26 November 2014

1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

“... urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (v. 12)

Psalm: Psalm 67



Just four verses and within them (in this translation), four family relationships are named; brothers, sisters, father, children. Having compared himself to a nurse in yesterday's passage, Paul wrote again, in case the Thessalonians had not yet heard, that the Christian community is about unity, about family, about being called out and called together. The family imagery is strong and persuasive, and may have been intended to strengthen the sense of belonging to a special community.

Once again it sounds as though Paul may have been contrasting his way of life with that of other travelling teachers who made calls upon the resources of the local faithful in order to accommodate and feed them. Not so, in this instance, for Paul, who reminds the Thessalonians how he "worked night and day" (v. 9) in order not to be a burden. Acts 18:3 tells the reader that Paul worked as a tentmaker in Corinth, so he could be following the same trade here in Thessalonica, where the workshop might well have become the focus of Paul's evangelism. Paul goes to some lengths (verse 10) to clarify that no-one can accuse him of exploitation; like Jesus the carpenter from Nazareth, he is content to work as a craftsman. "Brother, sister, let me serve you, let me be as Christ to you."

He continued with a plea that the Thessalonians should adopt the distinctive lifestyle appropriate to those who seek to follow God (verse 12). The Greek verb used,'peripatein',conveys the idea of a walk, 'to walk around' - 'the walk of life' perhaps. So it is not so much about lifestyle in fact, as about the manner of life, the way in which the believer moves through life, the calling to express the kingdom and the glory of God in everyday life.

To Ponder

  • What more could be done in your local church to cultivate the sense of belonging, of family? What might be the dangers in this?
  • In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul suggested that 'the labourer is worthy of his hire', which seems to contradict this passage. What are the strengths and weaknesses of a paid ministry?
  • Use Psalm 67, to reflect on the 'Reign of Christ' as a revelation of justice and equity.

Bible notes author

Jill Baker

Jill Baker lives in Glasgow and is glad to be part of the small but distinctive Methodist Church in Scotland. She is a local preacher and local preachers' tutor in the Strathclyde Circuit, where Andrew is superintendent minister.