1 Thessalonians 2:14-20

In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-20 Paul acknowledges that the Thessalonians had suffered because they received the Word. “For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea.” When the Thessalonians responded to the Gospel, they became the targets of persecution. The Thessalonian Christians became imitators of those who had suffered before them because they were convinced that Paul brought them not the word of man, but the Word of God. The word of man isn’t worth suffering for, but a true message from God is worth it, and the Christ Followers there were willing to suffer for it.

This wasn’t something new in Thessalonica. “For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!” Paul wrote that his own countrymen (the Judeans) had killed… the Lord Jesus. But Paul knew well that the Jews of Judea were not the only ones responsible for the murder of Jesus. The Romans had their full share of guilt, so both Jew and Gentile were guilty.

Paul also comforted the Thessalonian Christians with the awareness that they were right, that they are the ones pleasing God. Paul knew that the Thessalonians appreciated the comfort he gave, but they wondered why he didn’t come and bring this comfort in person. “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.” It wasn’t that Paul did not want to visit the Thessalonians.

Paul assured the Thessalonians that he could never forget them because they were his glory and his joy. His inability to visit should never be taken as a lack of love towards the Thessalonians. “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.” Paul said that he didn’t need a crown in heaven because these precious ones were his crown of victory. Those whom we bring to Jesus and disciple are a crown of victory for us. Clarke summarizes “Every man who preaches the Gospel should carefully read this chapter and examine himself by it. Most preachers, on reading it conscientiously, will either give up their place to others, or purpose to do the work of the Lord more fervently for the future.”

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