1Th 2:13 “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”
In the first chapter, Paul has told the church that the gospel did not come to them in mere words. The gospel came to them with power and in the Holy Ghost (1Th 1:5). Here Paul gives thanks for this fact. He is not only thankful that they received the word of God, but he is thankful they did not try to give him, Silas, or Timothy the credit.
The true gospel is the word of God. It comes from God through the leadership and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. The true gospel testifies of our reliance on Jesus Christ as our only deliverance from sin. However, the true gospel is not a hammock that we are to rest in while we wait for gentle breezes. If we believe the gospel, it is also a catalyst in our lives to move us to labor zealously (effectually worketh) in the kingdom of God.
The gospel of God is not going to set us up to be loved by everybody. Paul told the Thessalonian brethren that, because they were true believers, they were following the same path as the churches in Judaea where Paul came from. The Thessalonian believers were persecuted by the unbelieving Jews and the pagan worshipping Gentiles (Acts 17:5) they lived among. Paul wanted them to find encouragement in this persecution, showing them that this followed those who were faithful to the truth.
He goes on to describe to them how the Jews killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets. This is always the case with those who will not endure sound doctrine (2Ti 4:3). Even today, there are men who kill the Lord Jesus although not in a literal sense. However, when we declare that He is not sufficient to forgive our sins and we reject those whom God sends to preach to us the truth, then we are guilty of killing Him and the prophets (inspired speakers) just like the self-righteous Jews of Paul’s day.
Men who do such things do not please God. This is not a supposition or some idle “what goes around comes around” sort of thinking. It is a simple declaration of scripture. Not only do they not please God, but they are opposed (contrary) to all men who believe and do seek to please God. Persecutors of the faithful servants of God do not want the truth of salvation to be spread.
The scripture repeatedly points us to the covenant of salvation that existed between the Father and the Son. There is much testimony in the word of God that points to His all-sufficient grace in saving us from our sins. Jesus finished that work on the cross and bore testimony to the fact from His own precious lips (Joh 19:30). There is no other name (authority) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Act 4:12). What, then, did Paul mean when he said there was salvation in them speaking to the Gentiles?
The word translated as “saved” in this verse means “to deliver or protect.” There is great protection in the gospel of God. When we are blessed to believe this precious gospel we are delivered from the fear of men. We are protected from being overwhelmed by the doubts and fears that swirl around us. We are strengthened to endure the hatred that this world will surely have for us when we follow Jesus (Joh 15:18-27).
Those who oppress the servants of the living God seek only to have their fill of sin. They are not concerned with loving God because they do not seek to obey God. They despise the truth because it exposes their ungodliness. These are not men who do not know God, but rather men who, after they know God, do not like to retain God in their knowledge (Rom 1:28). God does not withhold His wrath for some future date on these. Rather, Paul teaches that the wrath is come (present condition) upon them, and not in a small way.
When men who know God do not honor Him as God and are not thankful for this great gift, they find His wrath to the uttermost. He gives them up to uncleanness, to idol worship, and to a mind empty of worthwhile thought. They face each day here dependent only upon their own thinking and their own ability. They do not know the peace that passes all understanding. Their days are filled with fear.
May we rejoice when we are persecuted as the church in Christ Jesus, having the assurance that God is pleased with our service and finding the peace of our deliverance here in time through the truth of the gospel of God!