1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

1 Thes. 2:13-20 (ESV) "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. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! 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. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy."

I love verse 2:13. As a Bible teacher I can relate. There is such joy and gratitude that fills my heart when I know people receive the word of God. It's wonderful to see them accept it not because of anything I have said, but because they heard it from the Holy Spirit. It is not the words of men, but God's Word. This reminds me of Mat. 16:17 when Jesus asks his disciples "Who do men say that I am?" After Peter responds that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Jesus says, "Flesh and blood has not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven."

Paul mentions for the second time here that these believers have become "imitators". First in 1:6 as imitators of Paul, his companions, and of the Lord. Then in 2:14 that they were imitators of the churches in Judea. This imitation is the application of truth they had received. These Thessalonians were growing because they were learning and living. This truly was a community of believers who were open, hungry, and willing to follow Christ with their faith and actions. It seems like this imitation is evidence of the child like faith that Jesus praised so highly in Mat. 18:2-5. I understand why Paul ends chapter 2 with "For you are our glory and joy."

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