1 Thessalonians is written by the apostle Paul to a young church which he planted during probably a very short stay; the Christians there had almost immediately faced persecution for their new beliefs, without the support of mature Christians to help
So Paul writes to reassure them of the truth of the things they have believed, to set them straight on some areas of error, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13, to assure them of the genuineness of his teaching and of his affection for them.
This passage might be a litmus test of worthy ministers; what should you look for in
someone who is appointed to minister among you? Someone who doesn’t come with
impure motives, hoping to bolster their own ego by being popular, throwing their
weight around, or gaining a powerful reputation in the wider church or the world;
someone who doesn’t come to prey on vulnerable people, line their pockets, or live a
lazy life at the church’s expense.
Some people do offer themselves for ministry for reasons like these, and they can do
great damage and these were the rumours the Thessalonians had heard about Paul. So
Paul urges them to look at the facts – would people like that have risked beatings and
prison to tell them about Jesus, as he and his companions did? Would people like that
have been ‘like children among you’ (in Paul’s day, children were at the bottom of the
pecking order)? Wouldn’t they have tried to flatter the Thessalonians, or lord it over
them, or impress them with their qualifications?
A useful litmus test for judging others. But an even more useful guide for each
Christian’s behaviour towards each other and towards their community, those who are
not believers. Sometimes Christians take a ‘high moral stance’: we know what is
right, and you unbelievers – you people who swear, or sleep around, or are addicted to
drugs – you are inferior to us. But that’s not how Jesus was among us. Like Paul, we
have each been entrusted with the message of Jesus, and he has commissioned each of his followers to pass it on, intact, out of love for him and for the people we minister