1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.
18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way.
19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 THESSALONIANS 2

The apostle in this chapter gives a further account of his ministry among the Thessalonians, of the nature, manner, and success of it, and of his regard to them, and conduct and conversation when with them; and commends their readiness in receiving the Gospel, and excuses his present absence from them. He appeals to them themselves for the truth of it, that his entrance to them, or preaching among them, was not in vain and without success, 1Th 2:1 that it was with all boldness and intrepidity of mind, notwithstanding what he had suffered before for it, 1Th 2:2 and with all integrity and faithfulness to the trust reposed in him by the Lord, without deceit and guile, or seeking to please men, but God the searcher of hearts, who had committed this trust unto him, 1Th 2:3,4 and that neither then, nor at any other time, he had used flattery, or showed covetousness; which he calls God to witness, 1Th 2:5 nor of them or others sought glory and honour, even that which was due unto him by virtue of his office, 1Th 2:6 but had showed all gentleness, humanity, and, affection; which he illustrates by the simile of a nurse cherishing her children 1Th 2:7 and by the willingness he showed not only to preach the Gospel to them, but to lay down his life for them, had it been necessary; so great was his affection for them, 1Th 2:8 and, as a proof of this, he puts them in mind of his labours, both in preaching the word, and in working with his own hands; because he would not be burdensome and chargeable to them, 1Th 2:9 and as for his conversation among them, he appeals both to God and them, how holy, just, and unblemished it was, 1Th 2:10 and reminds them of his tenderness, diligence, and faithfulness, in exhorting, comforting, and charging them, particularly to walk worthy of God; since he had called them to his kingdom and glory, 1Th 2:11,12 and then he expresses his thankfulness to God for their reception of the worth of the Gospel; not as an human invention, but as of God, which wrought effectually in them, 1Th 2:13 the evidence of which were partly their imitation of the churches of Christ in Judea, in doctrine and practice; and partly their suffering the same things they did, of the Jews, 1Th 2:14 who are described by their ill usage of, and cruelty to, Christ, their own prophets, and his apostles, by their not pleasing God, and by their opposition to men; an instance of which is given in prohibiting the apostles to preach to the Gentiles, whose end in so doing with respect to the Gentiles, was that they might not be saved; but God's end in suffering them so to do, was with respect to them that they might fill up their iniquity, and so entire wrath and ruin come upon them, as had been foretold, 1Th 2:15,16 and then the apostle concludes the chapter, by expressing his affectionate concern in parting with them, which was not in heart but in body; by declaring his earnest desire and endeavour to see them again; and by observing to them the reason he had not and could not come unto them, because Satan hindered him, 1Th 2:17,18 the cause of his being so desirous to see them, was their being his hope, joy, glory, and crown of rejoicing, both now and hereafter, 1Th 2:19,20.

\\you\\ The apostle having observed in 1Th 1:9 that those persons to whom the report of the Gospel being preached at Thessalonica, and the success of it there was made, showed everywhere both what manner of entrance he and his fellow ministers had in that place, and the conversion of many souls there; he enlarges upon the latter, and here reassumes the former, and appeals to the Thessalonians themselves, who must know full well, and better than others, what an entrance it was; and which is to be understood not merely of a corporeal entrance into their city and synagogue, but of their coming among them, by the preaching of the Gospel, as the ministers of the word and ambassadors of Christ:

\\that it was not in vain\\; it was not a vain show with outward pomp and splendour, as the public entrances of ambassadors into cities usually are; but with great meanness, poverty, reproach, and persecution, having been lately beaten and ill used at Philippi; nor was it with great swelling words of vanity, with the enticing words of man's wisdom, to tickle the ear, please the fancy, and work upon the passions of natural men, in which manner the false teachers came: but the apostle came not with deceit and guile, with flattering words or a cloak of covetousness, or with a view to vain glory and worldly advantage; nor was the message they came with, from the King of kings, a vain, light, empty, and trifling one; but solid and substantial, and of the greatest importance; the doctrine they taught was not comparable to chaff and wind; it was not corrupt philosophy and vain deceit, the traditions and commandments of men, but sound doctrine, the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ: nor was it fruitless and without effect; the word did not return void and empty; but was powerful and efficacious to the conversion of many souls. Christ was with them both to assist them in their ministry, and to bless it to the salvation of men; nor was their coming to Thessalonica an human scheme, a rash enterprise, engaged in on their own heads, on a slight and empty foundation; but upon good and solid grounds, by divine direction and counsel; see Ac 16:9,10. 06428-940723-0952-1Th2.2

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 In-Context

15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone
16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.
18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way.
19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

Cross References 8

  • 1. 1 Corinthians 5:3; Colossians 2:5
  • 2. 1 Thessalonians 3:10
  • 3. S Matthew 4:10
  • 4. Romans 1:13; Romans 15:22
  • 5. Isaiah 62:3; Philippians 4:1
  • 6. 2 Corinthians 1:14
  • 7. S Matthew 16:27; S Luke 17:30; S 1 Corinthians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10; 1 Peter 1:7; 1 John 2:28; S Revelation 1:7
  • 8. 2 Corinthians 1:14
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