Lectionary Year B
October 24, 1999
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
(JFC) A. SUMMARY OF SALIENT FEATURES
Paul certainly repeats the "as you know" element enough times to keep it near the of the list of important parts of this message. His personal hang-ups need to be relegated to a lesser important role in the paragraph, though. Yet, he does seem to want to keep the Thessalonian's attention focused on the evils that abound, the threats that might menace the young Christian movement. The particular misbehavior at Philippi also deserves a secondary emphasis in this text's major thrusts. What we seem to have here is a proclamation of the Gospel of God and the reason it is to be proclaimed. The love issues in genuine gentleness, to be sure, so, that element rises to the top on the sharing of the Good News and of one's life this text declares.
(JFC) B. SMOOTH TRANSLATION
1 For you are well aware, friends, that our coming to you was not a sojourn in vain. 2 Rather, it was having suffered previously and having been reviled, as you know, in Philippi, we spoke openly in our God to say to you God's Gospel in the midst of great conflict. 3 For our appeal was not from deception or from impurity or in treachery, 4 but since we had been examined by God to believe the Gospel, that is what we say, not in such a way as to please mortals, but God who tests our hearts. 5 For neither formerly in speaking flattery did we come, as you know, nor in pretense of greed, as God is our witness, 6 nor are we seeking from mortals praise not even from you or from anyone else, 7 we are enabled in duty to be as Christ's apostles. However, we came gently into the midst of you, as even a mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 In this manner our longing for you makes us glad to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our very selves, because our love made us appear.
(JFC) C. HERMENEUTICAL BRIDGE
Jesse Ventura said recently, "Organized religion is for the simple minded." Much macho America seems to feel threatened by faith sentiments. Many simply turn us off when we start to share the gospel, even and perhaps, even especially, when we do so with tender gentleness. However, if/when we love as Paul did the Thessalonians, we might risk such reactions, even persecution from the opposition. Fanny Crosby's "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling Thee Home" and James Russell Lowell's "Once to Every Man and Nation" are 2 hymns in the old Presbyterian Hymnbook reflecting some of the themes in this passage. The latter has a particularly hopeful final stanza: "Though the cause of evil prosper, yet is truth alone is strong; Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong, Yet that scaffold sways the future, And, behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow Keeping watch above His own." Doesn't it though?
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