The Berean Expositor
Volume 43 - Page 172 of 243
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How did Paul know their election? Had he some special access to Divine counsels
which gave him this knowledge? While it was true that this great servant of the Lord had
many revelations from God, some of them peculiar to his ministry, there is no reason to
believe that this was the case here. Verse 5 supplies the answer. It commences with the
Greek hoti translated `for', but better rendered here `because'. He knew their election
because of the manner in which the gospel came "in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and
in much assurance" and also by the practical effect on the Thessalonian believers. "Ye
became imitators (followers) of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much
affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost" (verse 6).
For every effect there must be a cause, and such manifest results as the Apostle saw
could only spring from the fact that there had been a real work of the Spirit among them
which proved their election. The root of a tree is invisible, but its fruit can be seen by all.
Election is like the root and the practical effect in the believer's life, the fruit.
The gospel proclaimed by Paul had become something more than words. There had
been abundant confirmation by the Holy Spirit, and during the Acts period, this was
manifested by supernatural gifts (I Cor. 12:).
While there is no mention of such gifts in this context, we need not rule them out.
This confirmation was not only external but internal. The gospel came with `much
assurance' (verse 5).  The Greek plerophoria occurs four times and only in Paul's
epistles.  Col. 2: 2 refers to "full assurance of understanding".  Heb. 6: 11 to "full
assurance of hope" and in 10: 22 "full assurance of faith".
This is a magnificent word and a corrective to those who are always doubting and
fearing and who regard assurance as being something parallel with pride. "These things
have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that
ye have eternal life" wrote the Apostle John (I John 5: 13). Assurance is God's will for
all His children and this comes when His Word is accepted and believed apart from
anything else in the way of feelings or other attitudes of mind. A doubting believer is a
contradiction and a paralyzed man. He is incapable of any real witness for the Lord. Not
in this way did the believers at Thessalonica receive the Word of the Lord preached by
His servant Paul. They regarded it as the Word of God which energizes (worketh
effectually) them that believe. This is the only source of spiritual power for Christian
witness. It always has been and ever will be so, and practically the last injunction that
Paul gave was "preach the Word" (II Tim. 4: 2). Where the Word of God is not
honoured as the Word of Truth and fully proclaimed as such, there is powerlessness,
spiritual deadness, and lack of response. This is what we see largely around us in
Christendom. It is useless to complain of the lack of lasting results in Christian witness
when God's Word is not given its proper place.
Believers at Thessalonica had received the gospel not as the word of men, not as
Pauline doctrine although preached by Paul, but as it is in Truth, the Word of God. When
they had done this, results followed! And this was no surface stirring, for much affliction
immediately occurred which failed to move them or shake their "much assurance" (1: 6).