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In our study of 1 Thessalonians chapter two, we continue our look at the letter that Paul wrote to the "church" that he started in Thessalonica (modern Greece). Just as God examines our hearts, we are going to take a look at Paul and his heart for ministry.
"You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure." NIV translation
When Paul talks about the visit not being a failure, he is saying that it produced results and not just results in numbers but also in action. The message did not stop at the head as a theory or philosophy but was put into practice. This one verse shows how the teaching of the apostle Paul agrees with the book of James.
"We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition." NIV translation
Paul is talking about the things that happened to him that are recorded in Acts 16. In Phillipi, Paul and Silas were stripped of their clothes, beaten, and thrown in prison because they ran a demon out of a woman. God opened the doors of the prison releasing them and they left for Thessalonica. He reminds the people there that, even though this happened in Phillipi, they still faithfully proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ. The opposition that he refers to comes from the same word that we get "agony" from and tells us of just how intense it was.
"For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you." NIV translation
This verse lets us examine the heart of Paul and his companions. We see first that their ministry (the appeal) comes with knowledge (not from error) in that they understood the gospel of Jesus Christ and lived it. Paul knew the word of God and how to put it into action. Second, we see that their ministry was not motivated by greed (impure motives). We probably think of greed and associate it with just money but it can also be fame and other things. Paul is reminding them that the reason his team came to them was simply to proclaim the gospel so that people might be saved and they did not expect anything in return. Finally, they weren't simply after numbers of converts but were looking to make true disciples as Jesus has instructed. They did not use a big show (tricks or gimmicks) to bring in the harvest but simply and boldly proclaimed the gospel. It is not about "making friends and influencing people" but about proclaiming the Word and letting God change hearts.