October 14

 

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12-Paul’s Behavior among the Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 2:1-2-He was not stopped by persecution

This was not Paul’s first encounter with resistance to the Gospel.  Here, he mentions that before they ever arrived in Thessalonica they had already dealt with persecution in Philippi (cf. Acts 16:22-24), where they had been beaten with rods and thrown into jail.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-6-He was not deterred to compromise

It would have much easier on them personally if they had toned their message down some.  The Gospel would not have been as threatening if they would have presented it as just one more religion among the many already there.  But instead, they made it clear that Jesus was the one and the only God (1:9) and that all others were false gods.  They didn’t use flowery words and half-truths that deceived those that heard them…so that they would not be offended by the truth (:5).  They didn’t short change the Gospel and make it seem to be appealing to those of other religions so that they would support them financially (:5).  And, they didn’t try to appease the egos of other men so that they would receive praise and respect for themselves (:6).  Their sole ambition was to please God (:4).

 

  1. …In the first century world Paul lived in, there were many competing religions, and many ministers of those religions were motivated by greed and gain.
  2. The city of Thessalonica sat on the Egnatian Way, the famous highway that went east to west through Macedonia. Thessalonica was also an important port and a melting pot city with cultures from all over the world. There were a staggering variety of religions and religious professionals in Thessalonica. In this city, you would find the worship of the gods of the Olympian pantheon, especially Apollo, Athena and Hercules. There were the native Greek mystery religions, celebrating Dionysis and the sex and drinking cult. The Greek intellectual and philosophical traditions were also represented. There were shrines to many Egyptian gods: Isis, Sarapis, Anubis. Also present were the Roman State cults that deified the political heroes of Rome. There were also the Jewish people and the God-fearing Gentiles.
  3. Most of these religions were missionary minded, and sought to spread their faith using itinerant evangelists and preachers. Most of these missionaries were opportunists, who took everything they could from their listeners, and then moved on to find someone else to support them.

iii. "There has probably never been such a variety of religious cults and philosophic systems as in Paul's day … 'Holy men' of all creeds and countries, popular philosophers, magicians, astrologers, crack-pots, and cranks; the sincere and the spurious, the righteous and the rogue, swindlers and saints, jostled and clamoured for the attention of the believing and the skeptical." (Neil, cited in Morris)

David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Thessalonians 2, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Th/1Th_2.cfm?a=1113018

 

1 Thessalonians 2:7-9-He developed a personal relationship with them

1 Thessalonians 2:7-Paul says that instead of demanding that they submit to his Apostolic authority (:6b), they were like loving parents to them.  Because of this parental affection that they had for the Thessalonians, they didn’t just command that they yield to their instructions; but instead, they were willing to give their very lives for them.  That is quite a turn around.  Like a "nursing mother" they tenderly cared for them, and like a father (:11) they were "exhorting and encouraging and imploring" them to "walk in a manner worthy" of God (:12).

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12-He lived an exemplary life before them

Paul reminds them that while they were with them not only were they “exhorting and encouraging and imploring” them with their words to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you”…but, their very lives were an example of how to do so…”how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved”.  Someone has said, “The Gospel is more caught than taught.”  Someone else has said, “Our talk talks and our walk talks.  But our walk talks louder than our talk talks.”

 

  1. Barclay sees the following false charges against Paul, evident from this chapter:

-"Paul has a police record and is therefore untrustworthy" (1 Thessalonians 2:2).

-"Paul is delusional" (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

-“Paul's ministry is based on impure motives" (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

-"Paul deliberately deceives others" (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

-"Paul preaches to please others, not God" (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

-"Paul is in the ministry as a mercenary, to get what he can out of it materially" (1 Thessalonians 2:5, 2:9).

-"Paul only wants personal glory" (1 Thessalonians 2:6).

-"Paul is something of a dictator" (1 Thessalonians 2:7).

David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Thessalonians 2, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Th/1Th_2.cfm?a=1113018

 

1 Thessalonians 2:13-They had received his message as the Word of God

It was because of this approach to sharing the Gospel that the Thessalonians recognized that what they were saying was not merely their own thoughts, but that their message came from God.  This was not just some philosophical teaching.  But the message of the Gospel was life-changing truth.

1 Thessalonians 2:14-16-They had been persecuted for their faith in the Word of God

Paul says that the Thessalonians endured the same kind of persecution that the believers in Judea suffered at the hands of the Jewish leaders..."who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out" (:15).  There is a kindred spirit between believers in Judea and Thessalonica that is based on their common suffering for the sake of the Gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20-They had tried but had been thwarted by Satan

1 Thessalonians 2:17-18-Paul says that on several occasions he intended to come see them, but that "Satan thwarted us."

 

  1. Satan hindered us: Paul, in all his apostolic ministry and authority, could still be blocked by Satan. But Paul did not just receive this Satanic hindrance in a fatalistic way. He did something about the hindrance.
  2. First, Paul understood that this was Satanic hindrance. He knew this was not a random circumstance, but a direct attack from Satan. Paul had the discernment to know.
  3. Second, Paul had faith. For a short time (2:17) means that Paul knew it would only be a short time until the roadblock was overcome.

iii. Third, Paul was committed to fight against the roadblock any way he could. If he couldn't be there in person, his letter will go for him and teach and encourage them in his absence. Many scholars believe that 1 Thessalonians was Paul's earliest letter written as an apostle to a church. If this is the case, then Satan's roadblock got Paul started on writing letters to the churches. When Satan saw the great work God did through theses letters, he regretted that he ever hindered Paul at all.

  1. Finally, God brought the victory. Acts 20:1-5 describes Paul's eventual return to Thessalonica and other churches in the area.
  2. "Supposing that we have ascertained that hindrances in our way really come from Satan, WHAT THEN? I have but one piece of advice, and that is, go on, hindrance or no hindrance, in the path of duty as God the Holy Ghost enables you." (Spurgeon)

David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Thessalonians 2, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Th/1Th_2.cfm?a=1113018

 

Satan hindered us--On a different occasion "the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Jesus" (so the oldest manuscripts read), Act 16:6, 7, forbad or hindered them in a missionary design; here it is Satan, acting perhaps by wicked men, some of whom had already driven him out of Thessalonica ( Act 17:13, 14; compare Jhn 13:27 ), or else by some more direct "messenger of Satan--a thorn in the flesh" ( 2Cr 12:7; compare 2Cr 11:14 ). In any event, the Holy Ghost and the providence of God overruled Satan's opposition to further His own purpose. We cannot, in each case, define whence hindrances in good undertakings arise; Paul in this case, by inspiration, was enabled to say; the hindrance was from Satan. GROTIUS thinks Satan's mode of hindering Paul's journey to Thessalonica was by instigating the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers to cavil, which entailed on Paul the necessity of replying, and so detained him; but he seems to have left Athens leisurely ( Act 17:33, 34 18:1 ). The Greek for "hindered" is literally, "to cut a trench between one's self and an advancing foe, to prevent his progress"; so Satan opposing the progress of the missionaries.

Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Th/1Th_002.cfm?a=1113018

 

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20-Paul mentions that when Jesus returns it will bring joy to him that the Thessalonians had been saved and stood faithful in the face of persecution.  This is the second time that Paul has mentioned the return of Christ (cf. 1:10)…and, in fact, it is mentioned at the end of all five chapters (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:17; 5:23).  Evidently the Thessalonians had voiced some question concerning this teaching to Timothy and he had relayed it to Paul.  Paul would address this topic more thoroughly later in his letter (4:13-5:11).

Prayer: Father, strengthen me in the face of adversity.  Help me to be faithful to You...not faithful because people are willing to receive me, or because the situation is good.  Help my life to be centered and based on You and nothing else.

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