What does 1 Thessalonians 2:4 mean?
ESV: but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
NIV: On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.
NASB: but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not intending to please people, but to please God, who examines our hearts.
CSB: Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please people, but rather God, who examines our hearts.
NLT: For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
KJV: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
NKJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
Paul indicates that he had been approved by God to be a steward of the gospel, meaning God had entrusted the gospel to Paul's care. The word "approved" means to be validated through testing. Paul's many trials as a herald of the gospel demonstrated his genuineness as a guardian of the gospel. As someone entrusted by God to spread the gospel, Paul did not speak to please humans, but to honor God. He was aware that God examines a person's motives.

In Galatians 1:10–12 Paul writes: "For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ."
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 2:1–8 recalls Paul's brief three-Sabbaths visit to Thessalonica (Acts 17:2). He had served the Lord there honorably in the face of strong opposition. His message at Thessalonica was the pure gospel of God, and the Thessalonian believers had witnessed his holy, righteous, and blameless conduct. Here, Paul testifies that his intent was only to please God, not men, and that he strove to care for the Thessalonian believers as a mother would care for a child.
Chapter Summary:
Paul begins to flesh out the general ideas he mentioned in chapter 1. Here in chapters 2 and 3, he further explains how he came to preach to the Thessalonian people. Paul particularly notes that his good conduct, proving his unselfish motivations, was instrumental in his success. The warm response of the people also endeared them to Paul, making him long to visit them again. Unfortunately, Paul was prevented from doing so, a struggle he attributes to Satan. Paul once again expresses his gratitude for the Thessalonian Christians' ability to honor God despite persecution.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 briefly introduced the relationship between Paul and the Christians at Thessalonica. This introduction is expanded in chapter 2, where Paul gives additional details about how he came to preach there, why he left, and what he has heard of their spiritual progress. Chapter 3 will round out this glowing report with a reference to a visit from Paul's friend and student, Timothy.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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