Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessaloniansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In chapter one we have the structure and origin of a holy life for the church life. In chapter two we have the fostering of this life. When reading chapter two, we may have the feeling that Paul places too much emphasis on the apostles’ entrance among the Thessalonians and the way they lived among them. We may think that Paul should have given the new believers more doctrine, teaching, and instructions. Instead, Paul emphasizes the apostles’ coming, their preaching and teaching of the Word, and how the new believers accepted this word. Paul’s emphasis is on the apostles’ conduct, on their living and manner of life. The reason for this emphasis is that Paul wanted to nourish the believers, to cherish and foster them. It was not Paul’s intention to give them a lot of knowledge. He did not have the burden to teach them so many things. In the twenty verses of chapter two there is actually very little teaching. In verse 12 he does say that God has called the believers into His kingdom and glory; however, he does not develop these matters or explain them. Rather, in verse after verse, Paul mentions his manner of life, his way of preaching, and his being a pattern to the believers.
What we have in chapter two of 1 Thessalonians is the fostering of the young Christian life. In this chapter Paul is nourishing and cherishing the believers. According to his writing, he behaves himself as a nursing mother and an exhorting father. On the one hand, he is a mother cherishing; on the other hand, he is a father exhorting. His main concern is not teaching, but the carrying out of a fostering work to help the young saints to grow.
Most Christian workers lack the concept that their work should not mainly be a work of teaching, but should be a work of fostering. Paul’s concept concerning his work was one of helping believers to grow. For this reason, in 1 Corinthians 3 he says that he planted and Apollos watered, and then God gave the growth. This indicates that Paul’s concept of Christian work is that it is a work of life. It is not work in a school: on the contrary, it is work on a farm, in an orchard, in a garden. Hence, it is not mainly a work of teaching others or educating them. But today the work of most Christians is mainly for education and somewhat for edification. This edification, however, is not directly related to life. Instead, it is related to ethics, morality, or the improvement of character. But with Paul the concept of Christian work was altogether different.
According to what he says in chapter two, Paul regards the believers as members of a large family. Of course, in a family there is the need for some amount of teaching. Both a mother and a father teach their children. However, in a family the focus is not on teaching the children, but is on raising them by cherishing, nourishing, and fostering them so that they may grow. Their growth is not mainly in knowledge: it is primarily a growth in life. As children grow in life, they spontaneously receive more education. The knowledge they acquire always goes along with their growth in life. They should not be given knowledge prematurely. This means that their knowledge should not exceed their growth of life. This is the proper concept of Christian work.
Concerning this matter, we in the Lord’s recovery must have a change in our concept. Do not think that in the recovery we regard work higher than life. No, we need to concentrate on life. The church is a family. The church may also be compared to a farm or a garden. A family is a place where children grow up, and an orchard is a place where trees grow and produce fruit. Paul’s concern in chapter two is with the growth of his children. He is fostering the young believers so that they may grow. We may also say that he is watering, nourishing, and cherishing the tender young plants so that they may grow in life. This is the reason that instead of giving the believers a great deal of teaching, he presents them a pattern of life. This pattern of a proper living is actually Paul himself.
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