The second letter to the Thessalonians from Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 addresses the problem of apostasy and the dangers of the false gospel. These issues are important because many people are hesitant to accept the truth of the Bible. Rather than trying to make people believe what they want them to, Paul instructs them to look to God. He warns them not to be fooled by the deceitful messages of false teachers, but to be sure of what is true.
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God of all who wander in the wilderness,
you go before us as beacon and guide.
Lead us through all danger,
sustain us through all desolation,
and bring us home to the land
you have prepared for us. Amen.
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica
2 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
you call us to love and serve you
with body, mind, and spirit
through loving your creation
and our sisters and brothers.
Open our hearts in compassion
and receive these petitions
on behalf of the needs of the church and the world.
Prayers of the People
hear our prayers and make us faithful stewards
of the fragile bounty of this earth
so that we may be entrusted with the riches of heaven. Amen.
The Sermon: The Dangers of the False Gospel
Paul’s motives in preaching the gospel
The apostle Paul’s motives in preaching the gospel can be quite difficult to determine. But his life is an example for gospel workers to follow.
During his ministry, he had to deal with religious and academic differences. He was also a prisoner. His opponents tried to discredit him. However, these accusations were based on false information.
The Bible tells us that Paul was approved by God. This means that he had a valid reason for preaching the gospel. Moreover, Paul is not pursuing greed or deceit. Rather, he is defending his ministry from unsubstantiated allegations.
For instance, the jailor was impressed by Paul’s act of charity and turned to faith. In the end, Paul stopped him from taking his own life.
Paul also defended his ministry against the accusation that he preached the gospel for money. It is not surprising that his opponents wanted to discredit him.
Fortunately, the Thessalonians knew him well enough to recognize and reject the accusations. Nevertheless, they continued to be suspicious.
Accusations of being unclean or deceptive
When Paul arrived in Thessalonica with his gospel message, he knew he would face some opposition. He and his companions would be subjected to beatings, imprisonment, and even denial of their property. But, despite these difficulties, they would continue to preach the gospel.
In the first chapter of his letter, Paul wrote, “For you yourselves know.” This phrase indicates that the people in Thessalonica knew he was telling the truth. As Paul speaks of the truth of the gospel, he points out three character attributes of Thessalonian believers.
First, he mentions the fact that they imitated Paul. Unlike other Judean believers, they had Jewish countrymen as their enemies. However, they believed in the gospel and listened to the word of God with full faith.
Second, he calls for orderly behavior. There were many ways to behave in Thessalonica, but this was a good way to show the gospel was a real word.
Paul’s actual conduct in contrast to exploitative behavior
When you compare Paul’s actual conduct in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8 with the exploitative behavior in the same passage, you will see that Paul did not have a motive to deceive people. He preached the gospel to them because of his love for God. In addition, he did not seek glory from men.
One reason Paul was so determined to be true to his identity in Jesus is that his motivations were instrumental in his success. During his time in Thessalonica, he knew that his mission would not last forever. But he didn’t want to leave them in a position where they would lose faith and eventually fall away from the Lord.
Paul also wrote about how false prophets had been taking hold of the church. These men often used religion to con people and to misuse their political power.
Despite the persecution that was directed against him, Paul remained faithful to the Lord. His first task was to remind the Thessalonian believers of the dangers of spiritual warfare. This was a challenge that they were already experiencing.
A word of caution
The 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 is an excellent example of a word of caution. Paul was trying to help Thessalonians to stand firm against persecution. Fortunately, they had a great example in the apostles of Christ. They were living and preaching the Word of God, which had the power to change lives.
The church at Thessalonica was growing in faith, and it was being persecuted by Gentile countrymen. When Paul and his companions visited, they made a special effort to feed the Thessalonians with the milk of the Word of God.
But while they were doing this, Satan hindered their progress. This prevented Paul from coming back to Thessalonica. He sent Timothy to check on the believers. And he knew that Satan was not annulled. In spite of these obstacles, Paul wrote a letter to the Thessalonians.
This letter is a defense of the message of God that Paul has preached. It is a response to the accusations that were being made against him and his associates.
your Son has shown us how to love one another.
May our love for you
overflow into joyous service
and be a healing witness to our neighbors
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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