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First Thessalonians: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-The Thessalonians are Called to Bear Witness to the Character and Integrity of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy Lesson # 17

Wenstrom Bible Ministries; Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom; Sunday, November 18, 2018; www.wenstrom.org;

1 Thessalonians 2:1 For you yourselves in contrast to those who oppose us, possess the conviction brothers and sisters that our reception which was among all of you is by no means characterized as being without results. (My translation)

We have completed our study of the first chapter of First Thessalonians which constitutes the opening of the letter.

Now, 1 Thessalonians 2:1 begins the body of the letter as well as the first major section of the letter.

The entire contents of chapter two constitute this first major section which can be divided into two sections: (1) 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 (2) 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20.

The first presents an apology of Paul’s ministry among the Thessalonians in the past while on the other hand, the second expresses Paul’s desire to return in the future to minister to the Thessalonian Christian community.

Now, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 is providing more details with regards to the assertions presented in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 and in particular the last assertion in 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

That 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 is providing more details with regards to the assertions presented in 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 and in particular the last assertion in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 is supported by the fact that 1 Thessalonians 2:1 like 1 Thessalonians 1:9 employs eisodos (εἴσοδος).

In both cases, the word speaks of the Thessalonians’ positive response to the gospel communicated to them by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.

Furthermore, a comparison of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 with 1 Thessalonians 1:5 indicates that the former is strengthening the assertions in the latter.

The contents of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 reveal that these verses are a defense of the ministry of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.

On the other hand, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 asserts that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy each possessed the conviction that their proclamation of the gospel was by no means manifested by the act of speaking only but on the contrary by means of power as well.

Then, Paul gets more specific by stating that this proclamation of the gospel was manifested by means of the Holy Spirit’s power as well as with deep conviction on the part of these three men.

Then, Paul asserts that in the same way, each of the Thessalonians possessed the conviction regarding the quality of character these three men manifested among them and for their benefit.

Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is providing further background information or more details regarding the behavior of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy when they were interacting with the Thessalonians and which behavior is first mentioned in the epistle in 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

In other words, 1 Thessalonians 2:1 is directing the recipients of this letter that the proposition presented in 1 Thessalonians 1:5 is being strengthened in this new pericope and is confirming or supporting the assertions in 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

Specifically, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is strengthening and confirming and supporting the last assertion at the end of 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

Again, the latter we noted asserts that the Thessalonians possessed the conviction regarding the godly character of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy and which godly character they manifested among the Thessalonians and for their benefit.

Thus, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 is providing more information about the character of these three men or more details about the character of these men.

Therefore, a comparison of the contents of 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and 2:1-12 clearly indicate that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were defending themselves against their critics and persecutors, who were certain Jews in the city of Thessalonica according to Acts 17:1-9 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16.

1 Thessalonians 2:1 solemnly emphasizes with the Thessalonian Christian community that each of them, in contrast to the unregenerate Jews who opposed Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, possessed the conviction that the reception they gave these three men was by no means characterized as being without results.

This conviction is the direct result of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy manifesting godly behavior when interacting with the Thessalonians.

This interpretation is indicated by the fact that the only way that the Thessalonians could possess this conviction is by observing the godly behavior of these men.

Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 2:1 is calling the Thessalonian Christian community to bear witness to the character and integrity of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.

Now, the key to understanding 1 Thessalonians revolves around the meaning of the noun eisodos which appeared the first time in this epistle in 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

The modern English translations translate the word either “coming” (NET, NASB95, ESV, NRSV) or “visit” (TNIV, NIV, NLT, GNB).

The LEB renders the word “reception.”

I am in agreement with the Lexham English Bible translation of the word since the word pertains to the welcome extended to a person or persons on the occasion of their visit with emphasis upon positive response to this visit.

As was the case in 1 Thessalonians 1:9, the word here in 1 Thessalonians 2:1 refers to the Thessalonians’ positive response to the gospel message communicated to them by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy.

It does not refer to the act of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy visiting Thessalonica but rather their response to the gospel communicated to them by these three men.

This interpretation is indicated by the two assertions which follow the word in 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

The first asserts that the Thessalonians turned from idolatry to worship and serve the true and living God.

The second appears in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, which asserts that they were eagerly anticipating the rapture of the church when Jesus Christ would come from heaven and deliver them from the wrath God which the inhabitants of planet earth would experience during the last three and a half years of the seventieth week of Daniel.

That eisodos in 1 Thessalonians 2:1 has the same meaning as it does in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 is indicated by the clause ou kenē gegonen (οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν), “was not in vain,” which describes Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy visiting the Thessalonians as not being in vain or with results.

It was not without results because the Thessalonians responded positively to the gospel message communicated to them by these three men.

The Thessalonians’ positive response to the gospel was not in vain or without results in the sense that the godly conduct of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy while interacting with the Thessalonians confirmed that the message that they received by faith was from God the Holy Spirit.

In other words, the Thessalonians’ positive response to the gospel was not without results because the conduct of these three men demonstrated quite clearly that they were not frauds or individuals attempting to deceive the Thessalonians for personal profit or gain.

The Thessalonians’ positive response to the gospel would have been without results if the message was not from God which would have been demonstrated by the ungodly behavior of these three men.

However, this was not the case and quite the opposite of course.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:1, the adjective kenos, “without results” is describing the reception Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy received from the Thessalonians but from the perspective of the character of these three men but on the other hand, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 describes the Thessalonians’ response to the gospel.

This word in 1 Thessalonians 2:1 is describing the Thessalonians’ positive response to the gospel message as emphatically not without results or effect in the sense that the Thessalonians were not obeying a message that was not from God.

On the contrary, the message was from God as demonstrated by the godly conduct of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy which indicated quite clearly that they were not frauds or individuals attempting to deceive the Thessalonians for personal profit or gain.

Further indicating that the message the Thessalonians received was from God is that their lives were transformed by this message communicated to them by these three men.

This interpretation of this adjective kenos is further supported by 1 Thessalonians 2:2-12 which serves as a defense of the character and integrity of these three men.

Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 2:1 is not saying that the work of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy was in vain or without results but rather the Thessalonian's positive response to the gospel message communicated to them by these three men was not in vain or without results.

It was not in vain because the message they believed was from God as evidence by the godly conduct of these three men and their transformed lives.

The godly behavior of these three men which is the subject of 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 demonstrated that the Thessalonians’ positive response to the gospel was not in vain or without results since it demonstrated that the message they received by faith was indeed from God and not from the devil.

1 Thessalonians 2:1 begins a long defense of the ministries of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, which comes to completion in 1 Thessalonians 2:20.

Paul feels the need to do this in light of his opponents who are identified in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 and Acts 17:1-11 as being unregenerate Jews.

So, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 is designed to strengthen the Thessalonian Christian community’s confidence in these men in case they may have doubts about these men as a result of the accusations made against them by these unregenerate Jews in the city of Thessalonica.