Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Mar 23 2020 - 1 Thessalonians 2:13-3:13 – Our glory and joy

Paul had originally travelled to Thessalonica from Philippi where he had been illegally beaten, imprisoned and drummed out of town. In Thessalonica he had spent three weeks in the synagogue reasoning from the Scriptures that "the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead" (Acts 17:3). As a result, many believed that Jesus is the Christ, particularly from among the God-fearing Gentiles who attended the synagogue. But this angered many of the Jews who stirred up a riot outside the home of Jason, a man with whom Paul and his companions had been staying. Not finding Paul, they dragged Jason and a number of other Christians before the city officials saying, "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus" (Acts 17:6,7).

Faced with such violent Jewish opposition, Paul had been forced to leave the city after only a few weeks of ministry. He had travelled on to Berea and Athens but remained deeply troubled and concerned about the new Christians in Thessalonica. Were they standing firm in the faith or were they finding the opposition too much for them and losing heart? Had Paul’s ministry been in vain?

Eventually, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to find out how they were doing. Meanwhile, having been mocked and ridiculed in Athens, Paul travelled on to Corinth where he arrived “in weakness and fear and with much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3). He seems to have been discouraged and fearful that his ministry might be proving fruitless.

Then Timothy arrived with news of the Christians at Thessalonica. Paul writes, “Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:6-8). Paul’s spirits are lifted and he is filled with joy as he sees that God has been at work through his ministry and is continuing to work in these lives. His labour has not been in vain.

Paul would like to be able to return to Thessalonica and minister again to these Christians whom he loves. But he knows that even if he is prevented from returning, he will see them again for he writes, "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? Indeed, you are our glory and joy" (2:19-20). The Christians in Thessalonica had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1:9-10). They looked for and longed for the day of Christ’s return, when they would see him face-to-face. Paul also longed for that day but adds that one of his chief joys will be that these Thessalonians will be there with him and that they will be able to celebrate together in that day. This prospect makes all his labours and discouragements worthwhile.

Are there those to whom you have spoken concerning the Lord Jesus Christ who will be your glory and joy on that day?

Lord, keep us from discouragement in the work of the kingdom. Enable us to be the means through which others are brought to know you, so that together we may long for and work towards the day of your coming, and that we may rejoice together in the day of your appearing.

Peter Misselbrook