1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
14 For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews,
15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God and are opposed to all people,
16 because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they constantly fill up their measure of sins, but wrath has come upon them completely.
Context: In the previous verse Paul thanked God that they accepted his words as God’s words and how those words continued to work in them. Now he likens them to the persecuted church in Judea.
For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews-
- Meaning just as the Judean churches suffered at the hands of the non-believing Jews, so the Thessalonian believers suffered at the hands of the non-believing Jews.
- We know the Jewish leaders during Jesus’ time threatened believers in Jesus to be ostracized from synagogue life. See below.
- John 9:20-23 So his parents replied, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But we do not know how he is now able to see, nor do we know who caused him to see. Ask him, he is a mature adult. He will speak for himself. (His parents said these things because they were afraid of the Jewish religious leaders. For the Jewish leaders had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. For this reason his parents said, “He is a mature adult, ask him.”)
- Also, we know the new Jewish believers were poor in Jerusalem. Wealthier members sold lands and possessions to support those in need. Being ostracized by the Jews due to their belief in Jesus may have caused this crisis.
- Acts 2:44-45 All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need.
- Jews persecuted the church after the death of Stephen causing many to flee.
- Acts 8:1 (NET) 1 And Saul agreed completely with killing him. Now on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were forced to scatter throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.
who killed both the Lord Jesus-
- Meaning the Jews killed the Lord. They even verbally took responsibility for this before Pilot.
- Matthew 27:24-25 (NET) 24 When Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but that instead a riot was starting, he took some water, washed his hands before the crowd and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. You take care of it yourselves!” In reply all the people said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”
and the prophets –
- Meaning the Jews were also responsible for killing the prophets throughout their history. Jesus also testifies to this.
- Luke 11:50,51 (NET) 50 so that this generation may be held accountable for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be charged against this generation.
- Luke 13:34 (NET) 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!
- Stephen also proclaimed this before his martyrdom….
- Acts 7:51-52 You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors did! Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold long ago the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become!
and persecuted us severely-
- Meaning the Jews persecuted Paul and all of the gospel ministers.
- Persecution of Peter and John
- Acts 4:1-3 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests and the commander of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, angry because they were teaching the people and announcing in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. So they seized them and put them in jail until the next day (for it was already evening).
- Stephen was Martyred by the Jews
- Acts 6:12 (NET) 12 They incited the people, the elders, and the experts in the law; then they approached Stephen, seized him, and brought him before the council.
- Acts 7:58 (NET) 58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.
- Paul persecuted after his conversion by Jews in Demascus
- Acts 9:21-23 All who heard him were amazed and were saying, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem was ravaging those who call on this name, and who had come here to bring them as prisoners to the chief priests?” But Saul became more and more capable, and was causing consternation among the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. Now after some days had passed, the Jews plotted together to kill him,
- Acts 9:28-29 So he was staying with them, associating openly with them in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. He was speaking and debating with the Greek-speaking Jews, but they were trying to kill him.
- Paul persecuted by Jews in Thessalonica and Barea as shown below.
- Acts 17:5 (NET) 5 But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason’s house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly.
- Acts 17:13 (NET) 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica heard that Paul had also proclaimed the word of God in Berea, they came there too, inciting and disturbing the crowds.
They are displeasing to God and are opposed to all people, because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved-
- Meaning the Jews in various places not only persecuted Paul but also hindered the message to the Gentiles.
- Acts 13:14 (NET) 14 Moving on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
- Acts 13:44-50 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city assembled together to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and they began to contradict what Paul was saying by reviling him. Both Paul and Barnabas replied courageously, “It was necessary to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have appointed you to be a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.‘” When the Gentiles heard this, they began to rejoice and praise the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed for eternal life believed. So the word of the Lord was spreading through the entire region. But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high social standing and the prominent men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their region.
- Acts 14:1-6 The same thing happened in Iconium when Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a large group of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they stayed there for a considerable time, speaking out courageously for the Lord, who testified to the message of his grace, granting miraculous signs and wonders to be performed through their hands. But the population of the city was divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. When both the Gentiles and the Jews (together with their rulers) made an attempt to mistreat them and stone them, Paul and Barnabas learned about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding region.
- In what places are Christians being persecuted today?
- In what ways are Christians being persecuted today?
- How can we help them?
Thus they constantly fill up their measure of sins-
- Meaning the Jews have had a pattern of being on the wrong side by killing the prophets, the Lord, persecuting the church, Paul, and hindering the gospel to the Gentiles.
but wrath has come upon them completely-
This phrase can be interpreted in two ways…
- 1. Meaning God’s wrath in hell is already planned for the Jews though not yet completely experienced – it is as good as done – it’s a done deal.
- John 3:18 (NET) 18 The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.
- 2. Meaning Jerusalem will be completely destroyed in 70 AD as Jesus foretold in Mathew 24, Luke 19, and Luke 21- it is as good as done – it’s a done deal though not yet experienced. When Paul wrote this letter, Timothy and Silas, those who accompanied him to Thessalonica, are still with Paul. Therefore, many believe this letter was written shortly after their visit to the Thessalonians, possibly while he was in Corinth. This would have been before 70 AD. Also, in chapter 5, Paul uses similar language of Jesus in Mathew 24 which seems to refers to the destruction of Jerusalem which he describes as still a future event.
- Luke 19:42-44 (NET) 42 saying, “If you had only known on this day, even you, the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and surround you and close in on you from every side. 44 They will demolish you – you and your children within your walls – and they will not leave within you one stone on top of another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”
- Luke 21:20-24 (NET) 20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Those who are inside the city must depart. Those who are out in the country must not enter it, 22 because these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! For there will be great distress on the earth and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away as captives among all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
- What will happen to those who reject the Son?
- How can we help them?
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
Will you Pray for the Persecuted and their Persecutors?
Just as the Christian Thessalonians and Judeans were persecuted by the Jews, My people are still being persecuted all around the world by various groups because they hold to the name of My Son. Be diligent to pray for them!!!
I will have wrath on those who reject My Son and harm My children. My Son was born in the flesh, did good, taught many good things, yet they killed Him. What else could He do to save the world? He has done it all. Warn those who reject My Son and persecute My children. Pray for them to receive forgiveness through My Son.
Persecutions around the world