Memory Text: “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4, ESV).
Key Thought: By revealing what the true motive in ministry must be, Paul can help us all examine our hearts and lives in light of the gospel.
This week’s lesson marks a major transition from the arguments of the first letter to the Thessalonians. Paul moves from a focus on the church (1 Thess. 1:2-10) to a focus on the apostles and their experience in Thessalonica (2:1-12).In the previous chapter Paul gives thanks to God because the believers in Thessalonica modeled their lives on Paul and, in turn, became models of faithfulness themselves. Now, in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Paul probes more deeply into the kind of life that enables the apostles to function as role models.
While there are many possible motivations for teaching, preaching, and service, Paul puts his finger on the one that matters most: that ministry will be pleasing to God. Paul was less concerned with growing the church in numbers than with its growing, through God’s grace, in the right spiritual principles.
In this lesson we glimpse Paul’s innermost life. Paul bares his soul in a way that challenges us to align our own spiritual hopes, dreams, and motivations so that we will please God and have the right influence on others.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 4.