What does 1 Thessalonians 2:18 mean?
ESV: because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.
NIV: For we wanted to come to you--certainly I, Paul, did, again and again--but Satan blocked our way.
NASB: For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and Satan hindered us.
CSB: So we wanted to come to you--even I, Paul, time and again--but Satan hindered us.
NLT: We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us.
KJV: Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
NKJV: Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and again—but Satan hindered us.
Verse Commentary:
Popular culture portrays the Devil as a fictional character in a red suit, with a pointy tail and horns, and who carries a pitchfork. On the contrary, the Devil, called Satan in this verse, is a real person. God created him as an angel of light and allowed him to occupy a place near God's throne, but Satan tried to usurp God and led a rebellion of angels against Him. Subsequently, God cast him out of heaven, where throughout human history he has tried to thwart God's purposes and destroy God's people (see Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:11–19).

In this verse Paul blames Satan for hindering him from returning to Thessalonica. Every time he tried to visit his Thessalonian brothers, circumstances opposed his doing so. Paul attributes this interference to the work of the Devil. In Ephesians 6:11–12 Paul speaks of Satan as a powerful adversary. Clearly, because God was working in Paul's life and ministry, Satan targeted Paul as someone he wanted to destroy.
Verse Context:
First Thessalonians 2:17–20 recalls how Paul had been chased out of Thessalonica, but he strongly wanted to return and see the Thessalonian Christians again. Repeatedly, he desired to return to Thessalonica, but was unable to do so. The Christians at Thessalonica meant so much to Paul that he anticipated greeting Christ at His coming with the blessing of knowing he had won these believers to Christ. They were his glory and joy.
Chapter Summary:
Paul begins to flesh out the general ideas he mentioned in chapter 1. Here in chapters 2 and 3, he further explains how he came to preach to the Thessalonian people. Paul particularly notes that his good conduct, proving his unselfish motivations, was instrumental in his success. The warm response of the people also endeared them to Paul, making him long to visit them again. Unfortunately, Paul was prevented from doing so, a struggle he attributes to Satan. Paul once again expresses his gratitude for the Thessalonian Christians' ability to honor God despite persecution.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 1 briefly introduced the relationship between Paul and the Christians at Thessalonica. This introduction is expanded in chapter 2, where Paul gives additional details about how he came to preach there, why he left, and what he has heard of their spiritual progress. Chapter 3 will round out this glowing report with a reference to a visit from Paul's friend and student, Timothy.
Book Summary:
The apostle Paul's second missionary journey included a visit to the prominent Greek city of Thessalonica. This stood alongside a major land route and boasted a busy seaport. A number of individuals believed Paul's message (Acts 17:1–4), but an angry mob forced Paul to leave the city after his brief stay. Later, while in Athens, Paul received a glowing report: the believers at Thessalonica were growing spiritually and serving God fervently. However, they had questions about the Lord's return, including what happens to a believer who dies before that day. And, as all churches do, they had some areas in which they were falling short. In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, written about AD 51, he addresses these developments. Paul expresses gratitude for the Thessalonian believers' spiritual progress, and frequently makes references to Christ's impending return.
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