1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
17 But when we were separated from you, brothers and sisters, for a short time (in presence, not in affection) we became all the more fervent in our great desire to see you in person.
18 For we wanted to come to you (I, Paul, in fact tried again and again) but Satan thwarted us.
19 For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you?
20 For you are our glory and joy!
Context: In the last passage, Paul likened the persecution of the Thessalonians to that of the Judeans. Now Paul tells them how he desired to visit them.
But when we were separated from you, brothers and sisters, for a short time (in presence, not in affection) we became all the more fervent in our great desire to see you in person-
- Meaning Paul missed them very dearly almost immediately after leaving them.
- He really became connected to them after seeing their lives changed and the persecution they were enduring.
- He had more to teach them, but his visit was cut short by the Jews that lived there.
- Can you explain a time in your life when you missed seeing another or others soon after leaving them?
- When you miss fellowshipping with others at church for a few weeks in a row, how does it make you feel?
- Have you ever had to cut short your training of another person in Christ or in a secular endeavor? If so, what concerns came to your mind?
For we wanted to come to you (I, Paul, in fact tried again and again) but Satan thwarted us-
- Meaning Paul tried over and over to go back and visit, but he was always being blocked by Satan.
- It is not clear when this happened. After being pushed out of Thessalonica, Paul was again pushed out of Berea. Possibly it was at this time he wanted to go back. After Berea Paul went to Athens and then stayed in Corinth where this letter was most likely written. Possibly he was hindered from visiting Thessalonica during his service to the Corinthians or other churches.
- What may have been ways Satan thwarted Paul to return to the Thessalonians?
- Who is ultimately in charge of Satan’s actions? Why is it important to know this?
- What should we consider when being blocked from doing our desires?
For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you? For you are our glory and joy!-
- The Thessalonians are Paul’s ‘hope’ because he looks forward to being with them again, ‘joy’ because they will share eternal life together forever, and ‘crown to boast of’ because he knows Jesus will be pleased at His coming with Paul’s successful labor among them although it was God who gave the increase.
- [Phl 2:16 NET] 16 Paul tells the Philippians to hold on …”to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.”
- [Rev 22:12 NET] 12 (Look! I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to pay each one according to what he has done!
- Strong’s Definition: στέφανος stéphanos, stef’-an-os; from στέφω stéphō (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, literally or figuratively.
- They are called Paul’s crown because the Thessalonians’ conversion brings honor to Paul’s labor. They prove that Paul was victorious in pulling them out of sin’s bondage through the Gospel.
- [Phl 4:1 NET] 1 So then, my brothers and sisters, dear friends whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand in the Lord in this way, my dear friends!
- [Pro 12:4 NET] 4 A noble wife is the crown of her husband, but the wife who acts shamefully is like rottenness in his bones.
- Paul calls the Thessalonians his glory and joy because they are the good and praiseworthy thing that God produced by Paul’s service.
- [Pro 17:6 NET] 6 Grandchildren are like a crown to the elderly, and the glory of children is their parents.
- [Pro 20:29 NET] 29 The glory of young men is their strength, and the splendor of old men is gray hair.
- Name those of whom you may boast at Christ’s coming? Has God brought forth spiritual fruit through your labors?
- How can we invest our efforts into the Kingdom so we will not be empty handed when Christ returns?
- What kinds of things distract us from Kingdom work?
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
Is There a Crown of Saints on Your Head?
Try to stay invested into those who came to faith in My Son through your labor. However, if you can’t stay connected, trust that I will watch over them and will make them grow without you.
Yes, I allowed Satan to hinder what you wanted to do. However, you needed to grow in that trial more than the way you thought was best. Trust Me. Even Satan’s hindrances will turn out for your growth because I am sovereign.
Don’t get distracted with the things of the world so that your hands will be empty at My Son’s coming. Keep serving Me. Invest time and resources into others for My name’s sake! Will My Son find a crown of saints on your head when He arrives?