Friday, November 9, 2007

Do we love our flocks like this?

I learned something new yesterday. I was listening to a sermon in my preaching class on 1 Thessalonians 2. He was referring to verse 6 which says:

1 Thessalonians 2:7 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.

Now Paul, in context, is reminding the Thessalonian believers as to how he ministered with and served alongside of them for a number of months and how they know what kind of fond affection Paul has for them (here in v.7 as well as a father to his children in v.11).

At any rate, there is just one word that I want to emphasize and, Lord willing, shed some light upon it. At the end of verse 7, Paul says that he was gentle among the believers there in Thessalonika as a “nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” What is interesting if you look closely at your English version is that the word “mother” is in italics, signifying its absence from the original Greek text. Knowing this, then, it could be read more literally, “as a nurse tenderly cares for her own children.” But then what exactly does this mean?

Well, I did some research and found out that the Greek word trophos was a word used abundantly in ancient Greek literature, from Homer, to the LXX, Philo, to Josephus, to the Church Fathers. So, here is what I found.

According to BDAG, it seems that the most common meaning of trophos was a “nurse.” Now, in the ancient Roman world, when a mother who had children was sick, pregnant or disabled for some reason and inhibited from taking care of her own children for a time, she would get a “nurse” (or trophos) to look over her children in her absence. It was imperative for the mother to get a dependable, respectable woman who was well-known to the family and with the children. This trophos would, in essence, treat the children as if they were her very own children. So here is my correlation.

I wonder if Paul doesn’t have this idea in mind as he writes to the believers in Thessalonika. He’s not saying that he acted as a tender, loving, selfless mother to the church. I think what he is saying is that he has been entrusted with the church by the real ultimate authority (i.e. “God”). Hence what he is saying is that he proved to be gentle among them as a “nurse would tenderly care for her own children. Remember, the nurse would care for the children as if they were her own.

So, men, pastors, elders, overseers, saints, are we loving the people of God with this kind of affection as being entrusted with this wonderful and awesome responsibility of taking care of the children of God?
Your pastor and friend,
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
November 9, 2007


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. Never have I thought about that before. Great stuff!

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