“Be like a child, a mom, a dad!” 1 Thess 2:7-12 [Sermon Notes on 1 Thessalonians, Week 7]

1 Thess 2:6-12 NIV 2011 – We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like ** young children ** among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Instead of “little or young children” (so CEV, NET, NLT) some manuscripts read “gentle”, as in the NKJV, the NIV 1984 version, and most other English versions, because it seems jarring to have “we were like little children” then “we were like mothers”

Thus the NKJV of 2:7 – “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.”

Our solution – Paul things of three ideas: little children (not powerful); nurturing and hard—working mothers; wise and caring fathers:

We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7a Instead, we were like YOUNG CHILDREN among you.

7b Just as a nursing MOTHER cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a FATHER deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

So, Paul and Silas were like little children, like a mother, like a father. That is how they behaved when the evangelized Thessalonica; and if the Thessalonians want to be evangelistic, they should do the same.

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2:7 – Instead, we were like YOUNG CHILDREN (or little ones) among you.

Instead of being bossy adults, they took the role of small children.

We are thinking here not of babies or infants, but pre-schoolers, probably of the ages of 2-4. Children can in fact be very demanding and bossy, but in that society did not have any influence, less than they do today. Also, the apostles did not use adult tricks of tricks, flattery, and adult tricks. In this way they became like little children.

7b Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you.

Mother – We can delve a little deeper into this, since Paul speaks of a “nurse”. This is literally a woman who breastfeeds children; she is either the mother herself or someone to whom the child was given—to use the older term, a wet-nurse. Since Paul inserts “her own”, “her very own” children, the second direction fits the flow of thought: it is as if a nurse were nursing, not the children of her employer, but her own babies. Paul’s point is that a nurse would not only love her own children, she would know best how to care for them.

2:8 – Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

The team did not march into Thessalonica, drop off a message, and run away; they made their very persons available to the new disciples up to the point when they were forced to leave. Like a mother of little ones, they were never “off-duty”.

Some pastors and Christian workers ruin their health because they don’t eat right, sleep right, and exercise right. Paul has no sympathy with that – he had time for prayer alone, for exercise. But sometimes it’s a question of staying open late to help a new Christian. They worked “night and day”.

They made tents, which was a trade, not slavery or factory work, but keeping their own hours.

2 Cor 11:26-27 – 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep…

Paul, like all Jews of his day, believed that if you were going to be a rabbi, you ought to work to support yourself. Greeks, on the other hand, believed that work was “beneath” a scholar.

People remember a small percentage of what they hear, but a large percentage of what they see. The Thessalonians should have a mental image of an apostle doing menial labor should have been unusually striking and memorable to a Thessalonian, because it would have seemed so strange. Why? Because any great teacher ought to be getting money, lots of it. And how do you get money? By cozying up to rich people for gifts.

Paul says he didn’t want to “be a burden to anyone” with money issues. He was deliberately throwing status points to the winds; “he was stepping down the social ladder for the sake of Christ.” And like a mother, he is always on duty, nurturing and hardworking

2:10 – You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 2:11-12 like Wise and Caring Father –

This metaphor of being a “father” is more typical of Paul (note, e.g., 1 Cor 4:15: “Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel”). It is like the work of God himself: “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (Ps 103:13). In Judaism and in the Greco-Roman world, it was expected that a father would give moral instruction to his sons.

2:12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

This is not just giving out information, but “encouraging, comforting, urging”.

“To walk worthy” literally, to live a certain lifestyle = worthy of God, worthy of his coming kingdom. Repeat with me: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. God has called us to that kingdom, when Christ returns – so we should live now as people on the path to the kingdom.

“Glory” = another word for the kingdom that is coming, as in Romans 8 –

17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Remember that – Paul has said the Thessalonians should imitate him (1:6); and if Thessalonians wants to share the gospel – and they should! – then they should imitate Paul and how he did evangelism. And when we share the gospel or teach others, that is how we should behave as well.

Like little children they laid aside their authority and didn’t try any tricks to gain money

Like a mother they were busy and nurturing

Like a father they were wise and caring

“Be like a child, a mom, a dad!” 1 Thess 2:7-12 [Sermons on 1 Thessalonians, Week 7], by Gary S. Shogren, PhD, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica

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