concept is best understood as "living proof" of the efficacy of the Message.
2) In the longer treatment of this concept in chapter two, the overwhelming focus on the "manner of men" concept is upon behaviors that reflect greatness of mercy and tender treatment of those to whom the message was proclaimed. Interestingly, that focus is not upon overtly "miraculous" actions in the realm of the "sensational". This at least introduces a worthy idea: the greatest "power" of the message is the "phenomenal" power of "tongue control" (e.g. James 3:2) and other "behavior" issues that testify to the Spirit's willingness to produce His "fruit" (Galatians 5:22-23) by His mighty "power" (Ephesians 1:19) in overcoming the "flesh" within.
3) This is, after all, the realm wherein most "hope" is dashed upon the rocks of reality. How many times have you heard someone say, "my sins make me wonder if I have ever truly believed" as opposed to "my lack of ability to work miracles makes me wonder if I have ever truly believed"? It is not the absence of the sensational that makes us lose hope, it is the absence of "life changing power" that does us in.
4) Thus, Paul and the others provided a multilayered covering over the Thessalonians that gave evidence of the legitimacy of the "faith, love, and hope" that their Gospel proclaims.
c. The "for your sake" phrase indicates the apostles' motives in their behavior (they knew what impact behavior can have upon others and acted accordingly for a good result).
2. At the heart of this issue is the link that exists between the potency of the message and the overt character of the messengers.
a. Clearly, since the character was always the same in every city, the bottom line of the potency of the message rests in the Holy Spirit and His agenda in each setting. That men of great character can preach a pure gospel with little to no good response indicates that it is the Father's agenda, executed by the Spirit of the Father in view of His will (Romans 8:26-27) that carries the day.
b. However, it would be our mistake if we decided that the character of the messenger(s) is of no significance.
3. It is theologically significant that the issue at hand is the vibrancy of "hope" that is enhanced by the character of the messenger(s).
a. "Hope" is primarily an issue of the "soul" and those who surround us have a significant impact at that level of our being.
b. A "soul" that is surrounded by people of exemplary character is blessed indeed.