1 Thessalonians 1:1-2. "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance unto you, that it was
not in vain:
2: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention."
Paul starts with some facts about his ministry that the Thessalonian believers already knew. I don't think he had to prove his faithfulness and dedication to them, but there were new believers among them who would benefit from this information.
In spite of the suffering and shame he endured, he had been steadfast in preaching the gospel. He wanted God's approval more than man's. He had no delusions of grandeur or desire of self advancement in any way. He wanted to set a pattern of life for believers to follow.
The Thessalonian believers knew Paul hadn't come to them with vain doctrines but had brought them the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He had seen with his own eyes their faith that was spoken of far and wide. Those who lived a spiritual life as true brethren in Christ were even more convincing at close range.
Paul knew of their divine election from their conversion and consistent character. (1 Thessalonians 1:4. "Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.")
They knew, from observing Paul’s evangelistic campaign, that he was clear of every criticism and that God had sent him to them with this gospel. This is a message for believers today, godly conduct and speech are outward evidence of Christian character.
Paul wanted them to live lives that would witness they were truly saved and that his preaching hadn't been in vain. He wanted proof it wasn't some empty, shallow thing of the flesh that would run it's course and fade with the first opposition.
The Thessalonians knew about his painful physical suffering at Philippi. He had been wrongfully accused, beaten, and thrown into the dark inner prison. (Acts 16:22-23).
It wasn't just the suffering but the shameful way they had treated him as a Roman citizen. I think most of us would have given up, but Paul found a way to witness to the jailer and led him and his family to trust in Jesus to forgive their sins for eternity. Satan was trying to discourage him but the persecutions had the opposite effect. It just made him bolder to speak the gospel to all he came in contact with. He was "Bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God." [Verse 2]
Paul knew the necessary strength to carry on came from God, not of his own strength. He had been authorized by God to preach the gospel. Acts 9:15-16. "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:  For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake."
Paul continues stating that his motive was pure and his desire to preach was with God's approval because it came from God.
VERSES 3-6. "For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
5: For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
6: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ."
Paul wasn't in a popularity contest. He wasn't seeking political office. How well his audience treated him was not important to him. He wanted to please the God who had trusted him to preach the gospel to the lost.
There were crowd pleasers preaching false doctrine in those days, just as there are today. Paul wanted souls to get saved, first and foremost. He wanted to live his life so his morals, motives, and conduct couldn't be questioned. This sets an example for the believer today.
Many of the religions of Paul’s day not only permitted immorality but actually prescribed it in their rituals. This involved prostitution as part of their worship. Those religions were very popular and catered to the natural and physical instead of the spiritual.
Paul was above reproach in what he preached and the method he used to bring it to people. He didn't use any kind of questionable tactic. He refused to use any carnal means to try to achieve spiritual ends.
His manner of preaching the gospel wasn't designed to please men. His intent was to satisfy God, Who is the final court of appeal. God had tested Paul on the Damascus Road and trusted him with the gospel.
Paul’s heart was open for God’s inspection and approval, and he had no ulterior motives to hide from men. He had never been guilty of seeking authority or special treatment from his status as an apostle. He knew that the true source of glory is from God, who resists the proud but promotes the humble.
VERSE 7: "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:" He was gentle because he was more concerned with the welfare of the Thessalonian converts than asserting his own rights and reputation. He gave them care and devotion and love like a nursing mother has for her baby.
If Paul had any glory due him, he wanted it to come from God and for godly service, not from human beings. He might have claimed his apostolic authority gave him the right to throw his weight around but instead he became gentle. We know from his history that he was a very violent man before he got saved, but God had changed that nature in him.
VERSES 8-9. "So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted
unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear
9: For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God."
He loved these people so much that he would have given his life to see them get saved. His greatest pleasure was to share the gospel and his own soul with them. The Thessalonians were extremely blessed. They could enjoy fellowship with one of the greatest gospel preachers of all time, and they greatly appreciated this.
Paul reminded them of his nights and days of labor and hardship, "travail," and that he didn't expect financial support or to be a burden to them in any way. He worked as a tentmaker to provide his support, including the cost of traveling to spread the gospel. His mission was to spread "the gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified." Now, in verses 10-12, he set a standard for Christian conduct and urges others to follow.
VERSES 10-12. "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holy and justly and unblameably
we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
11: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
12: That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory."
The Thessalonian believers were witnesses of the apostle’s godly walk among them. God was also a witness of Paul’s exemplary behavior. Paul had lived holy, his religious life was flawless, devout, and pious in every respect. He had practiced what he preached and wasn't guilty of neglecting any obligation toward God or man. Also, he had kept the rules of the Christian life, and no one could point a finger at anything he had or hadn't done.
His sincerity led a number of the Thessalonians to believe the gospel, and Paul considered them his children. [Acts 17:4 "And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few."]
Paul was as personally involved with each one of them as a father is with his own children. He challenged them to "walk worthy of God," [verse 12] and do nothing to shame their Heavenly Father in any way. God had counted them worthy of salvation and they should respond accordingly. Second, he had comforted those who needed encouragement. The trials, persecutions, and temptations of a heathen city with all the things that appeal to man's senses, could easily overwhelm a weak believer. Third, he appealed to their enlightened minds and consciences to "walk worthy of God Who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory."
Looking forward to the “Kingdom and glory” where God is supreme was an invitation to an entirely new concept of living. We are to keep our future time with Christ uppermost in our minds, and the things of this world, necessary as they are, secondary. Paul always seemed to be looking forward to this glorious kingdom God is preparing for us.
VERSE 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."
Paul looked back and remembered all the hardships and sacrifices and was gratified with the results. This verse indicates that he just said over and over, "Thank you, God!" that the Thessalonians had accepted the message favorably outwardly as well as inwardly because it truly was the Word that originated from God Himself.
Their lives showed their acceptance of Christ as their Savior and that was sure to bring opposition from un-believers, both Jews and Gentiles.
VERSE 14-16: "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:
15: 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:
16: 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.
Establishment of churches in Thessalonica would cause them to suffer persecutions at the hands of their own Gentile countrymen, just as the churches of Judea had suffered of their fellow Jews. The persecuted Judean churches were composed of true believers, because it states they were “of God” and “in Christ.”
The suffering churches in Judea had joy and peace because they were “in Christ.” This is in contrast to the awful fate of the persecuting Jews, who had also stirred up the Gentile persecution at Thessalonica.
First and foremost, they murdered their Messiah. They judged the One who was the Messiah and their Savior, worthy of death. They also mistreated the prophets who told them how to identify the true Messiah and who had advised them in what form He would come to this earth. These weren't isolated incidents. Nothing would satisfy them now until they persecuted and drove away the apostles.
No matter how hard they tried, they failed miserably to prevent Paul from spreading the
gospel. They were even fulfilling Bible prophecy unknowingly, in that way.
John 15:18-19. "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19: If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
The fullness of God’s wrath will break out on them in the coming Tribulation period.
VERSE 17-18: "But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not
in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
18: Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."
Paul hadn't left Thessalonica by choice, he had to leave because of the intense persecution. He wrote to explain that several times he had tried to return but each time Satan contrived a means to prevent him. This forced separation may have caused him the kind of grief you experience when you lose a loved one. In this case, there was comfort in knowing that the separation was for a short time and though they were out of sight they weren't out of heart and mind.
Satan wanted the Thessalonian believers to follow him but Paul was not about to let that happen. They were the fruit of his sacrificial missionary labors, they meant everything to him. He had won them to Christ and their true value will only be realized when the Lord comes back in the Rapture. They, and all the believers of the church age, will go up with Paul at the Rapture.
VERSES 19-20: "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."
The fruit of his labor would be those he had won to Christ through his preaching. He freely acknowledged this was only accomplished by God working through him.
They are the victor’s wreath and the soul-winner’s crown that God promised. In verse 19 he writes as though they were already in heaven because God's promise is so certain.
Paul will be able to rejoice in eternity that all these, who formerly were pagans, had turned their backs on idolatry to serve the living and the true God and were waiting for His son from heaven!
Paul answered his own rhetorical question, in verse 19, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? He wrote that what they would be then is determined by what they were now, “For you are our glory and joy.”
Many centuries before these incidents, God gave a writer the words to a proverb that describes what Paul, by inspiration from God, advocates here.
PROVERBS 3:5. "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."
Today, if you will trust in the Lord with all your heart, admitting to God that you are a sinner and can do nothing to save yourself, He will forgive your sins and reserve you to a place in heaven. It is that simple, that's all God requires.
The writer of Proverbs went on to give the formula for the life of the believer, just as Paul had spelled it out. "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Paul also wrote this message. ROMANS 10:8-10. "But what saith it? (the Bible) The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."