(043)Thesis:Spirit-imparted values are critical to the establishment of hope in those who believe.
Introduction:This evening we are going to look into the "positive" side of Paul's characterization of his approach to ministry. We have seen that The Gospel, itself, is an honest summons from God into the Joy of Life and that that means that it has no "error", no "uncleanness", and no "deceptive pretenses". But, that kind of message can only really take root in others if they can "see" its reality in the lives of those who proclaim it. Those who proclaim it, therefore, must not promote a message of flattery; they must not preach a message of pretense that hides an ulterior motive of personal enrichment; and they must not be preaching in order to impress men -- especially in the direction of gaining the material provisions of those men. These statements all have to do with a kind of "negative" characterization, dealing with things that should not be.
Now we are going to look into what should be.
I. The "End" At The "Beginning".
A. The presentation begins with verses 7 and 8 as a small unit within the larger paragraph.
B. The "end" of this small unit contains the phrase "...you had become very dear to us."
1. This is the same verb and form as we have already discussed in 2:5 where the issue is that Paul and his associates "were made to become" messengers of The Gospel.
2. It shows up again in 2:7 in exactly the same form in a sense that we will look into shortly.
3. Then we find it again here at the end of 2:8.
a. The main idea behind the word is that someone has been "made to become" something that he/she would not have normally been.
b. This "making of someone to become something" is a critical element in Paul's personal theology of sanctification wherein the "life that I now live in the flesh" is "Christ living in me" so that my life is "out of the faith of the indwelling Christ".
c. Here our text actually says "you were made to become" agaphtoi to us.
1) This word is always tied to the "value system" held by the person(s) involved.
2) The claim of this phrase is that Someone had moved the Thessalonians up the scale of value in Paul's value system.
a) We see in Romans 9:3 the radical level that "beloved" people obtain.
b) Always and everywhere the word means that "faith", "choices", and "actions" have been "hijacked" into the service of what has become a very major objective.
3) Thus, what Paul is saying is that because the Thessalonians had been made to become "occupiers" of such a high value in our value systems, all of the rest "happened".
II. The Things That "Happened".
A. Returning to the "top" (2:7), we find another "made to become" statement.
1. This one is problematical because there is textual evidence for two different words ( nhvpioi and hvpioi ), but the stronger evidence seems, on the face of it, to support a very wierd way of expressing what Paul "was made to become".
a. nhvpioi means "infants".
b. hvpioi means "gentle".
c. It's pretty clear that some form of "gentleness" is in view, but it is also clear that the textual support is a good bit stronger for the word "infants" than for "gentle"...so much so that the textual critics gave this reading a "C" simply because they couldn't resolve the clash of words that seems to exist.
2. I resolve the problem in this way.
a. First, I recognize that Paul is struggling to express just how valuable the Thessalonians had become to him as is indicated by the "nurse" analogy in 2:7 and then followed by the "father" analogy in 2:11.
b. Second, I accept the textual evidence at face value.
c. Third, I reason that there is a sense in which "infants" fits Paul's meaning to a "T".
1) By definition, "infants" fits his meaning far better than "gentle" in the context of the "objectives" of The Gospel: there is absolutely nothing to fear from an "infant" in terms of what he/she is capable of achieving.
2) The idea of "gentleness" is not really involved here; the issue is the "mother" attitude regarding "her own children": not "gentleness", but extraordinary "protectiveness" in making sure that "her own children" get everything necessary for them to thrive.
d. Fourth, I reason that Paul's choice of "wet nurse" rather than "mother" is deliberate (especially in light of 2:11) because the "infant" terminology automatically leads to the "nursing" idea and the switch in the metaphor from being "an infant" to being a "wet nurse" jars us mentally in a way that is probably necessary, given the nature of the claim of how valuable they had become.
1) At the very root are two ideas, both necessary: first, the absolute need for the absence of any "fears" in order for The Gospel to have its impact; and, second, the same need for the assurance that the messengers share the Message's total commitment to the hearers who are asked to "believe" it.
2) Though a mixed metaphor, the "infant" concept eliminates "fears" and the "nurse" concept establishes commitment.
3) Then there is the use of "nurse" rather than "mother": Paul is claiming to be like a "mother" toward her own children who is also a "wet nurse" to someone else's children.
a) This is also a bit wierd: if Paul is like a "mother", then express it with "mother".
b) But Paul is writing about how someone not his child has become "as if" his child, exactly like a "wet nurse" who has begun to treat someone else's child as if it were her own.
B. We became affectionately desirous of you.
1. This led to the proclamation of The Gospel in spite of the "buzzsaw".
2. This also led to the sharing of one's soul in spite of the possibility of serious losses.