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1Thessalonians: Chapter 2

Setting

As one reviews the letter from Paul to the Thessalonians, it is important to remember Paul's tremendous affection toward the believers in this church.  He gave testimony of their great conversion from idolatry to a saving belief in the one and true living God, and in following after Him.  He attested to the power of God's word that was received by the Thessalonians, and how they responded in a manner that served as an example to others throughout the local region of Macedonia and Achaia, and many other places who have heard of this wondrous work of the Lord.  1Thessalonians 1 ended with the note from Paul to the Thessalonians to wait for the return of the Lord from heaven, who was raised from the dead, and so delivered us from the wrath to come.  As Paul continues, he encourages the young church through different layers of relationships that exist, which nurtures, exhorts, and identifies himself with them as brother in the midst of persecution.

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-6 The example of Paul, Timothy, and Silas to the Thessalonians
7-10 The relationship of Paul to the Thessalonians with a mother's care
11-13 The relationship of Paul to the Thessalonians as a father
14-16 The relationship of Paul to the Thessalonians as a brother
17-20 Despite the hindrance by Satan, the Lord's work continues

The example of Paul, Timothy, and Silas to the Thessalonians

In 1Thessalonians 2:1-3, Paul is presenting himself, with Timothy and Silas as examples in preaching and teaching, which resulted in much fruit among the Thessalonians.  The experience that they suffered in the city of Philippi, Acts 16:12-40, only served to embolden them to spread the gospel, 1Corinthians 15:1-4, and John 10:14-18.  With the power of the Holy Spirit working through Paul and his fellow ministers, they entered into Thessalonica to build a new church.  There, people responded to the gospel and turned from their idolatrous practices toward believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and living righteous lives, John 16:7-11.  They did not approach the Thessalonians teaching erroneous doctrine, or in uncleanliness, or deceit.  Rather, their witness was in the full truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

In 1Thessalonians 2:4-6, Paul acknowledges the special privilege given to him by the Lord, who entrusted to gospel to him.  Paul was not a people pleaser, but was a Father pleaser, and was found to be true to the Lord through many trials.  In addition, Paul wrote that God was his witness in his fidelity to the spreading of the gospel.  Paul, Timothy, and Silas never sought their own glory, nor the glory of others.  Consistent with the opening of this book, they never imposed themselves upon the Thessalonians, asking for fees or subsistence while present among them, which would have been customary for the position that they held.  Rather, all the glory went to God, and much spiritual fruit was realized from the exposing of the gospel to that region.

The relationship of Paul to the Thessalonians with a mother's care

In 1Thessalonians 2:7-10, Paul begins to correlate his deepening relationship with the believers at Thessalonica with the different relationships that exist within a family.  First, he equates his nurturing care for them to that of a mother's relationship to her child.  Paul is not imparting vacant words, but is emotional about his affection for them, to the impartation of the gospel of God, as well as making personal sacrifices for their benefit without renumeration.  Their sacrifices were not tied to singular events, but they were continuous, through the night and day.  They did not want anything to distract from the delivery of the gospel to the emerging church.  It was also not an event of bragging by Paul, but a sincere expression of Paul's, Timothy's, and Silas's behavior toward this church that was open, just, holy, and without blame.  There is a time of great rejoicing for the work of the Lord that has been done, which will be experienced by all the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ during our appearance before the Lord, 1Thessalonians 2:19-20.

The relationship of Paul to the Thessalonians as a father

In the following verses in 1Thessalonians 2:11-13, Paul next compares his relationship to the believers in Thessalonica with that of a father toward his child.  He actively exhorts the believers within the new church to walk worthy of God,   It is the Lord who called the believers there into His kingdom and glory, Daniel 7:27, John 6:61-71.  Again, Paul breaks out in great praise to the Lord and joy for how the word of God was received by the Thessalonians, who heard and believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and were obedient to His word.  In 1Thessalonians 2:13, Paul makes it quite clear that the truth, the word of God, is an effectual working agent in the lives of the believers.  It does not have an affect upon those who failed to hear the word and either failed or refused to believe the word of Life.

The relationship of Paul to the Thessalonians as a brother

Finally, in 1Thessalonians 2:14-16, Paul expresses his relationship to the local church body as a brother.  In these three verses, Paul identifies with the believing Thessalonians suffering at the hands of others for their belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Here also, Paul draws this close fellowship among the local believers, to those in the original church in Judah.  As Paul wrote in a later epistle to the Galatians, there is no respect of persons within the body of Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, free or slave, male or female, we are all one in Christ Jesus, Galatians 3:26-29.  Here Paul continues to write and show that the Jews both killed the Lord and their prophets, and now were actively persecuting the church at large.  Their hatred toward the gospel and preaching of the truth was manifest in bizarre ways, even to the point of gnashing their teeth at Stephen after he showed Christ through the scriptures to all assembled in judgment over him, Acts 7:52-60.  See also Revelation 2:9-11 for a related passage concerning the persecution of the church, Revelation 2.

Despite the hindrance by Satan, the Lord's work continues

The remaining verses in 1Thessalonians 2:17-20, demonstrate how much Paul desired to return to the believers at Thessalonica, but was hindered by Satan, Daniel 10:1-2, Daniel 10:12-14.  However, Satan was unable to stop the spread of the gospel of God, Matthew 16:13-19.  In fact, this chapter ends in a very high note.  Paul demonstrates what great joy and rejoicing there will be when he is standing in the presence of the Lord with the believers at Thessalonica, when the Lord descends to establish His millennial kingdom, Revelation 19:7-21, Daniel 7:18.  The believers at Thessalonica were indeed Paul's glory and joy!


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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