to Strengthen the Believers in Afflictions (3:1-5)
Prayer for Reunion (3:11-13)
Taken away, not
in heart, endeavored more eagerly, great desire, hope, joy, crown of rejoicing,
at His coming, glory, could no longer endure it, establish, encourage, faith,
afflictions, appointed, comforted, now we live, stand fast in the Lord, thanks,
night and day praying exceedingly, love, establish your hearts blameless in
1. The first
paragraph speaks of Satan’s hindrance of Paul from coming back to the
Thessalonians, whereas the last paragraph is Paul’s prayer to the Lord Jesus to
direct his way to the Thessalonians.
affection and longing.
2b. Taken away,
not in heart, endeavored more eagerly, great desire, time and again, hope, joy,
crown of rejoicing, could no longer endure it, comforted, now we live, all the
joy, night and day praying exceedingly.
1. The physical
separation cannot take away the deep affection in Paul’s heart for the
believers because he truly loves them. Because his heart is with them, he still
tries everything possible to minister to their needs even though he cannot be
2a. As a minister of the gospel, Paul’s hope is to see the
believers “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ” (19). If the believers
stand firm in the faith until the coming of the Lord, that will be his greatest
joy, victory, and glory, for his labor will not have been in vain.
3. Paul was
concerned that the faith of the Thessalonians might be shaken by afflictions or
4. Establish and
encourage the Thessalonians concerning their faith (2).
5. When a person
undergoes trials, it is easy for him to lose heart and be defeated if he is
fighting alone. In times like these, a helping hand becomes critical (cf. Ecc 4:9-12). As members of Christ’s body, we need to show
empathy to those members who are suffering, as if their suffering is our own
(Rom 12:15; 1Cor 12:25-26). Out of our concern for their faith, we ought to
encourage them with the word of God and testimonies about God’s grace in our
afflictions. Furthermore, we need to pray for their faith and ask for God’s
protection. Such concern, encouragement, and prayer will fortify and even
restore their faith (cf. Lk 22:31-32).
6. If a Christian
has the false assumption that his walk of faith will be trouble-free, he is
bound to be caught by surprise when afflictions come. Worse yet, he may reject
the faith, unable to accept the fact that sufferings do come upon believers.
The Scriptures tell us in many places that, as believers, we are bound to
suffer (Jn 15:18-16:4,33;
Acts 14:22; 1Thess 3:3; 2Tim 3:12; Rev 12:7-13). With this knowledge, we can be
prepared to face afflictions and not be caught by surprise (1Pet 4:12-13). When
afflictions actually come in our lives, we can rejoice, knowing that our
sufferings are accomplishing a greater purpose because they make us spiritually
mature (Rom 5:1-5; Jas 1:2-4,12). We can also have the
assurance and peace in Christ, knowing that He has overcome the world and will
see us through our sufferings (Jn 16:33; 1Cor 10:13).
7. Judging from
the context, we know that the tempter, Satan, hopes to unsettle the faith of
the believers. He may do so by discouraging the believers during their trials,
or inciting the enemies of the gospel to spread false rumors about Paul and his
co-workers in order to make the believers doubt the truth of the gospel (this
would explain why Paul vindicated himself and his fellow workers in chapter 2).
8. If the people
we minister to fail in their faith, our labor would be in vain. Although the
Lord will still remember our efforts, it would be a great disappointment to see
believers we have preached to forsake the faith. Because failure in faith is
such a real possibility, we must work hard to minister to the believers
continually. We cannot become complacent when people are converted, but must
make every effort to help them grow in their faith.
Thessalonians have kept their faith and love, and always have good remembrance
of the missionaries, greatly desiring to see them (6).
9b. He was
comforted in all his affliction and distress (6).
ministers’ joy and hope rest on the progress of the believers, and the
believers’ faith is the very reason the preachers live (cf. Php
1:25-26). Therefore, whether the believers succeed or fail will touch the lives
of the ministers profoundly. If they stand fast in the Lord, the preachers’ joy
and hope will be refreshed and revived.
11a. He thanks
God for all the joy with which he rejoices for the believers’ sake (9).
11b. When we see the fruits of our labor, we ought to give thanks
to God because it is He who gives the growth.
12a. He prays
that he may see the believers’ face and perfect what is lacking in their faith
12b. He prays
night and day (continually) and exceedingly (most earnestly).
13. He hopes to
help them grow in the faith.
14. 1. That God the Father and the Lord Jesus
Christ may direct their way to the believers (11).
2. That the Lord may make the
believers increase and abound in love to one another and to all (12).
3. That the Lord may establish the
believers’ hearts blameless in holiness before God at the coming of the Lord
Jesus Christ with all His saints (13).
15. It is the
Lord who makes us increase and abound in love, and it is He who establishes our
hearts blameless in holiness before God. Thus, we must continue to put our
faith in the Lord and ask Him to accomplish His good purpose in us.