1 Thessalonians 2:3

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 1 Thessalonians 2:3

The word “For” is based upon the words of the previous verse. Paul and his associates were bold in speaking the gospel. It was an exhortation based in the truth of God. The word exhortation, paraklésis, is “a personal exhortation that delivers the ‘evidence that stands up in God’s court” (HELPS Word Studies). Paul knew this. Therefore, the words of the gospel message they proclaimed, having been pronounced because they are God’s plan of salvation, “did not come from error or uncleanness.” The preposition he uses, ek, gives the sense of “from” or “out of.”

If they are of God, then there could be nothing of error in them, nor could there be anything profane in them. The word for “error” gives the sense of deception which causes one to wander into sin. Obviously, if God’s plan is to bring man out of the bondage of sin, then His message will be completely free of such error.

The second word, translated as “uncleanness,” gives the sense of ritual impurity. This can come about by leprosy, an open infection, child birth, touching a corpse, and so forth. Each of these was something described in the book of Leviticus. If such uncleanness required a sin-offering when it was over, then obviously it speaks of the general sin-nature of man evidenced in such uncleanness. Again, the gospel is God’s plan to bring man out of sin, and therefore the gospel is – in itself – completely free of uncleanness, and it is what makes complete cleansing possible.

Paul then changes the preposition for his last noun. Instead of ek, he uses en. It means “in.” Their message did not stem from personal deceit, as if they were trying to bait their audience. Here the word used is dolos. It gives the sense of using a decoy to snare people through deception in order to exploit them in their naive state. Paul is saying that the motives of himself, and those with him, were pure and without any cunning. Instead, they genuinely presented the gospel from their hearts, knowing that it is the one thing that can remove from them the emotional pain of a fallen life.

Elsewhere, Paul speaks of people who present false gospels, and also people who present the true gospel, but in deceit. The first he warns against in the most vehement terms. We are never to allow a false gospel to be presented without challenging it, and we are to have a sound enough knowledge of the real gospel to be able to do the challenging when necessary. For the second category, Paul shows little care. If the true gospel is being proclaimed, even if it is by someone who simply hopes to profit off the message, he knew that God would deal with such a person. His words concerning this are found in Philippians 1:15-18 –

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”

Life application: Let us be fully versed on the true gospel, and also let us be ready and willing to defend against any false gospel. The soundness of the gospel message is far more important than trying to determine the heart of the person presenting the message. The Lord will deal with those whose hearts are not right with Him, but we have an obligation to deal with those whose message is not in accord with His word. Be prepared; know your Bible.

Lord God, how can we determine if the gospel we have heard is true or not unless we check it out? And how can we we defend against a false message unless we study and know Your word? Grant us wisdom enough to simply pick up the Bible, read it and study it, and then apply its truths to our lives. And help us to warn those who are being misled by false words. Help us to follow through with this, to Your honor and glory. Amen.

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