Wenstrom Bible Ministries; Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom; Sunday, December 9, 2018; www.wenstrom.org
1 Thessalonians 2:1 For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, about our coming to you—it has not proven to be purposeless. 2:2 But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of much opposition. 2:3 For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit, 2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts. (NET)
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. 2 But in fact, although we previously suffered, yes, we were verbally and physically abused in Philippi as each one of you are well aware of, for our benefit we courageously communicated the one and only gospel originating from the one and only God (the Father) in the presence of each of you by means of our God’s (the Spirit) power in the face of great opposition. 3 For our appeal was absolutely never from error, nor motivated by impurity nor by means of deception. 4 In fact, on the contrary, just as each one of us are approved by this God to be entrusted with communicating this gospel, so each of us are speaking as absolutely never pleasing people but rather God, who does test our hearts. (My translation)
1 Thessalonians 2:4 is a correlative clause that presents an emphatic contrast to the previous assertion in 1 Thessalonians 2:3 which asserts that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy’s appeal to the Thessalonians was absolutely never from error, nor motivated by impurity nor by means of deception.
This correlative clause asserts that just as each of these men was approved by God to be entrusted with communicating this gospel, so each of them was speaking as absolutely never pleasing people but rather God, who does test their hearts.
Therefore, the emphatic contrast is between communicating the gospel from error, motivated by impurity, and by means of deception and doing so to please God rather than human beings.
Specifically, the emphatic contrast is between being approved by God and pleasing God with that of not pleasing God because of communicating the gospel from error and motivated by impurity and doing so by means of deception.
This correlative clause in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 is marking the correlation between these men being approved by God the Father to be entrusted with the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel and these men doing so to please the Father rather than human beings.
It is also marking a comparison between Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy being approved by God to be entrusted with communicating the gospel and these men doing so as to never please human beings but rather God who tests their hearts.
When 1 Thessalonians 2:4 speaks of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy being approved by God to be entrusted with communicating the gospel, it speaks of God the Father approving them after He had critically examined them.
It means that each of these men existed in the state of being approved by God the Father as a result of the Father testing them.
Now, the context does not indicate the manner in which God the Father tested Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy or when the Father did this, however, 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 present a list of qualifications.
J. Hampton Keathley III writes “Remember that Paul and Barnabas had been separated to this ministry by the Spirit of God only after they had been tested and proven in the church at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). They were not novices who just decided they were called to preach. They had been involved in a local ministry which became the proving ground to prove their character.”
The qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 must be met by the man who possesses the spiritual gift of teaching before they can assume the responsibility of being an overseer of a church.
This was also the case with the appointment of deacons (cf. 1 Tim. 3:8-10).
These two passages discuss the qualifications of the man who aspires to the office of overseer, i.e. the gift of pastor-teacher.
The qualifications for deacons are only found in 1 Timothy 3:8-10.
The list of qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9 indicate that the man with the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher had to demonstrate that he possessed these qualifications.
In other words, even though he had the gift of pastor-teacher, he was not promoted until these characteristics were prominent and consistently being manifested in his life.
This is the reason for Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 5:5-6 wherein context he was addressing pastors, he teaches the younger men with the gift to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God in order that He might promote them at the proper time.
So, therefore, it is the view of this author that when 1 Thessalonians 2:4 asserts that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were approved by God the Father to be entrusted with communicating the gospel, it is referring to these men fulfilling these qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
It speaks of these men fulfilling the qualifications listed in these two passages for a period of time, which demonstrated they could be entrusted to communicate the gospel.
In fact, 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 asserts that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy conducted their lives in a godly fashion despite suffering undeservedly through persecution from proclaiming the gospel.
Their conduct in the face of great opposition demonstrated that God had approved of them to be communicators of the gospel.
Now, “communicating this gospel” in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 pertains to communicating the good news to the unbeliever that Christ died and rose from the dead for them and that through faith in Him they could receive the gift of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.
Secondly, it also refers to the communication of the good news to the Christian that they are identified with Christ in His death and resurrection, and by appropriating this identification with Christ they can experience victory over sin and Satan.
This is indicated by the fact that verse 3 describes the Thessalonians’ godly conduct which they manifested after justification.
Lastly, “communicating this gospel” also refers to the good news that the church age believer will receive rewards from the Lord Jesus Christ at the Bema Seat for faithful service (cf. Col. 1:5, 23).
Now, 1 Thessalonians 2:4 asserts that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were entrusted by God the Father to communicate the gospel which expresses the concept of stewardship.
This stewardship of Paul appears in several places in his writings (cf. Gal. 2:7; 1 Tim. 1:11; Titus 1:3; .
As we can see, in Galatians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, and Titus 1:3, Paul says that the Father chose Paul to perform this task. In Galatians 1:12, he says that he received the gospel by direct revelation from Jesus Christ (cf. Act 9:15).
In Galatians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:4, 1 Timothy 1:11 and Titus 1:3, the apostle Paul is acknowledging that he possesses stewardship with regards to the gospel which was given to him by the Father.
He mentions this stewardship in other places in his writings (1 Corinthians 9:17; Galatians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 1 Timothy 1:11).
In Colossians 1:25, Paul asserts that he became a servant of the church because of the stewardship given to him by God the Father at the moment of his conversion.
His service on behalf of the church was manifested in his fulfilling the stewardship from the Father bestowed upon him at conversion to communicate the Father’s message to His people.
This stewardship is speaking of two tasks assigned to Paul by the Lord Jesus Christ at the moment of his conversion: (1) to evangelize the non-Christians in order that they might receive eternal salvation and manifest in time their election in eternity past and become members of the church (2) to communicate sound doctrine to those who are already members of the church in order that they may grow to spiritual maturity and receive rewards at the Bema Seat.
Now, the assertion in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy communicated the gospel as absolutely never pleasing people but rather God echoes Galatians 1:10.
Paul’s sole ambition in life was to please the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:9) who also stated that He always does those things that please the Father (cf. John 8:29).
Pleasing God and His Son Jesus Christ are related to experiencing sanctification (cf. Rom. 12:1; Col. 1:9-10; 1 Thess. 4:1-3) which is living one’s life by obedience to the Spirit’s teaching in the gospel (cf. Rom. 8:6; John 4:24).
It is also related to obedience (cf. Col. 3:20; Titus 2:9).
The believer who is single can be devoted to pleasing the Lord unlike the married believer who also has the responsibility to please their spouse (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32).
The believer who worships the Lord by giving thanks to Him is pleasing to the Lord (cf. Ps. 69:30-31).
The concept of being a God pleaser rather than a people pleaser is also found in Ephesians 6:6 and Colossians 3:22.
1 Thessalonians 2:4 concludes by asserting that God tests the hearts of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy and all Christians, which means that the Father is testing their mental attitude, conscience, and volition.
By doing so, God knows our motives or motivation (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; Ps. 7:9; 26:2; 44:21; 139:1, 23; Prov. 21:2; Jer. 11:20; 12:3; 17:10; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Rom. 8:27).
1 Keathley, J. Hampton III; I Thessalonians: An Exegetical and Devotional Commentary; page 36; Biblical Studies Press, 1998