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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lenschow

A Life Worthy of God

1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

1. Recognize the Context:

Previous Context:

In verses 5-8, Paul continued to explain his initial visit to Thessalonica. In the Greco-Roman world, there were itinerant orators and traveling philosophers. Some had positive motives and desired to bring about true moral change. Others were known to use these terms (flattery, greed, and seeking praise) in an attempt to deceive and manipulate their audiences for their own personal gain. Paul sought to distinguish himself from these ancient “con-artists.” For Paul, his integrity and the integrity of the gospel were at stake.

In verses 7-8, Paul provided two distinct images to depict his relationship with the Thessalonian church. Paul and his companions were like young children with them, innocent and gentle in their approach. They were also like a nursing mother who cares for her own children. This picture captured the essence of Paul’s love for these young believers. Because of this affection, Paul and his co-laborers not only shared the gospel message, but they shared their lives.

2. Read the Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

3. Reflect on the Scripture: In verse 9, Paul reminded the Thessalonian church of the challenging and difficult work he and his companions endured regularly (night and day), so as not to be a financial burden to the people or hinder the proclamation of the gospel. Paul did not identify the specific work in which he participated. However, in 1 Cor. 4:12, Paul wrote that he worked with his hands. In Acts 18:3, Luke identified Paul as a tentmaker with Aquila and Pricilla. Since tents were made of leather in the Greco-Roman world, all three might have more broadly been “leatherworkers.” In any event, this trade provided the financial resources for Paul not to be a burden.

In verse 10, Paul again called on the Thessalonian’s firsthand knowledge of his visit (see also 2:1, 2, 5, 9, 11). He identified them as witnesses, along with God (see 2:5), of Paul and his companions’ conduct within their presence. He used three terms to describe the missionaries’ behavior, holy, righteous, and blameless. Holy has to do with one’s character before God, while righteousness has more to do with their relationships before one another. The word blameless provides a summary of their conduct both before God and with each other. By using all three terms together, Paul emphasized their exemplary lives with the Thessalonians.

The Apostle used his third familial image in verse 11, a father with his own children. Paul described this role with three participles, encouraging, comforting, and urging. The purpose of his nurturing efforts was so that they live worthy of God. Here the verb “to live” is the Greek word for walk. In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Hebrew and Greek words for “walk” are used metaphorically to mean “live” or “conduct one’s life.” This is one of Paul’s ways to refer to the Christian faith. The idea here is that one should live a life reflecting the character of God.

This God is the one who has called them into his kingdom and glory. Paul’s usage of kingdom language is infrequent. However, he clearly has in mind the same message of Jesus in the Gospels. The Kingdom is God’s rule and reign, and it is both a present and future reality. Glory was used frequently in the OT to refer to the presence of God, and Paul applied the same usage here. Therefore, a life worthy of God’s calling is one in God’s presence and under his authority.

4. Relate to life:

Now it's time to get specific and respond today. Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.

To pray:

Today, prayerfully consider the words holy, righteous, and blameless. Do these words describe your life with God and with others? Ask God for his help.

Today, prayerfully reflect on what it means for you to live a life “worthy of God.”

Today, prayerfully consider how Paul described his role as a father with his children. Who have been the people, past and present, who have nurtured you in the faith like this? Thank God for them.

Are there people that you nurture in the faith like Paul did? If there are, pray for them.

To do: (work produced by faith with the Holy Spirit’s help) Today, if you are able, let the people who have “mothered” and “fathered” you in the faith know how much you appreciate them.

If you don’t have someone right now, pray and actively look for that person.

Today, pray and actively look for a person who you can nurture in the faith. Consider having a conversation with that person and maybe establish something formal.

To study: (Always make sure to read the immediate context of the given passages).

Read and study the passages on:

Walk-Deut. 5:33, Deut. 8:6, Rom. 6:4, 2 Cor. 5:7, 2 Cor. 6:16 (used of God, a quote from the OT), Eph. 5:2

Some English translations use the word “live,” so you may want to search that as well.

Use to search these and other words from this passage.

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