Summary: An interactive Bible teaching study on 1 Thessalonians 2
The Pastor Whose Ministry Was not in Vain
Series: 1 Thessalonians
NOTE: This is the fourth lesson of an extended Bible study of the book of 1 Thessalonians. Each lesson includes discussion questions. Some are open ended questions which require no guidance or correction designed to just get the participants thinking. Some offer suggested possible answers to make sure they are included in the discussion, or correct answers for questions that have only right or wrong answers. Most lessons extend over more than one week; some several weeks if the discussion is good.
TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 - "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: 2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel of God with much contention. 3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8 So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the Gospel of God. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory."
Illus. - In my lifetime, as best as I can figure, I have had 16 pastors. In that time, I have been exposed to both the good and the bad. I remember one who minister who followed a particularly good pastor in the church my dad started in his garage in Smyrna, Tennessee. He was, to put it simply, lazy. He just sat around the house all day and watched TV. He wouldn't visit; he didn't study; and he rarely bothered to even cut his own grass, so that members came to cut his grass for him because of the bad testimony it gave. He only lasted about three or four months and then the congregation voted him out and got a wonderful pastor to replace him.
One pastor I recall was deceitful. He used trickery in his dealings with others and had hidden agendas and manipulated staff and church members to carry them out. Sadly, his ministry there ended abruptly when their wife killed his own daughter and then committed suicide.
As bad as these examples sound, the vast majority of the other pastors in my lifetime-14 out of 16, which is 88%-were wonderful pastors.
For instance, Phil Hurlbut, the second pastor of the church my dad started, was a walking example of the spirit of Christ. He was especially longsuffering, gentle, meek, kind, and patient. And he was extremely diligent to study God's Word and teach it to his people.
Another was Bob Elzey, my pastor in Okinawa. He was the best Bible teacher I ever heard, and his messages were so helpful because of his commitment and faithfulness to study God's Word and prepare for his messages. He loved his people, but if you needed a good rebuke, he didn't hesitate just "telling it like it is," but never harshly or unlovingly.
Q. Have you had a pastor or Christian leader or mentor who was especially exemplary to you? Tell us about him.
These two, in many ways, were models for the ministry for me. But no one modeled the ministry of the pastor like the Apostle Paul. We have already noted in 1 Thessalonians 1 that the church of Thessalonica was a model church that made an impact. In chapter 2 we see that Paul was a model pastor whose ministry was not in vain.
Note verse 1 - "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain." He had ministered among them for only a short time, but his labor was not in vain. That is, his labor was fruitful among them. This was primarily because of the traits and practices of his ministry that he details in verses 2-12.