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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