1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
Paul’s Longing to See Them Again 17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, x in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire y to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan z hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or a joy or crown of boasting b before our Lord Jesus at his c coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
17 Ἡμεῖς δέ, ἀδελφοί, ἀπορφανισθέντες ἀφʼ ὑμῶν πρὸς καιρὸν ὥρας, προσώπῳ οὐ καρδίᾳ, περισσοτέρως ἐσπουδάσαμεν τὸ πρόσωπον ὑμῶν ἰδεῖν ἐν πολλῇ ἐπιθυμίᾳ. 18 διότι ἠθελήσαμεν ἐλθεῖν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἐγὼ μὲν Παῦλος καὶ ἅπαξ καὶ δίς, καὶ ἐνέκοψεν ἡμᾶς ὁ σατανᾶς. 19 τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως - ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς - ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ; 20 ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά.
Paul longed to see the Thessalonians again Introduction What or who do you long for? The Bible and our feelings. We often say we want it to inform our thinking, but what about our feeling? Here: unmissable love and longing. And, Paul's own clear statement that they are his 'glory and joy'. 1. He really loved them and missed them, but Satan stopped him from seeing them (v17-18) 'Torn away' (lit. orphaned); in 'face not heart'; tried 'eagerly with great desire' to see them again; 'we wanted to come to you'; 'again and again'. Not just unmissable that Paul loved them and missed them; it's almost awkward how intensely he says this! Satan hindered us. What does this mean? That Paul sees Satan's hand ultimately behind the frustration of his attempts to see them, encourage them, build them up. The constant, prowling enemy of God, his people and purposes. Application directions Our feelings towards other Christians? 2. They were his glory and joy (v19-20) 'hope or joy or crown of boasting' 'before our Lord Jesus at his parousia' [mighty kings returning to a city] 'you are our glory and joy' Again, we can't miss the language. But shouldn't we only boast in the cross? Application directions We are to see all that we have invested our lives into, through the gospel, as part of the 'crown and glory' which we will receive at the parousia [cf parable of the talents]. Not that certain things (like preaching or evangelism) are crowns and others (eg parenting, or civil engineering) are not. But rather that, what we invest our lives into because of the gospel, and through the gospel, and in the power of the gospel - will prove to be what we sow. cf 1 Corinthians 15.58; who is Paul talking to when he says 'our labour is not in vain'? Just the pastors, or everyone? In large part, this crown of boasting for us all will surely be the people we influenced and invested into. These real-life things from our own actual lives are sub-sets of boasting in the cross. Where we died to ourselves in a cross-shaped life, leaning fully upon (ie boasting) Jesus' death, we will find those things to be our peculiar glory at his return. We will all receive crowns reflecting the unique stewardship, and thus application of the victory of Christ. cf Elders in 1 Peter 5. Derivatives of Christ achieving the 'subdue and rule' mandate. We join him in that and share in the glory, a glory and victory which is all his. Only one life, twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last. Those who sow will reap. Those who sow in Christ will reap in Christ. That reaping includes a crown. God's glory: His King is the victorious one who is coming back. FCF: We don't long for, or boast in, the right things! We long for and boast in things which end up not really pleasing us. Person of Jesus: shows the true love for his people. Comes to them, searches them out, will die for them. Work of Jesus: was 'hindered by Satan' at the cross, but this proves to become the very grounds of boasting for him and his people. The lamb who was slain. I will be lifted up - he spoke about what kind of death he would die. Union with Jesus: in Jesus I come to long to see his people, since they share my identity. I boast and glory in my cross-driven, cross-shaped efforts. Not because they show my greatness but because they show Jesus'! I come to love the right things, and have my emotions and feelings restored to true joy and delight. Wrap-up What or who do you long for? The Bible and our feelings. We often say we want it to inform our thinking, but what about our feeling? Here: unmissable love and longing. And, Paul's own clear statement that they are his 'glory and joy'. In Christ, we are being restored to right feelings and right joy.