#187 “STANDING STRONG IN THE MIDST OF SUFFERING” (1 THESSALONIANS 2:1-2)

  1. For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain (kenos, insincere; lacking in results; empty handed; void of content)Paul stirs up the Thessalonian’s memory by reminding them of his motives in coming to them was with good intentions. The word know is to “have knowledge; to be acquainted with facts.” Therefore, Paul wasn’t trying to convince the Thessalonians to believe he was someone they could trust. They already did. Paul was simply reminding them of the times he gave of himself to them.
  2. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated (hybristhentes, to be insulted, abused; to look down upon)at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness (courage in the face of danger; to speak boldly) in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. The Holy Spirit led Paul and Silas to Macedonia (Ac. 16:9-10) where they had been beaten and imprisoned at Philippi: “But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks” (Ac. 16:19-24). Shamefully treated—The GK word hybristhentes is also used to describe an internal battle caused by emotional anguish and spiritual attacks. Paul faced intense opposition and was publicly shamed and humiliated by the Jews. They considered him a disgrace for abandoning his role as a Pharisee and teaching a gospel that went against their formalities. Conflict—The GK word is agoni, which we get the word “agony.” It is a term that describes the strenuous contest or activity of an athlete. Despite the severe agony and constant personal attacks, Paul pressed forward and faithfully preached the gospel.
  3. Expositor’s Bible Commentary: New Testament: “In Philippi, Paul and Silas had been beaten and severely flogged; they had been put in prison with their feet in stocks (Ac 16:22-24) and cruelly mistreated because they had rescued a slave girl in the name of Jesus Christ. They had also been insulted by being arrested unjustly, stripped of their clothes, and treated like dangerous fugitives. Their Roman citizenship had been violated, and for this Paul demanded restitution (Ac 16:37). Still staggering from these injuries and indignities, the two came to Thessalonica. Under such conditions, most people would have refrained from repeating a message that had led to such violent treatment, but not these men. With God’s help, they mustered sufficient courage to declare in this new city their Gospel from God. Here in Thessalonica they again encountered “strong opposition “—a word that pictures an athlete’s struggle to gain first place in a race or contest. Paul’s conflict came from outward persecutions and dangers originated by his Jewish opponents (cf. Php 1:30). While Luke does not mention such opposition in Thessalonica (Ac 17:1-10), it is clear from this letter that such did come. In spite of it, however, Paul’s inner help from God produced a continuing proclamation of the Gospel.”