Godly Character of Jesus’ Servants
1My dear brothers and sisters, it’s obvious that our ministry among you has proven to be fruitful. # 2:1 Or “Our coming to you has not been in vain” (empty). See Acts 17:1–9. 2And though we had already suffered greatly in Philippi, where we were shamefully mistreated, # 2:2 Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi. See Acts 16:11–17:1. we were emboldened by faith in our God to fearlessly preach his wonderful gospel to you in spite of incredible opposition.
3Our coming alongside you to encourage you was not out of some delusion, or impure motive, or an intention to mislead you, 4but we have been approved by God to be those who preach the gospel. So our motivation to preach is not pleasing people but pleasing God, who thoroughly examines our hearts. 5God is our witness that when we came to encourage you, we never once used cunning compliments as a pretext for greed, 6nor did we crave the praises of men, whether you or others. # 2:6 Paul never watered down his message in preaching the gospel. His fearless courage serves as an example to us today to keep our message uncompromised. 7Even though we could have imposed upon you our demands as apostles of Christ, # 2:7 The Aramaic can be translated “Although we could have been honored as apostles of the Messiah.” See also 1 Cor. 9:1–18; Philem. 8. instead we showed you kindness and were gentle among you. # 2:7 Some reliable manuscripts have “We became like little children (infants) among you.” We cared for you in the same way a nursing mother cares for her own children. 8With a mother’s love and affectionate attachment to you, we were very happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our lives—because you had become so dear to us. # 2:8 Or “You had become our beloved.” Just a few months before, the Thessalonians were complete strangers to Paul. Now he states how dear they had become to his heart. True ministry is caring for others with a father’s love and a mother’s love—not exerting control or abusive authority over those whom we serve.
9Beloved brothers and sisters, surely you remember how hard we labored among you. We worked night and day so that we would not become a burden to you while we preached the wonderful gospel of God. 10With God as our witness you saw how we lived among you—in holiness, in godly relationships, # 2:10 Or “righteousness.” The Hebraic concept of righteousness extends toward our relationships and how we treat others. Paul stated that he lived in holiness toward God and purity in his relationships with others, so that no one could blame him for wrongdoing. and without fault. 11And you know how affectionately we treated each one of you, like a loving father cares for his own children. 12We comforted and encouraged you and challenged you to adopt a lifestyle worthy of God, who invites you into his kingdom and glory. # 2:12 Our calling is a summons from God to enter into his glory. A possible hendiadys, “his own glorious kingdom.”
The Faithfulness of the Thessalonians
13This is why we continually thank God for your lives, because you received our message wholeheartedly. You embraced it not as the fabrication of men but as the word of God. And the word continues to be an energizing force in you who believe.
14My dear brothers and sisters, the same thing happened to you as happened to God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you received the same kind of mistreatment from your fellow countrymen as they did from theirs, the Jews 15who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and ran us out of town. They are offending God and hostile to everyone else 16by hindering us from speaking to the unbelievers # 2:16 Or “the gentiles.” so that they might be saved. By so doing they are constantly filling up to the brim the measure of their guilt, # 2:16 That is, they are filling up to the limit of their sins before God. and punishment # 2:16 Or “wrath,” a metonymy for the punishment resulting from their sins. has come upon them at last! # 2:16 Or “completely” (to a full extent). This could be a prophetic word from Paul regarding the soon destruction of Jerusalem in the Roman war of AD 67–70. Paul is not referring to all Jews, for many had become converts and made up the early church. God rejected the empty rituals of Judaism but not the Jewish people. See Rom. 9–11.
Paul’s Concern for the Thessalonians
17Beloved friends, we may have been torn away # 2:17 Or “We have been [like] orphans.” from you physically for a season, but never in our hearts. For we have had intense longings and have endeavored to come and see in your faces the reflection of this great love. # 2:17 As translated from the Aramaic. How poetic are the Semitic languages! 18We miss you badly, and I personally wanted to come to you, trying again and again, but our adversary, # 2:18 The Greek word satanas means “adversary,” “accuser,” “opposer,” and it is the title for Satan. In some way Satan worked to hinder Paul from returning to Thessalonica, possibly through the Jews who opposed him. Satan, blocked our way. 19For what will be our confident hope, our exhilarating joy, or our wonderful trophy # 2:19 Or “crown of boasting.” that we will boast in before our Lord Jesus at his appearing? # 2:19 This is the Greek word parousia, which can be translated “coming” or “appearing.” Paul uses it six times in his letters to the Thessalonians (3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8). It is you! 20Yes, you are our glorious pride and joy! # 2:20 The true reward of ministry is not money or fame but the souls of men and women we can influence for the glory of God.