1st Thessalonians 2 Part 2
1st Thessalonians 2: 13-16 13And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 14For you, brothers, became imitators of God's churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
Just as the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted by other Jews, so the Gentile Christians in Thessalonica were persecuted by their fellow Gentiles along with hostile Jews. Persecution is especially rough when it comes from your own; though we are told to expect it.
The Jews didn’t want any trouble from the government. Their religion was legal and recognized by the Roman government, but Christianity was seen by outsiders as a sect of Judaism and the Jews didn’t want to suffer for anything the Christian might say or do.
Also the Jewish leaders thought Christ was not the Messiah and didn’t want His teachings spread. Lastly they didn’t want to lose any Jews which might weaken their political position.
1st Thessalonians 2:17-20 17But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us. 19For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
Evidently people were telling the Thessalonians that Paul wasn’t interested in them any longer and that’s why he hadn’t come back. But he tells them they were constantly on his mind. There is spiritual warfare going on.
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Satan is real. We need to be aware of that. But we also have to remember who the victor will be! We’ve read the end of the book!
Paul tells us in verse 20 what’s important. Not money or fame, but new believers. When God judges what we’ve done with what we’ve been given it’s all going to be about spreading the gospel, bringing new believers to God and not hampering a young believer’s faith, but helping that faith grow.