“But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict,”1 Thessalonians 2:2 ESV
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are entrusted with the Gospel. Much responsibility comes with the Truth. Responsibility to proclaim it. And the responsibility to guard it. All of these responsibilities require great boldness.
The Greek word for boldness, “parrésia,” means freedom and openness, especially in speech. It also implies boldness and confidence. I like how the HELPS Word-studies explains the use of this Greek word: “properly, confidence (bold resolve), leaving a witness that something deserves to be remembered (taken seriously).”
That should be every Jesus follower’s desire: to have the boldness to speak freely with confidence about our Lord and Savior, and that because of our boldness, people who hear us speak Jesus know that He is something that deserves to be remembered and taken seriously. That is my desire. That was Paul’s desire too. We get a glimpse of that in 1 Thessalonians 2.
Proclaiming the Gospel Boldly
One of my favorite prayers is the one the disciples prayed after the chief priests and elders warned Peter and John not to speak any more about Jesus. Instead of cowering in fear, the disciples prayed for boldness. They said:
“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them… And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 2:24, 29-30
After this prayer, the place they were gathered was shaken, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they continued to speak the word of God with boldness (v. 31).
Paul had this kind of earth-shaking boldness. We learned in the Introduction to First Thessalonians that before Paul visited Thessalonica, he was attacked, beaten, and thrown in jail in Philippi. He and Silas then traveled to Thessalonica, where they were forced to leave because of more threats of persecution. This didn’t stop Paul. He continued to proclaim the Gospel boldly.
Luke in Acts 9 describes Paul’s boldness like this: “He went in and out among them (the disciples) at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against they Hellensists. But they were seeking to kill him” (vv. 27-29).
Paul had a boldness that only Holy Spirit can give. Boldness that ignored threats and ignored danger. Boldness that proclaimed the Gospel at any cost. If the Church had Paul’s brand of boldness today, think what we could accomplish. I want that kind of boldness. Don’t you?
Guarding the Gospel
When threats of violence didn’t stop Paul, those who would have him silenced told lies about him. They thought if they could discredit him, they could discredit the Gospel. In 1st Thessalonians 2, we see Paul on the defensive against those lies. Because He dared to open his mouth and proclaim the Gospel, he was accused of the following:
Being untrustworthy (1 Thess. 2:2).
Having ulterior motives (1 Thess. 2:2).
Trickery (1 Thess. 2:2).
Preaching to please others, not God (1 Thess. 2:4).
Preaching for his own glory (1 Thess. 2:5, 6).
Preaching for money (1 Thess. 2:5, 9)
Paul couldn’t ignore these accusations, not because of pride but because of the Gospel. He had to guard its integrity. God had entrusted him with it. He had to guard it at all costs.
Paul responded to the lies by recalling to the Thessalonians the truth – his real motives. He reminded them of his treatment of them like both a mother and a father – how he treated them like a nursing mother treats their children: taking nothing and giving everything (1 Thess. 2:7) and like a father deals with his own children: encouraging, comforting, and urging them to walk in a manner worthy of God (1 Thess. 2:11-12). Paul reminded them that his motivation was genuine love for God and them.
Realistically, if Paul had ulterior motives, if he were preaching the Gospel for the money or his own glory, he would not have endured what he described in 2 Cor. 11:24-28:
Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once, I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
Paul’s only motive in proclaiming the Gospel was to please God (1 Thess. 2:4). Paul wanted to stand before Jesus, knowing that others were there too because of his obedience in proclaiming the Gospel.
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