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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 2

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

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Verses 1-2

Paul's Arrival in Thessalonica

Paul reminded the Thessalonian brethren that the purpose of his coming and the message preached in that coming were not empty. Either they had heard or he had told them about the beating and imprisonment he and Silas had endured at Philippi ( Act_16:1-40 ). If they had been preaching some meaningless message for trivial reasons, such would have stopped them. However, when they came to Thessalonica they courageously preached the gospel. That courage came from being in God ( Rom_8:31 ). The apostle described that persecution as a conflict, which could have come in the form of external pressure or the internal stress it produced. The point is, in spite of great difficulties, Paul and Silas preached openly a message that had already brought pain and hurt into their lives ( 1Th_2:1-2 ).

Verses 3-4

Motives Behind Paul's Preaching

In a city filled with idol worship, the presentation of a religious message without trickery being used for personal gain would surely impress the hearers. Also, Paul and his associates had not preached with any impure motives from a moral standpoint. The word "guile" deals with the method of presentation. Their method was not filled with deceitful trickery intended to lead the hearers astray.

The word "approved" is in the perfect tense which indicates he had been in the past and was approved at the time of writing. The only approval Paul was interested in was God's. He keenly felt the responsibility God had given him when he placed the gospel in his trust and charged him with going to the Gentiles ( Act_9:15 ). So, he did not try to impress men but to please God by preaching His whole counsel ( Act_20:26-27 ; 1Co_2:1-2 ; Gal_1:10 ). God knew Paul's every purpose in preaching the gospel because He searches the decision making center and tests its motive ( 1Th_2:3-4 ).

Verses 5-7

Paul's Conduct Among Them

Paul, and those with him, had not used insincere praise to get the attention of those in Thessalonica, nor had they disguised some selfish desire for monetary gain. To verify the truthfulness of his words, the apostle called on the Thessalonians' memory of his actions and God as an all-seeing witness. Paul's first contact with Thessalonica had not been with the purpose of seeking the praise and glory of men ( Joh_5:41 ; Joh_5:44 ). He could have used the word "we" in an editorial sense, which would mean he was really referring to himself. Or, he may have been referring to Silas, Timothy and himself. They could be described as apostles because they were sent by Christ to preach the gospel. This does not have to refer to the office of an apostle. In fact, even Jesus is called an apostle because He was sent by God to present His plan for salvation and point the way to heaven. ( Heb_3:1 ). Paul further reminded them of his coming to them and the fact that he did not insist on the rights he had as an apostle of the Lord ( 1Co_9:1-15 ). Instead of demanding their support, Paul actually cared for them with the tender care of a loving mother who nurses her own children ( 1Th_2:5-7 ).

Verses 8-12

They Witnessed Paul's Love and Behavior

Paul's love for them was so intense that he was ready to pour out his very life for them in the preaching of the gospel. One who preaches the gospel with the right motives has such a love for souls that he readily shares the gospel and even his life in the hope that others can see heaven. So, the apostle was willing to participate in tiresome, hard work, or labor and toil, while he was in Thessalonica. He did this during a part of the day and even the night so that he could earn his own way and in no way be a burden to them. He did not want anything to hinder the preaching of God's good news.

They had seen how he behaved. Of course, God knew both the behavior and its motivation. Paul and his companions had lived lives dedicated to God, directed by His will and absent of any cause for blame in His sight. The brethren would be the best witnesses of this because they had seen it with their own eyes. Unbelievers would have seen their manner of life also but might not so readily admit to such good behavior since they had not yielded to the purity of the gospel.

The preachers had a special interest in the development of each individual. So, they tried to persuade, or exhorted, them to follow God's way. Additionally, they used words of encouragement and issued serious instructions, or charges, to stay in the pathway of light. The various appeals, instructions and encouragements mentioned by Paul were meant to help members of the church live godly lives. God was thereby calling them into His one kingdom and the glory He has specially reserved for it in heaven ( Eph_4:1 ; Php_1:27 ; Col_1:10 ). It should be noted that the call is ongoing and so is the walk, or life to be lived ( 1Th_2:8-12 ).

Verses 13-16

The Brethren and The Jews--Two Responses to the Gospel

There were those unbelievers at Thessalonica who had not been receptive to the truth ( Act_17:11 ). This may have made Paul even more thankful for the believers. He was thankful they had received God's word and accepted it through obedient belief, thus showing they did not count it as from man but God. Once God's word has been accepted into the heart by such belief, it goes to work ( 1Pe_1:23 ; Jam_1:21 ; Joh_17:17 ). The word's active work in them could be seen in their response to persecution. Like God's churches in Judea which had suffered at the hands of their fleshly brethren, the Jews, the Thessalonian brethren had suffered at the hands of their countrymen. It was the unbelieving Jews who stirred up the persecution against the church, but the Greeks carried it out ( 1Th_2:13-14 ; Act_17:5 ; Act_17:13 ).

The Jews had put to death the Son of God and their own prophets ( Act_2:23 ; Mat_23:37 ). They had driven Paul out of Thessalonica and persecuted him in other cities. History would show the Jews were a people who had generally failed to please God. By hindering the furtherance of the gospel, they actually opposed all men. They showed how rebellious they had become by refusing to heed God's warning and stopping others from heeding ( Mat_23:13 ). God waited for the Jews to repent but their sins continued to mount up until the cup of God's wrath was filled against them. Paul says "wrath had come upon them to the uttermost" out of the voice of prophecy. The destruction of Jerusalem had not yet come but Paul could speak of it as a certainty because he was God's messenger ( 1Th_2:15-16 ).

Verses 19-20

A Deep Desire to See Them

Paul had been forced to leave, or orphaned as his word means, the newborn Christians in Thessalonica against his personal desire, as can be seen when he says, "having been taken away from you." While he was not physically with them, his heart never left them. He had a strong desire to return to them and was working hard to that end. In fact, Paul had tried over and over again to come to them. Somehow, Satan had prevented him from coming to them personally. Opposition to anything that would further the cause of Christ is ultimately motivated by Satan ( 1Th_2:17-18 ; Mat_16:21-23 ).

Like an athlete who hoped for a victory wreath in which to rejoice, Paul saw converts to Christ as a trophy to be laid down at the Master's feet. As he looked forward to the day he would present them to Christ, becomes clear that Paul expected to recognize them in the resurrection and rejoice with them in victory ( 1Th_2:19-20 ).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/1-thessalonians-2.html. 2014.
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