Paul, Peerless Apostle and Prophet (7 of 15)

Focus Text: 1 Thessalonians 2.7-12

Tenacity, veracity, and capacity – these are three words which describe to some degree the apostle Paul. The two previous installments looked at tenacity and veracity; today’s devotional looks at Paul and the word capacity as it applies to some of his admirable traits.

First, Paul had a great capacity for love. While Paul penned some very strong passages, some of his writings are also full of affection and tenderness. He had little tolerance for error, but he loved those who were in error. It was this great love for mankind that compelled him to “…reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long suffering and doctrine” (see his advice to Timothy at 2 Timothy 4.2; KJV). Note another moving passage: “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 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. 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. You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2.7-12).

Secondly, the grand apostle had a tremendous capacity to face the unfavorable circumstances around him without discouragement or complaint. The persecutions that faced him in every city and the patience that he exercised in meeting them with an apparent smile on his face are almost beyond comprehension. Even his own brethren in the flesh and unfortunately some pseudo-brethren in the faith relentlessly pursued him with the objective of doing physical harm to him. Notwithstanding these assaults, he continued on whether or not anyone stood with him; as a soldier who could say, “…I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4.6-7).

Thirdly, Paul had an unbelievable capacity for learning and for teaching. His desire to know more was fed by an insatiable desire to do more. He condemned those who were “… always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (2 Timothy 3.7) but challenged others to study to show themselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2.15) while giving “…attention to reading, to exhortation, [and] to doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4.13). The objective of Paul’s learning as well as the objective which he laid upon others in the faith was in order to serve God in a greater and more meaningful capacity.

These thoughts do not exhaust all there is to say about the grand apostle, but they do help us to remember through rhyme this great man of God - Paul’s tenacity, veracity, and capacity!

Questions:

1. What two family metaphors did Paul use to illustrate his love for the Thessalonians?

2. Was Paul boasting when he said he had fought a good fight? Why or why not?

3. Why did Paul exhort Timothy to study and pay attention to reading and doctrine?

What was the objective of Paul’s learning? What should ours be?