WHEN OTHERS CARED FOR YOU
1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13 December 28 2008
The missionaries who preached in Thessalonica included
the apostle Paul plus Silas and Timothy. Their next stop had
been Beroea, but Paul alone had fled from there and found
himself in Athens (Acts 17:13-15). While he was waiting for
Timothy to join him, the Athenian philosophers and religious
leaders invited him to address them. (Acts 17:22- 31) records
Paul’s famous "Mars Hill" speech, When Timothy arrived in
Athens, he naturally brought Paul up to date on the
Timothy’s news caused Paul some anxiety. He felt it urgent
to send Tjmothy back to Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:2). Paul then
traveled from Athens to Corinth by himself, where he once
again busied himself as a church planter (Acts 18:1). Surely
there was great rejoicing when Timothy and Silas finally
reconnected with Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess. 3:6). The
verses of this week’s study give Paul’s review of this travel
schedule. He did this to remind the Thessalonians of all the
steps he had taken to demonstrate the depth of his concern
for them.Moreover, composing and then sending them this
letter-possibly by Timothy-was an added means of showing
he truly cared.
1. Personal Words (1 Thess. 2:17-20)
1Thess. 2:17 But, brothers, when we were torn away from you
for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense
longing we made every effort to see you. 2:18 For we wanted
to come to you —certainly I, Paul, did, again and again —but
Satan stopped us. 2:19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the
crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus
when he comes? Is it not you? 2:20 Indeed, you are our glory
Torn away . Lit . “orphaned.” Paul is like a mother
(1 Thess.2:7), a father (1 Thess.2:11) and now an orphan. Crown .
Not a royal crown, but a wreath used on festive occasions or as
the prize in the Greek games. When He comes. The expression
was used regarding the arrival of a great person, as on a royal
visit. You are our Glory and Joy . True both now ( Php 4:1) and
when Christ returns.
2. Encouraging People (1 Thess. 3:1-5)
1Thess. 3:1 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought
it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 3:2 We sent
Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in
spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage
you in your faith, 3:3 so that no one would be unsettled by
these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for
them. 3:4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling
you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way,
as you well know. 3:5 For this reason, when I could stand
it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid
that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and
our efforts might have been useless.
(1 Thess.3:1-2) Paul first went to Athens alone, then sent
to Berea for Silas and Timothy (Acts 17:14-15). It is not clear
whether Silas, as instructed (Acts 17:15), came to Athens
with Timothy. However, when Timothy later returned from
Thessalonica to Paul, who was now at Corinth, Silas came with
him (Acts 18:5). See Introduction: Background of the
Thessalonian Letters. (1 Thess 3:1) WE. An editorial “we,”
referring to Paul alone. God’s fellow worker . A striking way of
viewing Christian service, found also in (1Cor 3:9) . Gospel of
Christ.( 1 Thess 1:5; Mark 1:1). Strengthen . In Greek classical
literature the word was generally used in the literal sense of
putting a buttress on a building. In the NT it is mainly used
figuratively, as here.
Trials . The opposition and persecution suffered by the
Thessalonian converts. Christians must expect troubles
( Mark 4:17; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2Tim 3:12; 1Peter 4:12),
but these are not disasters, for they advance God’s purposes
(Acts 11:19; Romans 5:3; 2Cor 1:4; 4:17). I. Paul uses the
Greek emphatic pronoun (elsewhere used only in 1 Thess. 2:18)
to bring out his deep concern. Tempter . Satan is spoken of in
every major division of the NT. He is supreme among evil
spirits (John 16:11; Eph 2:2). His activities can affect the
physical (2Cor 12:7) and the spiritual (Matt 13:39; Mark 4:15;
2Cor 4:4). He tempted Jesus (Matt 4:1-11), and he continues
to tempt Jesus’ servants (Luke 22:3; 1Cor 7:5). He hinders
missionary work (1 Thess 2:18). But he has already been
defeated ( Col 2:15), and Christians need not be overwhelmed
by him (Eph 6:16). His final overthrow is certain (Rev 20:10).
3. Affirming Words (1 Thess. 3:6-10)
1Thess. 3:6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you
and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has
told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and
that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 3:7
Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we
were encouraged about you because of your faith. 3:8 For
now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.
3:9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all
the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?
3:10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see
you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
Brought good news. The only place where the Greek for
this phrase is used by Paul for anything other than the gospel.
Three things caused him joy: (1) “your faith ”—a right attitude
toward God; (2) “your. . . love ”—a right attitude toward man;
(3) “you long to see us ”—a right attitude toward Paul.
Thank God . The preceding shows that Paul’s work of
evangelism had been effective. He might have congratulated
himself on work well done, but instead he thanked God for the
joy he had from what God had done. Night and day . Not prayer
at two set times, but frequent prayer (1 Thess.1:2-3). Most
Earnestly . Translates a strong and unusual Greek compound
word (found elsewhere in the NT only in 1 Thess.5:13; Eph 3:20)
that brings out Paul’s passionate longing. What is lacking .
Some of the things lacking were of a practical nature, such as
moral (1 Thess. 4:1-12) and disciplinary matters
(1 Thess.5:12-24). Others were doctrinal, such as confusion
over Christ’s return (1 Thess. 4:13-5:11). Your Faith . The
fifth time in the chapter that Paul speaks of their faith
(1 Thess 3:2,5-7).
4. Loving Prayers (1 Thess. 3:11-13)
1Ths. 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself and our
Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 3:12 May
the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each
other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 3:13
May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless
and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord
Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
In the middle of a letter Paul frequently breaks into
prayer ( Eph 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Php 1:9-11; Col 1:9-12). For
the link between Father and Son (1 Thess. 1:1). The Lord . In
Paul’s writings this usually means Jesus rather than the
Father. Strengthen . ( 1 Thess 3: 2. Holy . The basic idea is
“set apart [for God].” Here it refers to the completed
process of sanctification 1Cor 1:2). Holy ones . Used of the
saints (Christians) in many NT passages. Here it may mean
the departed saints who will return with Jesus, or it may
mean the angels or, probably, both.
Timothy was an encourager. The Thessalonians certainly
knew him well in that role.
1. The Thessalonians must have first learned about
Timothy through his personal testimony. He surely told them
about his background and how Paul chose him, though a young
believer, to go on his church-planting travels (Acts 16:1-3).
2. The Thessalonians next came to know and admire
Timothy for his steadfastness in the face of persecution when
their church was started (Acts 17: 1-9).
3. The Thessalonians later welcomed Timothy as Paul’s
ambassador, sent to them from Athens to encourage them
(1 Thess. 3:2).
4. They finally knew Timothy as one standing alongside
Paul in Corinth, from which the apostle wrote two letters to
Thessalonica. Both letters included Timothy in the greeting
(1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1).
Whether Timothy ever saw the Thessalonians after this
is not stated in the Bible. We do know that later on, Timothy
encouraged the apostle Paul. The last letter Paul ever wrote
was 2 Timothy. Throughout it, Paul poured out his soul about
how much his dear friend truly encouraged him
(2 Tim. 1:2-5; 2:1; 3:10; 4:9).