Sermon Notes & References

Battle-Tested Believers

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

November 19, 2017

A.  Conflict

      1.  A Conflict-Filled World

      2.  The Vital Conflict


B.  Battle-Testing: Initiation – when does it start?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Thes 2:13–14

      1.  At the entrance of G______ W_____ 1

            a.   M_____ carry this; its subject is the Son of M______

            b.   the H_____ S_______’s makes it effective

      2.  people receiving this have their C_____________ changed so that conflict naturally follows 2


C.  Battle-Testing: realising the nature of the fight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Thes 2:14b–16

      1.  it first broke out among humanity in the G________ of E_____

      2.  the decisive, victorious battle was at the C______ & R___________ 3

      3.  the church in J________ & Judea had already experienced it 4

      4.  the J______ rulers were not serving God’s interests 5


D.  Battle-Testing: recognizing the enemy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Thes 2:17-18

      1.  it is S________ (the A_________ or the A__________)

      2.  though defeated at the cross, he yet has immense P_______ 6


E.   Battle-Testing: preparing for victory. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Thes 2:19-20

      1.  for the soldier’s encouragement: at Christ’s A__________ this victory, now concealed will be made M__________ (shown) to all

1 1 Thessalonians 2:13-20. . . . . . . . . . .Battle-Tested Believers


A. Introduction

    1. A Conflict-Filled World

        a. the news is full of it

            (A)    the accusations & threatenings from North Korea

            (B)    the ongoing terrorism from ISIS

            (C)   slave auctions and genocide in Africa

        b. there are battles going on in Canada

            (A)    merely reflect what is happening in the United States as well as other Western countries

            (B)    Campaign Life Coalition is struggling for the rights of the unborn in the current permissive laws (or lack thereof) respecting abortion; as well as of the aged in the threatening cloud of euthanasia

                 (1)    which makes the work of Pandita Ramabai Sarasvati against the abandonment of female babies seem mild in comparison

            (C)   PAFE (Parents as First Educators) fighting against the pollution of our children’s minds with a debased form of sex education

                 (1)    reminding us of the indoctrination of the young by atheistic dictators as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong

            (D)   but these efforts are focussed on the symptoms and not on the false deceitful basis underlying them


    2. The Vital Conflict

        a. Martin Luther focussed on this when he wrote “A Mighty Fortress” 2

And tho' this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us,

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us.

The prince of darkness grim, We tremble not for him–

His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure:

One little word shall fell him.

            (A)    that word being, of course, the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ,

            (B)    and the real conflict is the battle between Christ and Satan

        b. Paul, in writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, exposes this as the real reason for the conflict they had seen and felt in the following:

            (A)    1:6, 3:3 – they had received the gospel word in much affliction or tribulation; that is, in pressure from circumstances

            (B)    2:14 – they had suffered; this is the same word that is used for Jesus' sufferings

            (C)   2:15 – the Jews in their persecution, rejecting and driving out, Paul and the other evangelists

            (D)   2:15 – the Jews were contrary or hostile; a word that is used of winds that hinder progress

            (E)    2:18 – and underlying all, Satan had hindered; this pictures a road so broken up that travel is blocked

        c. from this passage

            (A)    as we look at these battle-tested believers Paul, his fellow evangelists, and the Thessalonian church

            (B)    we should realize that adversity is not unexpected

            (C)   see that while adversity intimidates us it should not overwhelm us


B. Battle-Testing: Initiation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2:13-14

13 And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews,


    1. it begins when God’s Word enters the scene

        a. God in His wisdom has chosen man to carry this word

            (A)    not man’s clever philosophy but the simple gospel: 1 Corinthians 1:18-21– For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. … For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

            (B)    and its subject, the Son of Man: 2 Corinthians 4:5-9 – For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. … But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

        b. but this is Holy Spirit work

            (A)    He applies the gospel Word as it is preached

            (B)    He effects the salvation of those people who accept it


    2. and so the battle-testing begins

        a. when people receive that Word, they have a change in citizenship

        b. Col 1:12 – For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son

        c. and that’s when the battle-testing suffering starts

            (A)    neither a sign of failure nor something unexpected

            (B)    It was part of Paul’s message to them in 1 Thes 1:6 You … having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit

            (C)   Peter comforted the persecuted church with the same truth: 1 Peter 4:12-13 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing … you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.

            (D)   Jesus declared the same truth when He preached His manifesto of the Kingdom in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:11-12: Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

C. Battle-Testing: Realizing the Nature of the Fight. . .2:14b-16

14b … for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, 16 hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.


    1. we are in no brief encounter but part of a long-enduring war

        a. it broke across humanity’s borders in the Garden of Eden

            (A)    Satan then unleashed his first deceptive attack on mankind

            (B)    sin triumphed and mankind’s suffering began

        b. the battles and skirmishes fill the old Testament

            (A)    God’s famous generals were such men as: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Josiah

            (B)    the infamous opponents & traitors: Balaam, Goliath, King Ahab

        c. but the decisive battle has already taken place

            (A)    and victory took place at cross & resurrection

            (B)    Just prior to that death, Jesus said in John 12:31 – Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out.

            (C)   and Hebrews 2:14 informs us, “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;

    2. the church in Jerusalem & Judea had experienced it                                                                               v. 14b

        a. Paul could certainly speak on this subject from personal experience!

            (A)    Acts 9:1-3, after attending Stephen’s martyrdom, Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.…

            (B)    but God stepped in & ended that by converting Saul to become Paul

        b. but official persecution of Jewish Christians there didn’t stop

            (A)    Hebrews 10:32-34 reminds them: But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.

            (B)    the Thessalonians are now joined to them in this experience


    3. Jewish rulers were serving Satan’s not God’s interests                                                                             v 15

        a. this is clear from Jesus’ condemnation of them as being of their father, the devil, as well as by the fact that they killed him, the Lord of glory

        b. following the practices of their fathers, Luke 11:47-50 – Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. Consequently, you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs. For this reason also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, in order that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation,

        c. Hebrews 11:36-38 recounts some details: and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

        d. the unbelieving Jews contrary treatment of the gospel                                                                         v. 16

            (A)    they hindered it: literally cut off its roadway or passageway

            (B)    they erected barriers to the missionaries declaration of the gospel

            (C)   the irritant that drove them to do this was the thought that God could possibly bring salvation to Gentiles

            (D)   the picture is that of a dog in the horse’s stall

        e. but Paul does not dwell upon this but on the evil reality behind these experiences common to Jewish & Gentile believers


D. Battle-Testing: Recognizing the Enemy. . . . . . . . . .2:17-18

17 But we, brethren, having been bereft of you for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. 18 For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan thwarted us.


    1. Satan

        a. aware of intents of God’s people

        b. constant enemy of God (from Paradise on)

        c. name means adversary or accuser

        d. business is

            (A)    obstructing the service of God

            (B)    disparaging the word of God

            (C)   disrupting the work of God


    2. though defeated, there is immense power in these opposition forces

        a. military terms and flavour

            (A)    in verse 17 “bereft” describes being torn away from them; literally, “orphanized”, a common result from the ravages of war

            (B)    thwarted” in verse 18 is different from “hindering” in verse 16 - “made a defensive trench” so as to prevent Paul’s passage

            (C)   thus even the apostle Paul was prevented in his plans by Satan

        b. it is well for us, therefore, in knowing the enemy, to pay attention to a couple of passages of Scripture:

            (A)    1 Peter 5:8-9 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.

            (B)    Ephesians 6:11-12 Put on the full armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.


E. Battle-Testing: Preparing for Victory. . . . . . . . . . . .2:19-20

For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.


    1. this is for the soldier’s encouragement to persevere in the battle

        a. at Christ’s appearing

        b. the victory now concealed

        c. will be made manifest to all   


    2. the prize of victory (“spoil”)

        a. for those who are in God’s army, it is found

        b. in serving God, and,

        c. in God’s redeemed people themselves


    3. given the opposition’s strength what do we do?

        a. an old poem by William Cowper gives an answer: 3

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight:

Prayer keeps the Christian's armour bright;

And Satan trembles when he sees,

The weakest saint upon his knees.”


        4. Let’s close by singing, “Soldiers of Christ Arise”




© 2017 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:


              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              IGNT              Interlinear Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, 1956; as well as other Greek Texts as W&H, Nestle, etc.

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              Philips     The New Testament in Modern Englis, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth

Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:

              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              CP   -      Decission, July & August 1962, Open Your Bible, by Dr Sherwiood E. Wirt

              EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

                             1, 2 Thessalonians: Robert L. Thomas

              EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

                             1 & II Thessalonians, by James Moffatt

              JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site,

              NCBC –    The New Century Bible Commentary – 1 and 2 Thessalonians – I. Howard Marshall – Wm B. Erdmans

              RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.


From ‘A Mighty Fortress (Ein Feste Burg)’, by Martin Luther (1483-1546) as translated by Frederick H. Hedge (1805-1890)


‘What Various Hindrances We Meet’, by William Cowper, (1731-1800)