●You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. (1 Th 2:1) We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition. (1 Th 2:2)
If you go to Acts you can read the various details regarding the origin of some of the Christian churches, including this one at Thessalonica. So how did Paul and his co-workers (Silas and Timothy) previously suffer and get insulted at Philippi? In Acts 16:18, Paul cast a demon out of a fortune telling slave girl. The slave owners were angry because that source of income was now gone. They consequently slandered Paul and Silas which resulted with them getting severely flogged (beat bloody) and then imprisoned. In a nutshell that is how they previously suffered and [were] insulted in Philippi before arriving at Thessalonica. (Their physical wounds were probably not healed yet when they arrived.)
There were various reasons why it would have been easy for Paul and Silas to remain silent and not speak up. It is not always favorable to speak out God’s truth. With God’s help (then or now) we can spread the gospel (plan of salvation) to people. The need has always been desperate. Souls remain in danger.
●For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. (1 Th 2:3) On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. (1 Th 2:4) You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. (1 Th 2:5)
When true servants of God spread the message of God it will be like Paul, Silas and Timothy as described there. Their motives were pure and their message was true. They spoke that message not in a light-hearted, joking fashion, but in sincerity and the seriousness associated with what we are dealing with—salvation itself and eternity—heaven or hell forever.
They knew they were entrusted with the gospel and would have to account to God for that, as will all Christians! Such should generate a serious and active plan to evangelize and spread the true gospel. Again, all Christians have been entrusted with the gospel and better get busy. See also
The men in that holy group were not man pleasers, but God pleasers. Because they were God pleasers, they had MANY enemies and faced much persecution and rough times. Among other things, they also never used flattery (which can be a deceitful tool) nor were they greedy looking for personal material gain. Instead, they were after souls. [Getting back to flattery—such is/will be used by false teachers (Rom. 16:18) and the antichrist (Dan 11:32).]
●We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, (1 Th 2:6) but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. (1 Th 2:7)
Paul and his team wanted God’s praise, not man’s praise, and conducted themselves accordingly. [That holy ambition alone will help greatly in walking the straight and narrow in this sinful age.]
Silas was an apostle too, not just Paul in that team. [Silas was also a prophet, Acts 15:32. The context of 1 Thess. would allow for the possibility of Timothy being an apostle as well.] Paul, Silas and Timothy were as gentle with those new converts (who came out of the town synagogue, Acts 17:2-4) as a mother in the natural is with her little children.
●We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. (1 Th 2:8)
Paul and Silas opened up with their spiritual children and shared personal details with them motived by pure, holy love.
●Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. (1 Th 2:9)
Apparently at this point in time they had very little or no financial help from other churches. Therefore, they earned money by personally working to pay for their own mission expenses. (Paul was a tent maker, Acts 18:2,3, which made it convenient for him to work doing the day and/or night. It was a secular job that traveled with him and would not be helping the spread of evil as idol making, etc. would have been.) Even in the heart of God’s will on their mission, they faced hardship. (Serving God will mean trouble and suffering, but it is worth every moment, especially when we stand before God.)
●You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. (1 Th 2:10)
That is an important verse to memorize. The grace changers (also known as the eternal security teachers) declare Paul, as a Christian, was not holy, righteous and blameless but instead the worst of sinners! [The worst of sinners is worse than all other sinners and no better than that. The eternal security teachers want Paul to be the worst of sinners, then not so bad at a different time. They want it both ways.] Shocking but true. Silas and Timothy were also holy, righteous and blameless. See 1 Thess 1:1.
●For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, (1 Th 2:11) encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (1 Th 2:12)
Earlier it is stated they were like a mother, now it reads they were also like a father in the natural. They were there to help those Christians by encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worthy of God. NOTE: Though the Holy Spirit will lead Christians towards holiness and obedience the battle rages (because of the world, flesh and devil) to disobey God. Often we need that type of encouragement and urging. Note also for us to live holy and obedient to the Lord Jesus is normal and rational, since he bought us with his precious blood and made us new creations.
●And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. (1 Th 2:13)
Cited here is one of the reasons Paul and his holy group were thankful, which reflects their servant hearts. When Paul preached the gospel it was the same as him preaching the word of God, since it was from the Scriptures. See 1 Cor. 15:1-4 cf. Acts 17:11. The people who got saved viewed their message that way too. God’s word is working in all believers. See John 17:17.
●For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, (1 Th 2:14) who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men (1 Th 2:15) in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. (1 Th 2:16)
Complimenting those Christians, Paul states they were like some of the original churches in Judea. Persecution came on the Thessalonian Christians from the unsaved in their area, just as what happened in Judea. Persecution comes to all who are godly, with no exception (2 Tim. 3:12). Paul wrote about the Jews who persecuted them and mentioned their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. This is done in our day in various ways at various times. The truth must go forth, which the devil will oppose through his servants. To hinder God’s word from going forth is to heap up your sins by preventing salvations from occurring. Such is, therefore, one of the greater sins. (There is no Universalism or salvation for all.)
●But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. (1 Th 2:17) For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us. (1 Th 2:18)
Their pure hearts are reflected by their intense longings to see those new Christians again for their spiritual sake. Satan, who often tries hard to crush and destroy new converts, got in their way with follow up. Satan actually stopped, for awhile, that mighty Apostolic team from going to Thessalonica to check up on and strengthen those converts. (Satan is not in hell now, like some think. He was defeated by Jesus at the cross, but now we must battle him too in faith and endurance, as we serve God.) Sometimes a personal victory over him won’t occur immediately, as with Paul, Silas and Timothy.
●For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? (1 Th 2:19) Indeed, you are our glory and joy. (1 Th 2:20)
Those Christians at Thessalonica were a precious part of Paul’s life’s work and what would be brought up in the presence of the Lord Jesus at the Judgment. Paul bragged on them here, as he did elsewhere in 1 Thess.
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