Suffering (1 Thess. 3:3)

“No one should be shaken

By these sufferings.

You yourselves know

This is what

We are destined for.”

τὸ μηδένα σαίνεσθαι ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις. αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε ὅτι εἰς τοῦτο κείμεθα·

Paul said “No one (τὸ μηδένα) should be shaken (σαίνεσθαι) by these sufferings (ἐν ταῖς θλίψεσιν ταύταις).  You yourselves know (αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε) that this is what we are destined for (ὅτι εἰς τοῦτο κείμεθα).”  Only this letter to the Thessalonians used this unique word σαίνεσθαι, that means to wag the tail, to greet, flatter, disturb, fawn upon, flatter, beguile or perturbed.  Paul pointed out that they should not be surprised, shaken, or disturbed by the various persecutions and tribulations that they were undergoing in Thessalonica.  They knew and realized that this was their destiny.  The true apostle of Jesus Christ would suffer various distresses in their lives.  Jesus suffered.  Paul suffered.  They would suffer.  Suffering might be a way of life for them.  Have you suffered a lot in your life?

We sent Timothy (1Thess. 3:2)

“We sent Timothy,

Our brother

And deacon for God

In the gospel of Christ,

To strengthen you

And encourage you

For the sake of your faith.”

καὶ ἐπέμψαμεν Τιμόθεον, τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν καὶ διάκονον τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς καὶ παρακαλέσαι ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν

Paul said, We sent (καὶ ἐπέμψαμεν) Timothy (Τιμόθεον), our brother (τὸν ἀδελφὸν ἡμῶν) and deacon of God (καὶ διάκονον τοῦ Θεοῦ) in the gospel of Christ (ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ Χριστοῦ), to strengthen you (εἰς τὸ στηρίξαι ὑμᾶς) and encourage you (καὶ παρακαλέσαι) for the sake of your faith (ὑπὲρ τῆς πίστεως ὑμῶν).”  Paul indicated that he was going to send his good friend Timothy to the Thessalonians.  Timothy was like a brother deacon in the service of God in furthering the gospel of Christ that had not yet been written.  Paul was sending him to strengthen and encourage them in their faith in Jesus Christ.  Has someone ever encouraged you in your faith in Jesus Christ?

We left for Athens (1 Thess. 3:1)

“Therefore,

When we could bear it no longer,

We decided to be left alone

In Athens.”

Διὸ μηκέτι στέγοντες ηὐδοκήσαμεν καταλειφθῆναι ἐν Ἀθήναις μόνοι,

Paul said, “Therefore, when we could bear it no longer (Διὸ μηκέτι στέγοντες), we decided to be left (ηὐδοκήσαμεν καταλειφθῆναι) alone in Athens (ἐν Ἀθήναις μόνοι).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word στέγοντες, that means to cover closely, to bear up under, bear with, or endure patiently.  Once again, Paul pointed out that he had left Thessalonica in a hurry at night.  However, he ended up in Athens in southern Greece all by himself as indicated in Acts, chapter 17:14-15.  Paul was left alone in Athens.  Things had become difficult in northern Macedonia.  He could hardly bear up under those conditions.  Paul felt safer in Athens.  Have you ever felt unsafe in some place?

You are our glory (1 Thess. 2:20)

“You are

Our glory

And joy.”

ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά.

Paul said, “You are our glory (ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν) and joy (καὶ ἡ χαρά).”  Paul then answered all his rhetorical questions by simply saying that the Thessalonians were his glory and joy.  Paul was proud of the faith of the people of Thessalonica.  Actually, Paul later used the same terminology about the Philippian church, Philippians, chapter 4:1, “Therefore (Ὥστε), my brothers (ἀδελφοί μου)!  I love (ἀγαπητοὶ) and long for you (καὶ ἐπιπόθητοι), my joy (χαρὰ) and my crown (καὶ στέφανός).” Paul said that that he loved his beloved brothers in Philippi and longed for them.  They were his joy and crown.  However, he had an admonition for them that they had to stand firm in Lord.  They were not to waver.  Here, Paul did not ask the Thessalonians to stand firm.  He just assumed that they would.  Are you the crown and joy for anyone?

I wanted to visit you (1 Thess. 2:18)

“We wanted

To come to you.

Certainly I,

Paul,

Wanted to visit you

Again and again,

But Satan blocked our way.”

διότι ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἐγὼ μὲν Παῦλος καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς, καὶ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς ὁ Σατανᾶς.

Paul said, “We wanted to come to you (ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς).  Certainly I (ἐγὼ μὲν), Paul (Παῦλος), wanted to visit you again and again (καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς), but Satan (ὁ Σατανᾶς) blocked our way (καὶ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word ἅπαξ, that means once or once for all.  Paul indicated that he wanted to go to visit the Thessalonians a few times, either once or twice or again and again.  Whatever the number of times, he was not able to make this visit.  He maintained that Satan had blocked him from going to Thessalonica, but it is unspecified how Satan was doing this.  Perhaps, it was the same evil forces that forced him to leave Thessalonica who were preventing him from returning.  Have you ever been prevented from going someplace you wanted to go to?

We were separated (1 Thess. 2:17)

“Brothers!

For a short time,

We were separated from you,

In person,

Not in heart.

With great eagerness,

We have a great desire

To see you

Face to face.”

Ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἀπορφανισθέντες ἀφ’ ὑμῶν πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ, περισσοτέρως ἐσπουδάσαμεν τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ.

Paul said, “Brothers (ἀδελφοί)!  For a short time (πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας), we (Ἡμεῖς δέ) were separated (ἀπορφανισθέντες) from you (ἀφ’ ὑμῶν), in person (προσώπῳ), not in heart (οὐ καρδίᾳ).  With great (περισσοτέρως) eagerness (ἐσπουδάσαμεν) we have a great desire (ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ) to see you face to face (τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν).”  Only this letter to the Thessalonians used this unique word ἀπορφανισθέντες, that means to be bereaved or separated from someone.  Only the Pauline letters used this word ἐσπουδάσαμεν, that means to make haste, to give diligence, eager, or zealous.  Paul was upset that he had to be separated from the followers of Jesus Christ at Thessalonica.  Apparently, it was only a short time.  However, although they were not in person, he still held them deeply in his heart.  He had a great desire to see the people of Thessalonica face to face.  This might have been an allusion to his very quick departure from Thessalonica by night in Acts, chapter 17:10, since Paul did not get to say goodbye to them.  Do you feel separated from a certain group of people?

God will take care of them (1 Thess. 2:16)

“The Jews in Judea

Hindered us

From speaking

To the gentiles

So that they might be saved.

Thus,

They have constantly been

Filling up

The measure of their sins.

But God’s wrath

Has overtaken them at last.”

κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς τοῖς ἔθνεσιν λαλῆσαι ἵνα σωθῶσιν, εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε. ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ εἰς τέλος.

Paul said, “The Jews in Judea hindered us (κωλυόντων ἡμᾶς) from speaking (λαλῆσαι) to the gentiles (τοῖς ἔθνεσιν) so that they might be saved (ἵνα σωθῶσιν).  Thus, they have constantly been filling up (εἰς τὸ ἀναπληρῶσαι) the measure of all their sins (αὐτῶν τὰς ἁμαρτίας πάντοτε).  But God’s wrath (δὲ ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς ἡ ὀργὴ) has overtaken them (ἔφθασεν δὲ ἐπ’ αὐτοὺς) at last (εἰς τέλος).”  Paul explained that the Judean Jews around Jerusalem forbid them from speaking to the gentiles.  This critique may also have applied to the Christian Jews who did not want gentiles becoming Christian.  Paul and the other Christians had hoped to save the gentiles as well as the Jewish people.  However, these Jerusalem Jews were only adding to their sins.  They were filling up a bowl of sins.  Paul indicated that at last, God’s wrath had caught up with the Jerusalem Jews and their sins.  Was this a reference to a future destruction of the Jerusalem Temple?  Did this mean that finally the Jerusalem Jews would suffer?  Was this finally the last degree or the full retribution or was this a reference to the end times, the final judgment?  Paul was not clear.  However, he was sure that God would take care of it.  Do you believe that non-Jewish people can be saved?

The Jews killed the Lord and the prophets (1 Thess. 2:15)

“The Jews in Judea

Killed

Both the Lord Jesus

And the prophets.

They drove us out.

They displease God.

They oppose everyone.”

τῶν καὶ τὸν Κύριον ἀποκτεινάντων Ἰησοῦν καὶ τοὺς προφήτας καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐκδιωξάντων, καὶ Θεῷ μὴ ἀρεσκόντων, καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων,

Paul said, “The Jews in Judea killed (ἀποκτεινάντων) both the Lord (τῶν καὶ τὸν Κύριον) Jesus (Ἰησοῦν) and the prophets (καὶ τοὺς προφήτας).  They drove us out (καὶ ἡμᾶς ἐκδιωξάντων).  They displease God (καὶ Θεῷ μὴ ἀρεσκόντων).  They oppose everyone (καὶ πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἐναντίων).”  Only this letter to the Thessalonians used this unique word ἐκδιωξάντων, that means to pursue out, expel or persecute, drive out, or harass.  Paul indicated that these Judean Jews had killed the Lord Jesus Christ and the prophets.  Technically, that is not correct since Pilate, the Roman governor, gave the official order to crucify Jesus.  There is no explicit mention of prophets getting killed, but this might be a reference to the Christian Stephan that Paul helped to kill in Acts, chapter 7:57-8:1.  Nevertheless, this scriptural passage has led to a lot of anti-Semitism based on the false accusation that the Jews killed Jesus.  Paul also helped to push out the followers of Jesus Christ with his harassment in, Acts, chapter 8:3.  Thus, Paul was fully aware of what the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea had done, since he was one of the instigators.  After his Damascus conversion, Paul had come to realize that these Jewish zealots were displeasing to God as they opposed everyone who was not fully Jewish.  Prior to Paul’s conversion, he was one of these Judean Jews persecuting the developing Christian church community in and around Jerusalem.  Do you know anyone who was persecuting Christians and then became a Christian?

The Jews in Judea (1 Thess. 2:14)

“Brothers!

You became imitators

Of the churches of God

In Jesus Christ

That are in Judea.

You suffered

The same things

From your compatriots

As they did

From the Jews.”

ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε, ἀδελφοί, τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε καὶ ὑμεῖς ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων συμφυλετῶν, καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων,

Paul said “Brothers (ἀδελφοί)!  You became imitators (ὑμεῖς γὰρ μιμηταὶ ἐγενήθητε) of the churches of God (τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ) in Jesus Christ (ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ) that are in Judea (τῶν οὐσῶν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ).  You suffered the same things (ὅτι τὰ αὐτὰ ἐπάθετε) from your own compatriots (ὑπὸ τῶν ἰδίων συμφυλετῶν) as they did (καθὼς καὶ αὐτοὶ) from the Jews (ὑπὸ τῶν Ἰουδαίων).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word μιμηταὶ, that means an imitator or follower.  Only this letter to the Thessalonians used this unique word συμφυλετῶν, that means a fellow tribesman or a fellow country-man.  Paul indicated that the Christian Thessalonians were actually imitating the Christian churches in Judea.  Both groups of followers of Jesus Christ were being tormented by their fellow countrymen.  They were suffering the same things that that the Judean churches of Jesus Christ were enduring.  Paul knew about these persecutions because he himself had been one of these Jewish persecutors before his Damascus conversion in Acts, chapters 7-9.  Also, Acts, chapter 17:1-9, talked about how upset the Jews were in the Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica.  Have you ever known anyone who was persecuted for their religious beliefs?

You received the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13)

“We also constantly

Give thanks

To God

For this.

You received

The word

Of God

That you heard

From us.

You accepted it

Not as a human word

But as what it really is,

God’s word,

Which is also at work

In you the believers.”

Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ Θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως, ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ’ ἡμῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθὼς ἀληθῶς ἐστὶν λόγον Θεοῦ, ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.

Paul said “We also constantly (ἀδιαλείπτως) give thanks (καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν) to God (τῷ Θεῷ) for this (Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο).  You received (ὅτι παραλαβόντες) the word (λόγον) of God (τοῦ Θεοῦ) that you heard from us (ἀκοῆς παρ’ ἡμῶν).  You accepted (ἐδέξασθε) it not as a human word (οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων) but as what it really is (ἀλλὰ καθὼς ἀληθῶς ἐστὶν), God’s word (λόγον Θεοῦ), which is also at work (ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται) in you the believers (ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν).”  Only the Pauline letters used this word ἀδιαλείπτως, that means incessantly or unceasingly.  Paul indicated that he was always giving thanks to God for what happened to them at Thessalonica.  They received the word of God as presented by Paul and his companions.  They did not accept it as merely human words, but as the real word of God that it truly is.  The apostles of Jesus were like the old Jewish prophets.  They received the word of God orally and presented it or proclaimed it orally to others.  The written word of God or the gospel stories were not yet written down.  This letter itself became part of the canonical written word of God as the oldest written document.  This preaching of the word of God also worked within those who believed in Jesus Christ.  Do you accept the word of God as more than mere human words?