The Apostolic Example
Verses: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Leading Question: Why should apostles – and preachers – be so careful not to be a burden on those whom they serve?
1. Boldness in suffering (1 Thess. 2:1-2). Why does Paul choose to emphasize the horrific suffering that he and Silas received in Philippi? And he continues to talk about the “bold opposition” that they faced when they preached in Thessalonica. Is there a danger that such self-references can become self-serving?
2. The character of the Apostles (1 Thess. 2:3). In this section Paul is emphasizing that the power of their message is linked with their character (ethos), more than on argument (logos) or emotion (pathos). He explicitly denies that they spoke from error, from impurity, or from the desire to trick or deceive. How does one convince an audience of those three points?
3. Pleasing God, not people (1Thess. 2:4-6). Paul claims that they were not seeking to please people, but God. Yet the argument is a subtle one, for they were really trying to convince people. In other words, the opinions and convictions of the people really are important. Flattery and greed were also motives that Paul explicitly denied.
4. Caring deeply (1 Thess. 2:7-8). Is the egalitarian appeal here more likely to be effective than the appeal to authority? Would not some audiences be more impressed by authority?
5. Not a burden (1 Thess. 2:9-12). Paul emphasizes that they “worked” to support themselves so that they would not be a burden. The same point appears in 2 Thess. 3:8: “We didn’t eat anyone’s food without paying for it?” Why was this austere approach necessary in the first place and what made it necessary for Paul to emphasize the point?
6. People come first. Throughout this section, Paul emphasizes his fatherly care for the believers (vs. 11) yet he also notes that he declared that they became as young children among them? How can one be a father and a child at the same time? Is this effective pastoral care?