1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 2:2

but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.

The gospel revealed in the Bible goes by several names. There is the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1) or the gospel of Christ (Rom. 15:19, 1 Cor. 9:12, 2 Cor. 2:12, 9:13, 10:14, Gal. 1:7, Php. 1:27, 1 Th. 3:2). There is the gospel of God (Mark 1:14, Rom 1:1, 15:16, 2 Cor. 11:7, 1 Th. 2:8, 9, 1 Pet. 4:17), gospel of the blessed God (1 Tim. 1:11), and the gospel of his Son (Rom 1:9). There is the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23, 9:35, 24:14, Luke 16:16), and the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). These are different labels for the one and only gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). See entry for The Gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:8

Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

(a) The gospel of God; see next verse.

(b) Very dear to us. The original word (agapetos) is usually translated beloved. Paul is saying, “You have become beloved or dearly loved to us.” This word captures God’s heart for you. See entry for Rom. 1:7.

1 Thessalonians 2:9

For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

(a) The gospel of God is synonymous with the gospel of Jesus (2 Th. 1:8) and the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) because Jesus is the embodiment of the Father’s grace (see entry for 1 Cor. 1:4).

(b) Working night and day. During his stay in Thessalonica, Paul supported himself, possibly by making tents (2 Th. 3:8).

(c) Proclaimed. The original word (kerusso) means to herald as a public crier. This word is sometimes translated as “preach”. See entry for Acts 5:42.

1 Thessalonians 2:13

For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

(a) Received the word of God. To receive the word of God is to believe the gospel of Jesus.

In the New Testament, there are more than 200 imperative statements linked with faith. Some of these statements exhort us to receive Jesus (John 1:11-12, 5:43), obey or heed the message or good news of Jesus (John 17:6) and turn to God in repentance (Acts 26:20). Other scriptures encourage us to accept the word (Mark 4:20), confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9), call on the name of the Lord (Act 2:21), eat the bread of life (John 6:50-51), be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20), submit to God’s righteousness (Rom. 10:3), and be born again (John 3:3, 7). But the one imperative that appears far more than any other, is the instruction to believe. We are to believe in Jesus (see entry for John 3:16).

(b) The word of God is the good news of Jesus. See entry for Word of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:14

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews,

(a) Brethren. In the New Testament, the word brethren typically refers to Christian brothers and sisters (see entry for Heb. 2:11).

(b) Sufferings. Paul, Silas, and the Thessalonian believers experienced hostility from religious Jews (Acts 17:5).

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) They may be saved. The apostles preached for a verdict. Like Jesus who encouraged people to repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15), the apostles encouraged their listeners to repent, believe the good news, and be saved (Acts 4:12, 11:14, 17:30, 1 Cor. 10:33, 1 Tim. 2:4, 1 John 3:23).

(c) 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).

(d) 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?

1 Thessalonians 2:19

For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?

Crown of exultation. Spiritual offspring are our joy and reward for labouring in the gospel.

Paul had a deep desire to raise spiritual offspring. Through the gospel he became a father to the Corinthians and a mother to the Thessalonians (1 Cor. 4:15, 1Th. 2:7). He called men like Timothy and Onesimus his sons in the Lord. And when he saw those he had nurtured standing firm in Christ, he said, “Now we really live” (1 Thess. 3:8).

“I have become all things to all men, so that by all means I may save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). People were Paul’s reward or prize or crown. The people we bring to Jesus are the heavenly treasures that moth and rust cannot touch (Matt. 6:20). The work we do in saving and strengthening others with God’s grace is the only work that will pass the test. See entry for 1 Cor. 3:14.

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