1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 17-20

1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary 17-20
1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary 17-20
Explaining the Book
1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 17-20
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[S] Today the world is celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day. Even the search giant Google is advertising this holiday on their homepage today.

And of course, for most of America, this day is nothing but an excuse to drink excessively. But there’s an actual historical figure behind this day with an actual story to be told.

[S] Patrick was born in AD 385 in Roman Britannia in the modern-day town of Dumbarton, Scotland. He was enslaved by Irish pirates at the age of 16 who brought him back to Ireland to work for them. It was there that God started to work in Patrick’s heart concerning the truths of Scripture that he had learned from his father, who was a deacon.

Finally, Patrick escaped Ireland to go back to his home. But he felt a calling to go back to Ireland - to the very people who had enslaved him - and to preach the gospel to them.

And that’s just what he did - seeing great success from his endeavors - even seeing the pagan king of Ireland converted.

And even though God was doing such a work through him in Ireland, he expressed in the 43rd paragraph of his Confessions,

“I would like to go to Gaul [modern-day France] to visit the brothers and to see the faces of the saints of my Lord. God knows what I would dearly like to do.”

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/who-was-saint-patrick-and-should-christians-celebrate-st-patricks-day/

https://www.confessio.ie/etexts/confessio_english#

This ancient believer - from what we can tell - wanted to be with his fellow-believers. He could say that God was able to testify to those desires of his. He was happy to be ministering among pagans. But his heart was really with other Christians.

And I think this is the kind of heart that we see from the apostle Paul as we continue our study in the book of 1 Thessalonians. So, please join me in 1 Thessalonians 2:17.

Because in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 we’re going to see this theme: Believers Desire to be with One Another.

The professing believer who has no desire to actually be in the presence of other believers - there’s something not quite right there.

Because believers desire to be with one another. So, let’s explore that in our passage this evening.

1 Thessalonians 2:17–20 AV 1873

17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

20 For ye are our glory and joy.

So, let’s work to find this theme of believers desiring to be with one another throughout this text.

Verse 17

1 Thessalonians 2:17 AV 1873

17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

To begin, Paul starts with a contrast…

But we, brethren

But we, brethren

Ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί

So, there’s a contrast here - or at least, a transition. Paul was talking about the unbelieving Jews and how they hindered Paul and Silas from proclaiming the gospel to Gentiles so that they might be saved. And that’s just what had happened in this city of Thessalonica - the Jews had driven Paul and Silas out and thus were hindering the gospel.

And this letter of 1 Thessalonians is probably the first official communication that the Thessalonian believers received from Paul and Silas after that event.

Now, we are going to see later in chapter 3 that Paul and Silas sent Timothy to the Thessalonians - and when they did, certainly Timothy would have communicated whatever Paul and Silas had sent with him to those believers in that city.

But this is the first actual letter that Paul and Silas were able to write and send to the Thessalonians that we’re aware of.

And so, the matter of Paul and Silas’s ministry with the Thessalonians being cut short is what Paul mentions next…

being taken

being taken

ἀπορφανισθέντες

That phrase “being taken” has in it the Greek - and the English - word “orphan”.

And even though Paul earlier in this letter compared himself to a father - as well to as a mother - in order to illustrate his relationship to and activities among the Thessalonians, now he puts himself in the position of a child. And in this case - he has no father. Paul viewed his forced-departure from the Thessalonians as if he were ripped from his family.

And that’s how it is with believers. We really enjoy being together. It’s a highlight of our week to gather together and worship the Lord together and fellowship with one another. And when we’re separated - especially for a length of time, it’s hard.

In the past year we’ve experienced a few months of forced separation due to COVID-19. How did you feel during that time? Were you just fine with that arrangement? Were you even glad to not have to meet with God’s people? I trust that wasn’t the case with anyone here.

Because for true believers, to meet with our brethren is a unique blessing. And to have to part with one another is painful - akin to being bereaved of your earthly father.

As the old hymn says:

“When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;”

http://hymnbook.igracemusic.com/hymns/blessed-be-the-tie-that-binds

That hymn - as you know - is called “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds”.

https://hymnary.org/text/blest_be_the_tie_that_binds

It was written in the late 1700s by a man named John Fawcett (https://hymnary.org/person/Fawcett_John1740) -  who himself was orphaned at the age of 12. He was saved under George Whitefield’s evangelistic preaching and he went on to be a pastor of a small church in England.

He was later called to pastor a larger church and he accepted the call. But when he preached his farewell message to his small church and as the believers there wept and expressed their gratitude and love for him, he ended up staying there for the rest of his ministry.

Because, as the song goes, “when we asunder part, it causes inward pain”.

Does it for you? Does it cause you pain to be separated from your fellow believers? It did for the apostle Paul.

And for Paul, that pain occured even if the separation was momentary. He says that he was orphaned from the Thessalonians…

‍‍for a short time

‍‍for a short time

πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας

Literally, this is for “a time of an hour”. It’s a short time.

Think about it. What’s an hour in comparison to your entire life? That’s Paul’s point - he and Silas were separated from this church for just the equivalent of an hour in the course of a human life.

In 2018, the average American life expectancy was 78.54 years. Converting that number to hours yields 688,010.4 hours of life. If you were to try to calculate how much of a percentage 1 hour is out of 688,010.4 hours, it’s an infinitesimally small number. It’s something like 0.000000145. That’s six zeroes before the 145.

And yet, even though the separation of Paul and Silas from the Thessalonians in reality has been so very short, Paul couldn’t help but feeling that sense of abandonment - even though he knew that the separation from those believers was momentary.

And this goes a little beyond the immediate context here, but for believers - even when we’re eventually separated from one another by death, it’s still a momentary thing. Because we’ll some day be reunited with one another and with all of God’s people and with Jesus Christ himself - for eternity - never to part again. What a blessed thought - and one that Paul will encourage the Thessalonians with later on in this letter to them - that believers will be with the Lord and with one another forever.

And so, because even the most final of separations in this life from your fellow-believers is ultimately so short-lived, to part with each other is - and should always be - as the apostle Paul describes it in this verse…

‍‍in presence, not in heart

 from you ... ‍‍in presence, not in heart

 ἀφʼ ὑμῶν ... προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ

Literally, “in face, not in heart”.

That’s the nature of any temporal separation that believers might face with one another.

Paul uses a similar phrase to this in 2 Corinthians 5:12 to describe those who are not genuine. They’re fake. It’s all face or appearance or presence to them. There’s no heart behind what they present themselves to be.

And so, here in 1 Thessalonians 2:17, Paul’s saying that his being torn away from his dear brethren in that city is almost unreal. Because in his heart - in his own inner affections - he’s right there with them - even though he doesn’t see their faces.

So, have you experienced this with your fellow-believers? You can be parted from them for a time and not see their faces, but in your heart they're right there with you - as you remember them and pray for them.

But if you’re like the apostle Paul - eventually you’ll not be content to have your fellow-believers simply in your heart. You will want to see their face (mask or not mask)…

we … endeavoured to see your face

we … endeavoured to see your face

 ἐσπουδάσαμεν τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν

So, it’s interesting that for the very reason that Paul and Silas were taken from the believers in Thessalonica - because of that painful and unfortunate and sudden parting - Paul and Silas were endeavoring to see those believers in that city in person somehow.

Our family has a new puppy. He’s a black and white Shih-Tzu - Poodle mix tentatively named Oreo. And he’s pretty persistent.

When he gets his mind on something that he wants to go sniff or attempt to consume, even though I can physically pull him away from whatever the object is, if the forced departure of him from that object was not of his own choosing, he will come back to that thing - guaranteed!

And on a far more serious scale, for Paul and Silas - they were forcibly parted from the believers in Thessalonica. But their desire to be with those folks remained - and even strengthened.

This word “endeavoured” is used to describe eagerness and zeal and striving to do something.

•           So, as Paul and Silas were run out of Thessalonica and went on to Berea, they were doing this. They were endeavoring. They were working through in their minds how to make a return to Thessalonica to see those believers again.

•           As they were then run out of Berea, they had this same mindset and approach to thinking through how to get back to the believers in Thessalonica. They were eager and zealously striving to make a plan to reunite with those dear fellow-Christians.

It wasn’t enough ultimately for Paul and Silas to just have these folks in their hearts. They wanted to see their face.

And I know that in these days we have video conferencing technology. We have phones and email and we can still write letters to people. And all of those things have to suffice sometimes. But there really is nothing like being in the physical presence of other believers.

It’s really something to zealously and eagerly strive for.

And if what we’ve just considered isn’t enough to give you the idea of how important this was to Paul and Silas, we can now consider the two descriptors attached to this “endeavouring” that they were engaged in…

the more abundantly … with great desire

Look at these phrases. How did Paul and Silas endeavor to see the Thessalonian believers?…

the more abundantly … with great desire

περισσοτέρως … ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ

So, I think you get the point. Meeting those Thessalonian believers once more was not something that Paul and Silas were casual about. They greatly desired to see them. Their attempts to visit them were more abundant because of their forced and premature departure from them.

Now, you probably have never thought to use 1 Thessalonians 2 when encouraging fellow-believers to be faithful in attending church services. I know that through the years if I’ve encountered someone who’s been kind of lax in gathering together with their fellow-believers, I’ve tended to reference Hebrews 10:24 to steer them in the direction of faithful church attendance.

And that works. And that passage is valid. But whereas Hebrews 10:24 is a command, here in 1 Thessalonians 2, you have - not a command - but an example set for you.

This is the apostolic example of how Paul felt about meeting with other believers. If you want to be Pauline or apostolic - or just plain mature in your Christian faith and walk - you will adopt the attitude of Paul toward your meeting with other believers. You’ll be eager about it. You’ll greatly desire it. You won’t even need to be commanded to do it - because you just want to do it!

And all of that desiring to see these believers led Paul to attempt to take appropriate action …

Verse 18

1 Thessalonians 2:18 AV 1873

18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

Wherefore we would have come unto you

Wherefore we would have come unto you

διότι ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς

That word behind “would” refers to a will or desire. It was Paul’s desire or will to come to the Thessalonians again after being driven away from them.

even I Paul, once and again

even I Paul, once and again

ἐγὼ μὲν Παῦλος καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς

And again, this wasn’t just a thought at the back of Paul’s mind that didn’t surface very often. It was his set and determined will to come to those believers.

Paul had this desire in his mind “once and again”. It was a repeated theme on his heart.

But there was one problem that prevented the achievement of this desire of Paul to visit the Thessalonian believers…

but ‍‍Satan ‍‍hindered us

but ‍‍Satan ‍‍hindered us.

καὶ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Σατανᾶς. 

So, there’s some hindering or obstruction involved here.

What was the nature of that obstruction?

Well, Paul speaks elsewhere in the book of Romans of being hindered from coming to see those believers in Rome. But there he says that his desire to preach the gospel in regions where people had never heard of Christ - that was what hindered him from coming to them. Because those Romans had already heard the Gospel. And so Paul wanted to go elsewhere before visiting them. That’s what hindered him in that situation - his desire to proclaim Christ where Jesus was unknown (Romans 15:20-22).

But here in 1 Thessalonians 2:18, the nature of the hindrance and obstruction was not so positive. Paul says that Satan played a role in it.

Now, the title Satan indicates that this being opposes and serves as an adversary to God and to his people.

Paul wanted to come to these believers in Thessalonica, but Satan hindered or thwarted or obstructed his plan from coming to pass.

What would that opposition have looked like?

Well, it’s entirely possible that Paul is referring to the “security” or the “bail” that the Thessalonian believer named Jason gave to the politarchs in Thessalonica back in Acts 17:9.

Do you remember that? The mob that the unbelieving Jews formed in Thessalonica came looking for Paul and Silas. But when they couldn’t find them, they went after some of the other believers in that city. And it seemed that Jason was one of the leaders of that group. And the whole city was in an uproar until Jason gave this thing called “security” or “a bond” - which was apparently some sort of guarantee that the disturbance - which they didn’t even cause - would not happen again.

It could be… that time and again, the apostle Paul wanted to come back to Thessalonica to see those believers. But then he remembered that Jason had been forced to promise that Paul and Silas would basically never return to the city. And in that situation Paul saw Satan directly influencing those events and that outcome. After all, the Jewish-led mob that had run Paul and Silas out of town wasn’t fueled by God. Behind it all was Satan obstructing God's work.

And we’re going to see later in chapter 3 of this letter that because it was impossible for Paula and Silas to return to Thessalonica - again, likely because Jason had promised that they would not return - they sent Timothy there. Because of course, Timothy had not been there when the mob attacked the believers. And so there was no mention to the politarchs who ruled the city of Timothy not returning. So, Paul and Silas found a sort of loophole that would allow someone from the apostolic company to see these believers face-to-face without violating the security that Jason had publicly given.

But now, Paul is writing to these believers assuring them that he himself greatly desired to see them personally. His sending Timothy had nothing to do with him not wanting to see them.

But, why such a great desire on Paul’s behalf to see these believers in Thessalonica?

We’ll see next in verse 19 Paul’s true estimation of these believers in very warm terms…

Verse 19

1 Thessalonians 2:19 AV 1873

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

For what is our hope, or ‍‍joy, or ‍‍crown of ‍‍‍‍rejoicing?

The apostle Paul rhetorically asks about the identity of three items as they relate to Paul, Silas, and Timothy. He says,…

For what is our hope, or ‍‍joy, or ‍‍crown of ‍‍‍‍rejoicing?

τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως

For what is our hope … ?

For what is our hope … ?

τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς

As you know, biblical hope is not wishful thinking. It’s a confident expectation of something.

•           The Thessalonians’ confident expectation back in 1:3 was what fueled their endurance in the midst of their sufferings. They wouldn’t quit because they had this confident expectation of future glory with Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3).

•           If a person doesn’t have this confident expectation concerning their loved ones who pass away, their sorrow will be of a certain quality - it’ll be bleak, miserable, confused. And that’s contrasted to those who have a confident expectation concerning the state of their departed loved ones. And we’ll see in 4:13 that some of those Thessalonians were tempted to sorrow over their deceased fellow-believers the way a lost person would - and Paul’s going to comfort and correct them on that point (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

•           Part of being sober in this world involves being confident in your expectation of the Lord’s saving you, according to 5:8. There are things that call us away from sobriety and into foolishness and excess. And we need to - as it were - put on our confident expectation that God has saved us and will finally see us home to his eternal glory. That rock-solid conviction will protect you from the temptations to be foolish and excessive the same way that a helmet protected the heads of ancient Roman soldiers (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

So - who is the hope of Paul and Silas and Timothy? What are they confidently expecting? That’s the first part of the question that Paul is setting up to be answered later in this verse.

For what is our … ‍‍joy … ?

And here’s the second part of the question…

For what is our … ‍‍joy … ?

τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν … χαρὰ …

Biblical joy is not simply happiness. It’s deeper than that.

You might derive happiness from your circumstances. And perhaps when those circumstances change, so too does your happiness disappear.

But the source and origin of joy in a believer’s life is unchanging and not subject to the ebbs and flows of your circumstances. And that’s because joy in a believer’s life comes from the Holy Spirit himself, according to 1:6 (1 Thessalonians 1:6). And he never leaves you if you’re truly his. And therefore this joy is always available to you if you’re trusting Jesus Christ.

So - what is the joy of Paul and Silas and Timothy? What makes them joyful? That’s the second part of the question to which he’s building up an answer shortly.

For what is our … ‍‍crown of ‍‍‍‍rejoicing?

But before we get to the answer, the last part of this question is…

For what is our … ‍‍crown of ‍‍‍‍rejoicing?

τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν … στέφανος καυχήσεως

This stephanos crown was one for which ancient athletes would compete according to 1 Corinthians 9:25. Nowadays, we have medals or ribbons to indicate victory or success in sports. But in those days they had crowns. And Paul says in that passage in 1 Corinthians that this crown that his contemporary athletes competed so diligently for - was corruptible. It was made of a branch with leaves on it. And so when the branch dried up, the crown would go bad, eventually. On the other hand, the crown that we’re striving for as believers never goes bad. It’s incorruptible.

And for that reason, this crown is going to be one to rejoice in. Or you can translate it as “boasting” - it’s a crown of boasting. A crown about which a believer can rightfully boast.

Well, what is it? What is this thing that Paul and Silas and Timothy confidently expect and which causes them great joy and which is like a victor’s crown about which they will boast forever?

Are not even ye … ?

Are not even ye … ?

ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς

Those Thessalonian believers were these things to Paul and Silas and Timothy.

And don’t you feel this way about people whom you’ve invested in spiritually and then you’ve seen encouraging spiritual development in them?

You are confidently expecting from them - as you see their spiritual progress - that they are the genuine article. That they are truly trusting in Jesus Christ - and will be sharing with you his glory forever!

And you derive joy from this. There’s joy in the presence of God’s angels when one sinner genuinely repents. How much more when you see such a sinner bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? When you see a life actively being transformed by the gospel - what joy this causes to the heart of the believer who has been spiritually investing in that person.

And will God reward you - give you a crown - for ministering to your fellow-believer and seeing him go on to greater levels of maturity in the faith? Absolutely!

•           Jesus said in Mark 9:41 that if you give a fellow-believer even something so minor as a cup of water to drink in Jesus’ name, you will be rewarded.

•           Paul elsewhere in Philippians 4:1 calls those believers in that city his joy and crown. He was expecting reward from God for his service to them.

•           Those who care for God’s people in the capacity of an elder or pastor are promised a crown when Jesus returns (1 Peter 5:4).

•           And whether God has called you to be a pastor or not, as you make spiritual investments in the lives of your fellow-believers - who you love to be with - you have a reward to look forward to - from the Lord himself.

So, who was Paul and Silas and Timothy’s hope or joy or crown of boasting? It’s those very Thessalonians with whom they so greatly desired to be.

And yet, it’s not just people or even believers that alone are these things to us. It’s believers …

in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ ‍

in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ ‍‍at his coming?

ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ; 

This is a dense phrase and we need to break it down to understand it.

So, we’re given a reference to place (“in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ”) and a reference to time (“at his coming”).

We’ll start the discussion with the place.

Sometimes in the New Testament, the concept of doing something “in the presence of”God is speaking of prayer.

•           Paul and Silas and Timothy remembered the encouraging spiritual activities in the lives of the Thessalonian believers back in 1:3. And they did so in the presence of God the Father (1 Thessalonians 1:3). They were remembering the Thessalonians as they were praying for them.

•           Paul and his company also gave thanks to God for all of the joy with which they rejoiced over the Thessalonians. And they did this in the presence of God (1 Thessalonians 3:9).

So, to do something in the presence of God can speak of the realm of prayer here and now in this life.

But additionally, there’s a time coming when to do something in God’s presence will be that you’re literally in God’s physical presence. You’re there with him and he's there with you - physically.

We’re going to see Paul praying for these believers in 3:12-13 that God would work in them in such a way so that they would be holy and blameless in the presence of God (1 Thessalonians 3:12). That is, when they’re actually with him physically -  that’s when they would be ultimately holy and blameless.

So, that’s the place where these Thessalonian believers will be so special to Paul and Silas and Timothy - when they’re all together in God’s literal physical presence.

And when you’re with your fellow-believers in God’s presence, our holiness and blamelessness will be complete. And this will happen at a time known as the “coming” of our Lord Jesus…

at his coming

And what a blessed time this will be!

For anyone who has studied this concept of Jesus’ return in any detail, you might be familiar with the Greek word parousia. That’s the word used here.

This term can be used in a common way to describe the arrival of someone somewhere - or just someone’s physical presence.

But when it’s related to Jesus and God, it takes on a lot of significance. And I think that we have to assume that the Thessalonians knew a good deal of the significance of this word already - since Paul just kind of throws this phrase in here and expects them to understand the import of it.

But I’m not so sure that we could immediately call to mind the significance of this concept of Jesus’ parousia-coming. So, I’d like to lay out briefly what the New Testament Scriptures say about this word.

To begin, it’s possible that Peter uses this term to refer to Jesus’ first coming as a baby - or perhaps more broadly to his earthly ministry (2 Peter 1:16). He made known to the recipients of his second letter the coming of Jesus - and then he goes on to describe Jesus’ transfiguration, which happened during his first coming.

But the parousia spoken of here in 1 Thessalonians 2:19 is not Jesus’ first coming or his earthly ministry. Paul is speaking of his future second coming.

This future second coming of Jesus is a hope that Jesus himself nurtured in his disciples during his earthly ministry.

His disciples asked him - in what’s referred to as the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 - when this parousia - this coming of Jesus - will occur. They were asking the man standing right in front of them when he is going to come back. He was already there, of course. But they understood him to be teaching that he was going to leave and then return some day. But they didn’t know when. So they asked him about it.

•           They associated the coming of Jesus with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and with the end of the world - or the end of the age (Matthew 24:3).

•           Jesus responds by identifying certain events and trends that will happen before his coming - many false Messiahs trying to mislead people, wars and rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes - and that’s all just the beginning (Matthew 24:4-7)!

•           Believers will be persecuted and hated by everyone before this coming. Professing believers will betray one another. Numerous false prophets will arise. Lawlessness will increase. But those who endure to the end will be saved. The gospel will be proclaimed throughout the whole inhabited earth. Then the end comes (Matthew 24:9-14).

•           There will be some idolatrous thing set up in the Temple - which - as you know - currently doesn't exist in Jerusalem. But it will exist some day in - order for these things to occur in it. There will be great and unmatched suffering and tribulation for the Jews at that point. Again, false Messiahs and false prophets will be at-large at that time. They’ll perform literal miracles that are described as “great” and they’ll use those miracles to deceive many people. They’ll make exclusive secret claims - but the reality is that this coming of Jesus - his parousia - isn’t secret and exclusive - at least the culmination of it isn’t. It’s like lightning in the open sky. You can see it from one end of the sky to the other. Or how the presence of a dead animal is indicated by the gathering of vultures. It’s apparent. That’s how this coming of Jesus will be (Matthew 24:15-28).

•           Then the sun will be darkened, the moon won’t give off light, and stars will fall from the sky. Then Jesus comes and will gather his people who are alive on earth at that time (Matthew 24:29-31).

•           But we’re warned that Jesus’ coming is something that we need to be ready for. Because no one will be expecting it - just like when Noah went into the ark and the flood came and no one was expecting that to happen. Or like when a thief comes to a house to break into it and no one was ready for it. So, you be ready because Jesus is coming but nobody knows when (Matthew 24:36-44).

So, that’s Jesus’ treatment of his future coming in the Gospel of Matthew. There’s great tribulation, wars, signs in the heavens, imposter Messiahs doing great miracles, persecution - and then Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on this earth.

Further on in the New Testament we’re told more about this coming of Jesus.

•           It's a concern of Paul’s which he repeats twice that God would cause the believers in Thessalonica to be blameless before God when Jesus comes (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13; 5:23).

•           We’re told that at Christ’s coming those who are his will be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:23).

•           And - for a little more detail about that - it’s at the Lord’s coming that believers who have died will rise first and then those of us who are alive will be suddenly caught up together with those believers in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and we’ll be with the Lord and our fellow-believers forever (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

•           Paul seems to equate or at least closely relate the coming of Jesus with the Day of the Lord in 2 Thessalonians 2. He says there that that day won’t happen until this mysterious Man of Lawlessness - otherwise known as the Anti-Christ - is revealed. But when Jesus comes he will destroy that man (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

•           We’re to be patient for the coming of the Lord because it’s drawing nearer and nearer (James 5:7-8).

•           And yet, as our church has been reminded for the past few Sundays, there are - and yet will be - scoffers in these last days mocking the idea of this coming of the Lord as if it will never happen (2 Peter 3:4).

So, it’s at this coming of Jesus Christ - when he comes to set up his literal kingdom from Jerusalem - and when he doles out rewards to his people - that Paul and Silas and Timothy will so highly esteem these believers in Thessalonica.

It’s when Jesus comes and puts down all of his enemies and raises the bodies of all dead believers and changes the bodies of all living believers and Jesus is finally vindicated despite all the scoffers and their denials of his promised coming - it’s at that point that the believers to whom you’ve ministered in this world and in whose lives you’ve seen spiritual fruit being developed - they will be to you your confident expectation of reward from the Lord. They will be your joy as you review what God has done in their lives - and how he’s used you to do some of it. And those folks will be to you like a crown in which you boast - and the one who boasts will boast in the Lord and in what he’s done through you.

And although Paul has stated this truth using a rhetorical question, he’s now going to end this section as he ends this second chapter rephrasing his question as a statement…

Verse 20

1 Thessalonians 2:20 AV 1873

20 For ye are our glory and joy.

For ye are our glory and joy.

For ye are our glory and joy.

ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά.

The Thessalonian believers were part of what made Paul and Silas and Timothy uniquely excellent. They had ministered to those people and seen them saved by Christ. No one else had been given that privilege. These believers were Paul’s unique excellence. They were his glory.

And knowing what God had done through Paul and his company to impact the lives of these Thessalonians for the Gospel brought them a great and special joy.

Conclusion

So, Believers Desire to be with One Another. Can you see why?

I don’t want to exaggerate, but your eternal reward in the presence of Jesus Christ is to a great degree influenced by what you do with the folks in this room - and with people outside of this room who are truly saved.

I mean, something so ordinary to most of us as coming to church has probably never seemed so weighty and important in your life. But it really is. The investments that you make in your fellow-believers are going to pay dividends throughout eternity!

And of course, it’s not that you have to be in an official church building in order to invest in other believers. But what is essential is that you actually meet with other believers. And it just so happens that our church and most other congregations do that in a special building.

But the point is that we need to be edifying and blessing and building up one another. And it all starts with what’s in your heart. Do you desire to be with other believers? I trust that you do and that God is growing that desire in your heart even through our consideration of 1 Thessalonians 2 tonight.

5 comments

    1. Sandra,

      I’m so thankful to hear of your listening to the messages so regularly. And I’m sorry for the delay. We had a technical glitch that prevented the publishing of the podcast, but I hope to rectify that soon.

      Paul

      1. Paul, thank you. Apple podcasts didn’t notify me when your latest episode was posted on the 24th, just saw it now. Been waiting in anticipation. But what has happened to the recording? It’s grainy. 😕
        I see you have this series on soundcloud now too. That’s awesome, but the sound there is also grainy. Your recordings are always so clear. Just thought you should know.
        BTW… I keep listening to Thess from the start while I wait for a new episode. Keep up the great work. May God continue to give you insight & strength.

        1. I’m afraid that the computer in the sound room at our church has been having some dreadful problems. :( This last time, it crashed right as I began the message and had several issues after that. I’m very sorry for the distortion and would appreciate prayers for effective technology!

  1. Oh dear. The enemy attacks. Prayers you have. 🙏🏻 Maintain courage. Will listen or read script… just persevere. Does your local library loan out sound tech? 😊

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