Fake News? – 1st Thessalonians 2:3-4 05/22/2022
Good news and bad news… such is life. We, are called upon to deliver a message, and for those who accept it, it is good news indeed, but for those who reject it, it turns out to be really bad news. The Apostle Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, but that’s not actually where we’re working today.
Our text today is 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4, which I leave to you to look up. Paul was consumed with the commission from the Lord Jesus Christ, and his life was being spent in the fulfillment of that commission. As we explore the first letter to the Thessalonians we’ll repeatedly find that every clause and every phrase expresses the sense of responsibility which Paul felt regarding his commission. Being fully conscious of their status as servants of Christ, Paul and his companions were doing everything they could to lead lives free of all “deceit, uncleanness, and guile.” They wanted nothing to hinder the message of the Gospel.
In contrast to the pagan religions of that time, Paul and his companions modeled the Christian life. He reminds the church of this in 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12. Paul recognized that it was only reasonable to expect the Christians in Thessalonica to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel… if Paul and his friends did. This brings up an interesting point. The information Paul delivered was the solid truth, truth with the power to change lives. It stands in contrast to all other religions, all other philosophies, and all other systems of thought.
However, the problem of false religions remained (and remains even today). Therefore it was necessary for Paul to establish the validity of the message, the message of the Gospel, in a way that could not be mimicked or faked, and so the message was accompanied with works of power. These served to affirm Paul’s authority as one speaking for God. We’re not told what these signs were, but it seems that this was not uncommon, we find this kind of thing in 2 Corinthians 12:12 and again in Galatians 3:5. References to it are scattered through the book of Acts.
The word translated as “Gospel” is (εὐαγγέλιον) [ū ăng gĕlʹ ĭŏn]. At its most fundamental meaning, it refers to that which is proper. From this it gradually came to reference “good news.” In secular Greek (εὐαγγέλιον) it became a technical term for “news of victory.” A soldier would deliver (εὐαγγέλιον) [ū ăng gĕlʹ ĭŏn] to his city when the victory was won. This word was repurposed by the Christian Church, and for us it conveys the sense of glad tidings. The English word, “Gospel” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “god-spell” meaning “God-story.” That is appropriate, the Gospel message to us is a message of love and hope given by God, a message that tells us we can be forgiven. This was set forth concisely in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.
The Roman Road is probably one the most familiar assembly of passages conveying the Gospel. There are several versions of this, one of them is as follows: We start with bad news; Romans 1:20-21. God reveals Himself to mankind through His works, but we’ve chosen to turn our backs on Him and instead, we live according to our own selfish desires. That has not worked out well for us; Romans 3:23. The end result is that we end up on the short end of the stick; we’re guilty before a holy God; Romans 6:23a. The problem is that these sins we so easily commit leave us with a bill we don’t have the resources to pay. Failure to pay results in death, that death being eternal separation from God.
But the message of the Gospel does not end with bad news; Romans 5:8. The thing people need to hear is that God is more than simply a holy God, although He is certainly that. He is also a loving God, and even while we’re in rebellion against Him, He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He paid the bill; Romans 10:13. Because of this, God offers us an option. If we’ll turn to Him in faith, we’ll be saved. How this is done is shown in Romans 10:9-10. To confess means to agree, you agree that Jesus is Lord and that His sacrifice for your sin has been accepted by God. And then… we simply rest in what Jesus has done. When we do this, God promises that we will be saved. The result is amazing; Romans 8:1. Now God has nothing to judge us for, Jesus has already cleared that up. Now we’re accepted, in fact we’re accepted as if we had never sinned at all. Romans 5:1-2.
There are other Roman Road collections, but the bottom line is this, we’re sinners, we need a Savior, Jesus is that Savior, and by faith His sacrifice is credited to us. Because of that God accepts us as His children and promises we will live with Him forever.
Now, for us the question becomes, first; “Does my life show that I’ve met Jesus in a real and transformative way?” Following this, we need to ask ourselves, “Because of what God did for me, am I prepared to tell others the message of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ?” An affirmative answer will cost you everything… everything that you cannot keep anyway, and instead you will one day hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Honestly, at the end of the day, nothing else matters.
 F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, vol. 45, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 27.  Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 386.  F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, vol. 45, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 26.  Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 2339.  D. Michael Martin, 1, 2 Thessalonians, vol. 33, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 72.  John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, C. A. Auberlen, et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 29.  John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, C. A. Auberlen, et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 & 2 Thessalonians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 29. Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Th 2:4.  W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume II, ∆ - ̊Η, ed., Gerhard Kittel, trans and ed., Geoffrey Bromiley, (WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1976), 721.  W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Volume II, ∆ - ̊Η, ed., Gerhard Kittel, trans and ed., Geoffrey Bromiley, (WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1976), 722.  Gerhard Friedrich, “Εὐαγγελίζομαι, Εὐαγγέλιον, Προευαγγελίζομαι, Εὐαγγελιστής,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 722. Thomas Newberry and George Ricker Berry, The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2004), 1 Th 2:4.  H.G. Liddell, A Lexicon: Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996), 322.  R.H. Mounce, Gospel, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MN.: 2001), 512.  R.H. Mounce, Gospel, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MN.: 2001), 514.