1Thessalonians 2 - Outline of 1Thessalonians (Book Notes menu page)
In chapter 1, the apostle Paul thanked the Lord, for His work in the Thessalonian believers, who had become 'examples' to other believers, in the way that they had "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven..." In many ways, they were a "model church."
     In chapter 2, we have a picture of the ministry, of Paul, Silas and Timothy, during those first few weeks, when the Thessalonian believers were won and grounded in the faith. Paul and his team were model servants. The new believers would do well to follow their example, in serving the Lord (1The 1:6). So would you and I.
1. For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
2 But even after that we had suffered before,
and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi,
we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
...our entrance in unto you... even after... we had suffered before...-
Paul and his team had arrived, in Thessalonica, unannounced. In contrast to modern evangelistic campaigns, there was no advertising or advance team. Their sudden entrance into an unfamiliar city, had been forced upon them by the persecution in Philippi (Acts 16:16-24,39). Having suffered such violence, injury and shame, would you or I have been so quick to preach the Gospel in another strange place?
...we were bold in our God to speak... the Gospel of God... with much contention.-
The word for 'bold' implies confidence of speech, not arrogance. They were sure that God had commissioned them to proclaim His message. Therefore, they proclaimed it, even when faced with strong opposition.
     The word for 'contention' {GK= agon} was used of the intense struggle of athletic competition. It applies to both sides of the fight. When Paul encountered opposition, he did not shrink back, but fought against it. Paul and his team poured themselves into the battle, agonizing in body and in spirit, for the souls of lost sinners.
for... our entrance in unto you... was not in vain {ie., empty, producing nothing}.
The Thessalonian believers were, themselves, the hard won fruit of this ministry (1The 1:1-10; 2:19,20).
When might labor for the Lord be "in vain"?
  • when the message is met with unbelief (2Cor 6:1,2),
  • when professed believers fall away to 'another gospel' (Gal 1:6,7; 4:11),
  • when professed believers yield to Satan and turn back to the world (1The 3:5),
  • when the workers lose heart and become unfaithful in the work (1Cor 15:58).
Paul and his companions threw themselves into the agony of battle on each of these fronts, lest they labor in vain. Yet, their confidence was not in themselves, but in the Lord, who gives the increase (1Cor 15:10), and who does "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think," even when discouragement clouds our view of what He is doing (eg., Isa 49:4; Eph 3:20,21).
Observe the characteristics of these model servants and their ministry...
3 For our exhortation [was] not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4 But as we were allowed
{ie., approved} of God to be put in trust with the gospel,
even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth
{ie., tests} our hearts.
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know,
nor a cloke of covetousness; God [is] witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor [yet] of others,
when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
The Message ('our exhortation') was true...
The preaching of the Gospel was the substance of Paul's 'exhortation' {GK= paraklesis, lit., 'calling near', admonition, encouragement, persuasive discourse}. The verb form of this word {'beseech' in 2Cor 5:20; 6:1} is used to express the call to 'be reconciled to God.'
...our exhortation was...
  • not of deceit {ie., intentional error}.-
    The message was not altered to please the hearers, or to avoid offense.
  • not in uncleanness - There was no moral impurity in the preachers.
    There was no impure motive (such as greed or covetousness).
  • not in guile {ie., intentional deception}.-
    There were no appeals to the flesh. There was no sales pitch.
The messengers simply proclaimed the Gospel of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, who drew 'such as should be saved' to 'believe unto salvation.'
The messengers were trustworthy...
  • were tested and approved by God, to be entrusted with His message. v.4a
  • were very aware that they were accountable to Him. v.4b
  • did not seek to please or accommodate men... with flattery. v.5a
  • did not have a hidden profit motive. v.5b; cp. 1Pet 5:2
  • did not misuse their apostolic authority for personal gain. v.6
7. But we were gentle among you,
even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
8 So being affectionately desirous of you,
we were willing to have imparted unto you,
not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls,
because ye were dear unto us.
9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail:
for labouring night and day,
because we would not be chargeable unto any of you,
we preached unto you the gospel of God.
The messengers were like mothers, lovingly giving themselves to the care of their children.
  • we were gentle among you (rather than throwing their weight around, as in v.6)...
    ...as a nurse nourishing and nurturing her own children...- With the tenderness of a mother, their hearts were warm toward these people. For like their Lord, they longed for the spiritual well-being of all who heard their message... even for those who were not initially receptive (eg., Mat 23:37).
    They sought to bring their hearers to new birth and then to nourish the new born believers.
  • we were affectionately desirous of you...
    Moved by the love of Christ, the missionaries desired their hearers to enter into the blessings of the Gospel. No price was too high. They would have been willing to give their own souls... first to bring them into the family of God (eg., Rom 9:1-3), and also to ensure the healthy growth of their spiritual children, "...because you were 'dear' {ie., beloved} unto us."
  • ...laboring night and day... not chargeable unto you...-
    They were engaged in a labor of love, like a mother who devotes endless hours to provide for her children. So, they labored around the clock, to meet their own physical needs and also the spiritual needs of the new believers entrusted to their care. Paul supported himself by tentmaking. He chose not to be a financial burden in order to preach the Gospel without charge (cp. 1Cor 9:1-18; 2Cor 11:7-12; Gal 6:6).
       In 2The 3:8-12, Paul recalls the example of how he and his ministry companions worked to support themselves, in order to correct some who had stopped working in anticipation of the Lord's return.
10 Ye [are] witnesses, and God [also],
how holily and justly and unblameably
we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted
and charged every one of you, as a father [doth] his children,
12 That ye would walk worthy of God,
who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
The messengers were like fathers, wisely preparing the believers for life as mature Christians.
...That ye... walk worthy of God...- ie., as is becoming of His children. Eph 4:1; 5:1
...who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory."-
ie., always conscious that our citizenship is in heaven (Php 3:20).
(We are to live in expectation of Christ's Millennial and Eternal Kingdom. eg., Mat 6:13)
These spiritual fathers prepared their spiritual children...
  1. by example - ...we behaved ourselves among you...
    • holily {GK=hosios, piously}...- Faithful to the Lord. Free of impurity that would dishonor Him.
    • justly...- Righteous and honest living, in the sight of God and man.
    • unblameably...- Above reproach. The word does not imply sinless perfection, but rather a reputation which is above accusation.
  2. by encouragement - The mature believers both demonstrated and coached their spiritual children in the way to walk.
    • we exhorted {GK= parakaleo, to call alongside}...-
      The elders apprenticed the young believers in the godly way of life. cp. 1The 4:1,10 (translated 'exhort', 'beseech')
    • we comforted {GK= paramutheomai, to speak kindly, persuade gently, encourage personally}...-
      The elders patiently corrected misunderstandings, and encouraged those who stumbled to get up and continue walking with the Lord.
    • we charged {GK= martureo, to bear witness, to testify, to implore}...- eg., Eph 4:17
      The elders were sure of the way of life, and were determined that their spiritual sons should follow in their footsteps.
13. For this cause also thank we God without ceasing,
because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us,
ye received [it] not [as] the word of men,
but as it is in truth, the word of God,
which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God
which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus:
for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen,
even as they [have] of the Jews:
15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus,
and their own prophets, and have persecuted us;
and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved,
to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
The messengers thanked God for the way the new believers had received His Word.
The messengers referred to their spiritual children as "brethren."
As brothers, they were equals before God.
  • There is a "brotherhood of mankind" (but Paul does not have this in mind).
    All men are descended from Adam (and also from Noah).
    All men share the fallen nature of our first father. We are brothers in sin.
  • Paul is referring to the brotherhood of God's 'born again' children,
    who have received a new nature from Him, through faith in His Beloved Son (Joh 1:11-13; Heb 2:11-13).
    Here, Paul mentions a few things that such brothers have in common...
    • They received God's Word, and they accepted it as truly the Word of God.
      The Word came to them through tested and appoved messengers (v.4).
      However, they recognized that the Message was from God not from men.
      Having believed the Word, they became brothers with the messengers. Joh 1:12
    • The received Word of God "effectually worketh also in you..."-
      Having received God's Word, their hearts were being transformed by the truth.
      The effectiveness of the energetic work of the Word within them (cp. Heb 4:12; 1Pet 1:23), proved that they were indeed in the brotherhood of the sons of God (eg., 1The 1:5-10).
    • They joined the brotherhood of the 'tested.'-
      "Ye, brethren, became 'followers' {GK=mimetes, imitators (also in 1:6)} of the churches of God," in the suffering of persecution.
         Having begun their walk of faith, they had entered a path of continual 'testing' by which they would demonstrate the will of God, as they lived in an ungodly world (Joh 16:33; Rom 12:1,2).
There is also a 'brotherhood' of those, who persecute and oppose God's children. v.14b-16
The persecutors (both Jews and Gentiles) have much in common...
  • They reject the Gospel, whether presented by Christ Himself, the biblical prophets who foretold His coming, or the apostles who 'told forth' what He has done.
  • They hinder others from speaking or hearing the Word of God which brings salvation.
  • They "fill up their sins" adding offense upon offense, until God's limit of patience is reached. (cp. Gen 15:16; Rom 2:2-6)
  • They are at the point of receiving God's just and final wrath.
    God's wrath is presented in several ways...
    • Personal condemnation. Joh 3:36
    • National judgment upon Israel. Luk 19:41-44
      (Paul penned this letter about 17 years before that judgment fell, when Jerusalem was destroyed, by the Romans, in 70 AD.)
    • Worldwide judgment upon all nations, during the Tribulation, the Day of the Lord. 1The 5:1-3
Paul himself had once been among this 'brotherhood' opposed to the Gospel of Christ. But the Lord was merciful to him, saved him from his sin (and God's wrath), and enabled him to serve his Savior (1Tim 1:12-16). The Gospel which he preached is the power of God, by which salvation is offered to those who are under God's wrath (Rom 1:15-18).
     If you find yourself in the wrong 'brotherhood,' "now is the day of salvation" (2Cor 6:1,2). You cannot afford to postpone your decision to turn to the Savior.
17. But we, brethren,
being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart,
endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again;
but Satan hindered us.
19 For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?
[Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
20 For ye are our glory and joy.
The messengers yearned for their new brothers, after being forced to separate.
  • Because of persecution in Thessalonica, the missionaries had been 'taken from' the believers there. Acts 17:1-10
    The emotional intensity of this separation is emphasized by... (v.17)
    • the word translated 'taken from' {GK= aporphanizo, made orphans, bereaved of parents},
    • their 'more abundant endeavouring' {ie., exceedingly earnest diligence} to return to them,
    • their 'great desire' {ie., multiplied yearnings} to be with them.
  • In v.17, the same GK word is used twice, translated 'presence' and 'face.'
    They desperately wanted to be present {ie., face to face} with them.
  • More than once, Paul had attempted to return to their city, but the way was blocked by Satan.
    Satan hindered God's messengers, through unbelieving men, who drove them from Thessalonica, and pursued them to ensure they would not return (eg., Acts 17:13-15).
In the first section of ch.3, Paul will explain the deep concern that he had for the spiritual well-being of these new brothers. Here, he speaks of the goal which motivated this concern...
What is our hope {expectation}, joy {gladness}, crown of rejoicing {victor's wreath of glory}?
'You are.' - The prize which they pursued was wrapped up in these beloved believers.
...in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming... ye are our glory and joy.
Paul (and his co-workers) did not labor for financial gain (v.8,9).
What reward were they hoping for?
  • Their heart desire was that of parents... to see their spiritual offspring mature and prospering in their relationship to, and service for, the Lord (eg., Php 2:14-16).
  • Paul could imagine no higher reward, no greater joy, than to stand, perfect and complete, with these brothers, in the presence of the Lord, at His return for His own (cp. Jude 1:24).
  • Anticipation of this joy, at Christ's second coming, motivated him to persevere in difficult labors for the Lord (cp. Heb 12:2).
...at His 'coming' {GK=parousia, lit., 'with-being'}...-
In Php 2:12, Paul used this word of his personal 'presence' versus 'absence' {GK=apousia}.
     In the NT, the word is frequently used of Christ's personal return, referring to the point in time when He will 'come' for His own (eg., 1The 4:15; 5:23; 2The 2:1,8), but also implying His continual Presence with His saints, from that point onward (eg., 1The 4:15-17).
     In the light of being together, forever with the Lord, any separation which the saints may suffer, between now and then, is only "for a short time" (v.17).
     "The Parousia animates the heart; believers wait for it (1:10); it assures the communion of the saints and the reward of labour (2:19); it satisfies longings after holiness (3:13); it comforts in sorrow (4:13), and it enriches prayer (5:23)." [in quotes, GWms]

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