Suffered Like Things

1Thessalonians 2:14-18 For you, brethren, became followers of the churches [congregations] of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: 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: 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. 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. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but satan hindered us. 

‘For you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews.’ Both Jews and Gentiles suffered persecution from their own countrymen. The Jews were the persecutors of the congregations everywhere. Among the Gentiles they caused the heathen to be stirred up against Christianity (Acts 13:6, 45, 50; 14:2, 5, 19; 15:1-2, 5; 16:3; 17:5, 13; 18:5-6).

‘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.’ Seven sins of the Jews: They killed Jesus Christ (2:15; Matt. 2:23). They killed their own prophets (2:15; Matt. 23:1-39). They persecuted believers. They lived contrary to God (2:15; Acts 7:51). They were contrary to all people (2:15; Matt. 23:1-39). They opposed the salvation of others (2:16). They multiplied sins continually (2:16).

‘For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.’ For the seven sins (2:15) wrath comes upon them to the uttermost (Lev. 26:1-46; Deut. 28:1-68; 32:1-52; Matt. 23:34-39; Luke 21:20-24; Rom. 11:1-36).

‘Being taken’ [Greek: aporphanizomai] having been bereaved. Paul had compared himself to a parent and the people to his beloved children (2:7, 11). Here he represented himself as feeling what an affectionate father would feel if torn from his children. Because of this, he endeavoured to see them all the more. He would have seen them time and time again if satan had not hindered him (2:18).

‘Hindered’ [Greek: engkopto] Translated hinder (2:18; Rom. 15:22) and be tedious unto (Acts 24:4).

Without Ceasing

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

‘Without ceasing’ – Things we must do without ceasing: [1] Remembering without ceasing our work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3). [2] We must walk worthy of God, who had called us unto His kingdom and glory and for this cause also we thank God without ceasing (2:12-13). [3] We must pray without ceasing (5:17; Rom. 1:9). [4] We are bound to thank God always for believers’ faith that grows exceedingly and the charity of everyone towards each other (2Thess. 1:3).

‘You received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God.’ You received the Word of God, not as a fabrication of man, but as being in truth the very Word of God. You have the most total proof possible – the power of the Word of God working effectually in you that believe.

‘Effectually’ [Greek: energeo] energy that puts forth from within effectual operation. Translated “work effectually” (2:13; Gal. 2:8; 2Cor. 1:6); “effectual fervent” (Jas. 5:16); “show forth one’s self” (Matt. 14:2; Mark 6:14); “do” (Php. 2:13); “be mighty in” (Gal. 2:8); and “to work” (Rom. 7:5; 1Cor. 12:6, 11; 2Cor. 4:12; Gal. 3:5; 5:6; Eph. 1:11, 20; 2:2; 3:20; Php. 2:13; Col. 1:29; 2Thess. 2:7). This proves the power of the Word itself in lives of believers (Ps. 19:7; 107:20; John 15:7; Rom. 1:16; 10:17; Heb. 4:12).

Walk Worthy of God

1Thessalonians 2:7-12 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse 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. For you 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. You are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As you know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father does his children, That you would walk worthy of God, who had called you unto his kingdom and glory. 

‘Nurse’ [Greek: trophos] nurse, feeder. It refers to a mother feeding her children.

‘How holily and justly and unblameably we behaved.’ Three major qualities in Christian living: Holily. [Greek: hosios] Holy referring to God. Justly. [Greek: dikaios] righteous, just. Just referring here to men only. Unblameably. [Greek: amemptos] Unblameable when referencing life and conduct before God and man.

‘How we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you.’ Three kinds of ministry: Exhortation. [Greek: parakaleo] to call to the aid of one. Translated in 4 ways: “beseech” (2Cor. 2:8; 5:20; 6:1; 10:1; 12:8); “desire” (2Cor. 8:6; 12:18); “exhort” (2Cor. 9:5); and “comfort” (2Cor. 1:4, 6; 2:7; 7:6, 7, 13). Comforting. [Greek: paramutheomai] to speak tenderly (John 11:19, 31). Charging. [Greek: martureo] Testifying to or strictly charging to righteousness. Translated “record” (Acts 20:26) and “testify” (Gal. 5:3; Eph. 4:17).

‘As a father does his children.’ Note the spirit of pastoral care exercised by Paul for his disciples – gentle as a mother (1Thess. 2:7), and exhorting, comforting, and charging everyone as a father does his children (2:11). Any leader will succeed with this kind of personal care for each one in his congregation.

‘That you would walk worthy of God.’ Ten tests of discipleship are noted in Scripture: World persecution (Matt. 10:25; John 15:18). and fearless teaching (Matt. 10:26-27). Fearless consecration (Matt. 10:28). Fearless faith (Matt. 10:29-31; Heb. 11:1-40). Bold confession of Christ (Matt. 10:32-33). Family persecution (Matt. 10:34-36; 19:29). Putting God first (Matt. 10:37; 22:37). Bearing the cross daily (Matt. 10:38; Luke 9:23) and following Christ (Matt. 10:38; John 10:27). Denying oneself (Matt. 10:39; Rom. 8:1-13).

‘Called you unto his kingdom and glory.’ This is the highest calling of all.

Cloke of Covetousness

1Thessalonians 2:5-6 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as you know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. 

‘Neither at any time used we flattering words.’ We were frank to tell the naked truth. Flattering is characteristic of deceit (Pro. 28:23; 29:5; Jude 1:16).

‘Cloke’ [Greek: prophasis] pretence, excuse. Translated “cloke” (2:5; John 15:22); “shew” (Luke 20:47); “colour” (Acts 27:30); and “pretence” (Matt. 23:14; Mark 12:40; Php. 1:18). He did not use the ministry as a pretence to make a personal gain.

‘Covetousness’  is forbidden (Ex. 20:17; Matt. 6:19-21; Rom. 13:9; Eph. 5:3; Heb. 13:5; 1Jn. 2:15-17). Hatred of it is one qualification of leaders, civil and religious (Ex. 18:21; 1Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:7; 1Pet. 5:2). It will damn the soul (1Cor. 5:11; Eph. 5:3-5; 1Tim. 6:9-11; 2Pet. 2:3, 14). It must be cleaned out entirely (Col. 3:2-6). Covetousness breeds the following: Greed and murder (Pro. 1:19; Isa. 56:11; Jer. 22:17); poverty and rebellion (Pro. 11:24); oppression and violence (Pro. 22:16; Jer. 22:17; Mic. 2:2); denial of God (Pro. 30:8-9); injustice (Isa. 1:23; Mic. 7:3); backsliding (Mic. 3:11); deceptions (Matt. 13:22); defilement (Mark 7:21-23); temptations and lusts (1Tim. 6:9-11; 1Jn. 2:15-17); a short life and a fool’s end (Jer. 17:11; Luke 12:16-21).

Examples of covetousness in Scripture: Eve – forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6); Lot – lands (Gen. 13:10-13); Jacob – birthright and his father’s blessing (Gen. 25:31; 27:6-29); Balaam – rewards (2Pet. 2:15); Achan – money (Jos. 7:21); David – woman (2Sam. 11:2-5); Ahab – vineyard (1Kin. 21:2-16); Gehazi – gifts (2Kin. 5:20-27); The rich fool – security (Luke 12:17); Judas – silver (Matt. 26:15-16); Pharisees – riches (Luke 16:14); Simon Magus – Holy Ghost power (Acts 8:18-23); Festus – money (Acts 24:26); Demas – pleasures (2Tim. 4:10).

‘Might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.’ We might have used our position to get wages from you, for we have that right (Luke 10:7; 1Cor. 9:7-18; Gal. 6:6). We did not exercise these rights.

Not As Pleasing Men

1Thessalonians 2:4 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 tries our hearts. 

‘Allowed’ [Greek: dokimazo] test. We were tested and then accounted worthy to be trusted with the gospel. Twenty-one facts about the teachings in this epistle: Not in vain (2:1, 13-20). Preached in mistreatment (2:2). Preached in boldness. Preached in great conflict. Did not use deceit (2:3). Did not foster corrupt passions. Did not use guile. Was trusted of God with it (2:4). Preached to please God, not man. Used no flattering words (2:5). Was not covetous (2:5; Luke 12:15). Did not seek human glory (2:6) and ministered without pay (2:6, 9). Was patient and gentle (2:14). Preached with great affection (2:15). Was ready to sacrifice life (2:16). Worked day and night (2:9). Lived what he preached (2:10) and was complete (2:11). His purpose was right (2:12). Gave unceasing thanks to God for results of the gospel (2:13-20).

‘Not as pleasing men.’ From Galatians 1:10 we have the warning that if we strive to please men we are not servants of Christ.

‘But God, which tries our hearts’ The secret of pleasing God is to have faith in Him because without it, it is impossible to please Him and when we go to God, we must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Exhortation

1Thessalonians 2:2-3 But even after that we had suffered before, and 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. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile

‘At Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God.’ Paul here refers to the events of Acts 16:16-40 when Silas and he were placed in prison and the keeper of the prison and his house became followers of Christ.

‘Contention’ [Greek: agon] conflict, a contest for a prize, a struggle or a battle.

‘Exhortation’ [Greek: paraklesis] translated “intreaty” (2Cor. 8:4); “comfort” (Acts 9:31; Rom. 15:4; 2Cor. 1:3-4; 7:4, 7:13); “exhortation” (2:3; Acts 13:15; Rom. 12:8; 1Cor. 14:3; 2Cor. 8:17; 1Tim. 4:13; Heb. 12:5; 13:22); and “consolation” (Luke 2:25; 6:24; Acts 4:36; 15:31; Rom. 15:5; 2Cor. 1:5-7; 7:7; Php. 2:1; 2Thess. 2:16; Phm. 1:7; Heb. 6:18).

Three marks of true exhortation: [1] Without deceit. [Greek: plane] fraudulence; straying from orthodoxy or piety. Translated “deceit” (2:3); “deceive” (Eph. 4:14); “delusion” (2Thess. 2:3); and “error” (Matt. 27:64; Rom. 1:27, note; Jas. 5:20; 2Pet. 2:18; 3:17; 1Jn. 4:6; Jude 1:11). [2] Without uncleanness. [Greek: akatharsia] whatever is opposite of purity; including sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, pederasty, bestiality, and all other forms of sexual perversion (Gal. 5:19; Matt. 23:27; Rom. 1:21-32). We did not minister to your corrupt passions but enforced their mortification (Col. 3:5; Rom. 8:12-13). [3] Without guile. [Greek: dolos] lying, falsity. [Taken from delo], to take with a bait. Translated “guile” (2:3; John 1:47; 2Cor. 12:16; 1Pet. 2:1, 22; 3:10; Rev. 14:5); “deceit” (Mark 7:22; Rom. 1:29); craft (Mark 14:1); and “subtilty” (Matt. 26:4; Acts 13:10).

Not In Vain

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

‘Know our entrance in unto you’ – Twelve times he called attention to the Thessalonians showing what they know of truth: Know what manner of men we were (1:5). Know our entrance unto you (2:1). Know how shamefully we were treated (2:2). Know we did not use flattering language and were not covetous (2:5). Know how we exhorted, comforted, and charged you (2:11). Know that we were appointed afflictions for the gospel (3:3-4). Know what commandments we gave you by Jesus Christ (4:2). Know how to possess your vessels in sanctification and honour (4:4). Know perfectly about the day of the Lord (5:2). Know your true teachers (5:12). Know what withholds that the Antichrist might be revealed (2Thess. 2:6-8). Know how you ought to follow us (2Thess. 3:7).

Note the twelve “Know You Not’s:” That so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3)? That to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are – sin or righteousness; satan or God (Rom. 6:16)? That I speak to them that know the law – the Jews (Rom. 7:1; cp. 1Thess. 2:12-16)? That you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you (1Cor. 3:16)? That a little leaven leavens the whole lump (1Cor. 5:6)? That saints shall judge the world (1Cor. 6:2)? That saints shall judge angels (1Cor. 6:3)? That the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor. 6:9)? That your bodies are members of Christ (1Cor. 6:15)? That he which is joined to a harlot is one body (1Cor. 6:16)? That your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19-20)? That they which run in a race all run, but only one wins the prize (1Cor. 9:24)?

‘That it was not in vain’ – A steadfast congregation was established (Acts 17:1-34).

Your Faith

1Thessalonians 1:8-10 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. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 

‘Sounded out’ [Greek: execheomai] to sound forth; publish. From Thessalonica went ministers preaching and confirming the Word of God in Macedonia, Greece, and many other places. Then, too, merchants went from Thessalonica to all parts, taking the news that the people had believed.

‘Your faith to God-ward is spread abroad.’ Their faith and power were matters of conversation among the heathen. If they had manifested only a formal confession of faith without the power they would not have been model saints for other congregations.

‘How you turned to God from idols.’ This shows that these converts were Gentiles who once served idol gods. They turned from these to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (1:10).

‘Living’ God is here called living in contrast to lifeless idols. He is called true in contrast to the whole system of idolatry which was false in its gods, worship, doctrines, promises, and prospects of eternal life.

‘True God’ – Seven major Christian doctrines here: Conversion – they “turned” (1:9; Matt. 18:3). True and living God (1:9; John 17:3). Against idolatry (1:9; 1Cor. 8:1-13). Jesus the Son of God (1:10; John 3:16). Second coming of Jesus Christ (1:10). Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Salvation from the wrath to come.

‘And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.’ This is the 1st New Testament prophecy in 1 Thessalonians and it is unfulfilled until Christ’s Second Coming.

Followers

1Thessalonians 1:6-7 And you became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 

‘Followers’ [Greek: mimetes] imitators. Follow or imitate us as we imitate Christ (1:6; 2:14; 1Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Eph. 5:1; Heb. 6:12; 1Pet. 3:13).

From 1 Peter 2:21-23 we learn that we were called to follow in Christ’s steps because He suffered for us and left us an example as to not live in sin, to have no guile or to revile when others revile against us; to threaten no one when we suffer, but to commit ourselves to Him that judges righteously. 

‘Affliction’ [Greek: thlipsis] not a disease, as usually understood, but tribulation. Translated “tribulation” 20 times; “affliction” in the sense of tribulation 18 times; “burdened” (2Cor. 8:13); “anguish” (John 16:21); “persecution” (Acts 11:19); and “trouble” (1Cor. 7:28; 2Cor. 1:4, 8). Not once is it used for physical sickness or disease.

‘With joy of the Holy Ghost.’ This is the true way to receive the Word of God. There is too little joy in new converts today. Perhaps they do not see a true demonstration of the power of God in others’ lives, as referred to in 1Thessalonians 1:3, 5; 2:13-14; 2Thessalonians 1:3, 11; 2:17; 3:1, 9 and Hebrews 2:4. ‘Ensamples’ [Greek: tupos] example (1:7; 2Thess. 3:9; Php. 3:17; 1Cor. 10:6, 11; 1Tim. 4:12; 1Pet. 5:3); pattern (Tit. 2:7; Heb. 8:5); manner (Acts 23:25); fashion (Acts 7:44); form (Rom. 6:17); figure (Acts 7:43; Rom. 5:14); and print (John 20:25). These believers became models or patterns for all congregations in Macedonia and Greece (1:7-8) – models, not only of patience in hope but in faith and power that worked effectually through all of them which believed (2:13-14; 2Thess. 1:11). They were also imitators of the apostle and the Lord (1:6), as well as of the congregations in Judea who also exercised the power of God (2:13-14; Acts 2:43; 3:6; 5:16; 6:3, 8; 11:21).

Also in Power

1Thessalonians 1:5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as you know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

‘Gospel came unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.’ Four ways the gospel should be taught or learned: In word (1:5; Matt. 28:20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; 1Cor. 1:18-24); in power (1:5; Matt. 17:20; Mark 16:16-17; Luke 24:49; John 14:12; 1Cor. 4:20); in the Holy Spirit (1:5; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8; Rom. 15:18-20, 29; Heb. 2:4); in much assurance (1:5; Col. 2:2).

‘And in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.’ You know how we demonstrated the gospel in word, in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with full assurance, and how we suffered in doing so (1:6; Acts 17:1-34).

Believers who are baptized in the Spirit (Acts 1:4-8; 2:1-11, 33, 38-39) must have new outpourings of the Spirit to maintain the fullness of God (Acts 4:31; John 1:16; Php. 1:19; 2Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 3:19; 1Jn. 4:13). Christ Himself lived in prayer and received many new infillings and fresh supplies of the Spirit and power to continue in all the fullness of God. As virtue went out of Him it had to be supplied again, as proved by the scriptures above and by the many times Christ prayed – as all men must do to maintain spiritual power in life. After Pentecost, the full endowment of power and full anointing of the Holy Spirit was made possible for all believers who lived in obedience to the Word of God (Gal. 3:13-14; John 7:37-39; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-8,33).