Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians briefly describes how the messengers delivered the gospel with power, Spirit, and conviction (1 Thess 1:5). Paul describes his ministry again in detail in 1 Thess 2:1–12. Several themes stand out.
First, in speaking about himself and his fellow missionaries, Paul’s primary concern was to uphold the integrity of the gospel of God. He spoke of “our coming to you,” which involved “boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God” (1 Thess 2:1, 2). It was “our appeal” which stemmed from being “entrusted with the gospel,” and “so we speak… words… to share with you the gospel of God” (1 Thess 2:3, 4, 5, 8). In doing so, Paul says, “we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you” (1 Thess 2:12).
Second, pointed to God Himself as the source of their ministry. He mentions God nine times in the course of this passage. They had “boldness in our God” to preach “the gospel of God” as “approved by God” so as “to please God” (1 Thess 2:2, 4). With “God as witness” (1 Thess 2:5, 10), they spoke “the gospel of God” (1 Thess 2:8, 9) so that the Thessalonians would “walk in a manner worthy of God” (1 Thess 2:12).
Third, concerning all of the above, Paul reminded the Thessalonians that they knew the integrity of their missionaries, and so did God. These reminders are several: “you yourselves know… as you know… as you know… God is witness… you remember… you are witnesses, and God also… for you know” (1 Thess 2:1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11).
Fourth, this integrity was shown in various ways. God sent them as messengers (1 Thess 2:4, we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel) and gave them the message to speak (1 Thess 2:2, the gospel of God). They therefore spoke it boldly (1 Thess 2:2) because they spoke “to please God” and not men (1 Thess 2:4). Their integrity was also shown in their perseverance, overcoming their persecution in Philippi and Thessalonica (1 Thess 2:2), as well as working to provide their own funds while being in Thessalonica (1 Thess 2:9). Finally, their integrity was marked by love. Serving their “brothers” (1 Thess 2:1, 9), they were gentle and loving like a mother, providing instruction like a father (1 Thess 2:6–9, 11).
Fifth, seeing what their integrity was, we are assured of what their ministry was not. It was “not in vain… not from error… not… from impurity… not… from any attempt to deceive… not to please man… never… with words of flattery… never… with a pretext for greed… nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others… not… a burden to any of you” (1 Thess 2:1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9).
Just as Paul, Silas and Timothy, may God help His messengers today serve with this same integrity.
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