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Bible Commentaries
1 Thessalonians 2

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentMahan's Commentary

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Verses 1-8

Evidences of ministerial sincerity

1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

The apostle, giving an account of his successful ministry among the Thessalonians, commends their readiness to receive the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:1 . What a comfort it is to a minister of the gospel to have his own conscience and the witness of others declare that he has been true to the gospel of God's glory, true to those who have heard him, and that he has not run or labored in vain! What an encouragement to see that God has brought forth fruit from the word preached (Acts 20:20-21; Acts 20:26-27). If a false prophet is known by the fruits of his ministry, may not a true minister be known by his? (Matthew 7:15-16).

1 Thessalonians 2:2 . Paul was put in prison and shamefully treated at Philippi (Acts 16:0). He was not discouraged nor turned from his purpose to make Christ known; but as soon as he came to Thessalonica, he preached Christ as boldly as ever, meeting with much contention and opposition. Persecution and opposition ought to encourage rather than discourage us, for we are faithfully warned by our Lord that the natural man and the religionist will not receive the gospel of the grace of God! (John 16:1-4). But ‘we earnestly contend’ also (and this may be the main point here).

1 Thessalonians 2:3 . We are willing to be a bit contentious and appeal to you with great zeal and fervor; for our preaching of the gospel of Christ does not originate from error, delusion, or an improper motive (nor in fraud or deceit). Our design is not to win you to ourselves, to a party, or to glory in your flesh, but that you may know Christ. Paul had no secular aims or goals, but was in reality what he professed to be. In the next verses he gives the reasons and evidences of his sincerity!

1 Thessalonians 2:4 . We are stewards of God, entrusted with the gospel. It is required of a steward that he be faithful. The gospel he preached was not his own, but was the gospel of God (1 Corinthians 9:16). We shall give an account (Hebrews 13:17).

Our design was to please God, not to please men. The gospel of Christ must not be compromised and accommodated to the thoughts, desires, and fancies of men; but it was designed to mortify the flesh and glorify the grace and mercy of God in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:5 . We avoided flattery and praising the flesh, for we were determined to preach Christ, not to gain an interest in the affection of men. We did not flatter men to gain their support nor their interest in the gospel. Our weapons are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

We avoided covetousness. We did not use the ministry as a cloak or a covering to hide a covetous and greedy motive. Our design was not to enrich ourselves through preaching (2 Peter 2:3). God always met our needs and provided our living regardless of what men thought of us.

1 Thessalonians 2:6 . We avoided ambition and vain glory. Paul did not covet their praise, nor to be called Rabbi, nor to be adored by them. He was not seeking honor from men, but that honor which comes from God (John 5:44). He was certainly an apostle and worthy of respect and double-honor. He could have used his authority as an apostle and demanded esteem and special care, but he wanted nothing to hinder their coming to faith in Christ.

1 Thessalonians 2:7 . We were gentle among you. Such kindness, gentleness, and patience is becoming to the gospel of Christ and recommends the grace of God, for he is kind and gentle in dealing with sinners (Ephesians 4:32). Though Paul did not flatter the flesh, he was kind and condescending to all men and became all things to all men. He showed the kindness and care of a mother nursing and cherishing her own children. The word of God is indeed powerful, and it comes often with awesome authority upon the minds of men; but it is not our place as faulty men to use this word harshly nor in a rude, cruel, and overbearing manner (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

1 Thessalonians 2:8 . The Apostle had such a strong affection for these people that he was not only willing to preach the gospel to them but was willing to give his life for them: they had become this dear to him.

Verses 9-20

We have these things in common

1 Thessalonians 2:9-20

Paul continues his account of his ministry among the Thessalonians by expressing his deep personal regard for them and his thanksgiving to God for them, encouraging them in their faith, their trials, and their afflictions for the sake of the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-10 . The scripture is very clear on the matter of support and material care for those who preach the gospel as pastors, missionaries, and evangelists (1 Corinthians 9:11-14; Galatians 6:6). But when Paul was among these people, he worked as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3), which proves that he was not seeking material gain and did not use the ministry for a cloak of covetousness. In his life, conduct, and conversation he put forth every effort to keep from bringing reproach on Christ or hindering the gospel. People watch us and listen to us, often in a critical fashion, in order that they may find some reason not to believe our gospel. Let us avoid every appearance of evil and inconsistency which might give them cause to accuse us of hypocrisy!

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 . He reminds them of his tenderness, compassion, and faithfulness in ministering to them, exhorting them also to walk in a manner of life that is worthy of their holy calling. We are in this world but not of this world! (Philippians 3:17-21; 1 Corinthians 7:29-31.)

1 Thessalonians 2:13 . This is perhaps the greatest compliment Paul could pay them and the greatest blessing that could come their way. Paul, without ceasing, praises God that it is true of them. They heard the gospel of Christ from Paul, but they did not only hear Paul but God; and they received the gospel of God's glory not in word, tradition, and logic of a mere man, but they received it as the word of God (1 Thessalonians 1:5). God works by his word; and when the word is heard in power, as the word of God, it works effectually to the quickening of dead sinners and the enlightening of dark minds! Men need to cease to argue scripture and hear the word of the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 . Wherever you find the children of God (whether in Judea, Thessalonica, or America), they have most things in common!

1. They agree on the depravity, inability, and sinfulness of the flesh!

2. They ascribe all the glory for salvation and providence to God alone!

3. They rest in the person and work of Christ alone for all things!

4. Their only rule for faith and conduct is the word of God!

5. Christ is the object of faith, the glory of God their object in life.

6. They endure persecution and ridicule from a world of unbelievers, both in religion and in the world (John 15:18-19; John 16:1-2; 1 Peter 4:12-14).

1 Thessalonians 2:16 . The enemies of Christ and of his gospel did all that they could to keep Paul from preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. The Jews called for the death of Christ, killed their own prophets, and persecuted Paul, holding to their own self-righteousness and doctrine of works. They are the enemies of all men. But the wrath of God has come upon them completely and forever. Zealous religionists who deny the free grace of God are special objects of God's wrath (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12; 2 Peter 3:16).

1 Thessalonians 2:17-18 . In these verses Paul apologizes for having to leave them after such a short ministry. He was forced to leave by the rage of his persecutors. He had determined to return but was hindered by the great enemy of the gospel who stirred up opposition and contention. He was absent from them in body but not in heart.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 . The believers in Christ Paul calls his hope, his joy, his crown of rejoicing, and his glory in the presence of the Lord Jesus at his coming.

1. They were his hope and joy. He had great hope for them, and their conversion was a matter of joy for him now and would be at the return of Christ.

2. They were his crown of rejoicing, or his victor's wreath of triumph. They would be trophies of God's grace, and Paul would rejoice encircled by these to whom he had preached the gospel.

3. They were his glory and joy. Believers never glory in men but in the mercy and grace of God in Christ toward men! These believers were fruits of his ministry also, and therefore brought hope, rejoicing, and joy to his heart.

Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hms/1-thessalonians-2.html. 2013.
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