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1 Thessalonians 2:13-20–Paul’s Joy and Crown

After speaking of his ministry, Paul brings the discussion back to the church.   The new sections begins with “For this reason.”   “This” refers back to verse 12.   Paul thanks God that they “walk worthy.”

Specifically he remembers how they “received the word” (tying this section clearly with chapter 1).  They did not take Paul’s message as being from man, but from God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).  They knew the message was authoritative.  They allowed the word to work within them (check again 1:9,10).

Since Paul is convinced they received the word well, why is he writing?  He writes because they are facing persecution.  Persecution has a way of dampening enthusiasm and hindering spiritual growth.*  Encouragement to this church is offered through the example of others.

First is the persecution of Christians in Judea.  They faced persecution from their Jewish brethren, yet have remained faithful (1:14).  Second is the example of Paul.  Satan hindered Paul.  Contextually this refers to persecution.  Yet Paul remained faithful.

Another source of encouragement is the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 2:16).  God sees.  God will act.  God knows who is persecuting them.  God will pour out His wrath upon them.  God provides divine justice and to the believer it is a source of encouragement.

The conclusion of this section is an emotional appeal for the Thessalonians to not give up.  They are Paul’s joy, his crown, his glory.  He wants them to be faithful until Christ’s return.  This is why he writes.  They are doing great, but Paul wants to see them finish well.

How do we apply this?  The main application I see is the need to search my heart to see what is hindering me from finishing well.  What creeping sins are in my heart?  What fears are keeping me from excelling in my faith? If I can be honest about those things, then I can deal with those things and keep “walking worthy.”

I can think of a few other examples, but I want you to share, if no one does I will add some in the comments?  Also if you have any questions about this section post them in the comments.

* One of the Greek words used for suffering in 1 Thessalonians has at is backgrounds a torturous practice.  It was a way to torture someone by placing weight upon their chest making it unable for them to breathe.

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8 Comments

  1. When thinking of what is hindering me from finishing the race well, I think it would anger/fustration. Responsibilities in and out of the home, raising children and wanting to do it right,dealing with people…most days it seems easy and doable. But some days it is overwhelming, and I start to become harsh with my words and my attitude especially with those that know me the best like family. (They are the safest, right. LOL)
    It is hard to remember that there is always someone watching who might grow spiritually from my attitude or be pulled down. In verse 10, Paul points out to them how he could hold up his behavior as an example of righteousness. I am afraid there are more days than I want to admit that I go to bed thinking that I should have been more patient and kind with my words, especially to my family. This is something I work on daily and pray about… especially with my girls. They are such a gift from God!

  2. Wesley

    September 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Great insight again Tammy. Really appreciate you interacting on here.

    Excellent point as well about our lives being examples to others. Paul truly believed that and used his life as a source of teaching.

  3. Thinking, the fact that Paul keeps saying how he wants to come, tried to come, longed for them, was hindered by Satan, makes me wonder if the persecutors were using Paul’s absence. Maybe Paul had promised to return, and the persecutors were accusing Paul of lying about that, and thus what he preached as well. Making them question his authenticity. Paul defends his desire to come, and his reason for being unable.

    I would like some more discussion on the last part, where he claims they are Paul’s joy, crown and glory. Is saying joy, crown and glory just emphasizing in 3 words how proud he is of them, or are the other meanings to that particular phrase?

  4. Wesley

    September 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    You might be on to something there Kathy about why Paul is emphasizing him wanting to come. At the very least we know Paul is showing that he has not forgotten them and that he cares for them.

    Joy, Crown, and Glory is Paul simply saying that there will being is his primary concern.

  5. Thanks Wesley! What an honor if someone were to go before God and tell him that we are their joy, crown and glory. I know every kid likes to hear good things said about them, from a teacher or parent. Even us adults (relative to age not maturity) like to be recognized for the positive things done. Think part of my finishing well will be to do better on noting and saying the positive, instead of focus on what is wrong. Thankfulness.

  6. Wesley

    September 7, 2010 at 9:25 am

    What a noble goal! Just think of all Christians actively focused on encouragement, what that could do for the body of Christ.

  7. Verse 14 really jumped out to me when I reread the chapter. Paul says they “became imitators of God’s church in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus”. In this day and age when not being able to take for granted if the sign on the church saying “church of Christ” means what you think it means this verse really is a contrast to that. It is correct to assume when visiting a church that the traditions will be different but the doctrine should be the same if it is a church “in Christ Jesus”. Just like when traveling…if you see a McDonalds on the side of the road you know what you are getting. It should be the same with the church. Sure the McDonalds may be layed out differently, have a different menu board,the employees dressed differently, etc. but you still know you are in a McDonalds. Traditions/opinions don’t matter, but the doctrine should show through in a church to all who worship with it.

  8. Wesley

    September 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I think you hit on a key idea in 1 Thessalonians (and also 2 Thessalonians), which was that the apostolic tradition (those teachings passed down to the church by the apostles) were meant to be authoritative. The apostles believed their message was truly the word of the Lord and those who became Christians did so partly because they shared in that belief (I will probably have a blog post on this subject once we finish our walkthrough of 1 Thessalonians). Once again Tammy great comment!

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