Paul is telling the Thessalonians how encouraged he has been by their conversion—and how concerned he has been because he only recently heard how they are doing. “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers”(1 Thess 2:13). Those who believe the gospel know that it is not merely men’s words, but that it originates with God and works in us. Paul also praises them for believing despite the clear opposition of their countrymen, as many Jewish Christians were forced to do (1 Thess 2:14-16).
Paul’s work in Thessalonica ended abruptly because of public opposition and concerns for his safety (Acts 17:5-10). This led to concern for Paul. “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us”(1 Thess 2:17-18). He reassures them that he has desperately wanted to come see them, but he has been unable. “Satan hindered us” probably refers to the fact that opposition to him persists so that it remains dangerous for him to be in the region.
Paul wants to see the Thessalonians “face to face.” While Paul can encourage and educate from a distance, some things cannot be communicated from afar (1 Thess 3:10). We need to look one another in the eye, give a hug, or share a meal. Even reports of the Thessalonians are inadequate for Paul. His words remind us of how deeply personal and emotional Christian faith is. When we need to rebuke a sin, comfort the grieving, or rejoice over good news, it is usually best done face to face.
------------- One Thing to Think About: Am I spending “face time” with my brethren?
One Thing to Pray For: Opportunities to deepen the bonds between my brothers and me
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