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Summary: An example worth following (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading: 1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verses 1-12.

Ill:

When architect Sir Christopher Wren;

• Designed the interior of Windsor Town Hall near London in 1689,

• He built a ceiling supported by pillars.

• After city fathers had inspected the finished building,

• They decided the ceiling would not stay up and ordered Wren to put in some more pillars.

• England's greatest architect didn't think the ceiling needed any more support,

• So he pulled a fast one.

• He added four pillars that did not do anything -- they don't even reach the ceiling.

• The optical illusion fooled the municipal authorities,.

• And even today;

• The four sham pillars fool or amuse many a tourist.

The apostle Paul had his critics at Thessalonica:

• Like Christopher Wren’s pillars, some accused him of being a fake.

• That is just one of the themes that runs through this chapter.

(Background info):

• The opponents to Christianity were unable to discredit the message;

• It was a message that had transformed the lives of the Thessalonians

• So plan B for the opponents to Christianity:

• Is to discredit the messenger.

• Finding that they could not defeat Paul’s message,

• His critics try to defeat him!

Question: Who were the critics?

Answer:

• We are not actually told;

• Although we don’t know the details, we can have an educated guess.

(1). Jews (Acts 17):

• We know in Acts chapter 17 when the Church was planted:

• Paul faced Jewish opposition;

• Some of his converts had left the synagogue and were now part of the Church.

• Mixing with Gentiles and no-longer following the requirements of Judaism.

• This had not gone down well with the deeply religious Jewish locals;

• And so they had Paul evicted from their city.

• Acts chapter 17 verse 13 we are told that they:

• Then followed him to Berea ‘Agitating the crowds and causing trouble.’

• These zealous Jews were determined to get back at Paul or at least get even.

• So they were determined to smear his reputation and try to destroy his ministry.

(b). Satan (1 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 18):

• Satanic opposition - verse 18 gives a brief mention of this.

• As Christians we are in a spiritual battle as well as a physical battle.

• One of the reasons we suffer is Satan,

• The name means ‘Adversary’.

• Notice that the enemy of the Christian is only mentioned twice in this letter.

• That tells me Paul was aware of him but not preoccupied with him.

• We dare not underestimate him, but let’s not over emphasise him!

(c). Other ‘so called’ believers.

• Some Christians or those who were attending the Church who would oppose him.

• Some sadly had their own agenda, or were seeking prominent positions for themselves.

• Others at Thessalonica came from a pagan background;

• And they would try to mix Christianity with their other beliefs (Syn-chron-ism)

• Paul of course would be against that;

• And so for some in the gathering that created tensions and problems.

Ill:

• Two taxidermists stopped before a window in which an owl was on display.

• They immediately began to criticize the way it was mounted.

• Its eyes were not natural; its wings were not in proportion with its head;

• Its feathers were not neatly arranged; and its feet could be improved.

• When they had finished with their criticism,

• The old owl turned his head ... and winked at them.

There was a small element opposed to Paul:

• But like that owl;

• Paul was one step ahead of his critics and in this chapter he answers them.

Now in answering his critics Paul invokes three witnesses to deny the charges:

FIRST WITNESS: Paul will defend himself

• In this chapter

• Paul rebukes all the things that Timothy ‘may have’ reported were being said about him.

One commentator points out that there are eight accusations dealt with in this passage;

• He was accused of being a bungler, a coward, a fanatic, lecherous towards women,

• A trickster, a flatterer, an opportunist, an idler, a dictator!

SECOND WITNESS: THE THESSALONIANS.

• He appeals direct to the Thessalonians;

• Calling on them to remember his conduct among them.

ILL:

• These verses in chapter 2,

• Are a bit like Paul presenting a slide show:

• He is showing photos to the Thessalonian Christians of his stay with them.

• Only he is showing ‘word pictures’ to them, and not actual pictures.

Just scan through the passage (Chapter 2):

• Verse 1: "You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure".

• Pointing to one picture in their minds: "You know".

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