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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


1 Thess 2:17-20 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 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.

Unbelieving Jews seemed to follow Paul wherever he went to preach the gospel message of Christ. This was true when he visited, and preached, in the city of Thessalonica. Moved with envy, they accused Paul of turning the world upside down, by preaching things contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. In order to prevent Paul and Silas, as well as other local converts to Christianity, from being taken into custody by the local governmental rulers, the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea (See Acts 17:1-10).

This seems to be the incident Paul is referring to when he wrote, But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. This also indicates that Paul was not absent from them for an extremely long period before the writing of this epistle. Undoubtedly Paul considered his labor, for the cause of Christ in Thessalonica, unfinished because he greatly desired to return to them once again, and meet with them face to face. Paul's stay at Berea was profitable for the Lord, but ti was brief, due to the continued persecution of unbelieving Jews. From there Paul went to Athens where he delivered his well-known speech on Mars Hill (See Acts 17). Soon after Paul made his way to the city of Corinth where he preached the gospel message of Christ, established a congregation of Christians, and remained for a year and an half (See Acts 18:1-11). Bible scholars seem to agree that it was from Corinth, that Paul wrote this first epistle to the church of Christ in Thessalonica.

In every church established by his preaching of God's holy word; even in every Christian converted to the cause of Christ, by his influential, Holy Spirit-inspired message of eternal salvation, Paul could say, as he did to the church at Thessalonica, ye are our glory and joy. As the result of his preaching, those that became, and remained, faithful children of God, both Jew and Gentile, were considered by Paul to be his hope,, (and) of rejoicing, the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming. Indeed, with body, mind, and soul, the apostle Paul heeded God's call, through Jesus, and preached the cause of Christ to all that he could possibly reach, both through his inspired writings, and by face to face teachings, in his missionary journeys throughout provinces of the Roman Empire.

Soon after the establishment of the church in Thessalonica, it was Paul's desire that he, and his fellow laborers in Christ, could return to them once again, but Satan hindered us. Just how, in this instance, Paul was hindered by Satan, is not revealed. We know for sure that Satan inspired the wicked opposition brought about by false teachers of the Jewish nation, and those that stirred up opposition within the Gentile societies and local governmental bodies. But, without doubt, Satan intervened, presenting difficulties that kept him from revisiting the Christians of Thessalonica at this time. Paul was opposed, but not prevented, from his Christ-given mission of preaching God's word. Notice what he told the Christians of Corinth. But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor. 11:12-15).

To what did Paul attribute his ability to stand up against all opposition, and continue preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ? The answer is found in his letter to the young preacher, Timothy. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever (2 Tim. 4:17-18).

This short lesson should stir each of us up enough to ask ourselves this question: How well do we stand up against the opposition of Satan? Be assured that Satan will hinder you too! However, we know that by Paul's example, the Lord will stand with us, strengthen us, and deliver us from evil opposition.