1 Thessalonians


2. Paul's relationship with the Thessalonian church, 2:1 -3:13

i] Paul defends his gospel ministry


By referencing the example of his own behavior while conducting the Thessalonian mission, Paul is able to provide a model that readily applies to the Thessalonians in their ministry of nurture and outreach.


i] Context: See 1:1-3. We now come to the section of Paul's letter which, in deliberative rhetoric, may be classified as the narratio. This is where the writer seeks to elicit sympathy from his audience before moving onto more substantive issues. So, in 2:1-3:13 Paul speaks of his relationship with the Thessalonian believers: the way in which the gospel was proclaimed there, 2:1-12; how it was received, 2:13-16; Paul's desire to revisit Thessalonica, 2:17-20; Timothy's visit and his report, 3:1-10; and finally, Paul's prayer for the Thessalonian believers.


ii] Structure: This passage, Paul's defense of his gospel ministry, presents as follows:

Paul's visit to Thessalonica, v1-2;

The motives and method of Paul's gospel ministry, v3-12;

Divinely authorized, v3-4;

Not driven by corrupt motives, v5-7a;

Driven to nurture the Thessalonian believers, v7b-8;

Conducted with integrity, v9-12.


iii] Interpretation:

Malherbe argues that this passage forms part of Paul's opening thanksgiving which runs through to the end of the chapter 3, although Sanders in Transition argues that we now come to a "transition from the opening epistolary thanksgiving to [the] body" of the letter. Yet, as Bruce notes, this chapter does not seem to reveal the letter's "main substance or express its main purpose." Bruce reads the passage as a personal defence on the part of Paul where he defends himself against the criticism that he, and the members of his mission team, are nothing more than "in-it-for-the-money" teachers. The implication is that there is no truth to Paul's teachings, rather he is more into marketing than teaching.

Wanamaker suggests that the passage is best understood if we apply the insights of rhetorical criticism. In the demonstrative rhetoric of the time a narrative section, the narratio, would follow the introduction, the exordium, and introduce the probatio, the proof / thesis / substance of a parenetic (exhortatory) letter. This narrative section serves to link the writer with their readers, establishing and/or reinforcing personal relationships. It is unlikely that such a personal piece of writing would be defensive, so in this opening section of the narratio Paul is probably not into an "apostolic defence", Bruce, but is rather seeking to "reconfirm the readers in the pattern of behavior that they had been taught by Paul ..... and at the same time provide a role model for leaders in the congregation", Wanamaker.


iv] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:1

Paul and his ministry, v1-12: i] Paul notes his successful visit to Thessalonica in order to present the gospel, v1-2. In the opening verses, Paul calls on his readers to remember the mission that was recently held in their town. It was certainly not a "failure" - hollow, empty and wanting in purpose. Even before Paul and his team reached Thessalonica they faced persecution and now the situation is no better. If the mission had existed for financial gain or the like, then Paul and his associates would have given it away as a bad joke long ago, but they stuck to their task, and in God's power the gospel was presented.

gar "-" - for. More explanatory than causal; cf. Lightfoot, expressing "the train of thought which was moving in the Apostle's mind." Possibly linking to the apostle's behavior outlined in v5 or 9, although better treated as a connective here and therefore untranslated, as NIV.

autoi pro. "you" - Emphatic by use and position; "you yourselves know."

thn eisodon (oV) "that [our] visit" - the coming, entrance, visit [of us]. The word has a philosophical background, in the sense of entrance into philosophical understanding, so something more than just a visit. The Gk. indicates that this "entrance among you" is an object of their knowledge, but the actual knowledge is introduced by the conjunction oJti, which knowledge runs through to the end of v2. So, we may translate the verse "you yourselves know, brothers, concerning our time of ministry with you, that it was not futile ......"

thn proV uJmaV "to you" - The use of the article thn serves to place the phrase in an attributive relation to thn eisodon, so Bruce.

oJti "-" - that. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what the brothers know.

ou kenh (oV) "[was] not a failure" - [it has been] not powerless / fruitless. "Hollow, empty, wanting in purpose and earnestness", Lightfoot; "you know that our time with you wasn't wasted", CEV. Yet, the sense "powerless" may be better; "that our reception among you was not without effect", NAB.


alla "-" - but. Adversative / contrastive; "but on the contrary, ..."

uJbrisqenteV aor. pas. part. "been insulted" - having been mistreated / insulted. "Insulted" in the sense of subjected to insolent and outrageous behavior. This participle, as with the participle "having suffered previously", is probably adverbial of time / temporal; "but after the sufferings and maltreatments we experienced", Berkeley.

en + dat. "in [Philippi]" - Local, expressing space / sphere. Not, "as you know, at Philippi, we were bold ... to speak", AV, but as NIV.

kaqwV "as [you know]" - Compartive. Probably linked with lalhsai, "as you know we took courage ... to speak .."

en + dat. "but with the help of our God" - in [God]. Here expressing agency, "by God", ie., "by / with God's held."

eparrhsiasameqa (parrhsiazomai) aor. "we dared" - we took courage. Probably an ingressive aorist where the emphasis is placed on the beginning of the action. "We declared the gospel of God to you frankly and fearlessly", REB.

lalhsai (lalew) "to tell" - to speak. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "we dared."

to euaggelion tou qeou "his gospel" - the message of God. The word euaggelion, "gospel", means an important message.

tou qeou "of God" - The genitive may be classified as verbal, subjective, or adjectival, possessive, or possibly ablative, origin / source.

en + dat. "in the face of" - Local, expressing space / sphere; "amid strong opposition", Zerwick.

agwni (wn wnoV) "[strong] opposition" - the effort of an individual or the struggle between two or more individuals. Obviously the latter is intended. "Not without a struggle", Barclay.


ii] "Paul offers, from here through to v12, an explanation of the motives and methods of his preaching", Malherbe, v3-12. As such, Paul uses his own example as a model for the Thessalonian believers and in this way his words carry an implied exhortation. "The negative and antithetical formulations of v3ff have an essentially rhetorical function", Wanamaker, rather than serving as a defence against criticism of the behavior of Paul and his mission team during his stay at Thessalonica.

a) Divinely authorized, v3-4: The teaching was certainly not in error because the missionaries presented a message entrusted to them by God. It was certainly not for immoral purposes, because both the mission and the message was approved by God. It was certainly not a marketing ploy, a trick, for it aimed to please God, not the people. God sees all things, for nothing in the inner life of a person is hidden from him, so if the mission was performed for other than the best of reasons, the Lord would know.

gar "for" - Expressing cause/reason; introducing a causal clause explaining why Paul and his team dared to proclaim the gospel, "because" their message was from God.

hJ paraklhsiV (iV ewV) "the appeal [we make]" - the exhortation / encouragement [of us]. "Exhortation" seems best, possibly of the gospel itself, or more likely an appeal to accept the gospel; "the wooing proclamation of salvation in the apostolic preaching", Schmitz, TDNT.

"to you", TEV, but not NIV. Note that some translations take the view that the passage, v2 through 7, is a specific word for the Thessalonians and is not just general observations as to Paul's ministry methods.

oude ex (ek) + gen. "does not spring from" - not out of. Expressing source / origin. The verb must be supplied. Paul's exhortation ("repent and believe"???) encapsulated in his preaching of the gospel, did not derive from / originate from "delusion, nor from impure motives", Berkeley.

planhV (h) "error" - Lightfoot suggests that the "error" is intellectual rather than moral and therefore a sense such as "deceit" may be too strong, although Bruce disagrees. An influence that leads astray rather than a mistake. "Our message to you is true", Phillips.

akaqarsiaV (a) "impure motives" - uncleanness = mixed motives, insincerity.

oude en + dat. "nor [are we trying to trick you]" - nor in [guile]. We would expect ek, "nor from deceit", which is certainly the sense. Probably the preposition here is instrumental, expressing means; "by deceit, trickery, treachery, subterfuge."


alla "on the contrary" - but. Strong adversative.

ouJtwV adv. "[we speak]" - [as / since we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel], thus, therefore / even so [we speak]. Probably inferential, "approved by God ... entrusted with the gospel ...., therefore we speak", but possibly modal, "in this manner we speak ...."

kaqwV adv. "as" - as, even as, like [we have been approved ...... thus we speak]. Usually comparative, but sometimes with a causal sense; "since / because we have been held worthy by God ..."

dedokimasmeqa (dokimazw) perf. pas. "men approved / those approved" - having been approved after testing. The perfect tense indicating that the testing and approval continues.

uJpo + gen. "by [God]" - Expressing agency, as NIV. God has tested and approved Paul as a messenger of the gospel.

pisteuqhnai (pisteuw) aor. pas. inf. "to be entrusted with" - The tense now indicates a one off entrusting. The function of the infinitive is unclear, possibly forming a dependent statement, "God decided that he could trust us with the gospel", TNT, or possibly epexegetic, explaining in what sense Paul stands approved, "God has attested our fitness to be entrusted with the gospel", Moffatt. "God was pleased to trust us with his message", CEV.

ouc .... alla "we are not" - [thus we speak pleasing] not ....... but ..." Emphatic use of the negative here. Used with alla to form a negative positive comparative construction; "not ..... but ......" The verb laloumen, "we speak", is assumed to apply to this clause, but also possibly the former clause; "on the contrary, we speak ....... [we do] not speak as to/for pleasing men, but [to/for pleasing] God."

areskonteV (areskw) pres. part. "trying to please [men]" - pleasing [not as for men]. The present tense is durative; "going about pleasing." The participle is adverbial, possibly modal, expressing the manner in which the action of the verb "we speak" is accomplished, or final, expressing the purpose of the verb "we speak." When taken with the particle wJV, the participle is more likely to expresses intention; "we speak out, being intent not on pleasing men, but pleasing God", Cassirer. The word "pleasing" stands within the context of "service in the interest of others", TNT / MM. So, more in the sense of rendering approved service to others than trying to make them feel happy. It is unlikely that God is ever happy with anything we do since all our actions are compromised. His joy is found in the righteousness of His Son in whose righteousness we stand. "We tell the gospel, not to satisfy men, but to satisfy God", Moffatt.

anqrwpoiV (oV) dat. "men / people" - for men. Dative of interest, advantage.

tw/ dokimazonti (dokimazw) dat. pres. part. "who tests" - [but] to/for the one testing, approving, proving, examining. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to the dative of interest "God"; "God, the one who examines our hearts."

taV kardiaV (a) "[our] hearts" - the hearts [of us]. Not the seat of emotions, but rather the will and intellect, so "who knows us through and through", Phillips; "who knows our motives", CEV.


b) Paul goes on to ask his readers to remember some other features about the mission, v5-7b. Paul asks his readers to confirm that the mission was not designed to flatter; it was not designed to peddle human emotions, using words and methods to gain predetermined selfish ends. The mission was not a mask, it was not a front; it was not designed to promote self-interest behind an acceptable front. Neither was it just a means for the self aggrandizement of the missionaries themselves.

gar "-" - for. Either just explanatory, as NIV, or introducing a causal clause explaining why it is true to say that Paul and his team were not trying to please men but God, "because we never used flattering words, as you know, ......"

kaqwV adv. "[you know]" - as [you know]. Here indicating a comparison.

oute ... oute "never .... nor" - neither .... nor. A negated comparative construction.

pote "never = [not] ever" - [neither] ever. Temporal particle, expressing time; "neither at any time", AV.

egenhqhmen (ginomai) aor. pas. "we [never] used" - we became / were we.

en +dat. "-" - [neither ever were we] in. Here adverbial, expressing manner, "with", but possibly means, "by". Paul and the mission team did not appear on the scene / became with words of flattery.

kolakeiaV (a) gen. "flattery" - [words] of flattery. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "words"; "flattering talk", Barclay, but possibly defining, epexegetic. Flattery in the sense of working a person to gain an advantage over them.

en + dat. "[nor] did we put on" - in. This clause is also controlled by the verb egenhqhmen and so the preposition here, as above, is adverbial, expressing manner; "nor did we appear on the scene / become with a motive of greed." There is some evidence of travelling speakers /teachers, religious and secular, working communities to milk them for money.

pleonexiaV (a) gen. "a mask" - [a motive] of greed. The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "motive"; "a greedy motive / a covetous pretext" The missionaries were not playing the church for money, "God knows that what we did was not a cover-up for greed", CEV.

qeoV martuV "God is our witness" - God witness. This parenthetical phrase parallels kaqwV oidate, "as you know", so "as you yourselves know / as God is our witness", Fee = two reliable witnesses of Paul's ethical evangelism.


oute ... oute ..... oute "not .... not [from you] or [anyone else]" - A negative comparative construction. The Gk. sentence, which began in v5, continues through to v8 and so the neither nor construction continues; "nor of men sought we glory ... nor from you, nor from others."

zhtounteV (zhtew) pres. part. "we were [not] looking [for praise]" - [nor] seeking [out of, from men glory, praise]. Attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb egenhqhmen "we became / we arrived on the scene", or possibly modal, expressing the manner in which the action of the main verb egenhqhmen is accomplished; "we never resorted (v5) ..... [to] seek honor from men", Moffatt. "Neither did we seek for human praise", Cassirer.

doxan (a) "praise" - glory. "Applause", "curry favor", REB.

ex (ek) + gen. "from [men / people]" - Expressing source / origin.

af (apo) + gen. "from [you]" - Expressing source / origin.

apostoloi (oV) "[as] apostles / [even though as] apostles" - The apostles were primarily the twelve, this was extended by Paul to include himself as one directly appointed by Christ as apostle to the Gentiles. The title was later widened to include other church leaders. The plural is somewhat difficult to understand here. Is Paul including the other missioners, Timothy and Silas, or is he just using the royal plural (an epistolary plural)?

Cristou (oV) gen. "of Christ" - The genitive is adjectival, possessive, limiting "apostles", or ablative, source / origin, "apostles sent by Christ."

dunamenoi (dunamai) pres. pas. part. "we could have been" - being able. The participle is adverbial, modifying the verbal aspect of the participle "we were not looking for", probably concessive, "although / even though [as apostle of Christ] we could have been able", or possibly temporal, "when [as apostles of Christ] we could have been able."

einai (eimi) pres. inf. "-" - to be. The infinitive is complementary, completing the verbal sense of the participle "being able"; "we could have been able to be" = "we could have." "Although, as Christ's apostles, we might well have", Cassirer.

en barei (oV) "burden" - in/with load, weight. The preposition forms an adverbial phrase modifying the verbal sense of "being able to be"; "being able to be with weightiness." Probably not in the sense of financial demands, but of the weight of authority and status; "nor seeking glory from men ...... when we might have stood on our dignity as Christ's ambassadors", Wuest.


alla "but" - Adversative; "instead, we lived unassumingly among you", NJB.

hpioi adj. "gentle" - gentle. Textual variant nhpioi, "infants, babes", carries weight, but "gentle" fits best with the context. "Gentle" in the sense of not demanding the status that was due the mission team.

en + dat. "among [you]" - in [middle of you]. The dative is local, expressing space / sphere.


c) Paul's mission aimed to nurture the Thessalonian believers, v7b-8. Paul and his mission team gave themselves to the Thessalonians as a parent nurtures their children. Paul not only shared the gospel with them, he shared his whole person; the missionaries shared themselves.

wJV ean + subj. "like [a mother caring]" - as if [a nursing mother would cherish]. This comparative construction is rare with a late use of ean for an. As a comparative clause, it was usually read "as a nursing mother would care for her own children, so we became babes in the midst of you, cf., NIV. Yet, Findlay says it expresses a standing contingency, "as it may be (may be seen) at any time." With ouJtwV, v8, forming a comparative construction; "as a mother ..... so we loved you ...." "Like a mother feeding and looking after her children, we felt so devoted to you", NJB. See TNIV.

ouJtwV "- / [Just as a nursing mother cares for her children] so [we cared for you]" - thus, so, in like manner [yearning for you]. Introducing the apodosis of the comparative clause; See above.

oJmeiromenoi (oJmeiromai) pres. part. "we loved [you] so much" - yearning for [you]. The participle is probably adverbial, modal, expressing manner; "so in this manner we were loving you."

uJmwn gen. pro. "you" - Genitive of direct object after the verb oJmeiromai, "to yearn for."

dioti agaphtoi hJmin egenhqhte, "- / Because we loved you so much, [we were delighted ......]" - The TNIV repositions this clause for an improved reading of the verse.

metadounai (metadidwmi) aor. inf. "to share with" - [we were pleased] to impart, share, distribute. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "we were delighted / pleased". The verbal phrase, "we were pleased to impart", takes two objects, the "gospel" and the missionaries' "lives". "It was a joy to give you, not only the gospel, but our very hearts", Phillips.

tou qeou (oV) "[the gospel] of God" - The usual subjective / objective genitive problem is often raised here. Is this a message given by God, or a message about, concerning God, or both? Usually treated as a subjective genitive, but ablative, origin, "from", or adjectival, possessive, "belonging to God", is also possible.

taV ... yucaV (h) "[our] lives [as well]" - [also our own] souls. Used here in the sense of Paul's whole being given up for the sake of the Thessalonians.

dioti "because" - Sometimes used to introduce a consequence, but most times used to introduce a reason for, ie., causal; "because."

agaphtoi adj. "so dear" - beloved.

hJmin dat. "to us" - dative of indirect object; "so dear did you become to us", Phillips.


d) The mission was conducted with integrity, v9-12. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that although he and the rest of the team had every right to expect the new Christians to support their work (cf. 2Thess.3:8, 2Cor.11:9, 12:16), he had, none-the-less, taken a gentle line with them, caring for their needs rather than expecting them to care for his. This was evidenced by the fact that the team worked at their trades while on mission so that the church would not have to carry the financial burden of their upkeep. So, Paul calls on his readers to recognize the positive features of the mission. It could only be said that the missionaries were upright in conduct - holy, righteous and blameless. They had acted in a caring way toward the new church and were "encouraging" (directing), "comforting" (giving cheer and inspiration) and "urging" (stirring the Thessalonians up to good works). All this was directed toward one end, that the members of this new church might live lives worthy of the Lord, worthy of the one who bids them to share in the splendor of His kingdom.

gar "-" - for. Logical rather than causal here.

hJmwn gen. pro. "our [toil]" - The genitive may be taken as verbal, subjective, or adjectival, possessive.

ergazomenoi (ergazomai) pres. part. "we worked" - working. The participle is adverbial, probably best taken as temporal, of time; "as we worked night and day", Berkeley.

nuktoV kai hJmeraV gen. "night and day" - A genitive of time. Paul worked during the day and the evenings to pay his own way while with the Thessalonians.

proV to mh + inf. "in order not [to be a burden]" - The preposition + the articular infinitive serves to form a final clause expressing purpose, as NIV.

epibarhsai (epibarew) inf. "to be a burden" - to burden. Obviously "financial burden" is intended, but a general burden is possible, "we would not be any trouble to you", TEV.

uJmwn gen. pro. "[anyone]" - [anyone] of you. The genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative.

ekhruxamen (khrussw) aor. "while we preached" - proclaimed. The word "preached" today often applies to what happens in a church, but Paul's sense here is of the general communication of the gospel. "So that we could tell you God's message", CEV; "we proclaimed the good news of God to you", Barclay.

to euaggelion (on) "the gospel" - Often translated "good news", but of course, it is not good news to those who are perishing. "God's important message to humanity", may be closer to the mark.


The final Gk. sentence covers v10-12. This sentence makes the point that the Thessalonians know well how responsible Paul and his team were in their care for them; "with each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step by step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life", Peterson.

uJmeiV pro. "you [are witnesses]" - you [witnesses]. Emphatic by use and position; "you yourselves are witnesses."

wJV "of how" - as. Possibly adverbal, modal, of a relatively high point on a scale, so "how great, how much", but also possibly introducing a dependent statement expressing what they were witnesses of, namely, "that we were pure, fair and irreproachable while we were with you."

oJsiwV adv. "holy" - Along with the other adverbs, "justly" and "blamelessly", serving to modify the verb egenhqhmen, "we became = we were", although possibly functioning here as adjectives. The piling up of these adverbs underlines the model of behavior Paul and his team applied during their time in Thessalonica, and by implication the type of behavior that should be adopted by the Thessalonian evangelists. "How devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved to (toward) you", Barclay.

uJmin dat. pro. "among you" - to you. Local, expressing space / sphere, as NIV, or association / relation, "with", but possibly temporal, "while we were with you."

toiV pisteuousin (pisteuw) pres. part. "you who believe" - the ones believing. The participle serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "you"; "to you believers." The present tense possibly carrying the idea "you who continue to believe."


kaqaper "for [you know]" - as, just as [you know]. A comparative in the sense that it accords with the knowledge of the reader, "in accordance with what you know" = "as you well know." The "as you know" serves only to reinforce / restate "you are witnesses", v10 and could actually be left out for the sake of clarity; "you are witness .... of how holy ......, of how we dealt with each of you."

wJV "that we dealt with [each of you] as [a father deals with]"" - The first usage in this verse is usually treated as an adverb of manner, "you know how we", and the second as a comparative, "like a father toward his children." As with its use in v10, the first use is possibly introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what the readers know, as NIV. The second use introduces a comparative clause which runs through to the end of v12; "as/like a father being with his own children ..." This clause serves to modify the elliptical (missing) verb "deals with". It is likely that egenhqhmen, aor. pas. "we became = we were,", v10, supplies the verbal aspect. Possible translations include "treated", Bruce / Barclay; "counselled", Best; "dealt with", Phillips / ARV; "we did everything for you", CEV; possibly "brought up" / "trained", Wanamaker.

uJmwn gen. pro. "[each] of you" - [each one] of you. The genitive is adjectival, partitive / wholative.


paramuqoumenoi (paramuqeomai) pres. part. "comforting" - "Admonishing", assuming that the sense is of pastoral admonition. The participle, as with the participles "encouraging" and "testifying", is modal, expressing the manner in which the main verb egenhqhmen, "we became = we were", is accomplished, although now singular; "as a Father [becomes = is with / deals with] his children, encouraging, ....."

marturomenoi (marturomai) pres. part. "urging" - testifying, witnessing. Participle as above. The provision of divine revelation as a guide to right behavior.

eiV to + inf. "to" - This preposition, with the articular infinitive, usually forms a purpose clause, "in order to live", so expressing the aim of the exhorting; "toward a life lived worthy of God." None-the-less, this construction is sometimes epexegetic, and given that the participles are formed from verbs of saying, the construction may be classified as introducing a dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of the "encouraging, comforting and urging"; "that ye walk worthy of God", AV.

peripatein inf. "to live [lives worthy of God]" - to walk worthily. "Walk" in the sense of "live"; "so as to promote the worthy walk of life", "to live in a way that would honor God", CEV.

tou kalountoV (kalew) pres. part. "who calls [you]" - the one calling. The participle may be classified as adjectival, attributive, limiting "God", he is "the God who calls, but it can be classified as a substantive standing in apposition to God, "God, the one who calls ..." "Call", in the sense of invitation; an invitation that is constant (present tense); "who invites us to participate in ..."

thn basileian (a) "[his] kingdom" - Unlike the gospels, Paul makes little mention of the kingdom of God, although he does retain the now/not yet dynamic of God's righteous rule. Paul's limited use of the term "the kingdom of God" is probably related to the issue of communication. Gentiles would not easily understand the Old Testament background that infuses this term. The word takes the sense of domain as well as dominion. "Dominion", Wanamaker.

kai doxan (a) "and glory" - [kingdom] and glory. The article for "kingdom" is common to "glory". Possibly a hendiadys (a single idea expressed by two separate words joined by "and", so "glorious kingdom", although "glory" by itself is a strong idea in Paul's writings. "The splendor of his kingdom", Phillips.


1 Thessalonians Introduction



[Pumpkin Cottage]