1 You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.

3 For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; 6 nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, 7 though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. 8 So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.

9 You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers. 11 As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, 12 urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when 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 believers.

14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you suffered the same things from your own compatriots as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins; but God's wrath has overtaken them at last.

17 As for us, brothers and sisters, when, for a short time, we were torn away from you -- in person, not in heart -- we longed with great eagerness to see you face to face. 18 For we wanted to come to you -- certainly I, Paul, wanted to again and again -- but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 Yes, you are our glory and joy.



  • Paul reflects on his visit to Thessalonica, when he planted the church there (Acts 17), after the shameful treatment received in Philippi (Acts 16). Despite the opposition and inconvenience, Paul did not wait for a more comfortable moment. He declared the truth (vv.1-2).
  • Paul emphasizes the purity of his motives as a preacher and church planter (vv.3-12). Notice:
    • Paul implies that some preach Christ with ulterior motives and even dishonesty. See a similar passage in Philippians 1.
    • If even the apostles did not motivate primarily by authority, shouldn't we too motivate primarily by love? For a similar passage, see the one-chapter letter of Philemon.
    • Paul utilizes the feminine analogy of nurse/mother to describe his feelings and devotional towards his spiritual children (vv.7-8). Evangelism involved sharing our hearts and lives, not just information.
    • Paul also utilizes the masculine analogy of a father and his loving firmness. He did not burden the Thessalonians, but worked hard to support himself. (Not that the nascent church would have had the means to support him financially even if he had sought such support.)
  • In v.13 Paul returns to his thought in 1:5. The new disciples received the gospel as it is -- divine words, not human words.
    • Integrity was shown on the part of the Thessalonians, not just the missionaries.
    • With spiritual integrity, there is no way that we can avoid the consequences of following Christ, either....
  • Christians are called to suffer.
    • The implications of the gospel were the same in Macedonia (Thessalonica) as in Syria (Judea). i
    • In both places the Jews stirred up trouble (vv.14-16).
      • First century persecution came primarily from the Jews. Roman persecution did not become significant until the turn of the (second) century.
      • Of course the Gentiles were also involved in killing the Lord and causing considerable trouble to the church. Both were culpable.
      • Ultimately the Jews lost their entire system of worship. 16 years after the Thessalonian letters were written, war broke out (in the north, in Galilee) in Judea. By 70 AD the Temple had fallen, and this the end of the priesthood and animal sacrifices.
  • Paul hated to be torn away from the new believers, as was necessary in Acts 17:10, and eagerly desired to be reunited with them (v.17-20).
    • Satan blocked his way; that is, sinful men blocked his reunion with the new converts of Thessalonica.
    • They were his glory and joy -- not just the proof of his ministry but persons he loved and valued in the Lord.


  • God calls us into his kingdom and glory (v.12): these begin now and yet they also have a future aspect. The kingdom is both present and future. The new age has already dawned, though it has not fully arrived.
  • In v.7 "apostles" retains its basic meaning: missionaries, not the dozen men selected by Christ to be led into all truth by the Holy Spirit. For more, click here.
  • When the wrath of God was revealed against the Jews, times were terrible indeed. Click here to read about read The Destruction of Jerusalem.

Thought questions:

  • If you are a leader, are you gentle with those you serve? Are you comfortable with Paul's imagery (mother and father) when you think of your ministry? How does your leadership style compare to the apostle Paul's?
  • Are you bothered by Paul's strong words about the Jews? Are social pressures to be "politically correct" causing you to back away from the truth of what happened in the first century?
  • Granted, you were thrilled at the word of God when the gospel first gripped your heart. Do you still have reverence and respect for the word? Do you tend to view it as the inspired word of God, or just the record of people's human efforts to find God? Do you diligently seek to understand God through his word, or has the Bible lots its magnetic power for you?