Friday, 30 June 2017
Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 1 Thessalonians 2:6
Paul continues on with the things they did not do when they came to Thessalonica. In the previous verse, it was seen that they didn’t use flattering words, and they didn’t wear a cloak for covetousness. Now, he says, “Nor did we seek glory from men.” Despite their bringing the good news of Christ, and having made converts of those he is now writing to, they never claimed some type of special recognition because of it. There was no need to give them praise or applause, as if they were somehow special in some way.
Today, titles such as “apostle” and “bishop” precede some people’s names on their social media profiles. People like this are looking for glory from men. They desire to be recognized as bearing a special position which entitles them to honor and accolades. Stating an official title to someone while he is conducting his official duties may be a mark of respect, but to simply claim a title for all the world to see at all times is not exalting of Christ, but of self. Paul is telling those in Thessalonica that he, and those with them, shunned such glory “either from you or from others.”
Not only did they not look for such glory there, but it was their standard way of dealing with all people. They simply came as men with a message greater than themselves, humbly telling of the glory of Christ. However, despite coming in this way, he does acknowledge that “we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.”
The Greek here literally says, “to be in weight.” It is a term unique to the Bible, and it means to be burdensome. As apostles, or sent ones, they could have expected to be paid for their services. Paul writes about this elsewhere, noting that those who minister in the gospel should be recompensed for their efforts, but these men did not ask for pay, lodging, or anything else. They let go of the rights which they were due in order to not be a burden on their hearers.
As a note of doctrine, the term “apostles of Christ” does not necessarily mean that they were all designated to the apostolic office as Paul was. Instead, it is being used of Silvanus and Timothy in connection with Paul. He uses the plural to speak of all of them, while he is the only official “Apostle” by designation. Even if the title is spoken of all three of them, as some assume, it is only in the sense of being a messenger of Christ (as the term means), but without the authority of the true apostolic office, of which Paul alone, among the three of them, possessed. There is no definite article in front of “apostles,” and so the rendering of the King James Version, “the apostles of Christ,” is incorrect. It leads to a faulty view of the status of Silvanus and Timothy.
Life application: In the last chapter of Hebrews, the writer twice encourages his readers to acknowledge the spiritual leaders among them. He says to remember them and consider their conduct, and also to obey them and be submissive to them. This is good and proper, but it must also be mixed with discernment. If a ruler does not display the biblical character of a leader then that person obviously doesn’t deserve the respect of the office he holds. Be discerning first, and then grant to your spiritual leaders respect and submission. Assuredly, they get a lot of grief in the office they hold, and so deal gently with them in regards to their position.
Lord God, how good and wonderful it is to share in the fellowship of Christ our Lord with other believers. There are faithful followers in every nation, who speak every language imaginable, and yet we are united through our faith in His work. Help us to put aside divisions which should not exist, and to come to you as brothers and sisters united through the common bond of what He has done for us. All glory to Christ our Lord. Amen.