(041)Thesis:The messengers of The Gospel need to be as pure in motive as their message.
Introduction:In our last study we considered Paul's claim that he was trustworthy because he was trusted by God after having been put in multiple situations where his choices proved his "love". Paul's claim was that he had demonstrated a willingness to be faithful to the Message at any, and every, cost to himself. Thus, his readers could not legitimately assign any selfish motives to Paul. This makes his Gospel trustworthy.
In our text tonight we are going to see how Paul reinforces this argument by addressing the three basic issues of human motivation outside of participation with Christ.
I. His First Claim.
A. He was not "caused to become" the messenger of a message of flattery.
1. The verb has given the translators fits (the Authorized Version says it should be translated "we used"; the ASV argues for "we were found"; the NASB says "we came").
a. The Authorized Version ignores all of the translation issues of the verb.
b. The ASV focuses upon the passive voice, but not the main idea.
c. The NASB uses the main idea of the verb, but ignores the force of the passive voice.
d. The verb is what is called a "deponent", which means that the forms exist in the passive voice, but the verb is actually active in its sense in many cases [though this verb actually signals 'coming into being' and there are few, if any, situations where that notion does not have a passive sense because the "coming into being" is seldom caused by the subject of the verb].
2. There is a contextual way to take the word in its form.
a. The context is all about The Gospel's "coming into the Thessalonian setting" (1:5, with the same verb, same passive voice, same aorist tense) and the manner of men Paul, et. al., were "caused to become" among them (at the end of 1:5, with the only difference in form being the first "person" rather than the third).
b. This particular verb is used in 1 Thessalonians in eleven verses (1:5, 6, 7; 2:1, 5, 7, 8, 10, 14; 3:4, 5) with the aforementioned repetition in 1:5.
c. The idea, then, is this: Paul was sent by God to the Thessalonians so that he "came to be" in their midst by divine action.
d. Conclusion: We can easily translate the phrase, "For never even once were we caused to be with a message of flattery..."
3. Paul's point: the message he was given by God that caused him to be "with a message" is not a "message of flattery".
a. The term "flattery" is not often found in Greek literature, even outside of the Bible.
b. Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon says that it refers to the practice of appealing to one's desire to be exalted by use of insincere words of praise with a hidden agenda.
c. "Flattery" is impossible to hide by its very nature, though its motives may easily be hidden.
d. But The Gospel is not a message of flattery.
1. There is only one statement in all of the Gospel, given that it rests upon a message of deep human depravity, that could even be considered "flattery".
2. That one "flattering" statement is "you are an object of the infinite love of God".
3. But, even that statement is not a "flattery", given the fact that The Gospel completely removes every "reason" for the love to be rooted in human behavior.
4. We may not be able to answer the question, "Why Should He Love Me So?", but we can be absolutely sure that it is not because we have something God needs and He loves us because we meet His need.
B. This claim is rooted in something the Thessalonians "know".
1. Paul did not appeal to the Thessalonians' pride in his preaching.
2. Since they heard that preaching, it is impossible that they did not "know" that he was not a flatterer.
II. His Second Claim.
A. He was not caused to be with a message that was a "cloak of covetousness".
1. At issue here is a continuation of the notion of a possible "hidden agenda", first introduced by the use of "flattery".
2. As a "cloak", the idea is a misdirection created by a false impression.
3. Regarding "covetousness", we know that Paul made it equivalent to idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
4. Additionally, we know that Paul was aware that there were many "religious leaders" who saw "godliness as a way to gain" (1 Timothy 6:5).
5. Thus, Paul claims that his message was no "cloak", or pretense, that was designed to keep the hearers from being aware of his idolatry and use of them for his own material wealth goals.
B. This claim is rooted in something God knows.
1. Since, by definition, a "pretense" introduces a hidden agenda that the Thessalonians could not identify.
2. Thus, "God is witness" is the truest of statements: He is a witness of motives and intentions.
3. But, again, Paul pushes the validity of the claims by adding another sub-claim: God is witness.
4. Point: the message can be, and has been, misused over many years by many people as a way to gratify one's own lust for wealth, but it is always a misuse that will, eventually, tell as the "cloak" has to be refurbished over time with a twist in the message (false motives always end up distorting The Gospel).
III. His Third Claim.
A. Paul was no longer motivated by the possibility of acquiring the "glory of men" (this was his "Saul" objective in life, but no longer, as "Paul").
B. The specific form of the "glory" is significant: having others bear the burdens of "living" for him.
C. There are several biblical statements about "apostles" having the "right" to have others bear their "burdens" of living (1 Corinthians 9:5-7, and 11 are examples).
D. But Paul deliberately abstained from these "rights" in order to keep from hindering The Gospel as he preached it to the nations.
E. He adds no "proof" to this claim; it was self-evident (2 Thessalonians 3:8).
A. Paul has validated the legitimacy of his message by his behavior in ways the Thessalonians can easily verify.
B. He has done it along the typical lines of John's categories in 1 John 2:16.