THE APOSTLES’ ENTRANCE
Verse 1 says, “For you yourselves know, brothers, our entrance to you, that it has not been in vain.” The apostle stresses repeatedly their entrance to the believers (1:5, 9). This shows that their manner of life played a great role in infusing the gospel into the new converts. It was not only what the apostles said, but also what they were.
The apostles came to the Thessalonians with the gospel in such a way that the Thessalonians were convinced. The apostles’ entrance was not in vain. They were a pattern of how to believe in the Lord and follow Him. Because many came to believe in the Lord Jesus through the apostles, a church was raised up in less than a month. This happened not mainly as a result of preaching and teaching, but through the kind of entrance the apostles had among the Thessalonians.
SPEAKING THE GOSPEL IN MUCH STRUGGLE
Verse 2 continues, “But having suffered before and having been outrageously treated, even as you know, in Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much struggle.” In the preaching of the gospel, the apostles experienced God. They enjoyed Him as their boldness in the struggle for the gospel. They were bold not in themselves, but in God, even after they had been outrageously treated by the Philippians. Suffering and persecution could not defeat them because they were in the organic union with the Triune God. According to verse 2, they spoke the gospel of God in much struggle. This indicates that while they were preaching, they were fighting, because persecution was still going on. Hence, they were struggling and speaking the gospel to the Thessalonians in the boldness of God.
HONEST AND FAITHFUL
In verse 3 Paul says, “For our entreaty was not of deception, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile.” Deception refers to the goal, uncleanness to the motive, and guile to the means. All three are of and by the subtle and deceiving Devil. The word entreaty includes speaking, preaching, teaching, instructing, and exhorting. Paul’s exhorting was free from deception, uncleanness, and guile. The apostles were not greedy, and they had no intention of making a gain of anyone. Their coming to the Thessalonians with the gospel was altogether honest and faithful.
APPROVED BY GOD
Verse 4 says, “But even as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, Who proves our hearts.” God’s entrusting depends on His approval by His testing. The apostles were first tested and approved by God and then were entrusted by Him with the gospel. Hence, their speaking, the preaching of the gospel, was not of themselves to please men, but was of God to please Him. He proves, examines, and tests their hearts all the time (Psa. 26:2; 139:23-24).
The word “approved” in verse 4 implies being tested. God tested the apostles before He approved them. Based upon this approvedness, God entrusted them with the gospel. God did this in a careful way, for He knows our hearts.
According to our opinion, since God already knows everything, it is not necessary for Him to test us. Yes, before we were born, He already knew what kind of person we would be. Why, then, does God test us? God’s testing is not mainly for Himself; it is primarily for us. God knows us, but we do not know ourselves. Because we do not know ourselves adequately, we may think that we are upright, honest, and faithful. However, when we are put to the test, we shall see what we really are and discover that in ourselves we are not honest, faithful, or trustworthy. God’s testing, therefore, proves us to ourselves. Only after God proves us in this way shall we have approvedness.
I would encourage the young people not to have confidence in themselves, for they have not yet been tested. I have the assurance that God will use the young people. But God’s using of them will come after His testing of them. God cannot entrust anything to us until we have the approvedness that comes from His testing. God’s entrusting is based on our approvedness. But we cannot approve ourselves. Only after God has tested us will He grant us approvedness. Then He will entrust something to us and begin to use us.
It was in this way that God entrusted the apostles with the gospel. Because the apostles had been entrusted with the gospel, they spoke not as pleasing men, but as pleasing God, who proves our hearts. Their speaking was based on God’s entrusting. Because He had entrusted them with the gospel, they spoke as pleasing God.
In verse 4 we see that we must be approved and then have something entrusted to us. Then we need to speak as pleasing God, the One who proves us. This indicates that we need to pass through testing, approving, and entrusting. Then we shall have something to preach and teach.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)