An Honest Messenger and A Persuasive Message
Paul is now elaborating upon his “entrance” among the Thessalonians.
1 Thess. 1:9.
1 Thess. 2:1.
What are preachers supposed to be like?
This is important, especially at times of intense scrutiny.
We have already learned from Paul that it was not words alone which convinced the Thessalonians to believe.
His conduct suggested credibility.
Paul’s own times were not unlike our own.
Dio Chrysostom Or. 32.11: But to find a man who in plain terms and without guile speaks his mind with frankness, and neither for the sake of reputation nor for gain makes false pretensions, but out of good will and concern for his fellow-men stands ready, if need be, to submit to ridicule and to the disorder and the uproar of the mob — to find such a man as that is not easy, but rather the good fortune of a very lucky city, so great is the dearth of noble, independent souls and such the abundance of toadies, mountebanks, and sophists.
Paul has been concerned about the Thessalonian view of him.
This may be in general.
It may also be because he is aware of accusations made against him.
His entrance, now becomes “our encouragement.”
This term may capture two sides of preaching:
The warning inherent in the coming judgment of God.
The persuasive encouragement to believe Jesus is the one who rescues from that coming judgment.
Especially with the first two terms, we can see wants to remind the Thessalonians of the source of his motivation.
Actually, it occurs in the negative. So, he shows what did not motivate him.
What follows is a triad related to honesty.
The first and third terms are both related to deceit.
Most understand the first to refer not to deceit per se but to error.
Paul is clarifying that he was not mistaken in what he preached.
He did not misunderstand the message, or he had not become confused in his own thinking.
As he will clarify in the next verse, he was the bearer of a message, not its inventor.
“Uncleanness” seems to be the most difficult of three terms to understand precisely in this context.
One possibility, given its usage as a term of sexual filth is that Paul was not motivated to encourage the Thessalonians to believe the gospel so he could then engage in sexual immorality with them.
A less explicit interpretation of this term, and a more likely one, would lean toward Paul’s honesty, that is, he did not have unholy motives in preaching.
This would mean the triad of terms could be looked at as overlapping in meaning. They all would emphasize the absence of trickery or deceit.
Paul understood his apostleship as a matter of trust.
God had found him genuine and entrusted him with His message.
Paul is clear that this was not his own message.
This may suggest either that God purified him, in his initial conversion, or that God had, in some way, refined him or set him apart for this task.
Paul did not feel at liberty to preach his own message or to pursue his own goals.
Given the high responsibility entrusted to him, Paul is speaking (note the present tense) in a manner worthy of that role.
2 Cor. 4 expresses much the same perspective.
Accuracy is the goal, not results. There can be no genuine results without truth.
Pleasing individuals with the message, this is probably addressed more explicitly below, was not the aim but pleasing God.
Avoiding Personal Ambition
Avoiding Personal Ambition
Notice, yet again, the use of “came to be.”
At no point did Paul come to be “in a word of flattery.”
He did not seek to flatter the Thessalonians to “butter them up” so they might find his message more palatable and be attracted to it.
They were aware of this. In him they saw someone with courage to preach to them in the face of intense opposition not a run of the mill peddler of ideas.
He was not a cheap philosopher spouting confused thoughts for money.
He was not a flatterer.
Preaching was not a facade for his desire for wealth.
Paul invokes God as his witness for this, but he will make this more tangible in 1 Thess. 2:7.
This is a serious charge. See 1 Timothy 6:3ff.
Preaching was not an attempt to enhance his personal status or reputation.