Thursday after the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 (NKJV)
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. 5 For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. 18 Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
The Large Catechism says, “For those only are to be called spiritual fathers who govern and guide us by the Word of God. Of this name St. Paul boasts (1 Cor. 4:15) where he says: ‘In Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the Gospel.’ Because they are fathers indeed they are entitled to honor above all others” (LC I, 158).
In today’s text from 1 Thessalonians, St. Paul refers to his own actions as an apostle preaching the Gospel with both the image of a mother and a father. In verse 7 he says that he was “gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” St. Paul and those with him supported themselves by means of secular employment in order that the Thessalonians would not be burdened. In verse 11 he says that he “exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you as a father does his own children.” Thus, when St. Paul preached the Word He was bold to exhort concerning transgressions by the Law and bring the comfort of faith by the Gospel. He was both as gentle as a mother in his approach, and as firm as a father in bringing to them the true Word of God.
St. Paul describes what spiritual fathers do today. Pastors are those men “who have been approved by God” (1 Thess. 2:4) by their call and ordination “to be entrusted with the gospel,” the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ. The pastorally-preached Word “effectively works in you who believe.”
Lord God, Eternal Word, send forth fathers to preach Your Word and lead us to regard such as valid and certain as if You spoke to us Yourself. Amen.