1 Thes. 2:2 even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Phillipi
When the leading men of Phillipi determined that Paul and Silas could not be a source of income for them, they brought them before the magistrates of the city saying, 'These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city' (Acts 16:20). The magistrates had them beaten and cast into prison with their 'feet fast in the stocks' (Acts 16:24). The response of Paul and Silas was to pray and sing praises to God until there was an earthquake which leveled the prison.
After suffering such a beating, one might be a little timid to proclaim the controversial gospel. Would Paul take a break for a while? Would he be more careful about offending the sensitive feelings of the wicked and powerful? Such was not Paul's style. He knew only one way to work and that was "full speed ahead." Hence, he admits that he was not careful to avoid ruffling feathers, 'even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God' (v. 4).
"When in Paul's life did he waver from that attitude? When did he ask odds of a world pouring out scorn and physical abuse? When did he show an ounce of self-doubt about his calling? Paul was a thinking, functioning, productive person. There can be no reasonable question about his sanity. So one studying him must face a life that points to the visions motivating and sustaining him. This feat was accomplished in a world where he and his fellow apostles could rarely meet to sustain each other. His leadership was the leadership of the Lord, who called and directed him. He knew that past persecutions would be repeated. 'We told you before,' he reminded the Thessalonians, 'that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know' ("1 Thes. 3:41 Thes. 3:4, NKJB). That was the apostles' calling, as the Savior told the original Twelve. Their total sincerity is written in their willing suffering for the truth." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 76 - 77.)
1 Thes. 2:2 to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention
Based on this scripture, one might think that Paul preached in a contentious manner. However, the word contend can have a positive or a negative connotation. Paul knew how to contend for the faith without being contentious.
"One definition of contend is 'to assert or to maintain in argument.' It seems to be this meaning that the Lord used in a modern revelation: 'Contend thou, therefore, morning by morning; and day after day let thy warning voice go forth' (D&C 112:5). Likewise, this meaning may be inferred when Jude admonishes us to 'earnestly contend for the faith' (1:3) or when Paul says he was bold 'to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention' (1 Thes. 2:2). Similarly, the command to 'contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil' (D&C 18:20) may be read in this context." (Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Fourth Nephi through Moroni: From Zion to Destruction [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1995], 168.)
1 Thes. 2:6 we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ
"Does the phrase 'apostles of Christ' include Silas? We have seen that Barnabas and Paul were called apostles on the first mission, after Barnabas came from the Twelve to direct the Antioch Gentiles. Silas likewise started the second mission after coming to Antioch from the Twelve with the Jerusalem council decision and could have been ordained an apostle." (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 73.)
1 Thes. 2:8 we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls
Carlos E. Asay
"'we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.'
"This is a tender statement. In it, Paul expresses a love for the Saints in Thessalonica that is deep and abiding. His love apparently reached the point that he loved the people as much or more than himself. Little wonder they responded so well to his instructions!" (The Seven M's of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 4)
Carlos E. Asay
"Paul spoke of affectionate desire and a willingness to give all (1 Thessalonians 2:8); Alma recognized the worth of souls and a desire to cry repentance (Alma 29)...These scriptural accounts and others testify of a spirit-real, powerful, and compelling-that leads us to reach outward in preaching, teaching, and service. Such influences, combined as one, might be referred to as the spirit of one's calling." (In the Lord's Service: A Guide to Spiritual Development [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 31.)
1 Thes. 2:10 ye are witnesses...how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you
"In each of the forementioned branches of the Church, and especially in Thessalonica, Corinth, and Galatia, there appears to have been a strong contingent of members who opposed Paul and his teachings. They seemed to have severely questioned his authority as an apostle, defamed his character, impugned his motives as an honest man, and in general to have sought to discredit his accomplishments. As a consequence Paul's letters are replete with declarations about the reality of his calling as an apostle see Gal. 1:1-24; 1 Cor. 9:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:1-11); reiterations of his circumspect behavior-that he labored with his own hands for financial support so as not to be a burden to the saints (see 1 Cor. 9:11-19; 1 Thes. 2:5-9; 2 Cor. 11:6-9; Acts 20:33-35); and the fact that he labored incessantly, under great physical and emotional handicaps, even enduring persecution in order to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people (see 2 Cor. 11:24-33; 2 Cor. 12:1-11)." (Robert J. Matthews, "St. Paul Writes about the Church," New Era, Apr. 1977, 35)
1 Thes. 2:11 we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children
"Although we know the scripture says, 'Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it' (Prov. 22:6), we wonder sometimes what is happening to our children with all the training we give them. But as they mature, children tend to fall back on the ways of their parents, even though they sometimes stray a little as youngsters. Good teaching by parents may not bear its real fruit until the children are mature...
"Paul delineated a parental pitfall when he commented that there were in the church 'ten thousand instructors,' but not many 'fathers.' (1 Cor. 4: 15.) The need, therefore, is not for parents who merely give facts, but for fathers who comfort and exhort 'as a father doth his children.' (1 Thes. 2:11.)
"Furthermore, Paul was calling for gentleness in correcting children when he said: 'Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged' (Col. 3:21), 'but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord' (Eph. 6:4), for 'the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle ... , apt to teach, patient' (2 Tim. 2:24)." (Robert J. Matthews, "What the Scriptures Say about Rearing Children," Ensign, Dec. 1972, 35)
1 Thes. 2:18 we would have come unto you...but Satan hindered us
Satan works hard to discourage missionaries, especially right before they are about to make real progress in the work. Parley P. Pratt felt Satan's hindering power as he arrived in England in 1840:
"...through the mercy of God, we have been enabled to fulfil His commands thus far, and have accomplished a journey of five thousand miles under circumstances which would have discouraged any except such as were upheld by the arm of Jehovah.
"When we take into consideration the persecution, imprisonment, and banishment, together with the robbing and plundering which has been inflicted upon our people in the West, and the consequent sickness, poverty, and distress to which ourselves, families and friends were reduced, previous to our undertaking this mission-when we consider that it has been opposed by persecution, sword, flame, dungeons, chains, sickness, hunger, thirst, poverty, by death and hell, by men and devils, and all the combined powers of darkness-it would have been no marvel, if, like Paul, we had failed to accomplish the mission at present, and had addressed an epistle to the Church in England, saying, 'We would have come unto you once and again, but Satan hindered us.'
"But this could not take place with us, as it did with Paul, because our mission to Europe was by express command of the Almighty, and therefore it had to be accomplished in spite of men and devils.
"One might suppose, from the opposition that it met with, that Satan was aware that if once accomplished, it would result in the ultimate overthrow of his kingdom, and the enlargement of the kingdom of God-which may God grant for Christ's sake." (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, edited by his son, Parley P. Pratt [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 263.)