For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? (1 Thessalonians 2:19 -- ESV) Three things mentioned here... "hope" ... "joy" ... "crown of boasting" ... Hope - What does Paul have his sights set on? Joy - What is it that brings Paul joy? Crown of Boasting - That Olympic Wreath of Glory that is placed on his head? It is these people. It is his children in the faith. They are Paul's Hope and Joy and Crown of Glory when Jesus returns.
For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:20 - ESV) Short and sweet verse at the end of chapter 2. Paul wants the new Christians in Thessalonica to know that ... in the end ... the thing that will lift him up the most and bring him the most joy
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, (1 Thessalonians 2:17 - ESV) "... we were torn away from you ..." If you go back to Acts 17:1-10, you can read about the quick departure from Thessalonica. But Paul wants them to know that the separation is only physical, he is still with them in heart and has a strong desire to return to them. His desire is to see them "face to face"... What is interesting though, is that this is the first letter of Paul's. Paul has discovered a new way of ministry. Paul has had to adjust his preferred ministry, but we have all benefited from this new process of teaching to those that he cannot see face-to-face. This benefit has stretched through the centuries and has served to fulfill God's purposes of spreading the gospel to every nation on earth.