God calls us into his kingdom and glory (verse 12). As soon as we believe in Christ, we enter God’s kingdom; that is, we come under God’s rule and authority. And when Christ comes again, we shall enter God’s glory (see 1 Peter 5:10).
But let us remember this: if to enter into God’s kingdom and glory is our privilege, then to live lives worthy of God is our duty! If we want to enter into His kingdom and glory, we must live lives worthy of Him who has called us. If we don’t, instead of glory we shall receive punishment.
13 The Thessalonians had accepted Paul’s preaching as the word of God. Paul’s purpose was to communicate God’s word, not man’s word. Thus it was always his hope that his listeners would receive his teaching as coming from God (1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Galatians 1:11-12).
God’s word is a living word, which is at work in [those] who believe (see Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23).
14 All Christians must be ready to suffer for Christ (2 Timothy 3:12). Our faith is tested through suffering (James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 1:6-7). Thus Paul knows that the Thessalonians’ faith is true, because even through much suffering their faith has remained firm.
The Thessalonians had become imitators of God’s churches in Judea. Judea was the southern province of Israel; its capital was Jerusalem. The churches in Judea had suffered severe persecution from the JEWS. One of the main persecutors had been Paul himself (Acts 8:1,3). Just as the churches in Judea had endured persecution, so had the Thessalonians endured persecution. In this way, then, the Thessalonians had become imitators of the Christians in Judea.
15-16 Wherever Paul went, the Jews bitterly opposed him (Acts 9:23; 13:45; 14:19; 18:12; 21:27). The Jews especially hated Paul because he had once been one of them but had now become a Christian; in their minds, he was an apostate, a traitor.
The Jews killed the Lord Jesus (verse 15); that is, the Jews accused Jesus before the Roman governor and persuaded the governor to execute Him (Mark 15:1; John 18:28; Acts 2:22-23). The Jews were fully responsible for Jesus’ death. The Jews had also killed their own Old Testament prophets (Acts 7:51-52). Wherever the apostles went, the Jews opposed them and tried to drive them away from that place (Acts 13:50; 17:5,13-14). The Jews tried to stop Paul from preaching to the Gentiles. In doing these things, the Jews opposed God Himself. The wrath of God has come upon them, Paul says (verse 16). Paul is talking here about the final judgment of God; for the Jews, God’s judgment will seem like wrath. It is so certain to come upon them that Paul talks as if it had already happened. Indeed, the Jews experienced a foretaste of God’s judgment twenty years after this letter was written, when the Jewish capital of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed by the Romans, and the few Jews who escaped death were scattered.
17-18 Paul was torn away from the Thessalonians, because his enemies there forced him to leave the city (see Acts 17:5-9).
SATAN always opposes God’s servants, and tries to keep them from doing God’s work. Satan is under God’s ultimate authority—because everything in the universe is under God’s authority. Nevertheless, Satan has great power, and he uses it to interfere with God’s work.
Why couldn’t Paul return to Thessalonica? Because Jason and some other Thessalonian believers had “posted bond” in order to free Paul from custody and allow him to leave the city (Acts 17:9). If Paul returned to Thessalonica, that bond would have to be forfeited, and Jason and his companions would suffer great loss. Thus, by means of the bond, the city officials were able to keep Paul from returning to their city.
19-20 When Paul stands before the judgment seat of the Lord Jesus, he will be able to glory in the Thessalonian believers. They will be his joy and crown (Philippians 2:16; 4:1). In Paul’s time, the winner of a race was given a “crown” made of special leaves. But unlike a crown of leaves, which soon withers, Paul’s crown will last forever. And so will the crown of each believer (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).