A Commentary by John Stott
1 Thessalonians 2:2. a). Paul’s openness.
*With the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel* The verb translated ‘dared’ is *parresiazomai*, which means to ‘speak freely, openly, fearlessly’ (BAGD), indeed to speak with *parresia*, which is ‘outspokenness, frankness, plainness of speech’ (BAGD), and so with courage. This characteristic of his preaching Paul goes on to emphasize. He has already written: ‘*You know* how we lived among you for your sake’ (1:5). Now he repeats five times that they are his witnesses, and twice that God is as well: ‘*You know*, brothers, that failure’ (1). ‘We had previously suffered…*as you know*’ (2). ‘*You know* we never used flattery…*God is our witness*’ (5).’ *Surely you remember*…’ (9). ‘*You are witnesses*, and *so is God*…’ (10). Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica had been public. It was exercised in the open before God and human beings, for he had nothing whatever to hide. Happy are those Christian leaders today, who hate hypocrisy and love integrity, who have nothing to conceal or be ashamed of, who are well known for who and what they are, and who are able to appeal without fear to God and the public as their witnesses! We need more transparency and openness of this kind today.
b). Paul’s sufferings.
Before reaching Thessalonica Paul had suffered both injury and insult in Philippi (2). He and Silas had been stripped, beaten, thrown into prison, and their feet fastened in the stocks. It had not only been an extremely painful experience, but humiliating as well, since they were flogged naked in public, without trial, and in spite of their Roman citizenship. In Thessalonica too Paul had met *strong opposition* (2). Yet these afflictions did not deter him. On the contrary, God gave him courage to go on preaching the gospel, whatever the consequences might be. This, then, was the second evidence of Paul’s genuineness. People are prepared to suffer only for what they believe in. Thus Paul appeals both to his openness and to his sufferings as tokens of his sincerity.
Having considered these two preliminary points, we are ready to follow Paul’s *apologia* in its two main stages, in which he alludes first to his visit, and secondly to his absence, together with his intended return. He describes his integrity when he was with them, his anxiety while he was separated from them, and his determination to see them again.
1). Paul defends his visit (2:3-16).
As the apostle recalls his visit to Thessalonica, he seems to depict it by four metaphors, two of which are quite explicit, while the other two are clearly implied. He likens himself successively to a steward (3-4), a mother (5-8), a father (9-12) and a herald (13-16)
The John Stott Bible Study is taken from The Message of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. The Bible Speaks Today John Stott. Used by permission of Inter-Varsity Press UK, Nottingham. All rights reserved.