by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 September 7, 2014 Dayton, Texas
3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
1901 ASV Translation:
3 that no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
5 For this cause I also, when I could no longer forbear, sent that I might know your faith, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.
I. That No Man Should Be Moved.
A. Paul opts for a passive verb that has no other presence in the New Testament than this text, but has a fair presence in the extant literature of the Greek language.
B. The overall context argues that Paul is addressing the possibility of one giving up on things "believed" because of the price that comes from the "believing", so the meaning is not unclear.
C. However, to opt for a word that has no other biblical presence indicates that we ought to dig a bit deeper in order to recreate his meaning in our own minds. The verb originally signaled the actions of a dog that was "wagging his tail", but the uses found in the literature indicate opposite meanings: dogs wag their tails when they are positively excited and they wag their tails when they want those present to "be friendly" to them. In other words, sometimes the word may indicate a very pleasant excitement over the presence of a "friend" and other times it may indicate a cowardly submission in order to keep those present from violent, or painful, action.
1. Paul's use has nothing to do with positive themes.
2. He is very much aware of the danger of fear and the impact it has upon people.
II. By These Tribulations.
A. Human beings do not typically "like" to be hurt in any way -- physical pain, relational rejection, spiritual humiliation -- but some are more susceptible to being fundamentally controlled by these possibilities than others.
B. Paul told Timothy that God has given us a Spirit of Love rather than fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Thus, all who possess the gift of the Spirit are capable of being "fearless" by that Spirit, but not all "believe" in that proffered ability.
C. The entire point of "tribulations" is to dissuade people from continuing in their course; even when the "tribulations" are an act of discipline by a loving parent.
III. For Ye Know That Unto This We Have Been Appointed.
A. It is a part of "the faith" that "faith" brings about repercussions of all kinds and one must not be cowed by the reality to the point that "faith" is rejected.
1. The "appointment" to "tribulations" is fundamentally necessary because the selfish self-love that is the most basic element in Sin is most directly confronted by being subjected to serious difficulties. Nothing surfaces our innate self-exaltation like being put into a situation that we do not like.
2. The "purging" of Sin is accomplished by "suffering" (1 Peter 4:1) in that it forces us to decide what is really important and what is really true.
3. That Paul links the "tribulations" with "being tested by the Tempter" means that he clearly understood the teaching of Jesus in the Parable of the Soils (Luke 8). "Troubles" are always both a "temptation" (to exalt self-will and self-deliverance over God's will and deliverance) and a "test" (to verify the level of "faith" that has been exercised).
B. Paul told the Philippians that this "faith"/"suffering" duality is an essential element of the reality of "faith in Christ" and his words to them are very much like his words to the Thessalonians (Philippians 1:28-30).
C. The "knowing" eliminates any element of "surprise"; the Thessalonians are not to take the warning regarding the inevitability of suffering lightly, but neither are they to be intimidated by it.