1. 17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, Paul bares some of the pain he suffered after being forced out of Thessalonica. He didn’t want them to be orphaned, and so he tried many times to get back to them. A stark contrast between how the Jews treated the Thessalonians and the way Paul went about loving them.
  2. 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan (adversary)hindered us. Paul repeatedly conveys how much he missed the Thessalonians and longed to be reunited with them. However, spiritual forces of wickedness prevented that from happening. But Satan—The term here for “Satan” is “accuser” or “adversary.” Elsewhere, Paul refers to Satan as “the tempter” (3:5), “the devil” (Eph. 4:27), “the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3), and “the serpent” (2 Cor. 11:3). Hindered—The GK word is enkoptō, which conveys the practice of the military destroying a road so that their enemies cannot use it to advance their strategy. Many NT commentators believe the hindrance Paul experienced had more to do with his health than anything else. 2 Cor. 12:7, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.”
  3. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming (to be present)? Is it not you? The crown Paul is referring to is a laurel wreath that is placed on the heads of athletes who are victorious. The same depiction of eternal life is recorded in 1 Cor. 9:25; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4; Js. 1:12; Rev. 2:10). Thus, Paul boasted in the salvation of the Thessalonians and rejoiced in their relentless faith amid persecution. At his coming—The noun is parousia, which the physical return and presence of Christ. Paul anticipates the celebration they will have together when Christ returns for his church.
  4. 20 For you are our glory and joy. Many of Paul’s enemies were spreading lies about him and telling the Thessalonians that they were abandoned. Therefore, Paul felt it necessary to express his undying affection for them, and that they meant more to him than he to them.