In our message, STEWARDS OF THE GOSPEL (1 Thes. 2:1-6), the Apostle Paul, after commending the church in Thessalonica for their strong witness, recounts his visit to them.

It was “not in vain” as the believers there themselves knew God had saved them and changed their lives (1 Thes. 2:1; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; 15:58). This change came about through “THE GOSPEL” when Paul and his missionary team came to them (1 Thes. 2:2). The words “coming to you” in 1 Thes. 2:1 and “what manner of entry” in 1 Thes. 1:9 are the same in the Greek. It was then, when the Thessalonians heard the Word of God and they “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,” that everything changed! (1 Thes. 1:9; John 3:7, etc.). And they “knew” this in their hearts because they were still turning to God from the culture around them as they trusted in Christ (Rom. 12:1-2). They were still changed people! (1 Thes. 1:9; 2:1; 2 Cor. 5:17, etc.).

As stewards of the gospel, Paul and his team were “spitefully treated at Philippi” before coming to share the same message in Thessalonica (2 Thes. 2:2). This included being brought before the governing authorities there (Acts 16:20); being lied about (Acts 16:21); being “beaten with rods” (Acts 16:22) and “many stripes” (Acts 16:23); and being thrown “into the inner prison and [having their feet] fastened… in the stocks” (Acts 16:24). But instead of quitting, they were courageous and “BOLD in God to speak to [the Thessalonians] the gospel… in much conflict” (1 Thes. 2:2; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; John 3:16, etc.).

The word “conflict” in the NKJV or “contention” in the KJV is an athletic term referring to a contest or struggle that one undergoes before receiving a prize. God’s Word often uses this imagery to show Christians who walk by faith will be rewarded (1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 6:9; Heb. 11:6b; 1 Thes. 2:18-20, etc.). The Word declares we “as servants of Christ [are] stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1), and because of this God desires we, as stewards of His resources, “be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2; 1 John 2:28; 2 John 4, etc.).

It is because of this that Paul and his team followed the Macedonian call they received from God traveling to Philippi and then Thessalonica courageously (Acts 16:6-10; 1 Cor. 16:9, etc.) as they lifted up God’s “exhortation” of “the gospel” of Christ (1 Thes. 2:2-4; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:19-21). In spite of what Paul’s enemies said behind his back after he was forced out of Thessalonica, the everlasting gospel “did not come from error” or impure motives or out of trickery in an attempt to deceive others (1 Thes. 2:3; John 8:44, etc.). Nor was it made up by human beings- but given by God Himself so people could have their sins forgiven and receive “everlasting life” (Gal. 1:11-12; Gen. 3:15; John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Acts 4:12; 2 Cor. 5:21; Eph. 2:8-9, etc.).

Just like Paul and his team were “approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel” so are we as Christians today (1 Thes. 2:4a). If you are a Christian, by God’s appointment, you also are called to share verbally and live out as best you can (walking by faith) the gospel with which you have been saved by (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:1-2, etc.). Paul did this as he refused to “seek the glory from men” or even of other believers but only of “God who [tested his] heart” (1 Thes. 2:4, 6). It is because of this that Paul also abhorred all “flattering words” (which is a form of lying) and other sins like “covetousness” (1 Thes. 2:5; Ps. 12:2; Eph. 5:3, etc.). And we as Christians likewise should do the same because God also tests our hearts as well for the purpose of making us more like Jesus (Heb. 12:3-11; Gen. 22:1; Ps. 11:5; 66:10; 1 Chron. 29:17; 1 Pet. 1:6-7, etc.). Once again, as His “STEWARDS” in charge of the gospel (an indescribable treasure which He has entrusted to us) God wants us to “be found faithful” advancing His name and kingdom in this world throughout our lives and when He comes (1 Cor. 4:1-5; 1 Pet. 1:7; Acts 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:7-11; 9:15; 1 John 1:9; 2:28; 2 John 4; Heb. 11:6b, etc.).