by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2 April 13, 2014 Dayton, Texas (Download Audio)
(035)Thesis:What does "not in vain" actually look like?
Introduction:In our study last week we saw that the Thessalonians were on Paul's mind because of the high level of zeal of which they had given evidence and his strong awareness of the problems that zealous faith always produces. When a person believes something, it always causes problems both inwardly and outwardly because "faith" means something and an alteration in the "What is True?" question of life always causes people to have to decide what the answer to that question is. Then, once the question is answered, behavior changes to suit the answer. This is problematic, both for the person whose habits of life are on the line and for the people who are affected by the changes and react accordingly.
In 2:1 Paul says that his entrance into Thessalonica was "not in vain". We take that to mean that the high level of zeal is the direct result of the Gospel. But, the problems associated with the zeal always have some kind of impact upon others and their reaction has a strong tendency to cause the zealous person to "make adjustments" to his/her actions.
For this cause Paul immediately addresses his own high leveal of zeal and the example he set for the Thessalonians with one bottom line: no human reaction is going to have any effect whatsoever upon whether Paul will continue to be "faithful" to his calling. It is clear that he wants the Thessalonians to be like-committed. Therefore, we are going to look at 2:2 in the light of another reality of which the Thessalonians were "aware".
I. The "As You Know" Statement.
A. In 2:1 Paul focused the readers' attention upon the things they "know" in regard to what happened when Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus arrived in town.
B. Now, again, in 2:2 he deliberately sticks an "as you know" statement into the thoughts at hand.
1. It is clear that Paul is attempting to get the Thessalonians to operate on the basis of what they "know" rather than the alternative basis of how they might "feel".
2. When a person runs into a significant "snag" because of the way they have been acting, the very natural tendency is to let the "snag" help them make up their minds as to how they are going to act in the future.
C. Paul is adamantly against this idea: choices are to be made in harmony with God's answers to the questions of "love" and "faith", not on the basis of the lusts of the flesh and eyes and spirit.
D. This "as you know" declaration is Paul's summons back to the reality of God's Truth against the backdrop of a clueless, evil, generation.
II. What They "Knew".
A. They knew that Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus had "suffered" and been "shamefully treated" in Philippi.
1. The concept of "suffering" is very broad, the word being used of something as simple as having one's peace of mind disturbed by a bad dream (Pilate's wife) and as severe as Roman crucifixion.
a. In the case of Paul and Co., the "suffering" involved is identified by Luke's record of the ministry in Philippi in Acts 16 and it culminates in a violent lashing (16:23) at the behest of a violent mob.
b. This was deliberately designed to compel Paul to stop preaching the Gospel.
2. The shameful treatment was a matter of attempting to totally humiliate Paul by stripping off his garments and then throwing him into prison without even the slightest hint of any kind of judicial review.
a. In a sense, Paul "got even" the next day when the illegal behavior of the "magistrates" was unmasked and he forced them to eat a bit of their own humiliation, but that action was likely taken to protect the fledgling church in Philippi.
b. But, again, the shameful treatment was designed to try to force Paul to stop preaching.
B. They knew that Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus had come "boldly" into Thessalonica proclaiming the Gospel of the God.
1. It did not take any real thought for the Thessalonians to realize that the treatment that had been meted out did not deter Paul from his behavior as it had been intended.
2. What they learned from what they knew.
a. First, that Paul et. al. did not make their decisions based upon personal "comfort" issues.
b. Second, that Paul et. al. did make their decisions based upon "God" and His Truth.
1) The "boldness" of Paul's actions is rooted in "the God".
a) The facts behind this are given in Acts 26:14-19 in conjuction with 1 Peter 4:10-11 and 1 Corinthians 4:1-2.
b) At issue is whether, or not, Paul "believed" God's commission and provision was to be the basis for his decisions.
2) This "boldness" was also clearly rooted in the core issue of the Gospel of the God.
a) The "Gospel" is all about One Who endured "such contradiction of sinners" for one reason: to bring redemption to all who will "believe".
b) The "Gospel" is also all about One Whose endurance "paid off" both in terms of His objective (redemption for others) and in terms of God's response (highly exalting Him above every name that is named).
c. Third, that Paul was to be their example and they were to be his "imitators".
III. The Significance.
A. There is a general "truth" that overrides all others: we are to make our decisions based upon whether we wish to be faithful to God in respect to our own stewardship.
B. Then there is a sub-truth revealed in 4:11.
1. Generally speaking, one is to live a quiet life and work to provide for his own.
2. Specifically speaking, this "quiet life" and "labor" is to be subject to the stewardship responsibilities.
a. Some stewardships will not permit much "quietness" as Paul demonstrated.
b. Some stewardships will not permit a great deal of private labor to meet one's own needs.