1 Thessalonians 3 - Spiritual Steroids
Reading the Bible today is one of the primary ways God strengthens your heart.
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1 Thessalonians 3 (ESV)
1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer,
we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone,
2 and we sent Timothy,
and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ,
to establish and exhort you in your faith,
3 that no one be moved by these afflictions.
For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.
4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction,
just as it has come to pass,
and just as you know.
5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer,
I sent to learn about your faith,
for fear that somehow
the tempter had tempted you
and our labor would be in vain.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you,
and has brought us the good news of your faith and love
and reported that you
always remember us kindly
and long to see us, as we long to see you—
7 for this reason, brothers,
in all our distress and affliction
we have been comforted about you through your faith.
8 For now we live,
if you are standing fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you,
for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,
10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
11 Now may
our God and Father himself,
and our Lord Jesus,
direct our way to you,
12 and may the Lord make you
increase and abound in love
for one another
and for all,
as we do for you,
13 so that he may
establish your hearts
blameless in holiness before our God and Father,
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
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1 Thessalonians 3 Summary
Paul is writing to the Thessalonians from prison in Athens. Imagine how difficult it was for him, who had planted dozens of churches all over the Roman empire, to not really know how things were going in those churches in which he had invested his blood, sweat and tears. There were no phone calls for advice, Facebook posts with pictures of baptisms and other celebrations, or any other communications. Finally Paul can no longer stand the silence in v5, so he asked for Pastor Timothy to come back with a report on how the Thessalonian church was doing.
After Paul hears Pastor Timothy's good report, it wouldn't be surprising to read of him celebrating a bit, and then moving on to the next project knowing the Thessalonians were doing well. But that's not what he does.
After thanking God for the good news (v9) and he continues to pray even harder for them (v10). An example of how Paul prayed is given in the benediction in v11-13. The point: it's good to celebrate victories God gives the Church, but we must always keep our heads down in prayer and labor for God's people that we will be equipped to face the trials that will come.
Most people often feel pushed around by the chaos and pressures life throws at us. We get a bit of personal insight into Paul's life here in this chapter, and we can see the stress he experienced not knowing how things were going on a day to day basis for the churches he loved so much.
So it makes sense that his prayer for the Thessalonians was that God would establish (NIV: strengthen) their hearts (v13). It's interesting that Paul doesn't implore God to take away the storms and stresses of life, but rather that our faith be strengthened to stand firm regardless of our outward circumstances.
It's also interesting to see the means by which God will answer this prayer. It was through the sending of a preacher, Pastor Timot