How did Satan hinder Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:18?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18). How did Satan repeatedly “hinder” Paul from returning to Thessalonica? We will see what the Scriptures say.

We find the key in the book of Acts. In chapter 17, the first nine verses, we read about Paul’s first visit to Thessalonica: “[1] Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: [2] And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, [3] Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. [4] And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. [5] But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. [6] And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; [7] Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. [8] And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. [9] And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go.”

As the Bible says above, Paul entered the synagogue of the Jews in Thessalonica and he reasoned with them out of the Scriptures for three Sabbath days. He used the Old Testament Scriptures to show these unbelieving Jews that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah/Christ, the Person whom they had rejected some 20 years earlier. The Bible says that some of them believed those sermons that Paul preached. Many of the religious Greeks and many chief women came to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour there in Thessalonica. There were some great evangelistic meetings and many were saved from death and hell! But, of course, wherever God is working mightily, the Devil will come along and do everything he can to hamper and spoil it.

A number of unbelieving Jews assembled a company of very wicked men in Thessalonica. These people stirred up the city and they assaulted Jason’s house (where the local church was meeting, evidently). When this mob could not locate Paul and his ministry companions, they dragged Jason and other Christians to the city rulers. In these legal proceedings, the mob accused Jason of receiving the Apostle Paul and his ministry companions, people who the mob claimed were teaching and preaching that they should rebel against Roman Emperor Caesar and accept Jesus as King.

Upon hearing this news, the city leaders were greatly troubled. They “took security” of Jason and the other and then let them go. The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away into the nearby city of Berea. Satan hindered Paul from visiting Thessalonica again by using a corrupt local government that legally banned them from entering the city. This is quite easily understood. Even today, Satan uses government officials around the world to pass anti-Christian laws, teach anti-Bible information, malign Christians, persecute Christians, and kill Christians. Paul could not legally enter the city of Thessalonica anymore. The Apostle says that on numerous occasions he was hindered from ministering to the Thessalonian believers. In Romans 1:13, we learn that Paul was often hindered from reaching the believers in Rome. While the manner of hindering concerning Rome was unknown, Satan was definitely involved in some way. In fact, the very reason why Paul died was because he was preaching Christianity—an illegal religion in the Roman Empire. He was imprisoned as an “evildoer” (2 Timothy 2:9) and was finally put to death because of his Christian testimony and extensive ministry endeavors to spread Christianity all around the then-known world.

By the way, in the Old Testament Scriptures, we find another example of how Satan used a corrupt human government to hinder God’s work. This is an instance of Satan working in Israel’s program. Daniel was praying for understanding about spiritual matters (prophecy), and the Angel Gabriel finally showed up—three weeks later—with instruction. Gabriel explains why he was delayed in Daniel 10:12-13,20: “[12] Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. [13] But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. [20] Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.”

The Angel Gabriel was hindered for 21 days before he was able to reach the Prophet Daniel with divine enlightenment. Satan’s minions—the kings of Persia and the prince of Persia—were working in tandem with Satan to prevent Gabriel from coming to give Daniel spiritual insight. Michael the Archangel had to use his great military strength to help Gabriel reach his destination! (It is interesting to note that no angels helped Paul during his run-ins with the evil governments of this world. See, dear friends, angels do not have a ministry to us. They play a very integral role in Israel’s program, but not in our mystery program.)

Also see:
» How does Satan operate today?

» What does “my kingdom is not of this world” mean?
» Where in the Bible did God give Satan dominion over the Earth?