1 Thessalonians 2:1-16
Words AND deeds
Home group Notes
Although we can’t be sure, the implication of the manner in which 1 Thessalonians 2 is set out is that some detractors had risen up and started defaming Paul and his companions.  Here we have a robust defence of their ministry which demonstrates the apostolic priorities and expands on the example about which we first heard in chapter 1.
Read 2:1-6a

  • Recap – why might Paul, Silas and Timothy’s visit to Thessalonica have been branded a failure?
  • Why would Paul brand it a success?
  • “We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.” (2:4)  How might Christian leaders be tempted to please others rather than God?
  • What might a ministry focused on pleasing God look like today?
  • How can we help our leaders to have the right priorities in ministry?
  • Are there any implications for the way we search for and welcome a new Rector?
  • What difference would it make for us if we personally were able to be more worried about pleasing God and less worried about pleasing other people?
Paul, Silas and Timothy had a word-based ministry at Thessalonica.  Verses 2, 3, 4, 9, 12, 13 and 16 all tell of the verbal nature of the mission.  There was more to it than that, however.  The travellers didn’t simply preach at the locals, they worked hard amongst them and opened up their lives to them.  We shouldn’t be surprised at the central place of work in God’s mission; since the very beginning (Genesis 2:15), work has been key to humanity’s role in creation, albeit disrupted and marred by the fall (cf. Genesis 3:17-19).
Read 2:6b-12
  • Paul uses a parental analogy, likening their ministry to both a mother and a father.  What aspects of parenthood did the missionaries exhibit during their time at Thessalonica?
  • How did Paul, Silas and Timothy’s work support their spoken ministry?  You may like to glance ahead to 4:11-12 where the Thessalonians are also exhorted to work hard.
  • Can you share a story of someone who has shared their life with you in a similar way (2:8)?  What impact did it have on you?
  • Words and deeds went together in mission for Paul and his friends.  What pitfalls do we face in mission if we place too much emphasis on either one to the detriment of the other?
  • How could we share our lives more and more with one another, both within this group and looking out to our friends and neighbours?
In the final section we learn that the opposition the church faced at Thessalonica didn’t come only from the Jews (as we saw in Acts 17).  There was opposition from the Gentiles as well, and the Thessalonians joined the ranks of the Judean churches who had been persecuted ever since Jesus went back to his Father.
Read 2:13-16
  • How can we distinguish between “the word of God” and “the word of men” (v13)?
  • In what ways does the word of God work within a believer?
  • How can we reconcile Paul’s harsh words about the reality of God’s wrath with the encouragement and comfort of his parental care (v12)?
Paul, Silas and Timothy obviously invested a huge amount of themselves into the Thessalonians.  Why not finish by spending some time giving thanks for those who invested time, care and proclamation in you, and asking for the strength to similarly encourage others?

Jon Prior, 18/05/2014