by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 5 May 11, 2014 Dayton, Texas
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God [is] witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor [yet] of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
1901 ASV Translation:
5 For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness;
6 nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ.
I. The "Neither/Nor" Statements of Denial.
A. At issue is "the message"; the Gospel as an Honest Summons.
B. The first two follow the passive voice verb, "to become". Typically the passive would indicate action taken by another upon the subject: "I was hit by the ball" rather than "I hit the ball". This indicates that Paul viewed his apostleship (and subsequent preaching of The Gospel) as something he was "made to become", or "caused to become". These two also have the added element of "supporting evidence" [as you know; God is witness].
1. We were never caused to become [messengers] with a "message" of "flattery".
a. Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon indicates that "flattery" is an appeal to one's desire to gain glory from others as a "softening" technique to override any natural reluctance that might exist.
b. There seems to be a circle in the text from Point A where one uses "flattery" to gain the agreement of another through Point B back to Point A where one seeks to be flattered by others.
c. This claim is attended by "as you know" (1:4; 2:1; 2:2; and, now, 2:5).
d. The Gospel is not "flattering" to anyone at any point; the only possible exception being the claim that "God loves you". However, the only way "love" is "flattery" is if it is rooted in things a person can point to in him/her self that would give rise to that "love". However, "love" that is rooted in the "beloved" ceases to be "love" in the purest sense of the word. "Love" that seeks another for the benefit(s) obtained is self-seeking and not "love" at all. The Gospel puts the love of God at the door of God's own "needlessness" (He has never been in a situation where He had a "need"), a placement that leaves most human beings completely stumped: Why does God "love" anyone at anytime? Value assigned without reason is unreasonable, but value assigned because of benefit received is not really love. Thus, we can only "reason" that God "loves" because He has chosen to do so with the only "compelling" root being in essential value that does not have to be "assigned" to exist. The only thing this leaves us is this: we are valuable to God because we are the work of His hands and He does not "work" with His hands to no "value".
2. We were never caused to become [messengers] with a "message" that allowed us to "pretend" to be interested in you in order to gain some form of benefit from you (this is the above mentioned "Point B").
a. The "pretense" is called by the AV, "a cloak" of covetousness. The words indicate a hidden agenda rooted in "covetousness" which Paul calls "idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). He is denying that he serves any God but The One Who has honestly summoned the Thessalonians.
b. This claim is attended by "God is Witness" (repeated in 2:10).
c. This immediately brings the question to mind as to why God would be called upon to "witness" the truth of this claim.
1) On the one hand, it reinforces the general "T"heological claim that God sees everything.
2) On the other hand, it reinforces the reality that if a "message" has a "hidden agenda", God is the only one who could actually tell what that agenda is.
3) And on a third hand, it indicates that Paul anticipates that there might be objections to his claims of "purity of motive".
C. The third: We never sought glory from men; neither from you, nor from "others".
1. The particular form of "glory" in this case is identified: being a "weight" as an apostle of Christ (i.e., having you provide for our needs/wants).
2. This use of "glory" is inclusive: those who gain the approval of others are in a unique position to abuse that position by insisting upon gaining from those giving that approval (using an argument somewhat along the lines of 1 Corinthians 9:11).
II. With Three "Denials", Paul Addresses "Motives" At a Particularly Foundational Level.
A. John says there are only three motives of men outside of Christ (1 John 2:16).
1. Using flattery could be taken as a "relational method" attached to the soul, or as a "spiritual method" appealing to the pride of life in the spirit.
2. Covetousness is fundamentally a problem of the "soul" which uses "material wealth" as a buffer against the difficulties of life.
3. Seeking glory in the particular realm of "having physical needs met by others" is clearly a physical life issue arising out of the body.
B. This leaves Paul with as "pure" a motive as The Gospel is "honest".