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Bible Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 2

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-16

Paul’s Work of Faith in Thessalonica In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 Paul describes his work of faith when he first visited the city of Thessalonica and preached the Gospel of Christ to them. In this passage of Scripture Paul refers to his work towards them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12), then to their response to him (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul’s Work in Bringing Them to Christ: Paul Defends His Conduct 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

2. The Believers’ Response to Paul’s Work of Faith in Thessalonica 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul’s Work in Bringing Them to Christ: Paul Defends His Conduct In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 Paul reminds the believers at Thessalonica of his first visit with them. In this passage there is a tone of apologetics as Paul defends his pure motives amidst what was probably criticism after his departure. They had received gifts from the church at Philippi while in Thessalonica. So, it was important that they appeared not as a group of wandering deceivers out for financial gain, but rather pious and sincere men who worked for their needs. Greece was probably infested with traveling philosophers who made a living by peddling their ideas to the simple-minded. Paul felt the need to defend his apostleship, not from the view of his divine calling, as he did with the churches of Galatia, but from a more practical standpoint.

Paul reminds them of the sacrifice he made in bringing the Gospel to them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2). He bases the defense of his apostolic authority on the fact he came to them with integrity (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6), as a loving parent (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). He cared for them as a mother bestows love (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8); he became an example before them in his labours (1 Thessalonians 2:9-10); and he required of them discipline as a father does his children (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). A key factor in leadership is to walk integrity, to be genuine and not false, to love those whom one leads, and to be an example before them, and to require of them discipline. Otherwise, people lack respect for a leader.

1 Thessalonians 2:1 Comments - In 1 Thessalonians 2:1 Paul is speaking in a defensive mode, asking his readers to agree with his forthcoming argument.

1 Thessalonians 2:3 Comments - In 1 Thessalonians 2:10 note how Paul will contrast his godly conduct, in which he behaved “holily and justly and unblameably,” with his statement in 1 Thessalonians 2:3 that his exhortation to them was “not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile.”

1 Thessalonians 2:5 Comments - Paul says he did not come in order to please men, or did he covet other men’s things.

1 Thessalonians 2:6 Comments - Paul says he did not come to receive praise of men, even though he could have asserted his authority as genuine apostles of Christ. He could have asserted his power and looked for their praise as an apostle.

1 Thessalonians 2:7 Comments - A pastor must be as caring as a mother. He must love them as newborn babes by feeding them so that they can grow in the Lord. In 1 Thessalonians 2:11 Paul says that he exhorted and comforted and charged them as a father doth his children, which refers to his efforts to direct them into maturity and divine service. A mother is always there to love and minister to her children, while a father leads.

1 Thessalonians 2:9 “For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail” - Comments - In his book God’s Armor Bearer: Book II, Terry Nance says that the Lord revealed to him the key to seeing the fulfillment of the call of God on his life. It is by intimacy, pregnancy, travail and birth. He explains that spiritual birth on this earth follows the same pattern as natural birth. As we become intimate with God, He plants within us a seed that we nurture and develop into His plan and purpose for our lives. As we labour and travail to follow this plan, we will see the manifestation of His plan for our lives. [70] Paul understood this principle, as he alludes to it in this verse. Paul refers to his labour and travail for the churches in other passages. Note:

[70] Terry Nance, God’s Armor Bearer: Book II (Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, Inc., c1994), 19-21, 25.

Galatians 4:19, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,”

2 Thessalonians 3:8, “Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:”

1 Thessalonians 2:9 “for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you” - Comments - Paul used a divine principle of not taking “wages” from new converts, but working himself and taking help from other churches. Note also 2 Corinthians 11:7-11.

1 Corinthians 4:12, “And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:”

1 Thessalonians 2:9 Comments - These labours and travails that Paul and his companions demonstrated in the presence of the Thessalonians were simply outward manifestations of an inward heart of gentleness (1 Thessalonians 2:7) and tender affections (1 Thessalonians 2:8). It comes naturally when the heart is right. It is a heart of unselfishness.

Alexander Mackay, the famous missionary to Uganda, East Africa, worked daily among the native Africans, realizing it was his access to preaching the Gospel to a naturally lazy culture. These natives saw in him each day a sacrifice was made to serve them, which opened their hearts to the testimony of God’s love towards them through Jesus Christ.

“All through his mechanical work, building, turning, casting, carpentering, glazing, engrossed as he was with these crafts, and earning his bread literally by the sweat of his brow, Mackay's burning desire was to lead the people to Christ. He grudged the time spent in these secular occupations and longed to give himself entirely to teaching and preaching. Indeed, he had serious thoughts of going home, and studying for ordination as a clergyman, in order that he might be able to baptize and administer the communion. But happily for the success of the Mission, and happily for Uganda, he was led to give up this idea of return. After studying the subject long, and with much prayer, he came to the conclusion that the sphere of working missionary was the one in which he had most influence, and to which God had called him. The example of hard work which he set was of great value to the natives, who were naturally lazy. Here was a man who taught that work was noble, and proved that he believed it, by himself working harder than any of them. They called him Mzunguwa-Kazi, which means ‘white man of work;’ for, from the time that he first came to their country, they had never seen him idle.” (C. T. Wilson, Alexander Mackay: Missionary Hero of Uganda, London: The Sunday School Union, 1893, p. 83)

1 Thessalonians 2:10 Comments - In 1 Thessalonians 2:10 note how Paul now contrasts his godly conduct, in which he behaved “holily and justly and unblameably,” with his previous statement that his exhortation to them was “not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile” (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

1 Thessalonians 2:11 Comments - A pastor should not only love like a mother (1 Thessalonians 2:7), but challenge the mature believers to excel in divine service, as a father does his children. The mom ministers, the father leads.

Verses 1-20

The Sanctification of the Believer - After opening his first epistle to the Thessalonians with a brief Salutation (1 Thessalonians 1:1), and after introducing the work of divine election in the lives of the Thessalonians from the perspective of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10), Paul spends the entire body of the letter fully developing the three-fold aspect of divine election. He discusses the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believer by explaining the process of that a person goes through in order to be fully sanctified, spirit, soul and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Outline - Note the proposed outline:

A. Sanctification of Man’s Spirit 1 Thessalonians 2:1 to 1 Thessalonians 3:13

B. Sanctification of Man’s Body 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

C. Sanctification of Man’s Mind 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to 1 Thessalonians 5:11

1. The Rapture of the Church 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

2. The Day of the Lord 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

D. Commending Them Unto Their Leaders 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Verses 13-16

The Believers’ Response to Paul’s Work of Faith in Thessalonica In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16 Paul describes his work of faith when he first visited the city of Thessalonica and preached the Gospel of Christ to them. In this passage of Scripture Paul refers to his work towards them (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12), then to their response to him (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16).

1 Thessalonians 2:13 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.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 “God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” Scripture References - Note similar verses:

1 Corinthians 12:6, “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”

Ephesians 3:20, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”

Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

Philippians 2:13, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Note the same verb used here.

Hebrews 13:21, “Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”


Ephesians 1:9, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:”

Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Ephesians 3:7, “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.”

Ephesians 4:16, “From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Colossians 1:29, “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 “which effectually worketh also in you that believe” - Comments - Since the emphasis in 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 is man’s response to the preaching of the Gospel, we find that this passage is an exposition of our “work of faith,” which Paul mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. Thus, Paul uses the phrase “which effectually worketh in you that believe.” In other words, the preaching of the Gospel had a powerful effect upon those who heard. Paul makes a similar statement in Romans 1:16-17 by saying that the Gospel of Christ is the “power of God unto salvation.”

Romans 1:16-17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

1 Thessalonians 2:14 Comments - The book of Acts records the great persecution that took place in Jerusalem following the death of Stephen, when the church was scattered abroad.

Acts 8:3-4, “As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”

Acts 11:19, “Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.”

1 Thessalonians 2:15 “and have persecuted us” Comments - Paul and his team were targeted by the Jews in Jerusalem, which resulted in being persecuted throughout the period of his ministry to the Gentiles.

Verses 17-20

Paul’s Efforts to Return to Thessalonica In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 Paul explains to the Thessalonians how he had not forsaken them, but rather, he had made a number of efforts to return to the city safely and without controversy in order to see them and strengthen their faith, yet Satan had hindered these efforts. Thus, Paul chose to send Timothy (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).

1 Thessalonians 2:17 Word Study on “being taken from” Comments Strong says the Greek word “taken from” ( ἀπορφανίζω ) (G642) literally means, “to bereave, wholly, separate.”

The idea of separation in 1 Thessalonians 2:17 involves Paul having to leave Thessalonica regretfully and of necessity, although his heart is still with them.

1 Thessalonians 2:18 “once and again” Comments The phrase “ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς ” (once and again) can read, “once or twice.” In other words, Paul would have visited them several other times had he not be hindered from those who threatened him if he returned.

1 Thessalonians 2:18 Comments The hindrance from Satan that Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians 2:18 may be the fact that their security was removed when Jason was reprimanded and they had to leave, and efforts to secure their safe return was being denied by city leaders.

1 Thessalonians 2:20 Word Study on “joy” Strong says the Greek word ( χαρα ́ ) (G5479) means, “cheerfulness, delight.” It carries the idea of happiness, both spiritually and mentally.

1 Thessalonians 2:20 Scripture Reference:

Psalms 127:5, “ Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-thessalonians-2.html. 2013.
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