Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Apostolic Example

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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Below is the Audio Script:

The Apostolic Example

Memory Verse: 1 Thessalonians 2:4
4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

In this week’s lesson we cover the first half of the second chapter of 1 Thessalonians.  We should remember that this was originally a letter written in a specific time and place for a specific group of people under certain circumstances.  With this in mind we ought also to remember that the chapter and verse division was added after the fact.  So, the beginning of one chapter is always a continuation of the previous chapter. 

In this case the first verse is an addition to verse 9 of the previous chapter.  We know this because there is a similar expression on both verses.  Let us read both verses.

1Th 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
1Th 2:1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

The key phrase here is: “shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you” from chapter 1 verse 9 and “know our entrance in unto you” from chapter 2 verse 9.  The key words in these phrases are entering and entered.  They are the same word in the Greek: eisodos.  In the context of the letter (More on that later) this word means conduct or behavior. 

Now, it is evident in Verse 1 of chapter 2 who it is that knows about Paul and his companions behavior, but who is the “they” in verse 9 of chapter 1.  It turns out the word in Greek is not “they” but apaggello, which means good tiding or report.  This word has the same root as the Word from which we derive Evangelism.  The report or good news that came from Thessalonica showed how Paul and his Companions behaved among them. 

About the word eisodos: it actually means place of entrance or entry way.  It is a compound word from eis: a preposition that means, “into, unto, to, towards, for, among.”  The other word in eisodos is hodos, which means either journey or traveled way (properly) or a course of conduct, a way (i.e. manner) of thinking, feeling, deciding (metaphorically).  Since, Paul is not talking about traveling, but about what he did and how we behaved, it would follow that the use of the word eisodos (entry or entrance) is the metaphorical one. 

Paul is actually saying that, “you know how we conducted ourselves with you, and your own conduct after conversion shows how we conducted ourselves.”  The rest of the portion of the chapter that we are studying this week is an explanation of what Paul is saying.  Every point made in this portion of the chapter is to distinguish themselves from the itinerant speakers that roamed through the empire, seeking followers and a stream of income.  Ellen White says,

 “While Paul was careful to set before his converts the plain teaching of Scripture regarding the proper support of the work of God, . . . at various times during his ministry in the great centers of civilization, he wrought at a handicraft for his own maintenance. . . . “It is at Thessalonica that we first read of Paul’s working with his hands in self-supporting labor while preaching the word [1 Thess. 2:6, 9; 2 Thess. 3:8, 9].

We will read the verse referred to:

1Th 2:6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
1Th 2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
2 Thessalonians 3:8-9 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

This is one example of how they were different than those itinerant preachers.  Other verses to distinguish themselves are:

1Th 2:3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
1Th 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
1Th 2:6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Paul also wanted to defend himself, et al, from the accusations the Jews made that they were causing upheaval.  We read in the following verses,

1Th 2:7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
1Th 2:8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
1Th 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
1Th 2:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

You cannot be causing trouble when your conduct is as described above.  Of course the only reason Paul and his companions were able to behave that way is because of their dependence on God.   Paul says that, “we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention” (1 Thes. 2:1).

To speak boldly is to speak without fear. And we know from scripture that fear and love (agape) cannot coexist. We know this because “Perfect [or complete] love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18). According to Paul, in Romans 5:5, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” This was the same Sprit that Ananias said would fill Paul (Acts 9:17). And, Acts 13:9 states that Paul was full with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit shed God’s love abroad in the heart and mind of Paul, and thus he spoke openly and lovingly of Jesus, without fear. The same Spirit that gave them power [boldness] gave them love.