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1 Thessalonians 2

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Paul's Ministry in Thessalonica Paul's Conduct Paul's Life and Work Paul's Work in Thessalonica Paul's Example in Thessalonika
2:1-12 2:1-12 2:1-8 2:1-9 2:1-7a
        2:7b-12
    2:9-12    
      2:10-12  
  Their Conversion     The Faith and Patience of the Thessalonians
2:13-16 2:13-16 2:13-16 2:13-16 2:13-16
Paul's Desire to Visit the Church Again Longing to See Them Paul's Affection for the Thessalonians Paul's Desire to Visit Them Again Paul's Anxiety
(2:17-3:13)   (2:17-3:13) (2:17-3:13)  
2:17-20 2:17-20 2:17-20 2:17-20 2:17-20

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS TO VERSES 1-13

A. This chapter reflects the growing Jewish opposition to the Church in Thessalonica (cf. Acts 17:1-9).

 

B. This chapter expresses in a wonderful way the characteristics of a true minister. Paul presented these characteristics in three contrasting pairs: first the negative, then the positive (vv. 3-7). Paul defends his message, method, and motives.

 

C. Verses 10-12 are a summary of verses 1-9.

 

D. This chapter reflects some confusion among English translations on where the Greek text should be divided:

1. Verses 6-7.

2. Verses 11-12.

 

E. Paul digresses in verses 14-16 to discuss his current situation in Corinth and a summary of his first experiences with Jewish opposition. These verses are Paul's strongest negative comments about the Jews (except for Romans 9-11).

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:1-12
 1For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. 3For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. 5For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness—6nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

2:1 "For you yourselves know," Paul appealed to the experience of the Thessalonian Christians so often that this phrase becomes a characteristic of this book (cf. 1:5; 2:1, 2, 5, 11). Similar phrases are found in v. 9, "you recall" and 10, "you are witnesses."

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"that our coming to you was not in vain"
TEV"that our visit to you was not a failure"
NJB"that our visit to you has not proved ineffectual"

This is a perfect active indicative. This can either mean (1) not "fruitless" (cf. I Cor. 15:10,58) or (2) not "empty handed" (cf. Mark 12:2). The church continues in spite of the aggressive Jewish opposition just like the churches in Judea who also experienced Jewish wrath (cf. vv. 13-16).

2:2 "but" This is a strong adversative conjunction (alla, cf. vv. 4 [twice], 7, 8), which denotes a contrast.

▣ "after we had already suffered. . .in Philippi" Paul begins to relate his own sufferings for the gospel (cf. Acts 16:11-40 and I Cor. 4:9-13; II Cor. 4:8-12; 6:4-10; 11:24-27).

NASB"mistreated"
NKJV"spitefully treated"
NRSV"shamefully mistreated"
TEV"insulted"
NJB"grossly insulted"

This was both physical and mental abuse.

NASB"we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God"
NKJV"we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God"
NRSV"we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God"
TEV"Yet God gave us courage to tell you the Good News that comes from him,"
NJB"it was our God who gave us the courage to proclaim his Good News to you"

For "boldness" see Special Topic following.

The phrase "the gospel of God" could mean

1. the gospel about God (objective genitive)

2. the gospel from God (subjective genitive, cf. TEV, JB). This same phrase occurs again in vv. 8 and 9 (cf. Rom. 15:16; I Tim. 1:11; I Pet. 4:17)

 

SPECIAL TOPIC: BOLDNESS (PARRHĒSIA)

▣ "amid much opposition" This is an athletic or military term for rough, hand-to-hand fighting (cf. Phil. 1:30; Col. 2:1). This Greek term enters English as "agony."

2:3

NASB, NKJV"exhortation"
NRSV, TEV"appeal"
NJB"encouragement"

This is from the same root (paraklēsis) used of the Spirit (paraklētos) in John 14:16, 26; 15:26 and 16:7 and of Jesus in I John 2:1 where it is translated as "comforter," "advocate" or "helper." See full note at 3:7.

NASB"does not come from error"
NKJV"did not come from deceit"
NRSV"does not spring from deceit"
TEV"is not based on error"
NJB"because we are deluded"

Planēs is the Greek word for "planet," which referred to heavenly lights (planets, comets, shooting stars) that did not follow the usual pattern of the constellations. Thus, they were called "wanderers," which developed metaphorically into error.

NASB"impurity"
NKJV"uncleanness"
NRSV, TEV"impure motives"
NJB"immoral"

This term implies a sexual looseness (cf. 4:7; Rom. 1:24; Gal. 5:19; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5). It must be remembered that pagan worship often employed sexual acts. Paul may have been accused of advocating moral looseness by Jewish legalists who misunderstood justification by grace through faith.

NASB"by way of deceit"
NKJV"nor was it in guile"
NRSV"or trickery"
TEV"nor do we try to trick anyone"
JB"or trying to deceive anyone"

The other two terms in verse 3 speak of Paul's motives, but this phrase indicates an atmosphere of trickery (cf. Eph. 4:14). "Deceit" originally meant "to catch with bait" (cf. Matt. 26:4; Mark 7:22; 14:1), but later evolved into a metaphor for trickery for profit (cf. II Cor. 4:2 which reflects II Cor. 2:17). Paul was often accused of greed (cf. v. 5).

2:4 "we have been approved by God" This perfect passive indicative has the connotation of testing with a view toward approval (dokimazō). "Approve" in this sense commonly meant testing the genuineness of coins. The missionary team had been and continued to be tested and approved by God. See Special Topic: Greek Terms for Testing and Their Connotations at 3:5.

▣ "entrusted" This is an aorist passive infinitive. This term comes from the same root (pisteuō) as "faith," "believe," or "trust." The basic idea is to entrust something to another (cf. I Cor. 9:17; Gal. 2:7; I Tim. 1:11; Titus 1:3). Believers are stewards of the gospel (cf. I Cor. 4:1-2; I Pet. 4:10).

▣ "so we speak," This is a present active indicative. Believers must share the good news they have received (cf. Col. 4:2-6; I Pet. 3:15) with boldness (cf. v. 2).

▣ "not as pleasing men, but God" (cf. 2:6; Gal. 1:10).

▣ "who examines our hearts" This reflects the Hebrew usage of "heart" in the sense of the entire personality. God knows our motives (cf. I Sam. 16:7; Ps. 7:9; 26:2; 44:21; 139:1,23; Pro. 21:2; Jer. 11:20; 12:3; 17:10; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24; 15:8; Rom. 8:27; Rev. 2:23). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at Gal. 4:6.

2:5 "we never came with flattering speech" This term implies manipulation for false motives. Opponents, especially at Corinth (Paul was in Corinth when he wrote this letter), often accused Paul of false motives as did the Jews here.

▣ "nor with a pretext for greed" Paul was often accused of greed or opportunism, possibly because it was characteristic of Greek itinerant teachers (cf. Acts 20:33). This is why he would not regularly receive money from churches he was currently serving. He did later receive help from Philippi (twice, cf. Phil. 4:16) and Thessalonica.

▣ "God is witness" Paul was swearing an oath using God as a witness (cf. 2:10; Rom. 1:9; I Cor. 1:23; 11:31; Gal. 1:19; Phil. 2:25).

2:6 "though as apostles of Christ" This includes Silas and Timothy. This illustrates the wider use of the term. In I Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11, "apostles" are mentioned as an ongoing spiritual gift in the church. Some examples are:

1. Barnabas (cf. Acts 14:4,14)

2. Andronicus and Junias (cf. Rom. 16:6-7)

3. Apollos (cf. I Cor. 4:6)

4. James the Just (cf. Gal. 1:19)

It is uncertain to what aspect of ministry this ongoing gift relates: (1) church planting; (2) evangelism; (3) area leadership; or (4) ?. It is linked to prophets, evangelists, and pastors/teachers in Eph. 4:11, all of whom proclaim the gospel with differing emphases.

Some English translations put this phrase in v. 6 and others in v. 7.

NASB, 2:6 "we might have asserted our authority"

NKJV, 2:6 "we might have made demands"

NRSV, 2:7 "we might have made demands"

TEV, 2:7 "we could have made demands"

JB, 2:7  "we could have imposed ourselves on you with full weight"

Literally, this translates "with weight." The intended meaning could be (1) apostolic authority; (2) apostolic honor; or (3) financial compensation (cf. v. 9; 1 Thess. 3:8; I Cor. 9:3-14; II Cor. 11:7-11).

2:7 "we proved to be gentle among you" There is a Greek manuscript variant between the use of the terms (1) "infants" (nēpios, cf. MSS P65, א, B, C, D, F, G) and (2) "gentle" (ēpios, cf. MSS אc, A, C2, D2). Only their initial letter is different. On purely textual basis number1 is best; on contextual basis number 2 seems best (which may reflect an intentional scribal change). The UBS4 gives "infants" a "B" rating almost certain).

Origen and Augustine believed Paul spoke to the Thessalonians in baby language so they could understand. Paul uses parental language in vv. 7, 8 and 11. He saw himself as their spiritual parent.

▣ "as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children" This is a third class conditional sentence. The verb literally means "to warm" and was commonly used of mother birds "warming" their young (cf. Eph. 5:29). It was a metaphor for breast feeding. Paul (cf. Gal. 4:19), like Jesus (cf. Matt. 23:37), describes his love for them in feminine terms (and YHWH cf. Exod. 19:4; Isa. 66:13; Hos. 11:4; and the Spirit cf. Gen. 1:2).

2:8

NASB"Having so fond an affection for you"
NKJV"So, affectionately longing for you"
NRSV"So deeply do we care for you"
TEV"Because of our love for you"
NJB"we felt so devoted and protective towards you"

The word (homeiromai) appears nowhere else in the entire New Testament. It is used in the Septuagint in Job. 3:21. In Greek literature it was a strong term of affection related to parents longing for their dead children.

▣ "we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us" This shows the costliness of the ministry as well as the love of the Apostle. Ministry is not something we do—it is who we are.

2:9 "our labor and hardship" These are strong synonymous terms (cf. 1 Thess. 3:8 and II Cor. 11:27). Greek society designated labor as only for slaves. Paul, being a Jew, respected manual labor. He often encouraged it, especially in this Thessalonian correspondence because some in the fellowship had quit their jobs to wait for the Second Coming (cf. 2 Thess. 3:6-15).

▣ "how working night and day" All rabbis had to have a trade or livelihood (cf. Acts 18:3; I Cor. 4:12). Paul would not accept money for his ministry because of accusations of greed (cf. 2:5).

"Night and day" reflects Jewish reckoning of time where the day begins at dusk (cf. Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23, 21). Paul worked during the day at tent making or leather working and at night he preached the gospel. Ministry requires hard work!

2:10 "You are witnesses, and so is God" This is another oath-like expression by Paul which asserts the truthfulness of his statements and actions. God is a witness as the oath of v. 5 affirms and, so too, the believers at Thessalonica.

▣ "devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers" Some in the church, in the community or outsiders must have questioned his motives. Paul was always having to defend his motives.

SPECIAL TOPIC: BLAMELESS, INNOCENT, GUILTLESS, WITHOUT REPROACH

2:11 "exhorting" See note at v. 3. Notice the three participles (all starting with para) describing Paul's preaching activity: (1) "exhorting" (present active); (2) "encouraging" (present middle [deponent]) and (3) "imploring" (present middle [deponent]).

2:12 "walk in a manner worthy" This is a present infinitive. This metaphor refers to our continuing lifestyle, which must reflect our Master's (cf. Col. 1:10; 2:6; Eph. 2:10; 4:1,17; 5:2, 15). Notice at the end of v. 12 believers are called to share and thereby reflect God's glory.

▣ "who calls you" There is a Greek manuscript variant in the tense of this phrase: (1) manuscripts א and A have the aorist, like Gal. 1:6. This would emphasize God's initiating call (cf. Gal. 1:6; I Pet. 1:15). (2) Manuscripts B, D, F, G, H, K, L, and P have the present which would emphasize God's continuing call to holiness (cf. Rom. 8:28-29; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4). The UBS4 gives option #2 a "B" rating (almost certain).

Notice the theological balance between a God who calls and believers who must walk worthy (cf. Phil. 2:12-13). Different denominations focus on one aspect or the other (predestination or human free will). God deals with us in a covenant relationship. Both His calling and our mandated response (initial and ongoing) are necessary.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Election/Predestination and the Need for a Theological Balance

▣ "His own kingdom" Paul does not use this term often. This refers to God's rule in believers' hearts and minds now which will one day be consummated over all the earth (cf. Matt. 6:10). This was the burden of Jesus' teaching and preaching. It reflects the "already" but "not yet" tension of the time between the Incarnation and the Second Coming (cf. How to Read the Bible For All Its Worth by Fee and Stuart, pp. 131-134).

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE KINGDOM OF GOD

▣ "and glory" See full note at Galatians 1:5.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:13-16
 13For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 14For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, 16hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.

2:13 "we also constantly thank God" A present active indicative, it may refer to 1:2-10. This reflects Paul's ongoing prayer life and writing style (cf. 1:2; 5:17-18). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THANKSGIVING at 1 Thess. 1:2.

▣ "received" This is an aorist active participle. This shows the necessity of our personal response. Here, it refers to the message. In John 1:12 it refers to the person of Christ. In 1 Thess. 4:1, it refers to lifestyle. The gospel focuses around three emphases: (1) personal relationship (cf. Col. 2:6), (2) doctrinal truth (cf. 2 Thess. 3:6; I Cor. 15:1-4), and (3) lifestyle Christlikeness (cf. Phil.4:9). The believer must respond to all three for maturity.

The phrase "received the Word of God" becomes an idiom for "receive the gospel" ("he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me," John 5:24).

1. dechomaī – Luke 8:13; Acts 8:14; 11:1; 17:11; 1 Thess. 1:16

2. paralambanō – 1 Thess. 2:13

3. paradechomaiMark 4:20

4. apolambanō – James 1:21

Notice there is a cognitive element and a volitional element.

The NT has several things connected to the verb translated "receive."

A. The negative things

1. Rom. 8:15 – not receive (lambanō) the spirit of slavery

2. I Cor. 2:4 – the natural man does not receive (apolambanō) the things of the Spirit of God

3. I Cor. 2:12 – not receive (lambanō) the spirit of the world

4. II Cor. 6:1 – not to receive (apolambanō) the grace of God in vain

5. 2 Thess. 2:11 – they have not received (apolambanō) the love of the truth so as to be saved

B. The positive things

1. Acts 1:8 – receive (lambanō) power

2. Acts 2:33 – receive (lambanō) the Father's promise

3. Acts 2:38; 8:15,17,19; 10:47; 19:2 – receive (lambanō) the gift of the Holy Spirit

4. Acts 10:49; 26:18 – receive (lambanō) forgiveness

5. Rom. 5:11 – receive (lambanō) reconciliation

6. Rom. 5:17 – receive (lambanō) the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness

7. Rom. 8:15 – receive (lambanō) a spirit of adoption

8. Gal. 3:4 – receive (lambanō) the promise of the Spirit through faith 

9. Col. 2:6 – receive (paralambanō) Jesus Christ

10. Heb. 10:36 – receive (komizō) the things promised

11. Heb. 11:17 – receive (anadechomai) the promises

12. Heb. 12:28 – receive (paralambanō) a kingdom which cannot be shaken

13. James 1:21 – receive (apolambanō) the word implanted which is able to save souls

14. I Pet. 5:4 – receive (komizō) the unfading crown of glory

15. I John 2:27 – received (lambanō) the anointing

Wow, what a range of wonderful things come with the gospel!

▣ "received. . .accepted" These synonymous terms describe the need for a human response to the divine gospel offer! Fallen mankind must repent and believe the gospel (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21), and continue to repent, believe, and live the gospel.

The former word is a compound term found in John 1:12. The latter means to welcome someone as a guest. In this context, one must welcome the gospel. The NT describes the gospel as both a person and a message.

▣ "the word of God" Paul's preaching (the gospel's message) was revelation inspired by God (cf. II Tim. 3:15-17; I Pet. 1:23-25; II Pet. 1:20-21; 3:15-16). Here this does not refer to the Bible, but apostolic proclamation and teaching. The NT only records a selected portion of Jesus' words and acts and the Apostle's message.

NASB"the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe"
NKJV"the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe"
NRSV"God's word, which is also at work in you believers"
TEV"as God's message, which indeed it is. For God is at work in you who believe"
NJB"God's message. . .it is still a living power among you who believe it"

This is present middle indicative (cf. Phil. 2:13). "Work" was a favorite word for Paul, related to the English cognate "energy." Paul personified the gospel as continuing to energize believers! This probably reflects the OT understanding of the power of the spoken word, as in Genesis 1 and Isa. 55:11 (and also John 1:1).

▣ "in you who believe" This is present active participle. Again, continuing belief is the key! The gospel is not a product (a ticket to heaven, an insurance policy), but a personal, growing relationship with the Father through the Son.

2:14 "the churches" This translates literally "the called out ones." In the Septuagint, the same idea is expressed as "the congregation of Israel." The early church saw itself as the continuation of the OT people of God. Notice they are called "the churches of God." See Special Topic at Gal. 1:2.

▣ "in Christ Jesus" This phrase takes the locative of sphere case, which means "in" or "surrounded by"—an atmosphere, like a fish in water. A very common Pauline expression, it speaks of our union with Jesus. We live and move and have our being in Him. For an example of Paul's use of this form notice Eph. 1:3-14: (1) "in Christ" 1:3,10,12; (2) "in Him" 1:4,7,9,10,13(twice); (3) "in the Beloved" 1:6.

"in Judea" The Thessalonian churches were experiencing Jewish persecution just like the churches in Judea (cf. Matt. 5:10-12).

▣ "you also endured the same sufferings" Generally, the reaction to the Christian message in the Roman world was persecution (cf. I Pet. 4:12-16), because of the exclusive nature of the message (cf. John 14:6).

▣ "at the hands of your own countrymen" In context this refers to persecution from Jews of the diaspora, just as Paul, who was in Corinth at the time of the writing, was also confronting the same opposition.

2:15 "who both killed the Lord Jesus" The Jews did not physically kill Jesus, but they were responsible for His death (cf. Matt. 21:33-46; Acts 2:23).

▣ "and the prophets" God's people did not want to hear God's message, so they killed His spokespersons (cf. Matt. 23:31,37; Acts 7:52).

SPECIAL TOPIC: OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY

SPECIAL TOPIC: NEW TESTAMENT PROPHECY

▣ "and drove us out" Possibly this is related to (1) Jason's peace bond (cf. Acts 17:5-9) or (2) the general experience of Paul's ministry (cf. Acts). Paul saw his experience as parallel to the OT Prophets and especially Jesus' rejection by His contemporaries.

NASB"They are not pleasing to God"
NKJV"they do not please God"
NRSV"they displease God"
TEV"How displeasing they are to God"
NJB"acting in a way that cannot please God"

The Jews thought their actions were God's will, defending His covenant with Moses. They believed they were His servants defending the faith against false teachers (Paul knew these feelings well). Tragically ironic, they were the false teachers.

▣ "but hostile to all men" The hostility mentioned here was rooted in Jewish national arrogance and prejudice. They had rejected the Messiah and His universal gospel (cf. Isa. 2:2-4; 45:22; 49:6; 60:3; 66:18,23; John 3:16; Eph. 2:11-2:13).

2:16 "hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles" This reflects Paul's experience in Corinth at the time of the writing of 1 Thessalonians. These sentences are Paul's strongest complaint against the Jews (cf. Romans 9-11).

▣ "so that they may be saved" This is an aorist passive subjunctive. God wants to save all humans made in His image (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Exod. 19:5-6; Ezek. 18:23,32; Jonah; John 3:16; Acts 28:28; Eph. 2:11-2:13; I Tim. 2:4; II Pet. 3:9), but they must repent and believe in Christ (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21).

NASB"they always fill up the measure of their sins"
NKJV"to fill up the measure of their sins"
NRSV"they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins"
TEV"This is the last full measure of their sins they have always committed"
NJB"They never stop trying to finish off the sins they have begun"

Paul may have taken this terminology from (1) the OT because the exact Greek phrase is found in the Septuagint of Gen. 15:16; or (2) from the words of Jesus in Matt. 23:32 related to the book of deeds (cf. Dan. 7:10; Rev. 20:12 and Ps. 56:8; 139:16; Isa. 65:6; Mal. 3:16). God records the evil deeds of humans and they will give an account (cf. Matt. 25-26; Rev. 20:11-15).

▣ "But wrath has come upon them" This is an aorist active indicative. This verse seems to relate to the spiritual blindness (hardness) that has come upon Israel (typified in the parable of Mark 12:1-12 [also Matt. 21:33-46 and Luke 20:9-19] and explicitly stated in Rom.11:7,25; II Cor. 3:14). God's wrath is present and future (temporal and eschatological).

NASB"to the utmost"
NKJV"to the uttermost"
NRSV, TEV,
NJB"at last"

This phrase may be translated several ways, so compare your English Bibles to grasp more fully the possible translations. Basic renderings include

1. looking back and summing up

2. looking forward to consummation

3. used in the Semitic sense of "completely," which are scary descriptions of God's wrath.

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2:17-20
 17But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. 18For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us. 19For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at his coming? 20For you are our glory and joy.

2:17

NASB, NKJV"having been taken away from you"
NRSV"we were made orphans by being separated from you"
TEV"we were separated from you"
NJB"we had been separated from you"

This is an aorist passive participle. Highly emotional language fills this whole paragraph. This continues Paul's parenting metaphors of vv. 7 and 11. It is literally "orphaned" by an outside agent.

Probably the accusers of Paul stated or insinuated that his quick exit and long-term absence showed he did not truly care for them. Paul refutes this in 2:17-20 and 3:6.

▣ "with great desire" This term is often rendered "lust," in its pejorative sense, but rarely, as it does here, it is used positively. Paul's desire to see them is graphically portrayed in 3:10.

2:18 "For we wanted to come to you" All of Paul's plans did not work out (cf. Rom. 1:13; 15:22).

▣ "Satan" A personal evil force is active in our world, seeking to thwart God's plans and purposes by the agency of: (1) a fallen world system, (2) the demonic, and (3) fallen humanity (cf. Eph. 2:2-3 and James 4). We see Satan in the OT in Job 1-2 and Zech. 3 as a servant of YHWH. By the NT he is an enemy (cf. Rom. 16:20; I Cor. 5:5,7; 7:5; II Cor. 2:11; 11:14; 12:7) but still under God's control! For a good discussion of the intensification of evil in the Bible, read A.B. Davidson's Old Testament Theology, pp. 300-306.

SPECIAL TOPIC: PERSONAL EVIL

▣ "hindered" This is a military term used for the destruction of roads and bridges in the face of the enemy's advance. There really is a spiritual conflict (cf. Eph. 4:14; 6:10-18).

It is also a possibility that a physical illness was the problem, not Satan (cf. II Cor. 12). Paul saw his life in spiritual as well as physical categories.

2:19 The mark of the genuineness of Paul's apostleship was the success of his ministry among the Gentiles (cf. v. 20).

"hope" See Special Topic at Gal. 5:5.

NASB"Is it not even you"
NKJV"Is it not even you"
NRSV"Is it not you"
TEV"It is you—you, no less than others"
NJB"You are"

The problem with this phrase is how it related to Paul's affection and love for the Thessalonian church compared to his other Gentile churches. Were they somehow special? TEV's translation of "you, no less than others" may represent the thought.

In a sense the Thessalonian believers were a powerful witness to Paul's effective work as an Apostle to the Gentiles. As Paul mimicked Jesus, they mimicked Paul, which is an outward evidence of their new heart and spirit (New Covenant).

▣ "at His coming?" "Parousia," literally meaning "presence," and by metaphorical extension, means "coming." This is the first use of the term in the NT (cf. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; II Thess. 2:1,8-9; I Cor. 15:23). It was used in secular literature of the first century for a royal visit by a king. It came to have a technical meaning in the church for the Second Coming. This coming of Jesus is the theological focus of I & 2 Thessalonians. Every chapter of 1 Thessalonians ends on this note (cf. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23). See SPECIAL TOPIC: NT TERMS FOR CHRIST'S RETURN at 3:13.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE ANY-MOMENT RETURN OF JESUS VS. THE NOT YET

2:20

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV"our glory"
TEV, NJB"our pride"

This is the use of the term glory as pride. This does not relate to the theological glory used to describe God (cf. v. 12).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Who was attacking Paul and why?

2. Why was Paul so firm in denying compensation for his preaching?

3. Why does Paul bring in the subject of Jewish opposition to the gospel?

4. What does verse 16 mean to the Jewish nation as to God's purposes?

5. Why are verses 17 - 20 so emotional?