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1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
Wednesday AM Bible Study
January 28, 2004
From 1:2-2:12; the apostle Paul has expressed how delighted he was in
the Thessalonian believers. He has nothing to criticize about them, and
much to praise God for concerning them. He is delighted, most of all,
with the way they so readily received the Gospel and were transformed
by it; making them a model of true conversion.
They responded well to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But not
everyone did. This closing portion of chapter two describes the many
different ways the Gospel was responded to; and it teaches us the different
responses we too can expect when we share our faith with others.
I. THE RESPONSE OF THE BELIEVERS (vv. 13-14).
A. They "received" the Gospel.
B. They "welcomed" what they received.
C. They "believed" what they welcomed.
D. They "suffered" for what they believed.
II. THE RESPONSE OF THE UNBELIEVERS (vv. 15-16).
A. Paul here points to the unbelieving Jews as an example of opposition to
the Gospel. This is not meant to be an attack on the Jews, however.
(Remember that Paul himself was a Jew.) The point Paul is making is that
the Thessalonian believers are 'imitators' of the Jewish believers in Judea
in that they too gladly suffered opposition from their own countrymen.
B. These opposing Thessalonian unbelievers - like the Jewish unbelievers:
1. Hating the Lord Jesus and those sent to proclaim Him to them.
2. Persecuting (or literally "punish") those who proclaim Him.
3. Not pleasing God.
4. Standing in contradiction to all men (i.e., opposing man's need to hear
5. Forbidding the preachers to speak to those who need to hear and thus be
6. Filling up the measure of their sins.
7. Suffering the wrath of God 'to the uttermost' as a result.
III. THE RESPONSE OF THE DEVIL (vv. 17-18).
A. Paul expressed a frustration at being apart from the Thessalonians; but
longing to see them.
1. He and his coworkers were "taken away" from them.
2. He expected the separation to be only "for a short time".
3. Their separation was only in presence, but not in heart.
4. He endeavored to see their faces "eagerly" and "with great desire".
5. He wanted to come to them personally several times.
B. Behind this unwanted separation - and, in fact, behind the opposition of
unbelievers that the Gospel was experiencing - is the opposition of the devil
himself. It was he who "hindered" Paul and company from coming to them.
IV. THE RESPONSE OF THE PREACHER (vv. 19-20).
A. Paul, as the one who - with his coworkers - brought the Gospel to them, had a
particular reason to delight in them. They were his "hope" or "joy" or
"crown of rejoicing".
B. The thing that made them these things to him was the prospect of their
being in the presence of the Lord Jesus at the time of His return.
* * * * * * * * * *
This was a word of encouragement to believers in the midst of their
suffering for the Gospel. What hope we have! But it is also a word of
exhortation to us who share it. The greatest treasure and cause of joy we
could have in someone is that of seeing them in heavenly glory as a result
of our faithfulness to stand up against the opposition and bring them the
Gospel that will save them.