Tuesday 25 November 2014

Bible Book:
1 Thessalonians

“But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” (vv. 7-8)

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 Tuesday 25 November 2014

Psalm: Psalm 66


In verse 2 Paul refers back to his visit to Philippi, which tookplace just before his arrival in Thessalonica (Acts16:19-24) and about which the Thessalonians would have known.In Philippi too he had offended the Jews and ended up in trouble.In the face of adversity, Paul recognised that the courage heneeded comes from God (verse 2). Pleasing God is all that matters,not the opinions of human beings (verse 4). The opposition hesuffered becomes, for Paul, a hallmark of his own integrity andthat of the gospel (the good news about Jesus) itself. If it werenot real, radical and powerful, he seems to say, it would notprovoke such a reaction.

He moves on, perhaps to defend himself against charges ofpomposity or arrogance (verses 5-6) or perhaps to contrast hismethods with those of other popular philosophers of the era,reminding the reader that, despite the demands which have to bemade as part of a call to discipleship, he and his companions were"gentle" among the congregation (verse 7). The Greek word'homeiromenoi' used in verse 8 (translated "so deeply do we care")is a strong word, used only here in the New Testament. It carriesthe sense that Paul was so strongly attached to his fellowbelievers that he would have been willing to lay down his life forthem. He was identifying with them, united with them in strongbonds of love and family unity - part of the same community, thecommunity of Christ.

There is a homeliness about this early letter which reflects thenature of the early Church, meeting as it did in homes whereinfants and children would have been nurtured. Infant mortality washigh in 1st-century Middle East, possibly as many as 30% of infantsdied in their first year. So Paul and his companions - adult males- are portrayed in the imagery of a tender nurse, caring for thisinfant church, seeking to feed and strengthen it through theprecarious early days of life for healthy growth and an effectivefuture.

To Ponder

  • Persecution of Christians takes place in many countries aroundthe world and, some would claim, here in the British Isles as well.Is opposition to the gospel of Christ inevitable? How can theChurch find a balance between being agitators and beingwell-regarded in the community?
  • Paul has suffered charges of arrogance and pomposity for over2,000 years. Does this passage, with its declaration of deep love,help you to see him differently? In what way?
  • Use Psalm 66, which speaks of God guiding peoplethrough adversity, to reflect further on the 'Reign of Christ'today.


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