2016-07-10 - 2 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Paul's Refutes False Accusations
Now, just as Paul faced opposition in Philippi, he was facing opposition in Thessalonica. But here, it appears the source of the opposition was the Jewish community.
“ … The Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.” " … And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things” (Acts 17:5,8).
The form this harassment took was false charges against Paul and the others. First he was slandered. We can make an assumption as to what the charges were, based on Paul's comments. One charge was that what he taught was false. Paul responds by stating their teaching didn't come from error, or an intent to deceive. This wasn’t an issue, since what they taught came directly from God.
“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:2,5)
Second, Paul’s enemies charged that the Gospel was impure. Pagan religious practices were impure. They included sexual activity which certainly were immoral. This was clearly not the content of the Gospel message. This seems silly at face value, but often the charges that are brought against the people of God are simply a way of trying to throw stumbling blocks in the way of the Gospel.
Paul was also accused of giving the message with the intent of “catching” men, leading people into a fallacious system. The word here encompasses the concept of catching people with bait, as one would catch fish. There is no question that Paul was trying to persuade men to come to the Lord, but the basis was the truth of the Gospel, not on the persuasiveness of his own words.
Paul makes it clear the purpose for his walk is to receive the approval of God. He is not “in it” for the praise of men, or as also charged, money - but only for God, Who is the only one Who can truly know Paul's motives. With the motivation of pleasing God, the charges simply don't hold water.
Finally Paul points out that he wasn't giving out God's word for the purpose of his own glory, power, etc. In fact, he didn't even push for the authority he was entitled to as an Apostle.
Paul has done an admirable job of defending himself. It is clear, though, that the reason he “defended” himself was to preserve his reputation - so the truth of the Gospel would not be undermined by the casting of aspersions on him.
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.