1Thessalonians 1-3

Sunday Evening Bible Study

October 22, 2000


Paul’s initial ministry in Thessalonica –

Paul first came to Thessalonica on his second missionary journey.  Paul had split from Barnabas over the disagreement of whether to take Barnabas’ nephew Mark with them.  Paul had chosen Silas as his traveling companion and had set out to visit the churches that he had started on the first missionary journey.  After going through Asia Minor and picking up young Timothy to travel with them, they decided to set out for Macedonia (northern Greece).  They first went to Philippi, but after Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl, he and Silas were beaten, arrested, and thrown in jail.  When they were released, they were told to leave town, and they headed off for Thessalonica.  See map.

Acts 17 - Paul had been in Thessalonica for only three Saturdays, and was preaching in the Jewish synagogue.  He had led some of the Jews to the Lord, but even more, had led a “multitude” of Gentile Greeks to the Lord.  The Jews who didn’t believe were moved with such envy at his success, that they put the city into an uproar and had Paul and Silas kicked out.

Background of the letter to the Thessalonians –

After Thessalonica, Paul moved on to Berea, but was only there a short time when some of the Jews of Thessalonica showed up and had Paul kicked out of Berea as well.  Paul then went on to Athens, but had Silas and Timothy stay with the Macedonian churches to encourage and build them up.  Paul only stayed at Athens a short while, and then moved on to Corinth where he planted a church and stayed for a year and a half.  It was while in Corinth that Silas and Timothy returned with news of what was happening in Macedonia.  Paul writes the letters of 1&2 Thessalonians while in Corinth, in response to what he’s heard from Silas and Timothy.  The letters were written around A.D. 51.

1Thessalonians 1

:1  Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, Silas, and Timothy.

:2-4  Paul’s prayer

:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

mentionmneia – remembrance, memory, mention

:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

without ceasingadialeiptos – without intermission, incessantly, without ceasing

rememberingmnemoneuo – to be mindful of, to remember, to call to mind; to think of and feel for a person or thing; to hold in memory, keep in mind; to make mention of

workergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking; an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work

Faith has a “work”.  The other day a pastor said something about faith being a “verb”, and that it was action oriented.  The word “faith” is not a verb, but it is still action oriented.  It produces a “work” in your life.  When you trust in the Lord, it results in action in your life.

labourkopos – a beating; a beating of the breast with grief, sorrow; labour; trouble; to cause one trouble, make work for him; intense labour united with trouble and toil

loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.  This is God’s kind of love, based on the will and not the emotions, an unconditional love that is characterized by giving.  It is choosing to put value on another individual.

Just as faith results in “work”, there is a “labor” involved with love.  Loving others the way God wants us to isn’t easy.

(Luke 6:27-29 NLT)  "But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. {28} Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. {29} If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.

patiencehupomone (“under” + “remain”) – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings; patiently, and steadfastly; a patient, steadfast waiting for; a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

hopeelpis – expectation of good, hope

If you have hope in the Lord, that He is directing your life and will take care of you, then you can endure tough times.


Reminding God in prayer

The language that Paul is using about his prayers for the Thessalonians reminds me very much of the picture of the high priest’s garments:
(Exo 28:29-30 KJV)  And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually. {30} And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.

The names of the people would be on the stones of the breast piece.  When Aaron would walk into the holy place, their names would be there to remind God (a “memorial”) of the people.  These names were also carried over Aaron’s heart, being a picture of the priest carrying these people in his heart, caring for his people.

In the same way, Paul is “making mention” (making memorial) of these people before God, reminding God of these special qualities concerning these people.
An important aspect of ministry is learning to bring before God the people you minister to.

Yesterday at the Men’s Conference, Jeff Johnson shared with us a little story about Hudson Taylor, the missionary that opened up China to the gospel.  When asked why his ministry seemed to be enjoying such effectiveness while other people had failed, Hudson shared that he spent time regularly praying for the people he ministered to by name, bringing them before the Lord.

:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

electionekloge – the act of picking out, choosing; of the act of God’s free will by which before the foundation of the world he decreed his blessings to certain persons; of persons: God’s elect

This is Paul’s reason to keep praying for them, that they belonged to God.

:5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

wordlogos – word

powerdunamis – strength, power, ability

assuranceplerophoria – full assurance, most certain confidence

what manner of menhoios – what sort of, what manner of, such as

Paul will give us a bit more of his example when we get to chapter two.


A powerful gospel

Following Jesus isn’t just about learning interesting religious facts.
It’s about allowing the power of God to change your life.


Word and example

Paul is saying that they didn’t just preach the gospel to these people, but their lives were a demonstration of God’s power and of the Holy Spirit.
These people didn’t just hear words, they saw up close that it was real because of what they saw in Paul’s life.
Let your walk match your talk

:6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord,

followersmimetes – an imitator


They need an example to follow


Frightened by the clamor of thunder in the night, a little child cried out.  Holding her securely in his arms, her father explained that she needn’t fear.  God would take care of her because He loved her greatly.
“I know God will take care of me and love me,”  she replied. “But right now, Daddy, I want someone with skin on to love me.”
We are to be God’s love, with skin on!


They need to follow Jesus

Even though we may at times be the examples for others to follow, we don’t want to make followers of us, we want to see people be followers of Jesus.

:6  having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

Part of the way that these people had become imitators of Paul and Jesus was in that they were believers in God’s Word, even through hard times.  And they were people who knew the joy of the Holy Spirit.

joychara – joy, gladness

David wrote,

(Psa 16:11 KJV)  …in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

When the Holy Spirit is in your life, you are immersed in God’s presence.

In the very earliest days of the church, the apostles were arrested several times and told not to talk about Jesus.

(Acts 5:41 KJV)  And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
How could these guys have joy when their lives are now in danger?  The Holy Spirit.

:7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

ensamplestupos – the mark of a stroke or blow, print; a figure formed by a blow or impression; of a figure or image; an example; in the technical sense, the pattern in conformity to which a thing must be made; an example to be imitated

Macedonia and Achaia – See map.  The northern and southern parts of Greece.  Thessalonica was in the northern, Macedonian part of Greece.


One example begets another

Paul was an example for the Thessalonians, but they turned around and became an example for others to be molded after.
Sometimes we look to certain leaders to be the example for everyone to follow, but that’s not the way the Bible says it should be.  As you begin to follow the Lord, you too become an example.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
(2 Tim 2:2 KJV)  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Paul had taught Timothy.  Timothy would teach other men.  These other men would teach more men.

:8 For 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; so that we need not to speak any thing.

sounded outexecheomai – to sound forth, emit, sound, resound.  The word carries the idea of to “echo out”.

spread abroadexerchomai – to go or come forth of; with mention of the place out of which one goes, or the point from which he departs; to be made known, declared; to be spread, to be proclaimed

There were people from Thessalonica that eventually were a part of Paul’s team, including Aristarchus and Secundus.

(Acts 20:4 KJV)  And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus.

(Acts 27:2 KJV)  And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us.

These guys had come to the Lord in Thessalonica, but ended up preaching around the world with Paul.

:9 For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

entering ineisodos – an entrance; the place or way leading into a place (as a gate); the act of entering.  NLT – “the wonderful welcome you gave us”

turnedepistrepho –; to turn to; to the worship of the true God; to cause to return, to bring back; to the love and obedience of God

to servedouleuo – to be a slave, serve, do service; metaph. to obey, submit to

:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

to wait foranemeno (“again” + “remain”) – to wait for one (with the added notion of patience and trust).  The verb is a present tense, meaning that it’s a continuous waiting.

deliveredrhoumai – to draw to one’s self, to rescue, to deliver.  Almost the picture of a lifeguard who swims out to a person in distress, pulls the person up close to them and swims them safely to shore.


Signs of conversion

1.  Turning from idols
2.  Serving the Living God
3.  Waiting for Jesus’ return
Jesus is coming back soon.  Very, very soon.
Are you paying attention to what is happening in Israel?

Much of the problem is surrounding Jerusalem.

(Zec 12:2-3 KJV)  Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. {3} And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

In the end times, Jerusalem will not be a popular place.  All the nations will be against Jerusalem.  Those that will try to help the Jews will be “cut in pieces”.

Ezekiel prophesied of a time near the end when a large army of allied nations comes against Israel, including the nations of Russia, Iran/Iraq (Persia), Ethiopia, and Libya.

(Ezek 38:8-9 NLT)  A long time from now you will be called into action. In the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel, which will be lying in peace after her recovery from war and after the return of her people from many lands. {9} You and all your allies--a vast and awesome horde--will roll down on them like a storm and cover the land like a cloud.

It may be that all of these things are just wake up calls for us.  After all, many thought that the Lord was coming back during the Israeli wars of 1967 and 1973.  But what if this is the time?  Are you ready?

(Mat 24:44-51 KJV)  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. {45} Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? {46} Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. {47} Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. {48} But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; {49} And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; {50} The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, {51} And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Are you a servant who is expecting his Lord’s return, doing the things He wants you to do?  Or are you like the servant who said, “My master isn’t coming for a long while”?

1Thessalonians 2


Paul’s example of ministry

This is one of my favorite sections of Scripture because of the portrait it paints of ministry.  What is ministry all about?  Read on.

:1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

entranceeisodos – an entrance; the place or way leading into a place (as a gate); the act of entering

vainkenos – empty, vain, devoid of truth; metaph. of endeavours, labours, acts, which result in nothing, vain, fruitless, without effect; vain of no purpose

:2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

suffered beforepropascho – to suffer before

shamefully entreatedhubrizo – to be insolent, to behave insolently, wantonly, outrageously; to act insolently and shamefully towards one, to treat shamefully; of one who injures another by speaking evil of him

bold … to speakparrhesiazomai – to use freedom in speaking, be free spoken; to speak freely; to grow confident, have boldness, show assurance, assume a bold bearing

contentionagon – an assembly,; a place of assembly: especially an assembly met to see games; the place of contest, the arena or stadium; hence the contest for a prize at their games; generally, any struggle or contest; a battle; an action at law, trial

This is just what had happened to Paul.  He and Silas had been mocked, beaten, and jailed at Philippi, then went on to Thessalonica to preach the gospel, only to find more difficulties from jealous, unbelieving Jews.

:3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

exhortationparaklesis – a calling near, summons, (esp. for help); importation, supplication, entreaty; exhortation, admonition, encouragement; consolation, comfort, solace; that which affords comfort or refreshment; persuasive discourse, stirring address; instructive, admonitory, conciliatory, powerful hortatory discourse

deceitplane – a wandering, a straying about; one led astray from the right way, roams hither and thither; metaph.; error, wrong opinion relative to morals or religion; error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting; error, that which leads into error, deceit or fraud

uncleannessakatharsia – uncleanness; physical; in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living; of impure motives

guiledolos – craft, deceit, guile

Paul didn’t come and preach to the people with the wrong motives, to take advantage of these people or lead them astray.

:4 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 trieth our hearts.

alloweddokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy.  The idea is that God had tested Paul and found him usable.

entrustedpisteuo – to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in; of the thing believed; to credit, have confidence; to be intrusted with a thing.  God put His trust in Paul to give him the gospel, the gospel of putting our trust in God.

pleasingaresko – to please; to strive to please; to accommodate one’s self to the opinions desires and interests of others

triethdokimazo – to test, examine, prove, scrutinise (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals; to recognise as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy.  God had entrusted Paul with the gospel because He had tested his heart.


Who are you trying to please?

Paul knew that he had been given his ministry because he had learned not bend his message for the sake of people’s approval, but he had learned to simply try and please God.
I don’t think we need to be obnoxious for the sake of not being “man-pleasers”.  But I also think we need to ask ourselves if we’re willing to stick with what God puts on our heart, or do we change so we don’t offend someone?

:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:

flatteringkolakeia (from kolax, “a fawner”) – flattery, flattering discourse

cloakprophasis – a pretext (alleged reason, pretended cause); show; under colour as though they would do something; in pretence, ostensibly

covetousnesspleonexia – greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice

Paul wasn’t just “out for the money”.

:6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

sought wezeteo – to seek in order to find; to seek i.e. require, demand; to crave, demand something from someone

glorydoxa – opinion, judgment, view; in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honour, and glory; splendour, brightness; magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace

For some, the allure of ministry is not in the money, it’s in the glory.  There’s something very enticing about people saying lots of good things about you.  It’s not difficult to start out with the right motives, but once you taste of the “glory”, it’s kind of hard to not hear it once in a while. 

Like the White Witch’s Turkish Delight in C.S. Lewis’ Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Once the little boy Edward tasted of the wicked witch’s delightful candy, he became addicted to it, to the point of even betraying his brothers and sisters in order to get more.
I’m not talking about learning to “appreciate” one another.  That’s important.  But when I’m doing things solely to get your “appreciation”, I’ve gotten off track.

might have beendunamai – to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; to be able to do something; to be capable, strong and powerful

burdensomebaros – heaviness, weight, burden, trouble

Paul could have thrown his weight around as an “apostle” and demanded respect and glory.  But he didn’t.

:7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

gentleepios – affable; mild, gentle

nursetrophos – a nurse.  Don’t think of a hospital.  Think of a mother that is breast-feeding her child.

cherisheththalpo – to warm, keep warm; to cherish with tender love, to foster with tender care



It’s hard to describe this if you haven’t been exposed to the gentle tenderness that becomes a part of a mother nursing her child.  There’s a tender bond that grows between a mother and her child in nursing.  There’s a peace, a calm, a gentleness involved.

:8 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 ye were dear unto us.

affectionately desiroushimeiromai – to desire, long for, esp. the longing of love

willingeudokeo – it seems good to one, is one’s good pleasure; think it good, choose, determine, decide; to do willingly

soulspsuche – breath; life; the soul; the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)

dearagapetos – beloved, esteemed, dear, favourite, worthy of love

(John 15:13 KJV)  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

labourkopos – a beating; a beating of the breast with grief, sorrow; labour; trouble; to cause one trouble, make work for him; intense labour united with trouble and toil

travailmochthos – a hard and difficult labour, toil, travail, hardship, distress

labouringergazomai – to work, labour, do work; to trade, to make gains by trading, "do business"; to do, work out; exercise, perform, commit; to work for, earn by working, to acquire

chargeableepibareo – to put a burden upon, to load; to be burdensome


Hard work.

In a sense, there’s a sense in which ministry is “easy”.
We see a picture of this with the priest’s clothing in the Old Testament.

(Ezek 44:17-18 KJV)  And it shall come to pass, that when they enter in at the gates of the inner court, they shall be clothed with linen garments; and no wool shall come upon them, whiles they minister in the gates of the inner court, and within. {18} They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.

The way Pastor Chuck puts it, “ministry is about inspiration, not perspiration”.  Your success in ministry is dependant upon whether God is leading you, not whether you push yourself hard enough.

Yet in a sense, ministry isn’t “easy”.
It requires hard work.
Paul was a tentmaker by trade.  As he traveled from city to city, he’d work his job making tents to support himself.  Then when the day’s work was over, he’d do his ministry.  Sometimes he would receive financial support from some of the churches, but sometimes he didn’t.  While in Thessalonica, Paul actually received two financial gifts from the church in Philippi (Phi. 4:16), but apparently it was still not enough as Paul had to still work at making tents.

:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

witnessesmartus – a witness; one who is a spectator of anything, e.g. of a contest

These people knew first hand about Paul’s character.

holilyhosios – piously, holily; from hosios – undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, religiously observing every moral obligation, pure holy, pious

justlydikaios – just, agreeably to right; properly, as is right; uprightly, agreeable to the law of rectitude

unblameablyamemptos – blameless, so that there is no cause for censure

:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

exhortedparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to admonish, exhort; to beg, entreat, beseech; to strive to appease by entreaty; to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort

comfortedparamutheomai – to speak to, address one, whether by way of admonition and incentive, or to calm and console; to encourage, console

chargedmartureo – to be a witness, to bear witness; to utter honourable testimony, give a good report; conjure, implore

as a father …


Tender and tough

Ministry isn’t just about being a “mom”, but being a “dad” too.
Ministry is sometimes compared to parenting (2Cor. 12:14), as Paul is doing here. 

How parents handle …

Feeling the Baby Move

First Child: I placed my hand on my wives tummy every chance I could for two months waiting for that first time when I  could feel the baby move. Hours upon hours I waited until that magic moment when, I felt this little movement. We called all of our relatives to tell them about the blessed experience.

Second Child: When it first happened, my wife called me at the office. I quickly ran home and felt the baby move. We included the experience in all of our letters to our family.

Third Child: She told me the baby moved. I told her I would check it our during the next commercial break. I missed out  because her mother called on the telephone so I went on watching Monday night football. By the end of the third quarter, I finally felt the baby move.

Fourth Child: We were in bed and I was trying to sleep. I turned to her and said "Cant you make your tummy stay still? I'm trying to sleep." When it became clear that the baby would be jumping around for a while, we called the pizza man for a delivery.

Pacifier Falls on Floor

First Child: Mother picks it up, runs to the kitchen and disinfects it by boiling in water for ten minutes. Then, after it cools down for ten minutes, she gives it back to the child.

Second Child: Mother picks it up, washes it off in hot water, blows on it to cool it down, and gives it back to the child 

Third Child: Mother picks it up, licks it off, and gives it back to the child.

Fourth child: Dog picks it up and licks it off. Mother gives it back to the child.

Sometimes as a parent, there is a need for discipline.  When you’re in ministry, there’s a time to be tender, but there’s a time to be firm too. Paul wrote to the Corinthians,
(2 Cor 13:10 NLT)  I am writing this to you before I come, hoping that I won't need to deal harshly with you when I do come. For I want to use the authority the Lord has given me to build you up, not to tear you down.
Ministry is very much like parenting.  There is a time to be stern, but for the most part, ministry ought to be about tenderness.

:12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

worthyaxios – suitably, worthily, in a manner worthy of

This is what Paul continually encouraged the people to do.

: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.

thankeucharisteo – to be grateful, feel thankful; give thanks

without ceasingadialeiptos – without intermission, incessantly, without ceasing

These people realized that when Paul was with them, it wasn’t just Paul that was speaking, but God was speaking through Paul. Sometimes we aren’t careful to be paying attention …


Are You Listening?

The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving  lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention  to what was said.  One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person  who came down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my  grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like,  “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.”  It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from  Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Not quite knowing what to say,  the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”


Can you receive?

It’s hard not to confuse the message with the messenger.
I see people go through various stages in a church. 
Some people come into a church and there will be some little thing that will turn them off, and they won’t be back again. 
There will be people who will listen to the studies and be able to receive from the Lord.  You see the excitement and anticipation in their eyes.
There are those who once got something out of the studies, but someone in church hurts their feelings, or something happens that slowly draws them away from the Lord and they no longer can receive.
Sometimes I see all three happening in the same service.  I know that each person is seeing and hearing the same message, yet they react in many different ways.  How can this be?  Because part of the success of the process lies in the heart of the hearer.
I’ve sat under pastors where I’ve been unable to receive, and when I realized that the problem was in my heart, I was able to get back to the place where I could receive from the Lord again.

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

followersmimetes – an imitator

The Thessalonians had a kinship with the church back in Judaea.  They had both believed in the Lord Jesus and suffered for it.

:15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

contraryenantios – over against, opposite; of place, opposite, contrary (of the wind); metaph.; opposed as an adversary, hostile, antagonistic in feeling or act; an opponent

: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.

forbiddingkoluo – to hinder, prevent forbid; to withhold a thing from anyone; to deny or refuse one a thing

: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 fromaporphanizo (“from” + “orphan”)– to bereave of a parent or parents

endeavouredspoudazo – to hasten, make haste; to exert one’s self, endeavour, give diligence

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

hinderedegkopto – to cut into, to impede one’s course by cutting off his way; hinder

How did Satan hinder Paul?  Apparently by using these jealous unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica who kept hounding Paul.  After leaving Thessalonica, Paul went to Berea, but the Thessalonian Jews caught up with him there and had him run out of Berea.

For some, this doesn’t fit into their theology.  Some would say that Paul simply needed to “take authority” over the situation and bind Satan.  Yet Paul said he was hindered.

: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.

Paul was very proud of these believers and was anxious to be the one to introduce them to Jesus when He returned.

1Thessalonians 3

:1  Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;

forbearstego – deck, thatch, to cover; to cover over with silence; by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear

From Berea, Paul sailed by ship to Athens, while leaving Silas and Timothy behind to help the Macedonian churches.

:2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:

establishsterizo (“steroids”) – to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix; to strengthen, make firm; to render constant, confirm, one’s mind

comfortparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.; to admonish, exhort; to instruct, teach


A seaman meets a pirate in a bar, and talk turns to their adventures on the sea.  The seaman notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook, and an eye patch. The seaman asks “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?” The pirate replies “We were in a storm at sea, and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks.  Just as my men were pulling me out, a shark bit my leg off” “Wow!” said the seaman. “What about your hook”? “Well...”, replied the pirate, “We were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords.  One of the enemy cut my hand off.” “Incredible!” remarked the seaman. “How did you get the eyepatch”? “A seagull dropping fell into my eye.”, replied the pirate. “You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?” the sailor asked incredulously. “Well...”, said the pirate, “...it was my first day with the hook.”

Just as the pirate was a little new at having a hook, the Thessalonians were a little new at being Christians.  They’ve been through some tough times even from the start.  Paul has been concerned about how they were doing.

:3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.

movedsaino – to wag the tail; metaph.; to move (the mind of one); to agitate, disturb, trouble

afflictionsthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

appointedkeimai – to lie; metaph.; to be (by God’s intent) set, i.e. destined, appointed


Christians will suffer

I don’t think Paul is saying that just he and the Thessalonians were destined to suffer.  All Christians are supposed to encounter suffering. It’s a part of the deal.  Paul wrote to Timothy –
(2 Tim 3:10-12 KJV)  But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, {11} Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. {12} Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
How a person gets through difficult times will often tell about just where their relationship with the Lord really is.
(Mat 13:20-21 NLT)  The rocky soil represents those who hear the message and receive it with joy. {21} But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word.
If a person has no deep root in the Lord, they will be blown away by difficult times.  They will walk away from the Lord and join those people who say, “Well, I tried Christianity, but it didn’t work for me.”  The problem isn’t that Christianity didn’t work, it’s that a person wasn’t clinging to Jesus in the difficult times.

We often want to keep people from having to go through trials.  We’d like to rescue them from their hard times, like a parent that constantly holds the child’s hand to keep them from falling.  But sooner or later you need to let them walk on their own.  Sooner or later they will need to experience a scraped knee or two.  It’s the trials that refine our faith, that make us stronger.

(James 1:2-4 NLT)  Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. {3} For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. {4} So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

:4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.

told you beforeprolego – to say beforehand, to predict

we shouldmello – to be about; to be on the point of doing or suffering something; to intend, have in mind, think to

suffer tribulationthlibo – to press (as grapes), press hard upon; metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress

:5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

tempter … temptedpeirazo – to try whether a thing can be done; to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself; in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments; to solicit to sin, to tempt


Satan can use our difficult times to make us stumble.

I’ve often struggled because the Greek word for “testing” is also translated “tempting” at times.  How do I know if my difficult time is a “testing” of God or whether it is a “temptation” from Satan.  It could very well be both.
God allows difficult times in order to purify us and help us grow stronger
But Satan can turn them into temptations to walk away from the Lord.
How your difficulty will affect you depends on you.

:6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:

brought us good tidingseuaggelizo (“evangelize”) – to bring good news, to announce glad tidings. 

Timothy had good news to bring Paul about the Thessalonians.  The church was still going strong.

This gives us a good idea of what “evangelism” is all about.  It’s sharing good news with people. 

:7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:

comfortedparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.; to admonish, exhort; to instruct, teach

afflictionthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

distressanagke – necessity, imposed either by the circumstances, or by law of duty regarding to one’s advantage, custom, argument; calamity, distress, straits

:8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

stand faststeko – to stand firm; to persevere, to persist; to keep one’s standing

This really made Paul’s day to find out that the Thessalonian church was still going strong despite all the persecution they had encountered.


Joy at their passing grade

These people had been through a major end of semester final exam.  And they passed with flying colors.  Paul is stoked.

:9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;

renderantapodidomi – in a good sense, to repay, requite.  Paul saw it necessary to give God some kind of “pay back” for having taken care of the church.

:10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?

exceedinglyperissos – exceeding some number or measure or rank or need; over and above, more than is necessary, superadded

prayingdeomai – to want, lack; to desire, long for; to ask, beg; the thing asked for; to pray, make supplications.  This isn’t a simple “prayer”, Paul sees this request as a strong desire, a thing he needs to beg God for.

might perfectkatartizo – to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete; to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair; to complete; to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust

lackinghusterema – deficiency, that which is lacking; in reference to property and resources, poverty, want, destitution

Paul wants very badly to see the church again to help continue to grow in the Lord.


Room for growth

Here’s a church that Paul thinks pretty highly of.  Yet he knows that they have a lot to learn.
Don’t stop growing.  There’s more.

:11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.

directkateuthuno – to make straight, guide, direct; of the removal of the hindrances to coming to one

Paul is putting into practice what Solomon wrote,

(Prov 3:5-6 KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:

increasepleonazo – to superabound; to exist in abundance; to increase; be augmented

aboundperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; to be over, to remain; to exist or be at hand in abundance; to make to abound; to furnish one richly so that he has abundance; to make abundant or excellent; "Abounding" is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.


Room for more

Paul had already commended them on their “labor of love” (1:3).
But they had room for more love.

:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

stablishsterizo (“steroids”) – to make stable, place firmly, set fast, fix; to strengthen, make firm; to render constant, confirm, one’s mind

unblameableamemptos – blameless, deserving no censure, free from fault or defect

holinesshagiosune – majesty, holiness; moral purity