First, here's the passage: 4. Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. Verse four is pretty clear to me. Paul described his Thessalonian brothers and sisters as elect of God. In verse five, Paul seems to relate his knowledge of their election to the power of the gospel. What he is saying is that in their case, the gospel was accompanied by power, by the Holy Spirit, and much assurance--something that was obvious to him. The NIV translates "much assurance" as "deep conviction." I was struck by Paul's assertion that the gospel was accompanied by power. The sentence is framed in such a way to suggest that sometimes it is not. And it suggests that for the elect, the gospel will always be accompanied by power and the Holy Spirit. Can we deduce the converse: that the reason some hear the gospel but do not respond is that the gospel they hear is not accompanied by power and the HS? May we also deduce that whether one responds to the gospel in repentance and faith depends on whether it is accompanied by power and the HS? May one hear the gospel, repent and believe, whether or not power and the HS are involved? My answers to the questions are yes, yes, no. What are your answers? Ready? Release the hounds.