1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2:15

who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,

(a) Killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets. This is not a racist statement made by a Roman citizen from the safety of his Athenian bolthole. Paul considered himself a Hebrew of Hebrews who wished he could be cursed if it meant the salvation of the Jews (Rom. 9:3). Paul is echoing the words of Jesus from Luke 11:49-52.

(b) Drove us out. Religious Jews had driven Paul and Silas out of Thessalonica (Acts 17:5).

(c) Hostile to all men. The religious Jews weren’t just a problem for the Christians, but the Romans increasingly came to view them with disfavour.

1 Thessalonians 2:16

hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.

(a) Hindering us. Paul echoes what Jesus said about the religious Jews in Luke 11:52.

(b) Fill up the measure of their sins. Jesus said the scribes and Pharisees had filled up the measure of the guilt of their fathers (Matt. 23:32), and Paul says something similar here. He repeats what Jesus said to remind us of what Jesus foretold about a coming wrath (Luke 11:50, 21:23).

(c) Wrath has come upon them. Although the destruction of Jerusalem was still nearly twenty years away, Paul could read the signs. He knew that wrath was coming.

The religious Jews had been murdering the prophets for centuries when Jesus said their time was up. Enough was enough. Their sins had heaped up and this generation would reap the wrathful harvest.

Note that the wrath to come was not divine punishment. Some translations erroneously add two words saying the wrath of God has come upon them, but Paul never said this. The wrath of which Jesus and Paul spoke about was the wages of the Jews’ heaped-up sins. After centuries of sowing hatred and violence, they were about to reap a wrathful harvest.

Further reading: “Whose wrath has come?

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