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I THESSALONIANS (6)
A Flawless Ministry: Preaching (1)
I Thessalonians 2:1-3
Victor M. Eskew
A. It was not uncommon for others to ridicule and malign Paul, his preaching, and his ministry.
1. The Jews despised his opposition to them.
2. Some of his preaching brethren were jealous of his ministry.
3. Some disliked Paul, his looks, his personality, his type of preaching.
B. Because of the opposition against him, Paul often had to defend his ministry. He does this in his letter to the Thessalonians.
1. Note how he opens I Thessalonians 2 (I Thess. 2:1).
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain.
a. Paul appeals to the knowledge of the Thessalonians in this verse. They had heard Paul’s preaching and had been eyewitnesses of his ministry.
b. He reminds them that his ministry was not something that was vain, that is, empty and having no purpose.
c. How Paul and his companions conducted themselves disproved any slanderous accusations made against him by his enemies.
d. LESSON: How we live our lives is extremely important. We should live our lives in such a way that when our enemies accuse us, those who know us refuse to believe the lies of our opposition.
2. Paul reminds them of two things they had witnessed.
a. His preaching (I Thess. 2:2-6)
b. His practice (I Thess. 2:7-12)
C. We have entitled this section: “A Flawless Ministry” (I Thess. 2:1-12).
1. The first section will be “A Flawless Ministry: Preaching” (I Thess. 2:2-6).
2. The second section will be “A Flawless Ministry: Practice” (I Thess. 2:7-12).
I. PAUL PREACHED WITH NO FEAR (I Thess. 2:2)
But even after we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
A. The Description of His Preaching: “We were bold”
a. Strong (3955): frank in utterance, confident in spirit and demeanor
b. Thayer: to use freedom in speaking, show assurance
2. Bold is the NT words for courage.
a. Fear may have been felt.
b. Fear, however, did not paralyze Paul as he preached.
3. LESSON: In preaching, there are things that must be said. People may not agree with them. They may not like them. But, they must be said. It takes courage, boldness, to say what is needed.
B. The Deterrents to Courage
1. The Past: “suffered before” and “shamefully entreated…at Philippi”
a. Paul’s labors in Philippi are recorded in Acts 16:12-40.
b. After Paul had cast out the spirit of divination from a damsel who brought her masters much gain (Acts 16:16-18), they were brought before the magistrates and were punished (Acts 16:22-24).
And the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who having received such charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.
c. Paul says they were “shamefully entreated”
a) Strong (5195): violent, abusive
b) Thayer: wanton, outrageous
2) It was shameful for at least two reasons:
a) They were innocent.
b) They were Romans citizens.
d. Unfair, evil treatment like this could cause a person to think twice before preaching the gospel again. It did not deter Paul. He continued to preach boldly.
2. The Present: In Thessalonica there was “much contention.”
a. Much contention
1) Strong (73): contest :- conflict, contention, fight
2) Thayer; a battle, a struggle, a contest
b. In Thessalonica, the battle started again.
1) The Jews rose up in opposition to them.
2) This, too, could have hindered Paul’s labors, but it did not. He continued to preach boldly.
c. LESSON: There will always be opposition to the truth. There will be excuses as to why one should not preach. The minister must determine in his heart to preach boldly regardless of the enemies the oppose him.
II. PAUL PREACHED WITH NO FALSEHOOD (I THESS. 2:3a)
For our exhortation was not of deceit…
A. Paul refers to his preaching as exhortation.
1. The word literally means “to call or summons near.”
2. It involves many things: instruction, discourse, admonition, encouragement, comfort, and refreshment.
3. LESSON: Gospel preaching should involve all of these things.
B. Paul said his exhortation was “not of deceit.”
a. Strong (4106): it was not anything that strayed from orthodoxy.
b. Thayer: no error, no wrong opinion as to morals or religion
2. Paul’s preaching was the truth. It did not lead individuals to stray and wander from the right way.
3. LESSON: This should be the way that every preacher should preach.
a. II Corinthians 4:2
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
b. Titus 2:7b-8a
…in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned…
4. NOTE: Paul says that his preaching was not of deceit. This indicates that some preaching can involve deceit (See II Cor. 11:13; Tit. 1:10-11).
III. PAUL PREACHED WITH NO FLESHLY APPEALS (I Thess. 2:3b)
For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness…
1. Strong (167): impurity…physically or morally
2. Thayer: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living
B. Paul sets his preaching in contrast to the teachings of the philosophers of his day.
1. They taught individuals to honor idols and false gods.
2. They taught them to honor them by adultery, fornication, uncleanness, homosexuality, lesbianism, orgies, and all kinds of fleshly living.
C. Paul’s preaching did not involve an appeal to man’s fleshly appetites and the lusts of the flesh.
1. Two verses:
a. Romans 13:14
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
b. Galatians 5:24
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
2. The appeal of Paul, the apostles, and the evangelists of the first century was to purity and holiness. It involved the putting away of the flesh and not yielding to it.
3. LESSON: Any preaching that encourages and condones things associated with the works of the flesh is not gospel preaching (Ex., Episcopal Church encouraging homosexual activity, some preaching encourages adulterous marriages, or living together prior to marriage).
IV. PAUL PREACHED WITH NO FRAUD (I Thess. 2:3c)
For our exhortation was not with deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile.
1. Strong (1388): from a word meaning to decoy, trick, bait
2. Thayer: craft, deceit
B. The Word of God had to be confirmed with miracles, wonders, and signs in the first century because the written Word was not completed (Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4).
1. The false teachers used magic and trickery and illusions to deceive their audiences.
2. Paul did not. All that he did was real and genuine.
C. LESSON: Fortunately, we have the written Word today. We do not need miracles to confirm the Word. We can point to book, chapter, and verse preaching.
A. When Paul preached, there was one thing that came for the from his lips: THE GOSPEL!
1. In verse 2, he says: “…we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God…”
2. In verse 4, he writes: “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak…”
B. My friends, this is my desire, to preach only the gospel of Christ. Too, it is the desire of the eldership here to make certain that only the gospel is preached and taught.
1. With no fear
2. With no falsehood
3. With no flesh
4. With no fraud