Paul continues his account of his ministry among the Thessalonians by expressing his deep personal regard for them and his thanksgiving to God for them, encouraging them in their faith, their trials, and their afflictions for the sake of the gospel.
(Vs. 9-10) The scripture is very clear on the matter of support and material care for those who preach the gospel as pastors, missionaries, and evangelists (I Cor. 9:11-14; Gal. 6:6). But when Paul was among these people, he worked as a tent-maker (Acts 18:3), which proves that he was not seeking material gain and did not use the ministry for a cloak of covetousness. In his life, conduct, and conversation he put forth every effort to keep from bringing reproach on Christ or hindering the gospel. People watch us and listen to us, often in a critical fashion, in order that they may find some reason not to believe our gospel. Let us avoid every appearance of evil and inconsistency which might give them cause to accuse us of hypocrisy!
(Vs. 11-12) He reminds them of his tenderness, compassion, and faithfulness in ministering to them, EXHORTING THEM ALSO to walk in a manner of life that is worthy of their holy calling. We are in this world but not of this world! (Phil. 3:17-21; I Cor. 7:29-31.)
(Vs. 13) This is perhaps the greatest compliment Paul could pay them and the greatest blessing that could come their way. Paul, without ceasing, praises God that it is true of them. They heard the gospel of Christ from Paul, but they did not only hear Paul but God; and they received the gospel of God's glory not in word, tradition, and logic of a mere man, but they received it as the WORD OF GOD (I Thess. 1:5). God works by His Word; and when the Word is heard in power, as the Word of God, it works effectually to the quickening of dead sinners and the enlightening of dark minds! Men need to cease to argue scripture and hear the Word of the Lord.
(Vs. 14-15) Wherever you find the children of God (whether in Judea, Thessalonica, or America), they have most things in common!
(1) They agree on the depravity, inability, and sinfulness of the flesh!
(2) They ascribe all the glory for salvation and providence to God alone!
(3) They rest in the person and work of Christ alone for all things!
(4) Their only rule for faith and conduct is the Word of God!
(5) Christ is the object of faith, the glory of God their object in life.
(6) They endure persecution and ridicule from a world of unbelievers, both in religion and in the world (John 15:18-19; John 16:1-2; I Peter 4:12-14).
(Vs. 16) The enemies of Christ and of His gospel did all that they could to keep Paul from preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. The Jews called for the death of Christ, killed their own prophets, and persecuted Paul, holding to their own self-righteousness and doctrine of works. They are the enemies of all men. But the wrath of God has come upon them completely and forever. Zealous religionists who deny the free grace of God are special objects of God's wrath (II Thess. 2:10-12; II Peter 3:16).
(Vs. 17-18) In these verses Paul apologizes for having to leave them after such a short ministry. He was forced to leave by the rage of his persecutors. He had determined to return but was hindered by the great enemy of the gospel who stirred up opposition and contention. He was absent from them in body but not in heart.
(Vs. 19-20) The believers in Christ Paul calls his HOPE, his JOY, his CROWN OF REJOICING, and his GLORY in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming.
(1) They were his HOPE AND JOY. He had great hope for them, and their conversion was a matter of joy for him now and would be at the return of Christ.
(2) They were his CROWN OF REJOICING, or his victor's wreath of triumph. They would be trophies of God's grace, and Paul would rejoice encircled by these to whom he had preached the gospel.
(3) They were his GLORY AND JOY. Believers never glory in men but in the mercy and grace of God in Christ TOWARD MEN! These believers were fruits of his ministry also, and therefore brought hope, rejoicing, and joy to his heart.