“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” (1 Thes. 2:19-20).
In 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Paul wrote about attempting to get back to Thessalonica “once and again; but Satan hindered us.” Satan hindered Paul’s attempts to reunite with the Thessalonians, but then Paul wrote about a meeting with the Thessalonians that Satan would never be able to hinder: the meeting in the air (1 Thes. 4:17). Often you’ll hear believers say, “We’ll see you here, there, or in the air.” That’s what Paul is saying in this portion of Scripture, that if he didn’t see them here or there, he would see them in the air at the Rapture.
Nothing could hinder Paul’s hopeful and joyful anticipation of seeing them again, if not in this life, then in the life to come and at the Rapture. Paul knew he would meet Christ and be in His presence at His coming, and Paul knew that the same was true for the Thessalonian believers. Thus, because they would all be there, Paul knew he would meet the Thessalonians again in the air.
Paul referred to these saints as his “crown of rejoicing.” This crown is referring to people (cf. Phil. 4:1). This gives us some insight into what will constitute our reward in heaven. Part of our reward will be seeing people whom we led to Christ, dwelling safely in Him, in Christ’s presence forever. Paul’s hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing were the men, women, and children in the presence of Christ at the Rapture, saints that he personally new and had a part in leading to the Savior. Likewise, we will forever rejoice in seeing people saved by the grace of God, people whom we had a part in leading to the Savior, whether by prayer, financial giving, planting seeds, or being the one who personally led them to Christ.
Sometimes parents call their children their pride and joy, and they extoll the many virtues of their children out of their love for them. Paul felt the same way about those who were saved through his life and ministry. The Thessalonians were Paul’s spiritual children, and he their spiritual father, and so, like a parent overflowing with love, Paul stated, “For ye are our glory and joy.”
These saints will be Paul’s glory, joy, and crown for all eternity. And as we invest our lives in people by sharing the gospel of the grace of God, we too will glory in this crown of rejoicing in eternity.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.