Paul talks a bit like a used car salesman. He seems to be selling his own credibility all the time. It’s probably a cultural thing lost in translation, but now someone who is constantly saying “I have your own interests at heart, I’m not trying to trick you, I’m not making anything on this deal” sorts of statements sounds kinda shifty.
He spends the whole first paragraph talking about how pure their motives were. It is a picture of Paul’s attitude to the gospel, the importance and honesty of the message. Christianity is so much about truth.
And you wonder why? It was a place with many idols. The need to paint so thorough a picture of his honesty implies a lot of religious corruption.
Then he reminds them of his lifestyle among them. Is summed up by love. And part of that love was to be ethically beyond reproach. For example it seems he worked in a job to make sure he wasn’t sponging of those he was ministering to. The plot thickens… Has someone done a hatchet job on his reputation after he left Thessalonica?
It is in direct service of the Word that he works. His efforts, his tenderness – he thought of himself as like a nursing mother to them – are all to make it clear this is a special message, from God not man.
Is good to remember Christians are trying to be good people, but not just because we are told to be good, but because we have a message which we are obliged to share. We didn’t really deserve God’s grace, and the rest of the world doesn’t deserve not to know it, so our goodness is to show the goodness of God, to demonstrate that he is real and true.
He then thanks God that they believed with a strong faith that withstood persecution and testing. He is sorry for the Jews who see it as a religious duty to keep god’s message from the gentiles, how misguided that is and how, far from being what God wants, they are piling up the anger of God on them. As a gentile myself i am grateful for this. May I not write off a culture or religion as not being able to adapt to Christianity. Is very adaptable, because it is true.
He concludes very touchingly calling them his “glory and joy”. The gentile city that responded stunningly to the message will be his crown before Christ, and he deeply longed to see them again.
What a rap! And how much does Paul love People responding to Jesus’ message. It totally is the best thing he can imagine.
OK, so he’s gone from sounding like an over defensive used car salesman to this intense emotionally driven gospel loving man. He must have been something to see and hear. It makes sense because of the drama of his conversion, the shame he had to wear as a persecutor of Christians. He was a naturally obsessive guy, transformed by grace, and it must have flowed out of him unstoppably. Certainly, that is the tone of his writing.