Approved by God
1 Thessalonians 2:1 For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. (NKJV)
Thessalonica was a major seaport on the Aegean Sea in ancient Macedonia. It was located on the Egnatian Way the major road that connected Rome with the region north of the Aegean Sea. It was a military and commercial center. Thessalonica was named after the sister of Alexander the Great. Today, Thessaloniki, as it is called, is the second most important city in Greece with a population of one million people.
Paul and Silas first travelled to Thessalonica after they were imprisoned and forced to leave Philippi, to the east (Acts 16-17). Paul taught in the synagogue in Thessalonica for three Sabbaths, until the Jews forced them to leave. There was uproar there and believers were persecuted. Paul’s visit was cut short, but he writes here that their visit was not a failure (v.1). People had been converted and a congregation had been established.
Paul wanted to return to Thessalonica to finish his work but was stopped by Satan (1 Th 2:17-18). Instead Paul sent Timothy and is now writing to the church after Timothy reported back to him in Corinth about 50-51 A.D.
Paul reminds the church of his visit and how he boldly told them of the gospel despite strong opposition (v. 2). Apparently the enemies of Paul had accused him of error, impure motives, and deceit (v.3). Some things never change. Ordained Ministers of today are accused of the same things by those used by Satan. Paul assures the new believers at the church that this is not the case. Just as Ordained Ministers of today, Paul was “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” (v.4a).
Since Ordained Ministers are approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel; the “good news”, the Bible, “we speak, not as pleasing men, but God” (v.4b). The literal translation of verse 4b in the Greek is “so we speak, not as men pleasing, but God the One trying the hearts of us.” The meaning of verse four is that Ordained Ministers speak, not to please men, but to please God who holds us accountable.
Some may not understand what it means to be an Ordained Minister. We do not just declare ourselves such. The Certificate of Ordination reads “the church which had full and sufficient opportunity for judging the God given gifts, Christian experience, call to the ministry, and views of Bible doctrine, hereby certify that (the minister) was solemnly and publicly set apart and ordained to the work of The Gospel Ministry by authority and order of the church.”
Since Ordained Ministers are approved by God there is a responsibility for him to please God through his ministry. Also, since Ordained Ministers are approved by God there is an authority from God, which should entitle him to respect and trust. We should remember that he is approved by God not to please men but to please God. He is here not to serve us but to serve God.
Online Bible Commentary