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1 Thessalonians Chapter Two                            


I. Content of the Chapter


A Model Preacher

A.  The attitudes of Paul’s preachment (v.1-13):

1. Clean motivations (v.1-8):

a.    Preach with boldness (v.1-2);

b.    Please God (v.3-5);

c.As a nursing mother who cherishes her own children (v.6-8);

2. Selfless labor (v.9-12):

a.    Labor night and day (v.9-10);

b.    As a father does his own children (v.11-12);

3. Thanksgiving again (v.13)

B.  He was taken away from them because of persecution (v.14-20):

1. The evil deeds of those who are contrary (v.14-16);

2. Though he had been taken away from them, he endeavored more eagerly to see them with great desire (v.17-18);

3. He regards the church and believers as glory and joy (v.19-20);


II. Verse by Verse commentary


1Thess. 2:1 “For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.

   YLT: “For yourselves have known, brethren, our entrance in unto you, that it did not become vain,”

   Meaning of Words: “in vain”: empty, vanity;

   Literal Meaning: you yourselves know, brethren, “you” refer to believers in Thessalonica. Since they had personally seen all, they were able to bear witness to Paul.

“That our coming to you”, “coming”, Paul mentions this word again (see 1:9), which is a kind of powerful entry with positive meaning. Paul here emphasizes that they pay great attention to his own conversation (see 1:5) for their sake.

“Was not in vain”, there are three kinds of explanations for “in vain”: 1) have nothing to give; 2) have no content; 3) labor in vain;

No matter what explanation it is, Paul’s coming is not in vain: 1) He brought “the gospel of God” to them, not with empty hands; 2) he preached according to what was entrusted to him (v.4), not empty words; 3) he had received obvious effect (v.13), for the word of God shall not return unto Him void (Is. 55:11).

“In vain”, according to the tense in the original, it means that the effect lasts long all the time. Therefore, it indicates that the gospel that Paul had preached to them had not only received obvious effect of their repentance but also produced eternal transformation in their life.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    We believers should not do anything in vain. Therefore, we shall judge whether everything we do glorifies God and profits men (1Cor. 10:23-24, 31).

2)    No matter where we are, or what we do, we Christians should walk according to the will of God (James 3:13-15), and thus we have not done in vain.

3)    A true and strong preacher must bear much and full fruit in his service, not vanity.


1Thess. 2:2 “But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.

   YLT: “but having both suffered before, and having been injuriously treated (as ye have known) in Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the good news of God in much conflict,”

   Literal Meaning: “but” shows that the content of this verse is opposite to that of the previous verse ---- though it is not in vain, it is difficult.

“We had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi”, “suffer”: suffering in the flesh (e.g. the suffering of stripes and chains); “were spitefully treated”: mental humiliation (e.g. as a Roman citizen, his garments were taken off before examination, and he was stripped and put into prison without enjoy the protection of the civil right). Here it pointed that Paul suffered physically and mentally (see Acts 16:19-40).

“We were bold in our God”, it is the boldness in God through the union with Him, not in the flesh. Therefore, he is able to appropriate the power of God to strengthen him in the conflict of the gospel.

“Be bold”, be fearless to all the oppositions and preach freely in public;

“To speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict”, “conflict”, it is a gymnastic term, which means “struggle and flight”. Here, it suggests that the preachment at that time is a rather arduous work, for they are faced with extremely strong opposition.

Note that in chapter two Paul mentions “the gospel of God” (v. 2, 8, 9) and “our gospel” in chapter one (v.5). Both of them are the same gospel with different emphases. The first chapter emphasizes the manner of the preachment of the gospel, and the second chapter emphasizes the gospel they preach is of God, not of themselves (see v.3-4).  

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The Book of Revelation suggests us eight ways to the hell, and the first way is “fear” (Rev. 21:8). Therefore, we Christians shall truly be strong and bold in the Lord.

2)    The boldness and the content of Christians’ preachment are out of the true God (see v.13).

3)    What we preach is “the gospel of God” (see v.8-9), for God is the origin of the gospel (see v.4).

4)    God will fulfill full responsibility for all that is out of Him. In various conflicts of the gospel, the faith and strength and boldness that we need can be obtained from God who is the origin of all things.


1Thess. 2:3 “For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit.

   YLT: “for our exhortation [is] not out of deceit, nor out of uncleanness, nor in guile,”

   The Background: at that time, the so-called “philosophers” or “holy men” in the places round Macedonia and Achaia travelled around and delivered courses to teach men, showing off their wording and striving for reputation.

   Literal Meaning: “for”, it shows that the following words will explain why they still preach the gospel with boldness to the Thessalonians in that difficult condition.

“Our exhortation did not come from error”, “exhortation” refers to the gospel they preach (v.2); “error”: the fault in essence; this half verse means that the gospel is purely the truth out of God’s revelation (Gal. 1:11-12) instead of the product of man’s mind, and man adds nothing and takes away nothing (Rev. 22:18-19). Therefore, the nature of the content is of no error.

“Or uncleanness”, it refers to the problems in morality; in this verse, it shows that the gospel is not out of moral concepts (especially the uncleanness concerning “sex”, for at that time the pagans in Greece were rather flippant in sex), but of sincerity and holiness (see 4:7).

“Nor was it in deceit”, “deceit”: the bait used in fishing, and it then extends to relate to the trickery for one’s own profit; here, it in this verse means that they do not preach in dishonest manner in order to deceive them to believe his words, but preach the gospel in light.

“Error” refers to its content; “uncleanness” refers to motivation; “deceit” refers to the manner or means; such three unhealthy conditions are of the devil, Satan (see 2Cor. 11:3, 14-15).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Since the gospel we preach is “the gospel of God” (v.2), there will be of no error. However, if one thinks he preaches “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6), that is a dreadful error.

2)    Error or fault deceives men for a while, and yet the eternal truth is able to give men morality and courage and the right direction of life.

3)    Religious believers are apparently pious, but internally filthy (see Matt. 23:25-28). It is reported that many of the terrorists in the Middle East murder themselves by bomb with the vain mind that many beautiful virgins are waiting for them in the heaven.

4)    Even though the gospel is essentially right, it is still possible that men may preach with wrong motivations or by improper means (see Phil. 1:15, 17). Therefore, we Christians should not reach our own goal by fair means or foul.

5)    The preacher of the gospel should not deceive man into the trap of salvation like the salesperson who induces men to buy his produces by “salesmanship”. The salvation does not lie in skillful attraction or smart argument, but in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit and power (1Cor. 2:1-4).


1Thess. 2:4 “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.

   YLT: “but as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the good news, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who is proving our hearts,”

   Meaning of Words: “approve”: discern, examine, try; “test”, the same word with “approve”;

   Literal Meaning: but as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, approve”, they have passed the test of God and are appointed by God to preach the gospel;

    “Have been approved”, it is continual. On one hand, it shows that the approval of God is always efficacious. And on the other hand, God continues to test the workers so as to ensure the quality of the messages.

“Even so we speak, the gospel is of God, and the content is decided by God. Now the gospel is committed to Paul. He must be faithful to what is entrusted to him without any selfish purpose.

“Not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.” God does not look upon the outward appearance, but looks upon the heart of men (1Sam. 16:7). What he tests is “our hearts”, for the inward motivation decides the outward works. God is always examining, searching and testing our hearts (Ps. 26:2; 139:23-24). The word “heart” in Bible is often interpreted as the nature of man’s inner life, not the transient emotion.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    How much work is entrusted to us is proportional to how much our heart has been tested.

2)    God entrusts his work to those who have been approved by Him, and tests after He has entrusted his work. And He shall find delight in those who have passed His test.

3)    It is not a small matter, but a great honor of being entrusted by God. Therefore, we shall not regard the preachment of the gospel as common.

4)    The preachment of the gospel is precious and significant, for it relates to the eternal life or eternal death of men. If we have such vision, even though we are faced with troubles or persecutions or humiliation, it is nothing, for it is more important to save precious souls than anything.

5)    We preach what God has entrusted to us. The duty of a preacher is “speaking” ---- neither changing the content nor preaching oneself.

6)    If a believer has clearly known that he is the messenger of the gospel whom God entrusts and held the message and belief from God, he will be filled with power and faith in his service instead of being shaken by the unstable environment or the response of the hearers easily.

7)    If preachers serve to please men, the word of God they have preached will be distorted. And they will then estimate their service according to the effect and the response of all, and thus utterly regard the “market-orientation” as the highest guideline.

8)    When the preachers preach the gospel, they should not speak to please the audience and hold back God’s will and truth for the purpose of catering to the tastes of them (see Acts 20:20, 27).

9)    The standard of Christians’ walking is different from those who do not believe, so they may unavoidably be misunderstood by men in the world. However, we shall in no wise lower the standard for the purpose of eliminating the misunderstanding.


1Thess. 2:5 “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness--God is witness.

   YLT: “for at no time did we come with speech of flattery, (as ye have known,) nor in a pretext for covetousness, (God [is] witness!)”

   Meaning of Words: flattering”: flattery; “cloak”: pretence, outward showing, pretext; “covetousness”: avarice, fraudulency, extortion, greediness;

   Literal Meaning: “for neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, flattering words”, it means that one makes up some vain and hypocritical words to gain man’s favor and support (see Rom. 16:18).

“Nor a cloak for covetousness—”, not conceal the covetousness inside to rob things not of oneself;

God is witness”, believers can bear witness whether Paul fawns on men. However, only God is able to testify whether he is covetous inside, for man looks upon the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart (1Sam. 16:7)

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    He who preaches the gospel shall never hide his personal purpose under the cloak of the gospel

2)    Flattery and covetousness are two great factors of the preacher’s defections.

3)    “Flattery” is for the purpose of pleasing men, and “covetousness” is for satisfying oneself. If a Christian serves for the purpose of pleasing others or himself, he will strain at a gnat in everything ---- e.g. hypocrisy, self-pity and self-esteem ---- and thus be unable to have true service.

4)    We Christians have to prove the motivation of our service ---- do we gain the acclamation or adore ourselves by service?

5)    If the preachers make a trade of the word of God (2Cor. 2:17; 4:2) or hold gain to be piety (1Tim. 6:5; Titus 1:11; 2Pet. 2:3), it shows that there is “covetousness” hid in them.

6)    “Covetousness”, it is greed for money as well as right and honor and desire. Though some preachers have overcome the greed for materials, they are unable to overcome that for mental things

7)    The love of money, the root of every evil (see 1Tim. 6:10), will sooner or later entice men away from the Lord’s faith to seek things outside of God. Therefore, the unbridled desire is idolatry (Col. 3:5). 


1Thess. 2:6 “Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.

   YLT: “nor seeking of men glory, neither from you nor from others, being able to be burdensome, as Christ's apostles.”

   Literal Meaning: we as apostles of Christ”, “apostles”: there were two types of apostles in both and narrow broad sense at that time. The former refers to those who are called by God’s to be ministers of the gospel to establish the churches; and the latter refers to “the messengers of assemblies” (2Cor. 2:23) sent by the church to fulfill the appointed missions. Here, it is the former sort of apostles.

    “We”, obviously, it also includes Silvanus and Timothy (see 1:1) besides Paul. The Lord calls them for the primary purpose of preaching the word of God (see Mark. 3:14).

“We might have made demands”, “make demands”, it is composed of “position” and “burden”. At that time, the apostles had special right and position. They were respected and were able to enjoy the material provisions of the church (see 1Thess. 3:9; 1Cor. 9:4-15; 2Cor. 11:7-9) so that they would be able to apply their mind to the building and shepherding work of the church.

“We seek glory from men”, though Paul mentions the rights of the apostles, he fully knows the responsibility as apostles. Therefore, he is disposed to give up his rights so as not to neglect the main purpose to seek glory for men (John 12:43).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    If Christians are full of their own claims, honor or rights, they will bring loss to the service. Therefore, we shall learn the examples of the Lord and the apostles to give up honor and rights (see John 13:4-5; 1Cor. 9:12).

2)    The preachers shall seek nothing in materials or in status or in reputation. Sometimes, the preachers may become proud for the sake of their slight accomplishment, thus falling into the pursuit of men’s praise.

3)    Though the preachers are respected by men (see 1Tim. 5:17), they shall not seek men’s glory. It is a great temptation of seeking men’s glory for each preacher. Many workers of the Lord are overwhelmed by this temptation.

4)    The pursuit of one’s own glory is the bane of Christians and preachers. If one robs the glory of God in spiritual works, God shall not be glorified.

5)    Spiritual authority will naturally be honored by others. One shall not demand or seek it by himself. Anyone who confesses he has the “representative authority” is unworthy of being honored.


1Thess. 2:7 “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.

   YLT: “But we became gentle in your midst, as a nurse may cherish her own children,”

   Literal Meaning: but we were gentle among you, were gentle”, it suggested that they were unable to treat believers there with truth utterly for the sake of their tender spiritual condition. Here, the gentleness is not dealing with men kindly for a while, but continually.

    Some Bible exegetes explain “gentle” (epioi) as “as baby” (nepioi), for the two words are similar in the original with a slight difference of a letter “n”. And those who copied the scriptures purposefully missed the letter “n” to express the meaning more properly, so “as baby” (nepioi) became “gentle” (epioi). However, the Bible exegetes think if it is interpreted as “as baby”, it responds to the word “mother” (v.7). And in the following paragraph, Paul mentions that he is as a father and uses the words “be taken away” (which means orphan) so as to show that he treats believers like a father and a mother. If such explanation is right, this verse can be translated as “we were as innocent as babies among you”. Therefore, Paul laid down the status of “a mother” and talked with them with childish words they could understand, thus showing his mother love.

“Just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children”, “cherishes”, it means in the original not only feeding but also taking tender care of (see Eph. 5:29). Here, Paul likens believers to “children” for two meanings: 1) they are the children begotten by them who preach the gospel (1Cor. 4:15); 2) their faith in the Lord is still as tender as children.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Gentleness and meekness are the mark of the true servant of the Lord (2Tim. 2:24-25). The Lord’s servants shall think of others in everything ---- think how to let others obtain spiritual profit, not argue only;

2)    Many times believers are still as children and not skilled in the word of righteousness, they are still able to be partakers of milk (Heb. 5:12-14).

3)    He who cherishes others should beware of not feeding others with unhealthy things of him.

4)    The preachers should guard the truth as strong as warriors (v.2), but be gentle as mother in feeding believers. The Lord’s workers should be rationally strong and emotionally rich.

5)    What a mother considers is not her own comfort or enjoyment or joy, but how to satisfy her children’s need. Therefore, she is not only gentle, considerate, soft, careful and patient, but also willing to change her own habit and interest for the sake of her children. If a preacher treats believers as a mother, we do not know how many people he will edify!


1Thess. 2:8 “So, affectionately longing 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 dear to us.

   YLT: “so being desirous of you, we are well-pleased to impart to you not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because beloved ye have become to us,”

   Meaning of Words: affectionately longing for”: be affectionately desirous, yearn; “were well pleased”: have warm of feeling for or against, affect, desire, be jealous over; “lives”: souls; “dear”: beloved, the divine love and the perfect love (“agape”);

   Literal Meaning: so, affectionately longing for you, “affectionately long for”, this word is very special, which is used only once in the New Testament here. Someone infers that the word is used to describe those who caress babies in the nursery. Paul seems to intentionally show that their love is as sincere and earnest as a mother’s love to her children.

“We were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives”, Paul is pleased to choose his way of his life to preach the gospel of God for the sake of loving them ---- he would rather give up his own rights on the cost of his life. 

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Paul preaches the gospel because of love, not for his own profit. The love to men should always be the motivation of our preachment of the gospel.

2)    The preachers shall desire to share not only the gospel with others but also their lives.

3)    A true worker of the Lord should be a “giving” man who gives what God has entrusted to him as well as his own life.

4)    It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). One who really knows the Lord would rather choose to “give” than obtain from others.

5)    “Love” makes “giving” joyful, not consumptive.


1Thess. 2:9 “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.

   YLT: “for ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail, for, night and day working not to be a burden upon any of you, we did preach to you the good news of God;”

   Meaning of Words: “labor”: trouble, weariness, pains; “toil”: travail;

   The Background: at that time, a Jewish man had to learn a kind of skill from a child in order to make a living, even rabbis, who could not keep the pot boiling by merely teaching the law. Paul might have learnt making tenets from his childhood (see Acts 18:3), so he was able to gain a living.

   Literal Meaning: labor and toil; for laboring night and day, “labor”: the weariness caused by labor; “toil”: the lack of rest; it indicated that he was willing to do the laborious work which was despised by the Romans at that time so that he could earn his own living.

    Paul here especially mentions labor and toil. Probably, he encouraged those who waited for the Lord’s second coming and were yet unwilling to work by their own hands (see 4:11) to learn his example of working with his own hands.

“We preached to you the gospel of God”, “preach” means “declaring and announcing according to the meaning of the one who sends (the master)”, not speaking what man pleases of him.

 “That we might not be a burden to any of you, “burden”: the burden to others in economy;

Verse nine, the best example of verse eight, proves how they preach the gospel of God to men and they are even willing to give their lives, and therefore, they are so laborious and toilsome.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The preachers shall try to avoid the reliance upon others excessively and be proud of all the works profitable to the gospel works.

2)    There is an increasing number of people who find that the value of part-time service is not inferior to full-time service. Therefore, one shall not recklessly give up his job in the world if he is not called by God.

3)    The primary task of preachers is to preach the messages that God entrusts to them. Therefore, they should not preach the message in a perfunctory fashion, nor add vain and flowery language or exaggerated postures purposefully to shift men’s attention from God’s word to preachers’ talent.


1Thess. 2:10 “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;

   YLT: “ye [are] witnesses -- God also -- how kindly and righteously, and blamelessly to you who believe we became,”

   Literal Meaning: we behaved ourselves among you who believe”, it is not behaving before them intentionally, but that their conversation is unavoidably seen by them.

    “How devoutly and justly and blamelessly”, “devoutly”, it emphasizes the inner innocence and kindness which are known by God (see v.4-5); “justly”, it emphasizes the external justice, goodliness which are seen by men; “blamelessly”, it refers to one’s blamelessness (2Pet. 3:14; Phil. 3:6) no matter to God or to men;

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Christians shall be just and kind and blameless in conversation, seeking a good testimony before unbelievers as well as believers.

2)    Indeed we shall not do good works before men (Matt. 6:1-8), nor hide all our good works from men (Matt. 5:15-16).

3)    Men are witnesses of all our public works. And God is the witness of our private works and inner hearts.

4)    Men’s oral teachings are common. But examples in life are rather rare. A good preacher shall be able to not only teach by mouth but also bear good witness in his conversation.

5)    How many the preachers “who say and do not do” (Matt. 23:3) there are! And common believers still pay attention to what the preachers “say”. No wonder that preachers always put in much effort on “saying” and try to increase their preaching skills but have ignored the conversation which is more important.


1Thess. 2:11 “as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children,

   YLT: “even as ye have known, how each one of you, as a father his own children, we are exhorting you, and comforting, and testifying,”

   Meaning of Words: exhort”: call near, invite; “comfort”: console, encourage; “charge”: bear witness, testify;

   Literal Meaning: “as you know”, he reminded them to think about the condition at that time;

“Exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, “exhorted, it means exhortation and encouragement (see 5:14a); comforted”, it means reassurances and consolation (see 5:14b); “charged”, it means urging and warning;

    “As a father does his own children”, it means that he advices them in earnest and teaches with patience and skill. The parents expect that their children will have good performance in the growth of them, so they express their love through “exhortation and comfort and warning”.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    It is not enough for the preachers to deliver a sermon on the platform only, for they still have to exhort and comfort and charge different believers in daily life.

2)    The preachers should treat different believers with different words and attitudes and in different manners instead of dealing with them monotonously alike.

3)    Comfort and encouragement should stimulate to press on rather than make men sleep deeply.

4)    What Paul charges (“testify” in the original) believers are just what he himself has done (see v.9; 4:11). He is not the one who charges others and yet does not move himself with his finger (Matt. 23:4).


1Thess. 2:12 “that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

   YLT: “for your walking worthily of God, who is calling you to His own reign and glory.”

   Literal Meaning: “that you would walk worthy of God who calls you”, “walk” here it refers to the life style of everyone;

    “Call”, it indicates that God’s calling to believers is continual. No matter in the Old Testament or the New Testament, the purpose of God’s calling to men is to manifest His holy disposition on them (see Ex. 19:5-6; Deut. 26:18-19; 2Pet. 2:9). Therefore, it is closely related to our walking.

“Into His own kingdom and glory”, “His own kingdom”: the realm where God reigns; God makes men repent and born again and enter into the kingdom of God (Mark. 1:14-15; John 3:3, 5) in order to gain a group of people to be the people of His kingdom. Now we believers have already been saved and delivered from the power of darkness and been translated into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love (Col. 1:13). Therefore, according to the spiritual reality, we who are in the house of God (namely, the church) are in the kingdom of God (Eph. 2:19; 1Pet. 2:9). The problem is that though we are in the kingdom of God, we have not perfectly obeyed the authority and will of God. That’s why the will of God has not been done as in heaven so upon the earth (Matt. 6:10). Therefore, believers who love God are responsible to seek and manifest God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness in their life (Matt. 6:33). All those who are able to keep the will of God on the earth will be rewarded by God (Matt. 7:21), namely, be glorified by Him (2Thess. 1:12), when the Lord comes again and God’s kingdom is perfectly fulfilled.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The life of Christians should be worthy of their calling. And the direction of their life should please God who calls them.

2)    When we live on the earth, we have to bear witness to the fact that our “commonwealth is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). 


1Thess. 2:13 “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

   YLT: “Because of this also, we -- we do give thanks to God continually, that, having received the word of hearing from us of God, ye accepted, not the word of man, but as it is truly, the word of God, who also doth work in you who believe;”

   Literal Meaning: for this reason we also thank God without ceasing, thank without ceasing, it shows that the intensity of thanksgiving is stronger than “give thanks to God … always” (see 1:2) ---- we can hardly refrain themselves from thanksgiving.

“Because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, received”, it means believing the word of God and receiving it into one’s heart (see John 1:12).

“You welcomed it not as the word of men, the word of men”: the word that was preached for the purpose of catering to the popular knowledge at that time;

“But as it is in truth, the word of God, because the word they preached were out of God’s revelation and inspiration ---- the origin is God;

“Which also effectively works in you who believe”, God’s word is living and operative (Heb. 4:12), so it works in those who believe. “Works”, it indicates that the word of God is “unceasingly” in operation.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    There are the two great elements of wide preachment of the gospel ---- “the preachment of God’s word” and “the heart apt to receive the word”.

2)    If man desires to “receive” God’s word, he has to “hear” firstly. And hearing comes by “preaching” (see Rom. 10:14), so the preachment of God’s word is crucially important.

3)    What we shall preach is not men’s word, but God’s word. God’s word is delivered into men’s hearts by the Holy Spirit, not by eloquence or knowledge, nor fair-sounding word, nor the performance of oneself.

4)    If the word of God is not mixed with man’s faith, it profits him nothing (Heb. 4:2).

5)    God’s word has become the “endless” working power in believers who believe in God “continually”.

6)    A Christian’s attitude toward the scriptures may reveal how he values the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the living word (John 1:14), and the scriptures are written word. Both of them are the same in essence. Once we have known such relationship, we will cherish the scripture in our daily life.

7)    Gods’ word in us is the greatest source when we are in temptations and troubles. When the word of God works in us to a degree that our mind and thoughts and even the whole of us are governed by God’s word, we shall transcend the environment in victory. 


1Thess. 2:14 “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,

   YLT: “for ye became imitators, brethren, of the assemblies of God that are in Judea in Christ Jesus, because such things ye suffered, even ye, from your own countrymen, as also they from the Jews,”

   The Background: at that time, the Jews persecuted the Christianity everywhere, for the reasons as follows: 1) the Jewish leaders thought Jesus was a false prophet, so they were unwilling to see the wide spread of his teaching; 2) though the Roman government regarded the Judaism as lawful religion, the relation of the Jewish believers was still strained with the Roman government. At that time, since Christianity was regarded as a branch of the Judaism, the Jewish believers were afraid that they would be encumbered with the accusations against Christians; 3) they feared that their political position would be moved if many Jews were converted to Christianity; 4) they were proud of their special status of “God’s elect”, but resisted the Gentiles’ becoming the members of the church.

   Literal Meaning: “the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus”, it refers to the church in Jerusalem dispersed in many places of Judea because of persecution (see Acts 9:31; Gal. 1:22).

For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, suffered the same things from your own countrymen, the persecution stirred up by the Jews in Thessalonica against Paul, which was done by the local Gentiles at that time (Acts 17:5-9). Such persecution was continually cast upon the church.

“Just as they did from the Judeans”, though Paul loved his kinsmen greatly and deeply desired them to be saved (see Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1), he did not shrink from rebuking the Jews who persecuted the church.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    Though the form and degree of the sufferings that the churches in Christ Jesus in God have suffered for the sake of the preachment of the gospel are different, the basic nature and the origin of persecution are nearly the same. Therefore, we shall imitate the attitude and the spirit of the church when we are faced with persecutions.

2)    Suffering for the Lord is a good testimony to encourage Christians to love the Lord more and to establish their faith, which is worthy of our mentioning and preachment.

3)    We have to take heed of one phenomenon ---- the one who is persecuted tends to become self-centered and ask others to sympathize and help him without feeling others’ sufferings, thinking that he is the only one who is suffering tribulations.


1Thess. 2:15 “who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men,

   YLT: “who did both put to death the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and did persecute us, and God they are not pleasing, and to all men [are] contrary,”

   Literal Meaning: “who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, the people of Israel were always persecuting their prophets throughout all the history of the Old Testament (see Acts 7:52).

“And have persecuted us”, “persecute”: follow behind closely to persecute;

“And are contrary to all men”, it is the same meaning with “forbidding … be saved” in the next verse (v.16).


1Thess. 2:16 “forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

   YLT: “forbidding us to speak to the nations that they might be saved, to fill up their sins always, but the anger did come upon them -- to the end!”

   Meaning of Words: to the uttermost”: to the end, ultimate, finally;

   Literal Meaning: wrath has come upon them to the uttermost”, “wrath”, it is a metaphor for the verse “the wrath of God shall be the portion of the cup of the wicked” in the Old Testament (Ps. 11:6), which refers to the wrath that will be cast upon sinners when the Lord comes again (see 1:10). It indicates that they are full of wickedness and sins ---- if they do not repent immediately, they will be soon faced with the ultimate judgment of God without any escape (see Phil. 3:18; 2Thess. 1:5-9).

Some Bible scholars thought here it referred to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, most of the Jews who were in the dispersion were not suffered when the holy city was destroyed.

Someone also held it referred to the fact that the Jews were dispelled out of Rome by the Roman emperor in 49 AD. Actually, Paul might mention the Lord Jesus and their own prophets were killed with the mind of the prophecies of the Lord Jesus and the prophets about the future. Therefore, here it relates to the unavoidable coming event, not the present reward.


1Thess. 2:17 “But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire.

   YLT: “And we, brethren, having been taken from you for the space of an hour -- in presence, not in heart -- did hasten the more abundantly to see your face in much desire,”

   Meaning of Words: “a short time”: an hour; “have been taken away”: orphan;

   Literal Meaning: having been taken away from you for a short time in presence”, “having been taken away”, it means that the children become orphaned or the parents lose their children. Paul mentions that he treats the Thessalonians as a mother who feeds and cherishes his children (v.7) and also as a father (v.11). Therefore, he uses this word to express that he is forced to leave Thessalonica. The pain of forcible separation is just like the parents have lost their children. 

“Endeavored more eagerly”, “more eagerly”, it combines the meaning of both diligence and swiftness, which shows that “he expected extremely to put into practice immediately” without any patience of delaying one more quarter.

“To see your face with great desire”, “great desire”: a kind of strong emotion and interest.


1Thess. 2:18 “Therefore we wanted to come to you--even I, Paul, time and again--but Satan hindered us.

   YLT: “wherefore we wished to come unto you, (I indeed Paul,) both once and again, and the Adversary did hinder us;”

   Literal Meaning: even I, Paul, time and again—”, “I Paul”, it emphasizes his strong desire of returning to Thessalonica again. 

“But Satan hindered us”, Satan stirred up the elements in the environment behind so that Paul was unable to go back to visit the Thessalonians.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The works of Satan are hidden behind all the elements of the hindrance against the Lord’s works as well as the persecutions against believers. It is the evil power of hindering the gospel and enticing believers to give up faith and fall into sins (see 3:5; 1Cor. 7:5; 2Cor. 12:7).

2)    Our struggle is not against blood and flesh, but against the devil that hides behind men to make waves (Eph. 6:12). Therefore, Christians should not regard men as true enemies, especially the Christians who do not agree with us (see 2Thess. 3:15).


1Thess. 2:19 “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

   YLT: “for what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? are not even ye before our Lord Jesus Christ in his presence?”

   Meaning of Words: “coming”: parousia;

   Literal Meaning: for what is our crown of rejoicing? “Crown”, it refers to the laurel worn by the winners in the sports held by the Greek;

“Our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” “Coming”, it relates to the coming and presence of a giant man, e.g. the visitation of the royal members;

Is it not even you in the presence of…”, it means that you have to have part in receiving and welcoming and embracing the Lord Jesus in His second coming.

The whole verse indicates that Paul will be rewarded by the Lord according to the fruit of his works, namely, the persistence and faithfulness of believers in Thessalonica.

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    The joy and hope of preachers have nothing to do with profit or harvest concerning this world, nor with their personal achievements, but are totally connected with the increase of the flock and the building of the church.

2)    Christians shall have the foresight to do everything. The view of how we give our account to God shall be involved in every activity of us today, which will render us total different performance.

3)    When the Lord comes again, whether the preachers are praised or rewarded by the Lord is decided by the conditions of the believers they serve.


1Thess. 2:20 “For you are our glory and joy.

   YLT: “for ye are our glory and joy.”

   Literal Meaning: the sound spiritual condition of believers is the glory and joy of preachers (see Phil. 4:1). It is so now, and still so when the Lord comes again (v.19).

   Enlightenment in the Word:

1)    A normal preacher is glorified by the glory of the Lord, and rejoices by the joy of God.

2)    It is the glory and joy of the preachers that the church increases and is built normally. They need not to wait until the future, for they are able to enjoy such glory and joy at present.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


A Model Preacher

A.  The background (v.1-2a):

1.  He is maligned and libeled by the opponents;

2.  But he is not a loser;

B.  His boldness ---- bold in God (v.2b);

C.  His messages ---- the gospel of God (v.2c-3);

D.  His motivations (v.4-6):

1.  Not please men, but please God;

2.  Not use flattering words;

3.  Have no cloak for covetousness;

4.  Even give up lawful rights;

5.  Not seek men’s glory;

E.  His testimony ---- (v.7-11);

1.  A man as meek as a gentle mother;

2.  A diligent worker who labors and toils on night and day;

3.  A devout man without blemish;

4.  A man who exhorts and comforts and charges in the bowel of a father;

F.   His goal ---- (v.12, 19-20);

1.  Edify believers so that they will walk worthy of God;

2.  Establish believers so that they shall stand in the presence of the Lord;


The Guidelines for Preacher or the Ministry Manual

A.  Do the works with good effect wherever he goes ---- not in vain (v.1);

B.  Though he is spitefully treated, he is still bold in God (v.2a);

C.  Preach “the gospel of God” (v.2b);

D.  Right motivation and innocent conversation (v.3);

E.  Not please men, but please God (v.4);

F.  Neither use flattering words, nor under a cloak for covetousness (v.5);

G.  Not seek glory from men (v.6);

H.  Be as gentle as a nursing mother who cherishes her own children (v.7);

I.    Affectionately long for believers and be even pleased to impart to believers their own lives (v.8);

J.   Labor and toil, for laboring night and day, and be indisposed to be a burden to any believer (v.9);

K.  Set himself as an example, and behave devoutly and justly and blamelessly (v.10)

L.   Advice again and again as a father treats his children (v.11);

M. Edify believers according to the will of God with a lofty goal (v.12);

N.  Be taken away in presence, not in heart (v.17-18);

O.  Set the accomplishments of believers as his hope, joy, crown and glory (v.19-20);


The Examples and Effect of Labor and Toil

A.  The example of labor and toil (v.1-12):

1.  A faithful steward (v.1-6):

1)    Preach the word with the attitude of “conflict”;

2)    Not “come from error”, but preach according to what “is entrusted” by God;

3)    Not “come from uncleanness, nor be in deceit” (“deceit” means “put the bait near the fishhook” in the original), “nor be under a cloak for covetousness”;

4)    “Not please men”, “nor use flattering words”, “nor seek men’s glory”;

5)    Please God who tests our hearts

2.  As a gentle mother (v.7-8):

1)    “Be gentle”;

2)    “Cherish” ---- give life;

3)    “Affectionately long”, “dear”, be well pleased to give her life;

3.  As a laborious father (v.9-12):

1)    labor and toil”, laboring night and day”, not be a burden to any of you;

2)    Set oneself as an example ---- “devoutly and justly and blamelessly”;

3)    Word ---- “exhort”, “comfort”, “charge”;

4)    Lead his children to establish the relationship with God ---- “worthy of God”;

B.  The effect of labor and toil (v.13-20):

1.  Suffer the persecution of men for the sake of God’s word (v.13-16) ---- “persecuted”, “be contrary to”;

1)    For the word of God works in believers;

2)    For the imitation of the churches of God;

2.  Take believers as glory and joy (v.17-20):

1)    “Be taken away in presence, not in heart”;

2)    As long as believers are able to stand, there will be glory and joy;


Five “Not”s and Three “No”s

A.  Five “not”s:

1.  Not in vain (v.2);

2.  Not come from error (v.3a);

3.  Not come from uncleanness, (v.3b);

4.  Not be in deceit (v.3c);

5.  Not please men (v.4);

B.  Three “”s:

1.  Use “no” flattering words (v.5a);

2.  “No” cloak for covetousness (v.5b);

3.  Have “no” pursuit of glory from men (v.6);


Virtues the Preachers Are Supposed to Have

A.  Boldness (v.2);

B.  Cleanness (v.3);

C.  Selfishness (v.4-6);

D.  Love (v.7-8);

E.  Diligence (v.9);

F.  Devoutness (v.10);

G.  Righteousness (v.10);


A Strong Church That Stand Firm

A.  The element of steadfastness:

1.  The example of the strong preacher who stands firm (v.2);

2.  The normal nourishment that makes believers grow well (v.7);

3.  The right teaching that leads believers to know the will of God (v.11-12);

4.  The working of God’s word that renders believers strong and stand firm (v.13);

B.  The conditions of steadfastness:

1.  Receive the word of God not as the word of men, believing firmly as the word of God (v.13);

2.  Fear not the persecution and tribulations, and imitate the churches of God (v.14);

3.  Be saved from the sins of the Jews (v.15-16);

4.  Strong fellowship with God in spirit (v.17-18);

5.  Will bring glory and joy (v.19-20);


God’s …

A.  God’s gospel (v.2, 8, 9);

B.  God’s pleasure (v.4, 15);

C.  God’s testimony (v.5, 10);

D.  God’s kingdom (v.12);

E.  God’s word (v.13);

F.   God’s church (v.14);

G.  God’s wrath (v.16);


Four Pairs of Opposite Things

A.  Men’s pleasure opposes against God’s pleasure (v.4);

B.  Men’s glory opposes against God’s glory (v.6, 12);

C.  Men’s word is different from God’s word (v.13);

D.  Being taken away in presence is different from that in heart (v.17);


Seven Wicked Deeds of the Jews Who Persecuted the Church

A.  Who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets (v.15a);

B.  Who have persecuted Paul and his fellow workers (v.15b);

C.  Who do not please God (v.15b);

D.  Who are contrary to all men (v.15c);

E.  Who forbid Paul to speak to the Gentiles (v.16a);

F.  Who always fill up the measure of their sins (v.16b);

G.  God’s wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (v.16c);


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

   Translated by Mary Zhou