1 THESSALONIANS 2.13-20
1Th 2:13 ¶ For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
- Last Sunday evening we took an in depth look at the value, power, wisdom and authority that is in the Word of God. We also saw that God’s word only works effectually to the extent that we put into action whatever it is that God tells us on any given subject. Hearing apart from application is only information.
- The bottom line is this: If you/we believe that the Bible is the Word of God, we ought to pay attention to it and build our lives and church upon it.
- The fruit that the Word of God was effectual in the lives of these saints was evident by the fruit that it bore in their lives. Observe:
- 1 Thess 1.3 work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. They were an active body that loved The Lord and one another and brought forth fruit with patience.
- 1 Thess 1.8 from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad. They were an evangelical body that reached out to the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were bold in sharing their faith, knowing fully well that they would say would result in persecution, rejection or mockery.
- 1 Thess 1.10 ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. They were a body that brought forth true fruit of repentance. Their lives were forever changed by the power of the gospel. When they turned to God, they left behind the idols that once held them in bondage and darkness..
- 1Th 1:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost. They pressed on in the faith in the face of stiff opposition and persecution. Please note that they met their affliction with the joy of the Holy Ghost. They could only do this because they saw the big picture. And this is what Paul is going to go on to mention in the very next verse.
§ In this local fellowship, over the years and to the present hour, we have all been touched and changed by countless people who have exhibited remarkable faith and love for Jesus Christ. They have endured hardship, disease, attack, disappointment and even death with a strong faith. This is living proof that the Word of God is effectually working in their lives. They have demonstrated the kind of faith that makes an impact: a faith that believes the Word of God is impacting because The Scriptures, not emotions or circumstances shapes what they believe and the way that they look at things. .
14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus:
- And here is the Big Picture in a nutshell beloved. The churches of God were geographically in Judea and spiritually in Christ Jesus. This speaks of the dual residency of every saint. We have a temporary dwelling place for a measured amount of time on earth. This is our mission field; this is where we live our lives for God’s glory and honor. We also have an eternal home in the heavens.
for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
- Paul notes that their perseverance, in the face of considerable hostility and resistance, was the God-glorifying verification of their reception of the Word that had been preached to them.
- Not only were the Thessalonians imitators of Paul and the Lord (cf. 1:6), but also of the churches in Judea in the sense that they both were persecuted for Christ’s sake.
- Ac 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 ¶ Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
- These persecuted saints drank Christ’s cup of suffering (Matt. 26:39) and walked in the way of the OT prophets (Matt. 21:33–46; Luke 13:34).
15 Who both killed the Lord (sovereign over creation and history) Jesus (Yeshua; Jehovah is salvation), and their own prophets, and have persecuted us;
- There is no question that the Jews were responsible for the death of their Messiah, though the Romans carried out the execution. It was the Jews who brought the case against Jesus and demanded His death (cf. Luke 23:1–24,34–38), just as they had killed the prophets (cf. Matt. 22:37; Mark 5:1–8; Acts 7:51,52).
- Persecuted us- Paul may have been recalling the parable in Mark 12:1. In the parable of the vineyard rented to ungrateful tenants, Jesus Christ foretells the rejection of the Jews and the calling of the Gentiles
- Jesus told the Pharisees:
- Mt 23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
- This downward death-spiral into sin was initiated with the rejection of God’s messengers, the prophets, followed by the murder of Jesus, and now culminates in their open hostility, violent opposition, and virtual declaration of war against the Lord’s ambassadors. Explore the Bible Commentary Notes
and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
- Contrary to all men- By opposing the Gospel the Jews were working against the good of mankind, which so desperately needs salvation.
- Just as it is God’s will that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9), so it was the will of these Jews that no one find salvation in Christ. Paul would give this explanation for their hostility against Jesus Christ:
- 1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1Co 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness
- But free of charge, I want to pass along to you 3 other reasons why these Jews were displeasing to God, because it is so typical of a self righteous religious person today:
1. These Jews had a great zeal for God and were confident they were guides to the blind and a light to those walking in darkness, but they were in reality without a true knowledge of God and were blind leaders of the blind (see Rom. 10:2; 2:19f.; Matt. 23:16).
2. They thought they were actually pleasing God when they persecuted Christians, their foolish hearts were deceiving them, because in reality they were doing the opposite (John 16:2, “They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”).
3. They thought they were the God pleasers because they externally observed the Law, and in doing so, they were seeking to establish their own righteousness which can never please God (see Rom. 10:3; John 5:37-47). Pleasing God starts with trusting in God’s own Son.
16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
- Fill up- In continuing their rejection of Christ and increasing their opposition against those that bore His Name (remember what Jesus said to Saul on the Road of Damascus…why are you persecuting Me?), they heaped sin upon sin, thus filling up the cup of wrath.
- Apart from repentance and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ, the wrath of God was inescapable for these individuals. Lest we immediately write people off that oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must keep in mind that the apostle Paul at one time had embraced this blasphemy of trying to prevent gospel preaching (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12–17).
- Wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. God is a God of mercy, but there is a limit to mercy. The limit comes when God would no longer be just if He did not judge someone's sin. People who continue in wickedness without being destroyed are living only by mercy.
- In the days of the flood of Noah, Gen. 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
- God gave them a limit: if they continued on this path, they would be destroyed in 120 years. You see, justice demanded that they be judged, but mercy allowed justice to wait 120 years.
- Just like the Jews of Paul's day, there are wicked people today who are attempting to hinder the spread of the gospel. They are filling up the measure of their sins, and one day, mercy will run out and justice will be issued by God.
- I cannot emphasize this truth enough beloved; those who do not believe the gospel of The Lord Jesus Christ will eventually face the wrath of God.
- John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
- If a person rejects the Savior who saves to the uttermost, they bring upon themselves wrath to the uttermost. CHS
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.
- Being taken from you. Literally, orphaned, bereft, reflecting the warm tie between Paul and the saints in the church at Thessalonica. Due to intense opposition and dangers, the brethren at Thessalonica immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea (Acts 17.5-10).
- Paul had been absent in person, but certainly not in prayer. His heart was continually toward Thessalonica. But he was prevented from returning.
- Endeavored the more abundantly and with great desire are strong attempts by Paul to convey his earnest yearning to be by the side of these precious saints in spite of the difficult circumstances. He even uses the graphic word desire, epithymia, which in the NT usually connotes lusting or coveting.
- Beloved, may we never take the fellowship of the saints for granted.
18 Therefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
- Then inability to visit these new Christians and this new church and fellowship with them was not because of a lack of desire on the part of Paul. The reason that Paul was unable to come and see them was because Satan hindered him from coming. This dramatic statement indicates that, in some unspecified manner, Satan prevented Paul and his companions from fulfilling their intentions to visit the city and the church once again.
- In what way this was done is unknown, and conjecture would be useless. The apostle recognised the hand of Satan in frustrating his attempt to do good, and preventing the accomplishment of his strong desire to see his Christian friends. In the obstacles, therefore, to the performance of our duty, and in the hindrances of our enjoyment, it is not improper to trace the hand of the great enemy of good. Albert Barnes
- Satan hindered us. The Greek word he uses is the technical word for putting up a road-block calculated to stop an expedition on the march. Wm. Barclay
- There are a couple of places in Scripture where we see how Satan got in the way of God’s people.
- We see in the book of Daniel that Gabriel was sent to give Daniel understanding as soon as he began to pray about it. But in the spiritual realm, he was withstood for three weeks before being able to get to Daniel. That is one way Satan can hinder you, by delaying things in a spiritual realm.
- Another way Satan hinders us in this world is by afflicting us materially and physically. We see in the book of Job that Satan had Job's wealth destroyed and stolen, his children killed, and his body horribly afflicted with disease. Often, loss of material wealth, death of family, and sickness prevent us from performing our service in the kingdom of God.
- But beloved this is where sound theology allows us to put on the brakes and remember something that is vitally important, and it is this: Satan can't do a single thing to you without permission from God Himself. God's permission was needed to afflict Job. God's permission was needed to afflict Simon Peter. And God's permission is needed to afflict you.
- Beloved when we are under the attack of the enemy, we need to abide under the shadow of the Almighty, resist the enemy like Jesus did by quoting Scripture and above all things, get back to the business of loving Jesus and serving others.
- How was Paul hindered? By illness (2 Cor 12:7; Gal 4:13) or by opposition in Athens that made it impossible for him to leave (1 Thess 3:1)? We really do not know how Paul was hindered, but we do know who hindered him.
- Even though Paul was firmly grounded in the belief that God was absolutely sovereign, that never caused him to minimize the reality and threat that Satan proposes to the church of Jesus Christ. Sound theology and sound thinking go hand in hand.
- Satan, which means “adversary,” continually attempts to tear down the church that Christ promised to build (cf. Matt. 16:18).
- The Lord Jesus said to Simon Peter Lu 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat
- 1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
- May I deviate a bit from the context and mention a couple of things about how Satan seeks to hinder a local church. From years of experience in ministry, I have discovered that one of the most effective tools that Satan uses to destroy or devour a local church is usually an “inside job.” What do you mean Ray? If he can get a few people gossipping or backbiting about this person or that person or this area of ministry in the name of “I am concerned about them or that”…he is at work.
- If he can get people to point out all of the things that are wrong in the church or areas where they are not measuring up to their personal expectations…he is at work.
- If he can get people comparing the way this church does worship to the way that church does worship or studies the Bible…he is at work.
- If he can get people to compare this pastor to that pastor…or this teacher with that teacher….he is at work.
- This is not to imply that there is no room for constructive criticism and the need to change, for their most certainly is, but I hope you know the difference.
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?
- Paul's hope, joy, and only grounds for boasting (rejoicing) were the thought of the souls he would present to Christ. Paul points out that the people we lead to Christ will be our glory and our joy when Christ returns. You see, although salvation is a gift that is given to all who believe, and we are not saved by our works, the Bible is crystal clear in teaching us that The Lord is going to reward us for the work that we've done in His name.
- It is tremendously significant that among the final words of the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we find these words of the Lord: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12). These were not just theological ideas he believed intellectually, but biblical truths that affected his life dynamically. He knew the Lord would return and reward him and all believers for faithful service.
- Precious saints, may The Spirit of God give us ears to hear what He is saying to us in these last 2 passages tonight. He is reminding us that the greatest accomplishment of our lives will be the people that we have prayed for and helped to find Jesus Christ as Lord. Paul looks forward to the Second Coming of Christ. He looks ahead to that day when Christ will appear and the world will recognize that He is indeed the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. On that day, says Paul, as he stands before the Lord, the thing he will be “proudest of” (if I can use that term) will be the people God has brought to faith through his testimony. He will glory in those people who have turned to Christ because of his example, his instruction, and his ministry.
- Crown of rejoicing. In Greek there are two words for crown. The one is diadema which is used almost exclusively for the royal crown. The other is stephanos which is used almost exclusively for the victor's crown in some contest and especially for the athlete's crown of victory in the games. It is stephanos that Paul uses here. It was also used in the Greek culture to describe a reward that was given to distinguished public servants.
- It is to be noted that these crowns are not just handed out to saints, they are rewards for service here on earth.
- The Bible speaks of eternal life like a wreath awarded for an athletic victory. It is spoken of in terms of:
- The incorruptible crown 1Co 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
- The crown of righteousness: 1Tim 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
- The crown of glory: 1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
- The crown of life: Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
- What will we do with these crowns when we see Jesus face to face? Re 4:10 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 hou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
20 For ye are our glory and joy.
- We are living in very dark days beloved, and it is not going to get easier to live for Christ. Those that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. The last of the beatitudes was about rejoicing when we are being persecuted for righteousness sake (for taking the stand of Scripture as opposed to taking the opposite stand of the world).
- Ga 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
- 2Th 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.
- Do not become weary in well-doing Keep persevering when under trial or in a season of the testing of your faith. Keep your eye on the Big Picture and occupy until Jesus' returns or calls you home. Be faithful beloved.
- John Wesley wrote, “Do all the good you can, by all the means that you can, in all the ways that you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can.”
- When we stand before the Lord the Righteous Judge, our greatest treasures will not be our fancy cars, our nice homes, our trophies, our business accomplishments, our attractive appearance, our degrees or our bank accounts. The greatest treasure will be what we have deposited in the lives of others and what we have done for the glory of God, period.