Our Hope, Our Joy, or Crown of Rejoicing
1 Thess. 2:17-20
Paul’s love to the Thessalonians was again shown here. He really cared for them that he was really hurt when he left them.
I. Paul was separated from them (1 Thess. 2:17)
A. Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica by the persecution of the Jews as recorded in Acts 17.
- In Acts 17, Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke ministered for three Sabbath days in Thessalonica, but then hostile Thessalonians chased them out of town. They left for Berea. Over a year elapsed before Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians, while residing in Corinth.Acts 17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
B. Indeed, it was a painful departure. Comparing himself to a loving father and a nursing mother who were suddenly separated from his beloved children
C. We can’t tell how long was the separation but probably it may just be a short time.
D. His separation from them did not stop him from caring and loving them and of course he wants to go back and see them again
II. Satan hindered (2 Thess. 2:18)
A. His return was hindered. Who was responsible? Was it God, other people, or Satan? Paul specifically identified Satan, our enemy.
B. Paul’s reason for deciding to return was to provide additional spiritual help for the new converts. This by itself is clearly the will of God in any situation. Seen as such, any hindrance becomes opposition to the will of God. Regardless of who was involved on the human level, the ultimate leader of this kind of opposition is Satan.
C. Satan our enemy will always do everything to hinder God’s work.
D. The name “Satan,” means adversary. God has given the devil certain freedom to hinder the gospel within the boundaries of God’s will. The devil can’t stop the work of God, but he can hinder it at times and in ways allowed by God.
Illustration 1: Satan’s Power is Permitted
Lest we be “terrified by our adversaries,” it is well to remember that Satan’s power is not inherent but permitted (Rom. 13:1). It is not unlimited, but controlled (Job 1:12; 2:6). It is not invincible, but broken (Luke 11:21-11). It is not assured of success, but is surely doomed (Rev. 20:2-3). Satan knows well that there is no ultimate victory for him. The pronounced sentence has only been postponed. But he works to hinder and postpone Christ’s final triumph. We can rejoice in the certainty of John’s assurance: “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).
- Oswald Sanders, Cultivation of Christian Character, (Moody Press, Chicago; 1965), p. 86
III. Paul’s hope, glory and Joy, or crown of rejoicing (1 Thess. 2:19)
A. Paul’s glory and joy were the souls that were saved and the churches that he founded (“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy,”
B. Our hope
- The rapture is the great blessed hope of the Christian. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13). The imminent rapture has been the hope of the Church down through the ages. The Scriptures continually admonish believers to watch, be ready, and to expect His return at a time when ye think not. His return was the hope of the early Church. Their popular greeting, Maranatha. (1 Cor. 16:22), expressed their belief in and desire for Christ’s return.
- Paul speaks of that great day when every believer will stand before Christ in judgment. Paul referred to the Thessalonian believers as his greatest crown. Paul’s crown of rejoicing would be those whom he had personally won to the Saviour. For ye are our glory and joy. Paul looked forward to the day when he would stand before his Saviour with the ones in which he had invested his life’s work. Notice that Paul looked beyond the actual crowns and said that the saints themselves would be his crown when he stood before the Judgment Seat. Amidst the trials and tribulations of service, Paul kept his heart in the work of Christ. The precious souls that Paul had won from idolatry and heathen wickedness were the joy of his heart.
Illustration 2: Biblical Prophecy
Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first advent, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. One scholar has estimated that there are 1,845 references to Christ’s second coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ—an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first advent, there are 8 which look forward to His second! Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. IV.
The Lord’s work will always be hindered by our enemy which can only work within the boundaries allowed by Christ. What is your hope, glory and joy? It should be like Paul’s.