The thanksgiving that started in verse 2 hasn’t finished yet. The word of God was at work within the church at Thessalonica and Paul felt that they shared the gospel bond, but he and his companions were concerned for them in their absence. Like parents sending their firstborn off to school for the first time, Paul felt the sting of the possible outcomes. Would they be bullied? Would they remember what he taught them? Unlike kindergarten, the culture in Thessalonica was pagan to the core and loved Rome. They had many gods to turn to and Caesar was lord. It was like sending your five-year-old on the first day of school directly into the principal’s office with a list of ways the school was not doing things right, and suggesting the principal should step down.
13And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! 17But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20For you are our glory and joy.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Isaac Serrano is Lead Teaching Pastor of South Valley Community Church. He likes talking theology, history, and culture. Isaac lives in Gilroy with his family. On his days off, he likes to go fishing and venture outdoors. Isaac serves on the leadership board for the Regeneration Project and the school board of Pacific Point Christian Schools.