I Thessalonians 2:14-20 Gospel Warfare And Reward.
Paul had further proof that the word preached was indeed effectual for his readers, since they “became imitators of the church of God” (v. 14a). Part of following the example of the other churches was in the matter of suffering for their new found faith, which they did from their own countrymen, even as others had among the Jews (v. 14b Cf. Acts 17:5). The apostate Jewish people and leadership would receive a most severe judgment, for they “killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets” (v. 15a), as well as persecuted Paul and his companions Cf. Mt. 23:34-36). We are so accustomed to thinking that pleasing God means displeasing the world, and in many things this is true. However, Paul makes clear that to be for God through fidelity to His word, is actually to be for all men, whether they appreciate this truth or not. Paul says of those who persecuted the church that they were also “contrary to all men” (v. 15b Cf. Lk. 11:52). It is absolutely the case that fidelity to the word, God, and the church is the absolutely best thing for the whole of society.
These persecutors were particularly against all men in that they were seeking to prevent the gospel being preached to the nations, and in so doing they were piling up their sins one upon another for the wrath to come (v. 16). Paul makes a clear break between the former group and his readers when he writes, “but we brethren” (v. 17a). At one time Paul would no doubt have considered the former group, the apostate Jewish people and leadership, to be his brethren (Cf. Gal. 1:22), but not anymore. Now he longed to be with his Christian brethren, and even if not with them physically, they were always in his heart (v. 17b). We see also that the real force behind this opposition was Satan himself, albeit under God’s sovereign control (v. 18 Cf. Acts 2:23; Rom. 1:13; 15:22). Paul longed to see his readers because they were their hope, joy, and “crown of rejoicing” (v. 19a). He was confident that they would continue to be so until they all stood “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 19b Cf. II Cor. 1:14; Jude 24-25). They were the “glory and joy” of the ministry of Paul and his companions (v. 20).