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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

A CLOKE OF COVETOUSNESS

1 Thess 2:5-6 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Paul, and those that accompanied him to Thessalonica, preached God's word exactly as it was revealed to them by God, and Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist tells us of the frailty of men that, for various covetous reasons, seek to be pleasers of other men and women, rather than to be pleasers of God: They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. Following this, the Psalmist tells us exactly how God views all rebellious, self-serving men. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: who have said, with our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is lord over us (See Psalm 12:2-4)?

This same sinful failing of men and women has been, and continues to be, seen in false teachers and preachers throughout all ages of Christianity. The apostle, Peter, warned us of them when he wrote, For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error (2 Pet. 2:18).

In his preaching to those of Thessalonica, Paul at no time used flattering words, as discussed above, ...nor a cloke of covetousness. First of all, "cloke" is the Archaic spelling of the word we know today as "cloak." And the word "cloak" is used to describe a loose fitting outer garment, which is worn to cover, conceal, or disguise, the body or inner garments, either for purposes of warmth or modesty. With this description in mind, a false teacher would intentionally put on a cloke of covetousness,in order to disguise and conceal an inward, self-motivated, inordinate desire for personal reward, whether it be riches, power, or prestige.

This exactly describes false teachers during the days of Paul and it perfectly describes false teachers today. The success of false preachers and teachers depends entirely on the fact, that their true inward motivation, cannot be recognized by the audience to whom they are speaking. Paul gave this succinct description of such ungodly men and women. Writing to the Christians at Rome he said: For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (Rom. 16:18). The apostle, Peter, described them thusly: And through covetousness shall they, with feigned words, make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not (2 Pet. 2:3).

Paul further describes himself, and other true preachers of God's word, as teachers, that do not seek glory from them, or from other men and women. That Jesus was rejected by the Jewish nation, is founded on the fact that He did not seek glory for Himself. He did not come to earth to receive honor from men. Had He done so, those that would have received Him, would have been void of the love of (for) God. Jesus continued by asking this rhetorical question: How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and not the honor that cometh from God only (See John 5:41-44)? Such was the character of the Pharisees. Jesus said that they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (See John 12:42-43). Paul took, for himself, this character of Jesus Christ. All faithful Christians should, and must, do likewise.

It was Paul's intention that he was not burdensome to the church of Christ, that he was instrumental in planting in Thessalonica. So his adversaries could not accuse him of self-serving, covetous motives, and for the sake of effectively teaching God's gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ, he labored to provide for his own needs. Verse 9, which follows the lesson text, tells us this. Likewise, Paul laid no undue burden on the church that he planted in Corinth (See 2 Cor. 12:13-16). Although he could very well done so, Paul neither lorded over them, nor burdened them, with apostolic authority.

Indeed, Paul, in carrying out his mission of preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ, truly desired the salvation of the souls of those that heard him. Never did he desire any part of their material possessions. Millions of "religious" people throughout the world are unable to see through the cloke of covetousness worn by unethical, ungodly, unscriptural men and women, that seek material gain under the pretense of preaching the word of God. Beware of them; they can be found everywhere. Woe unto them!