Sunday, 25 June 2017
For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. 1 Thessalonians 2:1
The word “For” here is referring back to verses 1:5 and 1:9. In both of those verses, Paul spoke of himself, and those with him, and the results that came about because of their ministry. Now, to confirm what he has spoken and as a lead-in to his comments of verses 2:2-12, he will give his words of this verse. His note of confirmation comes from the words “For you yourselves know…”
There was nothing hidden in their coming, and the believers at Thessalonica saw everything that occurred, as well as all that resulted from it. Because of this, they were fully aware of what Paul is referring to. Next he says, “brethren.” In more modern translations, the masculine is being dropped for political correctness, but that is a silly way of translating Scripture. The masculine is used, just as it is in English, when speaking of the whole. It includes females if they are present. If only females are present, or if females only are being spoken to, then the words will be so addressed.
He then finishes the verse with, “that our coming to you was not in vain.” Charles Ellicott notes that the words “not in vain” draw a bit too much attention to the result of their coming. Rather, it should be translated, “not vain.” It then appropriately gives the sense of “not purposeless.” Their coming was not powerless, but rather it was effectual in bearing fruit as was hoped for by any missionary who has the desire and intent of obtaining converts.
As noted above, Paul will spend the next verses explaining to them the conduct that he and his associates demonstrated among them, thus setting themselves as examples to be emulated.
Life application: When one wants to obtain certain conduct from others, it can be with a heavy hand, as if a bully, or it can be as one who sets an example for others to follow. Paul chose the latter when he came among a new group of people. He explained the gospel, and he lived out how one converted by the gospel should act. Rather than dictating to others what they should do, we should follow Paul’s lead and act in accord with being a true saint, in a gentle manner and caring for those we minister to.
Lord God, help each of us to display a caring, gentle, and loving attitude towards those we encounter. Help us to not be bold and direct unless the situation demands it. There are, of course, times when we need to speak firm words of correction for those who are obstinate or dull, but until they demonstrate such qualities, help us to be gracious and kind. It isn’t always easy when we face our own limitations, and so give us strength and wisdom in this, O Lord. Amen.