Paul longs to see the believers in Thessaloniki once again. Timothy gives an encouraging report about them. Paul prays for them. [UPDATED]
VERSE 1. Therefore when we couldn’t stand it any longer, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone,
when we couldn’t stand it any longer. Their desire to hear from the believers was very, very strong. We will see in verse 10 (below) that they were praying about this, night and day, beyond measure.
VERSE 2. and sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in the Good News of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith,
and sent Timothy. This was a sacrifice, not only for Timothy, who must travel alone. In those days travel was grueling and dangerous. But it was also a sacrifice for Paul and Silas, who must forge ahead without the benefit of Timothy being with them.
God’s servant in the good news of Christ. Note that Timothy is not described as a servant of God. Rather, he is described as a servant of Jesus Christ. This shows us the nature of Christian spirituality and ministry. It is not “theocentric,” per se. Rather, it is “Christocentric.” What do those words mean?
Theocentric. This means “centered on God.” We Christians are indeed centered on God (or at least we wish to be). We share that with Jews and Muslims and Christians everywhere.
Christocentric. This means “centered on Jesus Christ.” Our faith in Jesus Christ makes us messengers of Jesus Christ. This is the real focus of a Christian.
to comfort you concerning your faith. They helped the believers be firm and strong in their faith. They strengthened them.
VERSE 3. that no one would be moved by these afflictions. For you know that we are appointed to this task.
these afflictions. That is, being persecuted. Paul sent Timothy, just to be sure that their persecutions didn’t unsettle their faith.
VERSE 4. For most certainly, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction, even as it happened, and you know.
we are to suffer affliction. For the believer, trouble is inevitable. Godly people are always persecuted. The tells us this:
Sirach 2:4. Accept whatever is brought upon you, And be patient when you suffer humiliation.
Sirach 40:1. Great travail is created for every man, And a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, From the day of their coming forth from their mother’s womb, Until the day for their burial in the mother of all things.
John 16:33. I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have oppression; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.
1 Thessalonians 3:4. For most certainly, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction, even as it happened, and you know.
VERSE 5. For this cause I also, when I couldn’t stand it any longer, sent that I might know your faith, for fear that by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor would have been in vain.
when I couldn’t stand it any longer. Paul couldn’t wait any longer.
our labor would have been in vain. Paul was concerned that all their work may have been wasted.
To invest in another person, or a group of people, is a huge investment. You give a very substantial part of your life to them. You don’t want to see that huge investment destroyed or squandered.
It is important to chose carefully who it is that you will invest in.
VERSE 6. But when Timothy came just now to us from you, and brought us glad news of your faith and love, and that you have good memories of us always, longing to see us, even as we also long to see you,
VERSE 7. for this cause, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith.
we were comforted. What Paul was looking for was the condition of their faith in Christ. He wanted to be sure his “children” were strong in the truth of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:14. I don’t write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children.
Galatians 4:19. My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ is formed in you—
Philipplians 2:22. But you know the proof of him, that as a child serves a father, so he served with me in furtherance of the Good News.
1 Thessalonians 3:7. for this cause, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith.
3 John 1:4. I have no greater joy than this: to hear about my children walking in truth.
For now we live. It is as if Paul had been holding his breath, eagerly waiting to find out how the believers were doing. Now that he’s received the news, he can breath again.
This is how important the disciple-learners are to the discipler-teacher. It is much more than “comfort.” Rather, their wellbeing is the lifeblood of the true discipler-teacher.
if you stand fast in the Lord. Paul is celebrating that they have not forsaken Jesus Christ.
VERSE 9. For what thanksgiving can we render again to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sakes before our God,
what thanksgiving can we render again to God for you. Paul cannot thank God enough for how well they are doing.
VERSE 10. night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
praying exceedingly that we may see your face. Night and day they prayed beyond measure, to be able to come see them in-person. This indicates a great deal of affection.
perfect that which is lacking in your faith. Paul wanted to help strengthen their faith even further. This does not imply that he was going to rebuke them for shortcomings.
Rather, we believers have a constant need to be told the essential truths of the faith, over and over again.
1 Thessalonians 3:10. night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
1 Thessalonians 5:1. But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you.
2 Peter 1:12. Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth.
2 Peter 3:1. This is now, beloved, the second letter that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you,
direct our way. Paul is still asking God to “make a way” to come back to Thessaloniki.
In our own lives, its OK to ask God to “make a way” for whatever it is that’s on our heart. If our desire is of God, he will “make a way.”
VERSE 12. May the Lord make you to increase and abound in love toward one another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you,
increase … in love. Even for the mature believer, there is still room to grow in the ways of selfless love for others.
abound in love. Paul does not ask God to give them “modest incremental growth.” Rather, Paul dares to ask God for a very great thing: that their selfless love increase to the fullest measure.
one toward another. The Christian’s selfless love for others begins with fellow believers.
and toward all men. Then the Christian’s selfless love expands to all people everywhere. Jesus often spoke of loving everyone, even our enemies.
even as we also do toward you. Paul indicates that his love for the Thessalonians was a selfless, perfected, godly love. To be at that point is the goal for us.
VERSE 13. to the end he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
at the coming of our Lord Jesus. This is another reference to the triumphal return of Jesus Christ in glory, at the End of Days.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.