The First to the Thessalonians 2:1-20

2  You yourselves surely know, brothers, that our visit to you has not been without results.+  For although we had first suffered and been insolently treated in Phi·lipʹpi,+ as you know, we mustered up boldness by means of our God to tell you the good news of God+ in the face of much opposition.  For the exhortation we give does not spring from error or from uncleanness or with deceit,  but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the good news, so we speak to please, not men, but God, who examines our hearts.+  In fact, you know that we never used flattering speech or put on any false front with greedy motives;+ God is witness!  Nor have we been seeking glory from men, either from you or from others, though we could be an expensive burden as apostles of Christ.+  On the contrary, we became gentle in your midst, as when a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.  So having tender affection for you, we were determined to impart to you, not only the good news of God but also our very selves,+ because you became so beloved to us.+  Surely you remember, brothers, our labor and toil. We were working night and day, so that we would not put an expensive burden on any one of you,+ when we preached the good news of God to you. 10  You are witnesses, God is also, of how loyal and righteous and blameless we behaved toward you believers. 11  You well know that we kept exhorting and consoling you and bearing witness to each one of you,+ just as a father+ does his children, 12  so that you would go on walking worthily of God,+ who is calling you to his Kingdom+ and glory.+ 13  Indeed, that is why we also thank God unceasingly,+ because when you received God’s word, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but, just as it truthfully is, as the word of God, which is also at work in you believers. 14  For you, brothers, became imitators of the congregations of God in union with Christ Jesus that are in Ju·deʹa, because you suffered at the hands of your own countrymen+ the same things that they also are suffering at the hands of the Jews, 15  who even killed the Lord Jesus+ and the prophets and persecuted us.+ Furthermore, they are not pleasing God, but are against the interests of all men, 16  as they try to prevent us from speaking* to people of the nations so that these might be saved.+ In this way they always fill up the measure of their sins. But his wrath has at last come upon them.*+ 17  But when we were separated from you, brothers, for just a short time (in person, not in our hearts), because of our strong desire, we made every effort to see you in person.* 18  For this reason we wanted to come to you, yes I, Paul, tried not just once but twice; yet Satan cut across our path. 19  For what is our hope or joy or crown of exultation before our Lord Jesus at his presence? Is it not in fact you?+ 20  You certainly are our glory and joy.

Footnotes

Or “as they keep on forbidding us to speak.”
Or possibly, “has come upon them completely.”
Lit., “to see your face.”

Study Notes

outspokenness: Or “boldness; fearlessness.” The Greek word par·re·siʹa has also been rendered “freeness of speech; confidence.” (Ac 28:31; 1Jo 5:14) This noun and the related verb par·re·si·aʹzo·mai, often rendered “speak boldly (with boldness),” occur several times in the book of Acts and convey an identifying mark of the preaching done by the early Christians.​—Ac 4:29, 31; 9:27, 28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26.

with the greatest freeness of speech: Or “with all boldness (fearlessness).” The Greek word par·re·siʹa has also been rendered “outspokenness.” (Ac 4:13) This noun and the related verb par·re·si·aʹzo·mai, often rendered “speak boldly [with boldness],” occur several times in the book of Acts. Boldness was, from the beginning of Luke’s account to the end, an identifying mark of the preaching done by the early Christians.​—Ac 4:29, 31; 9:27, 28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26.

under much tribulation: This refers to the persecution experienced by the Thessalonian congregation soon after Paul and Silas introduced the good news to them. Enraged by the spread of the good news, fanatic Jewish opposers incited a mob to storm the house where Paul was staying. Not finding Paul there, they dragged his host, Jason, and some others before the city rulers and accused them of sedition. The brothers urged Paul and Silas to leave the city under cover of night and travel to Beroea. (Ac 17:1-10) Remarkably, the holy spirit enabled those Thessalonian Christians to maintain joy despite this persecution.

insolently treated in Philippi: Paul here refers to the events recorded at Ac 16:12, 16-24. Paul and Silas were dragged into the marketplace, hastily judged by the civil magistrates, stripped of their clothing, beaten with rods, thrown into prison, and put in stocks. Paul aptly characterizes all of that as being “insolently treated.” He uses a strong word that according to one reference work can refer to “treatment which is calculated publicly to insult and openly to humiliate the person who suffers from it.” Such abuse makes the boldness of Paul and Silas that much more remarkable.

we mustered up boldness: Despite the insolent treatment they received in Philippi, Paul and Silas refused to cower, or shrink back. Instead, they “mustered up boldness,” or courage, to continue preaching. (Ac 17:2-10) Paul humbly acknowledges that the boldness came by means of our God rather than as a result of their own inner strength. The psalmist David similarly said to Jehovah: “You made me bold and strong.” (Ps 138:3; see also Ezr 7:28.) The Greek term rendered “mustered up boldness” is used several times regarding Paul’s ministry, and it often carries the thought of “speaking with boldness.”​—Ac 13:46; 14:3; 19:8; see study notes on Ac 4:13; 28:31.

in the face of much opposition: It was not long after their arrival in Thessalonica that Paul and Silas faced harsh opposition. (Ac 17:1-14; see study note on 1Th 1:6.) However, because Paul loved the ministry, he endured opposition and boldly continued to preach the good news. (Ro 1:14, 15; 2Ti 4:2) The Greek expression Paul uses might also be rendered “amid much struggling,” which implies that he and Silas resisted the opposition and struggled against it in order to preach boldly. Sometimes the expression was used of athletes in the Olympic Games, who struggled intensely for victory against their opponents.

uncleanness: Or “filthiness; depravity; lewdness.” Of the first three “works of the flesh” mentioned in this verse, “uncleanness” (Greek, a·ka·thar·siʹa) is the broadest in meaning. This word appears ten times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Literally, the word refers to something physically unclean or filthy. (Mt 23:27) The figurative meaning encompasses impurity of any kind​—in sexual matters, in speech, in action, and in spiritual relationships, such as the worship of false gods. (Ro 1:24; 6:19; 2Co 6:17; 12:21; Eph 4:19; 5:3; Col 3:5; 1Th 2:3; 4:7) “Uncleanness” can therefore refer to various types of wrongdoing of varying degrees of seriousness. (See study note on Eph 4:19.) It stresses the morally repugnant nature of the wrong conduct or condition.​—See Glossary, “Unclean.”

uncleanness: In its figurative meaning, “uncleanness” (Greek, a·ka·thar·siʹa) encompasses impurity of any kind​—in sexual matters, in speech, in action, and in spiritual relationships. (Compare Ro 1:24; 1Co 7:14; 2Co 6:17; Eph 4:19; 1Th 4:7.) In this context, “uncleanness” may refer to bad or impure motives.​—See study note on Ga 5:19.

Good Teacher: The man was evidently using the words “Good Teacher” as a flattering and formalistic title, since such honor was usually demanded by the religious leaders. While Jesus had no objection to being properly identified as “Teacher” and “Lord” (Joh 13:13), he directed all honor to his Father.

flattering speech: Flattery is false, insincere, or excessive praise​—often given with the intent of gaining favor or material advantage. Such hypocritical speech is condemned in the Scriptures. (Ps 5:9; 12:2, 3) One lexicon defines the Greek word ko·la·kiʹa, here rendered “flattering,” as “praise as a means of gratifying someone’s vanity.” This is the only occurrence of this word in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Paul says “God is witness!” that he “never used flattering speech” when preaching to the Thessalonians. When Christians shun flattery, they follow the foremost example of Jesus Christ himself. He instantly corrected a Jewish ruler who called him “Good Teacher,” apparently applying that phrase to Jesus as a flattering title.​—Mr 10:17 and study note, 18; compare Job 32:21, 22.

false front: In this context, the Greek word rendered “false front” conveys the idea of “pretense; cover-up.” One lexicon defines it as “what is made to appear to others to hide the true state of things.” Paul and his companions never allowed greed to motivate them; nor did they harbor selfish motives that they needed to hide by means of flattering speech or deceptive means.

tentmakers: Here the Greek term ske·no·poi·osʹ is used to describe the trade of Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla. Various opinions have been offered as to the exact type of craftsman indicated by this word (whether tentmaker, tapestry weaver, or ropemaker); however, a number of scholars hold that “tentmaker” is the probable meaning. Paul was from Tarsus in Cilicia, an area famous for its goat-hair cloth named cilicium, from which tents were made. (Ac 21:39) Among the Jews of the first century C.E., it was considered honorable for a young man to learn a trade even if he was also to receive a higher education. It is possible, then, that Paul learned to make tents while he was still a youth. The work was not easy, for it is reported that the cilicium was usually stiff and rough and, consequently, difficult to cut and sew.

seeking glory from men: As a humble minister endeavoring to imitate Christ, Paul may here have in mind Jesus’ similar expression: “I do not accept glory from men [or, “humans,” ftn.].” (Joh 5:41; 7:18; 1Co 11:1) Paul is not suggesting that it is wrong to show proper respect, or honor, to those in the congregation. (Compare Ro 12:10; 1Ti 5:17.) However, he refused to seek honor, prestige, fame, or praise from fellow humans.

could be an expensive burden: Paul did not ask for even modest material support from the Thessalonian Christians to help him devote more time to his ministry. While in Corinth, he followed a similar course, although he later explained that he had a Scriptural basis to ask for such assistance. (1Co 9:11-15, 18) According to 1Th 2:9, Paul worked “night and day” in Thessalonica, perhaps at his trade of tentmaking as he did in Corinth. (See study note on Ac 18:3.) He may also have wanted to set an example that would help the Christians in Thessalonica.​—2Th 3:7-12.

just as a father does his children: Paul here compares his role among the Thessalonians to that of a father who lovingly exhorts and consoles his children and teaches them vital truths. (Compare De 6:6, 7; Ps 78:5, 6.) This metaphor complements the one at 1Th 2:7, where Paul uses the comparison of a nursing mother. (See study note.) Both word pictures stress that Paul and his companions, though shepherds with God-given authority, sought to promote a loving, supportive, familylike atmosphere in the congregation.​—Compare 1Ti 5:1, 2.

gentle: Paul and his companions “became gentle” because they loved the Thessalonian brothers and felt concern for their spiritual growth. (1Th 2:8) Some translations, though, read “became little children” or “became infants.” The reason for such different wording is that some Greek manuscripts use a word that means “gentle” (eʹpi·oi), while others use a word that means “infants; young children” (neʹpi·oi). The two Greek words differ by only one letter. Some scholars explain the variation in manuscripts by suggesting that scribes unintentionally duplicated the Greek letter “n” from the preceding word​—an error called a dittography. However, the context and the ensuing comparison to a nursing mother favor the word “gentle,” which is used in many modern translations.

a nursing mother: Within a few verses, Paul uses two vivid metaphors based on family relationships, which reflected the warm feelings that he and the Thessalonian Christians had for one another. (1Th 3:6) Here Paul likens the relationship that he and his companions had with the congregation to that of “a nursing mother,” one who loves her children so deeply that she puts their interests ahead of her own. Then, at 1Th 2:11, Paul shifts to a metaphor of a father. (See study note.) The term rendered “nursing mother” occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. However, it is used in the Septuagint at Isa 49:23, where Jehovah says that when he brought his people back from exile, he would provide princesses who would act as “nurses.”

tenderly cares for: Or “cherishes.” The Greek expression used here literally means “to warm; to make warm.” In this context, it may have brought to mind the way a human mother would care for her children by keeping them warm and comfortable. In the Septuagint, this word is used at De 22:6 (for the Hebrew “sitting on”) and at Job 39:14 (“keeps . . . warm”) to describe the way a mother bird warms her fledglings or her eggs.

having tender affection: Paul expresses his feelings toward the Thessalonian Christians by using a Greek verb that according to one lexicon conveys the idea of “experiencing a strong feeling intensified by an inner attachment.” Another lexicon defines it as “to have a strong yearning” or to “long for.”

determined: Paul and his fellow workers had “tender affection” for those in Thessalonica who had accepted the good news. Those feelings moved Paul and his companions to expend themselves fully for those new Christians. The Greek verb here rendered “determined” conveys the idea that they were resolved and delighted (lit., “well-pleased”) to do so. One reference work also states of Paul: “The imperfect tense of the [Greek] verb expresses a continuous determination to give himself to his converts.”

selves: Or “lives”; “souls.”​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

could be an expensive burden: Paul did not ask for even modest material support from the Thessalonian Christians to help him devote more time to his ministry. While in Corinth, he followed a similar course, although he later explained that he had a Scriptural basis to ask for such assistance. (1Co 9:11-15, 18) According to 1Th 2:9, Paul worked “night and day” in Thessalonica, perhaps at his trade of tentmaking as he did in Corinth. (See study note on Ac 18:3.) He may also have wanted to set an example that would help the Christians in Thessalonica.​—2Th 3:7-12.

not put an expensive burden: See study note on 1Th 2:6.

a nursing mother: Within a few verses, Paul uses two vivid metaphors based on family relationships, which reflected the warm feelings that he and the Thessalonian Christians had for one another. (1Th 3:6) Here Paul likens the relationship that he and his companions had with the congregation to that of “a nursing mother,” one who loves her children so deeply that she puts their interests ahead of her own. Then, at 1Th 2:11, Paul shifts to a metaphor of a father. (See study note.) The term rendered “nursing mother” occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. However, it is used in the Septuagint at Isa 49:23, where Jehovah says that when he brought his people back from exile, he would provide princesses who would act as “nurses.”

just as a father does his children: Paul here compares his role among the Thessalonians to that of a father who lovingly exhorts and consoles his children and teaches them vital truths. (Compare De 6:6, 7; Ps 78:5, 6.) This metaphor complements the one at 1Th 2:7, where Paul uses the comparison of a nursing mother. (See study note.) Both word pictures stress that Paul and his companions, though shepherds with God-given authority, sought to promote a loving, supportive, familylike atmosphere in the congregation.​—Compare 1Ti 5:1, 2.

to walk worthily of Jehovah: The expression “to walk” is here used figuratively in the sense of living one’s life or conducting oneself. A number of times in his letters, Paul uses the expression “to walk” with a figurative meaning. (Ga 5:16; Eph 5:2; Php 3:17; Col 2:6; 3:7; 4:5; 1Th 2:12; 4:1) One reference work says that in such contexts, this term refers to the “walk of life.” Such usage has its background in the Hebrew Scriptures. One example is found at 2Ki 20:3, where King Hezekiah said: “I beg you, O Jehovah, remember, please, how I have walked before you faithfully.” So to walk worthily of Jehovah means to live in a way that reflects well on his name and is in agreement with his righteous standards. At 1Th 2:12, Paul uses a similar phrase.​—For the use of the divine name in this verse, see App. C3 introduction; Col 1:10.

go on walking worthily of God: Paul here compares the Christian’s course of life to walking, using an expression similar to the one at Col 1:10.​—See study note.

energizes you: Or “is acting within you.” The Greek word e·ner·geʹo appears twice in this verse, first rendered “energizes” and then “giving you . . . power to act.” God’s holy spirit, or active force, is the greatest source of power, or energy, in the universe. God used it to create all things. (Ge 1:2; Ps 104:30; Isa 40:26) By means of his holy spirit, Jehovah gives his servants the needed energy, or “power to act,” when their power is waning. (Isa 40:31) Jehovah’s spirit can also enhance a person’s natural abilities, according to the need. (Lu 11:13; 2Co 4:7) The apostle Paul often experienced this combination of personal exertion plus added assistance from God.​—Php 4:13; Col 1:29.

you received God’s word: The Thessalonian Christians received God’s word, or message, by means of the preaching of Paul and Silas (Ac 17:1-4) but understood that it was not a human message. It originated with Jehovah God and was based on the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. However, from Jesus’ time on, the term “God’s word” (or “the word of God”) also included the good news about salvation through Jesus. (Eph 1:12, 13; Col 4:3) When the Christian Greek Scriptures were compiled, Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians was likely the first of his writings to become part of the inspired Word of God. The apostle Peter later classified Paul’s writings as part of “the Scriptures.”​—2Pe 3:15, 16; see Glossary, “Canon (Bible canon).”

which is also at work in you believers: A form of the Greek word e·ner·geʹo, here rendered “is . . . at work,” may also be rendered “energizes.” (See study note on Php 2:13.) Because the message that Paul and his coworkers were preaching was no mere “word of men [or, “humans”]” but, rather, “the word of God,” it was powerfully at work in genuine believers. (At Heb 4:12, a related Greek verb is rendered “exerts power.”) During his ministry, Paul saw many who made extraordinary changes in their lives, thanks to the power of God’s word. (1Co 6:9-11; Eph 2:3; Tit 3:3) Paul himself was living proof of the power of “the word of God” to change a man’s personality and way of life.​—Ga 1:13, 22, 23; 1Ti 1:12-14.

under much tribulation: This refers to the persecution experienced by the Thessalonian congregation soon after Paul and Silas introduced the good news to them. Enraged by the spread of the good news, fanatic Jewish opposers incited a mob to storm the house where Paul was staying. Not finding Paul there, they dragged his host, Jason, and some others before the city rulers and accused them of sedition. The brothers urged Paul and Silas to leave the city under cover of night and travel to Beroea. (Ac 17:1-10) Remarkably, the holy spirit enabled those Thessalonian Christians to maintain joy despite this persecution.

you suffered at the hands of your own countrymen: See study note on 1Th 1:6.

God, who reconciled us to himself: All humans need to be reconciled to God because the first man, Adam, was disobedient, and he passed sin and imperfection on to all his descendants. (Ro 5:12) As a result, they are in a state of alienation from God; they are at enmity with God, whose standards do not allow for condoning wrongdoing. (Ro 8:7, 8) The Greek words for “to reconcile” and “reconciliation” basically convey the meaning “change; exchange,” and in this context they refer to changing from a hostile relationship to a friendly, harmonious relationship with God. Paul here shows that God first reconciled “us” (Paul, his associates, and all spirit-anointed Christians) to Himself through Christ, that is, by means of Christ’s ransom sacrifice. Then Paul says that God “gave us the ministry of the reconciliation.”​—See study note on Ro 5:10.

the ministry of the reconciliation: That is, the ministry of helping people to become “reconciled to God through the death of his Son.” (Ro 5:10) This ministry involves an urgent message to help those alienated from God to come into a peaceful relationship with him, to become his friend.​—2Co 5:18-20; for a discussion of the term “ministry” (Greek, di·a·ko·niʹa), see study notes on Ac 11:29; Ro 11:13.

reconciling a world to himself: The world of mankind needs to be reconciled to God because the first man, Adam, was disobedient, and he passed sin and imperfection on to all his descendants. (See study note on 2Co 5:18.) God is accomplishing this reconciliation by means of Christ, that is, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. (Ro 5:10; 2Co 5:21; Col 1:21, 22) Jehovah has appointed those who are in union with Christ to be “ambassadors” to a hostile world and has given them “the ministry of the reconciliation.”​—2Co 5:18, 20.

they are not pleasing God: These words apply to those who try to prevent others from becoming reconciled to God and gaining the hope of salvation and eternal life. (1Th 2:16) Like Paul when he persecuted Christians, such persecutors may imagine that they are actually rendering sacred service to God. (Joh 16:2; Ga 1:13; 1Ti 1:13) In truth, those who persecute Christians have not come to know either Jehovah or his Son.​—Joh 16:3.

against the interests of all men: Those who persecute true Christians can be said to act against the interests of all mankind because the preaching work, initiated by Jesus, is Jehovah’s means of reconciling sinful humans to Himself.​—See study notes on 2Co 5:18, 19.

fill up the measure of your forefathers: Or “finish off the works that your forefathers started.” The literal meaning of this idiomatic expression is “to fill up a measure that someone else has started to fill.” Jesus is not commanding the Jewish leaders to finish what their ancestors started. Rather, he is using irony in foretelling that they would kill him, as their ancestors killed God’s prophets of former times.

they always fill up the measure of their sins: Paul here refers to first-century Jews who “killed the Lord Jesus” and who violently persecuted his followers. (1Th 2:15) Those opposers also tried to prevent Christians “from speaking to people of the nations.” The expression “fill up the measure of their sins” indicates that they sin as much as possible. In saying that they always do so, Paul indicates that the Jewish persecutors were continuing in the course that their forefathers had been following for centuries.​—See study note on Mt 23:32.

his wrath: Lit., “the wrath.” The tense of the Greek verb rendered has . . . come highlights that God’s wrath was certain to come upon the Jews. This wrath culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 C.E. by the Romans. Some ancient manuscripts here read “the wrath of God.”

a nursing mother: Within a few verses, Paul uses two vivid metaphors based on family relationships, which reflected the warm feelings that he and the Thessalonian Christians had for one another. (1Th 3:6) Here Paul likens the relationship that he and his companions had with the congregation to that of “a nursing mother,” one who loves her children so deeply that she puts their interests ahead of her own. Then, at 1Th 2:11, Paul shifts to a metaphor of a father. (See study note.) The term rendered “nursing mother” occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. However, it is used in the Septuagint at Isa 49:23, where Jehovah says that when he brought his people back from exile, he would provide princesses who would act as “nurses.”

just as a father does his children: Paul here compares his role among the Thessalonians to that of a father who lovingly exhorts and consoles his children and teaches them vital truths. (Compare De 6:6, 7; Ps 78:5, 6.) This metaphor complements the one at 1Th 2:7, where Paul uses the comparison of a nursing mother. (See study note.) Both word pictures stress that Paul and his companions, though shepherds with God-given authority, sought to promote a loving, supportive, familylike atmosphere in the congregation.​—Compare 1Ti 5:1, 2.

we were separated from you: Or “we were bereaved of you.” Paul here employs a Greek verb (a·por·pha·niʹzo) that is related to the term rendered “orphans” (plural of or·pha·nosʹ) at Jas 1:27 and that could literally be rendered “to be made orphans.” However, it was also used to describe bereavement in general, including that of parents whose children died. In verses 7 and 11 of this chapter, Paul compared himself and his companions to a nursing mother and to a father. Therefore, he may have used this term to indicate that he and his companions felt like parents who had lost their children​—so keenly did they feel bereaved of association with their family of fellow believers in Thessalonica. This is another example of how Paul used terms associated with the family to describe his relationship with fellow believers.​—See study notes on 1Th 2:7, 11.

for just a short time: Paul uses an idiom that occurs only here in the Christian Greek Scriptures. It could more literally be rendered “for a season (an appointed time) of an hour.” His point seems to be that even though he had just seen his fellow believers in Thessalonica​—perhaps a few months earlier​—he longs to see them again. Paul thus assures them that despite this involuntary separation, he made every effort to be reunited with them. To comfort them, he sent Timothy.​—1Th 3:1, 2.

the ruler of this world: A similar expression occurs at Joh 14:30 and 16:11 and refers to Satan the Devil. In this context, the term “world” (Greek, koʹsmos) refers to human society that is alienated from God and whose behavior is out of harmony with his will. God did not produce this unrighteous world; it is “lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1Jo 5:19) Satan and his “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” act as the invisible “world rulers [form of the Greek word ko·smo·kraʹtor] of this darkness.”​—Eph 6:11, 12.

the god of this system of things: Satan is “the god” referred to here. This is clearly indicated later in the verse where it says that he “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” and said that he would be “cast out.” (Joh 12:31) Jesus’ statement and the fact that Satan is called “the god of this system of things [or, “of this age”]” indicates that his position is temporary.​—Compare Re 12:12.

Satan cut across our path: The Greek expression rendered “cut across our path” could also be rendered “blocked our way” or “hindered us.” Paul uses the same verb at Ro 15:22. This verb was sometimes used of the practice of breaking up a road to render it impassable and also of the military tactic of breaking through an enemy line. Paul may have had in mind some tactic that opposers in Thessalonica used to keep him from returning there. Whatever the hindrance was, Paul here under inspiration attributes it to Satan, knowing him to be “the god of this system of things.”​—See study notes on Joh 12:31; 2Co 4:4.

let him boast in Jehovah: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek verb rendered “boast” (kau·khaʹo·mai) could also be translated “take pride; rejoice; exult.” It is used in both a negative and a positive sense. Paul says, for example, that we may “rejoice [or, “boast”], based on hope of the glory of God.” (Ro 5:2) To “boast in Jehovah” means to take pride in Jehovah as our God, rejoicing over his good name and reputation.​—Jer 9:23, 24.

during his presence: This term is first used at Mt 24:3, where some of Jesus’ disciples ask him about “the sign of [his] presence.” It refers to the royal presence of Jesus Christ from the time of his invisible enthronement as Messianic King at the beginning of the last days of this system of things. The Greek word rendered “presence” is pa·rou·siʹa, and while many translations render it “coming,” it literally means “being alongside.” His presence would span a period of time rather than simply involve a momentary coming or arrival. This meaning of pa·rou·siʹa is indicated at Mt 24:37-39, where “the days of Noah . . . before the Flood” are compared to “the presence of the Son of man.” Also, at Php 2:12, Paul used pa·rou·siʹa to describe his “presence” in contrast with his “absence.” (See study note on 1Co 16:17.) Thus, Paul explains that the resurrection to life in heaven for those who belong to the Christ, that is, Christ’s spirit-anointed brothers and joint heirs, would occur some time after Jesus was installed as heavenly King in God’s Kingdom.

crown of exultation: Paul calls the Christians in Thessalonica a “crown of exultation.” He may have had in mind a custom in which a visiting dignitary, a distinguished public servant, or an athlete was given a crown or a wreath to wear as a token of honor and accomplishment. The Greek word rendered “exultation” conveys the idea of “rejoicing,” but it could also denote “boasting; taking pride in.” It is here used in the positive sense of a joyous, fitting kind of pride over the privilege of helping to form the Christian congregation in Thessalonica.​—2Th 1:4; compare Php 4:1; compare study note on 2Co 10:17.

presence: This is the first of six times that Paul mentions Christ’s presence in his two letters to the Thessalonians. (See Glossary, “Presence”; see also “Introduction to 1 Thessalonians.”) Paul looks forward to the presence of the Lord Jesus, and he delights in the prospect that his dear fellow believers would be rewarded during that time. Later in the letter, he prays that they be found “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the presence of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”​—1Th 3:13; see study note on 1Co 15:23.

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Paul Works to Support Himself in the Ministry in Thessalonica
Paul Works to Support Himself in the Ministry in Thessalonica

The first letter to the Thessalonians is the earliest of Paul’s inspired writings. Paul visited Thessalonica about 50 C.E. during his second missionary tour. The congregation that was formed there soon had to contend with opposition, which forced Paul and Silas to leave the city. (Ac 17:1-10, 13) Describing his stay in Thessalonica, Paul said that he and his companions worked “night and day” so that they would not put “an expensive burden” on the brothers in Thessalonica. (1Th 2:5-9) Since Paul was a tentmaker, he may have worked at this trade to support himself in the ministry. (Ac 18:2, 3) No doubt, as Paul worked, he also preached to all those whom he met.