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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

1 Thessalonians 2

Verses 1-20

Chapter 2

FOR yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain ( 1 Thessalonians 2:1 ):

Now, Paul evidently had quite an entrance to the city of Thessalonica for he makes reference to it three times here in the first, in the opening part of this letter: but "it was not in vain."

But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as you know, at Philippi ( 1 Thessalonians 2:2 ),

I mean, they had really suffered. They were no doubt a real beating that was inflicted on these fellows. And having coming directly from Philippi, the marks still quite obvious.


after we had suffered, were shamefully entreated, as you know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention ( 1 Thessalonians 2:2 ).

Because there was a lot of contention raised by the unbelieving Jews there in Thessalonica against Paul. We are told in the book of Acts that they were contentious because they were envious at the great crowds. By the time the third Sabbath came, the whole town had gathered together to listen to the message that Paul was proclaiming, and the Jews became envious, jealous.

And so they then stirred up a group of men who were of the base sort to beat them, to lie against them, to false . . . to give false charges. These men are against Rome. They're rebelling against Rome and all, and perpetrated, of course, the beatings of them and the imprisonment in the dungeon. So as they preached the gospel in Thessalonica, these Jews stirred up contention there and they were so contentious that when they heard that they'd heard that they've gone to Berea, they came down to Berea to stir up trouble down in Berea.

For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile ( 1 Thessalonians 2:3 ):

Paul said, "We were straightforward with you. We exhorted you in a straightforward manner. There was no endeavor to deceive you, there was no kind of hidden meaning, no guile . . . straightforward."

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which tries our hearts ( 1 Thessalonians 2:4 ).

And so, they had that sense of responsibility before God. And how important that we have that sense of responsibility to God. I think that that's one of the problems today with a lot of people. The fear of God is not in their heart. They are not really honest before God and before the people. A lot of exaggerations, a lot of deception.

Keith Ritter who labored with us here at Calvary for many years and now is laboring for us in his ministry over in China, Japan before coming to Calvary, was attending another church in the area. And a part of Keith's ministry in the other church was to help frame the bulletin and he was given the typed out messages of the pastor six months in advance. And in a message that was to be preached six months down the road, the pastor would be using an illustration. And the illustration would say, "Last week my secretary came in and said this and this and this," you know, and it was a sermon to preached six months from now. Well, that bothered Keith. In fact it bothered him so much he left the church, because there were a lot of illustrations that were not really true, relating of events that really didn't happen, but it made great sermon illustration.

Paul said, " I didn't have any of that. We were straightforward because we know that God tries our hearts; God knows our hearts." That awareness, and thus the honesty before God is so important.

For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness; For God is witness ( 1 Thessalonians 2:5 ):

And they were aware of that fact that God was witness. The fear of God was in their hearts and surely that's what we need today; that we have a true fear of God within our hearts.

Nor of men did we seek glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ ( 1 Thessalonians 2:6 ).

We didn't seek your support, though as apostles we could have sought your support, but we didn't.

But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse who cherishes her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear unto us ( 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ).

Now, again, we have a beautiful insight into the heart of the apostle here, and no wonder he was so effective. He was clean; he was honest; he was straightforward. He wasn't there to make a buck for himself; he wasn't there to enrich himself or to get glory for himself. He was there because he loved them earnestly with a Godly love and wanted to bring them the glorious truth of Jesus Christ which had transformed his own life.

And so...

You remember, brethren, that our labour and travail ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ):

That word labor again; toiling into the point of weariness and travail.

For laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God ( 1 Thessalonians 2:9 ).

So, he worked night and day in order that he might provide for his own needs, in order that he might preach to them the gospel of God, so that no one would actually accuse him of being a mercenary. "Well, you're just in it, Paul, for the money. You know, you come in and ya take a big offering, and then you leave town." No way. He labored with his own hands to provide for the needs of his group that he would not be chargeable to any of them.

You are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe ( 1 Thessalonians 2:10 ):

I mean, they lived straight circumspect lives. They lived holy lives. They lived unblameable kind of lives. God help us. No wonder the witness of the church is so weak and so anemic, because of the lies of many of those who are out running the circuit doing such damage. God help us.

As you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father does his children ( 1 Thessalonians 2:11 ),

Paul's ministry, I love it. Here is the insight, really, to the true minister: one who travails and labors among the people, one who is not seeking the glory of the people, one who just is gently with them as a nurse cherishing their children and now as a father, his children . . . teaching, exhorting, comforting.

That you would walk worthy of God, who has called you unto his kingdom and glory ( 1 Thessalonians 2:12 ).

In other words, you are a prince, a princess. You're children of the king. Walk worthy of God's kingdom and God's glory. And this beautiful exhortation to them:

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when you receive the word of God which you heard of us, you didn't receive it as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe ( 1 Thessalonians 2:13 ).

So they received it as God's word.

For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews ( 1 Thessalonians 2:14 ):

The church was experiencing persecution in Israel, in Judea. They had already had several persecutions that by which the church was scattered. And so here, these in Thessalonica were having problems, even as the church in Jerusalem had had problems.

Suffering of their own countrymen, [Speaking of the church in Jerusalem] and of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men ( 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15 ):

Quite an indictment that Paul makes against the Jews here: they killed the Lord Jesus, they killed their own prophets, they persecuted us and they're contrary to all men.

I have, in my mind, been writing a book. I don't know if it will ever get on paper. But I've been writing a book addressed to the Jewish people, and I was thinking of a title: Do You Always Crucify Those Who Love You? Here is a group of people that somehow find it very difficult to receive love without being suspicious, without looking for some ulterior motive, and perhaps for good reason. Because of the treatment that they have received from the world, and so much anti-Semitism and all, that whenever anyone shows a genuine concern or love for them, they seem to get suspicious. But then they begin to almost deliberately cut those persons off.

Just recently I started getting a lot of bad press in Israel, totally false. Accusations being made that are completely spurious. People are writing things about me that I've never done, I've never been, they've never happened and yet, for some reason or another, I've started to get it of late in the press in Israel. And it is interesting because all I've ever had is a tremendous love for Israel and yet, they always look with suspicion. Why do you love us? Why do you give to us? Why do you support us? And they begin then to interpret all kinds of false motives. "Well, you're just trying to get close to us so you can missionize us or convert us. Or you're only doing it, you know, because you're trying to fulfill prophecy and get the Lord to come back or you know . . . " They can't just accept love because, you know, you are God's people and we love you because you're God's people.

I personally do not have any great burden to evangelize the Jews any more than I do any other race or group of people. I feel that evangelism of the Jews is something that's totally in God's hands. If He's blinded their eyes, only He can take away the blind of the eyes of the Jews. So I leave their evangelism to God. I can't undo what God has done. And if blindness is happened in part to Israel until the fullness of Gentiles become in, then I'm not gonna waste my efforts trying to undo what God has done. Let God undo that. And my ministry is not to the Jews, but to the church, which is comprised of people from all backgrounds, for there is neither Jew nor Greek, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free, but Christ is all and in all. So evangelism of Israel is not my motive in loving them.

And I am also convinced that as far as prophecy is concerned, it's in God's hands and He's gonna fulfill what He has said He's gonna do without my help. I do not have any grandiose concept of myself as, you know, God has chosen me to fulfill His prophecies in these last days. I don't feel like I'm any special instrument of God any more than anybody else who has committed their life to God. You know, so I don't feel any divine calling to go blow up the Dome of the Rock or anything else, you know, which I've been accused of in the press of late. Supporting the terrorist groups and all, or wanting to blow up the Dome of the Rock and this kind of stuff, and somehow they got my name in with a bunch of other people's names who I don't really know. They got me meeting regularly with them and I didn't even know they met. It'll be interesting to see what comes of it.

But are contrary to all men, those that love them, they have difficulty receiving them.

And so they would forbid Paul to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, and they fill up their sins always: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost ( 1 Thessalonians 2:16 ).

And so, these people who, through their rejection of Jesus Christ and God's provision for their salvation, have brought such hardships upon themselves.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, but not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire ( 1 Thessalonians 2:17 ).

So, Paul said, "I had to leave in a hurry." Actually, he got out of there just before the officers came to Jason's house to arrest him. "Though I left my body, my heart's still there. Man, I still, I long to see . . . I really desire to be there and to be with you."

Wherefore we would have come to you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 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? ( 1 Thessalonians 2:18-19 )

Isn't this our hope? Isn't this our joy? Isn't this the crown of my ministry? That when the Lord comes, you're gonna be there, and you'll meeting together with Him in His kingdom. That's the purpose, that's the joy, that's the crown of our ministry.

John, in writing his epistle said, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth" ( 1 John 4:0 ). And so for the minister, the real joy, the real hope, the real reward, the crown of the ministry is in the lives of the people who, through the word of God, have been transformed and now have that glorious hope of being in Christ in His kingdom. And our joy and crown will be fulfilled when we sit there together before the throne of the Lamb, worshipping together, and we look around and we see those who God brought into our lives, that we might impact them with His love and with His truth. And there will be all the reward ever necessary for the ministry. So Paul said, "That's my joy, that's my hope, that's the crown of my ministry; you being there in the presence of the Lord that is coming."

For you are our glory and joy ( 1 Thessalonians 2:20 ). "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.