1 Thessalonians Chapter Three
I. Content of the Chapter
A Model Worker Who Cares for the Church
A. Who sends his fellow workers to establish the church (v.1-5):
1. The reason for sending the fellow workers
2. The purpose of sending the fellow workers (v.2b-4);
3. He is afraid that believers are deceived by the devil (v.6-13);
B. Whose response after hearing the condition of the church (v.6-13):
1. The fellow workers reported the good news (v.6);
2. Be comforted and give thanks to God (v.7-9):
a.Be comforted in all affliction and distress (v.7);
b.Live due to believers’ standing fast in the Lord (v.8);
c. Rejoice and thank God for the conditions of believers (v.9);
3. Pray exceedingly to God (v.10-13):
a.Long to see believers’ face and perfect what is lacking in their faith (v.10-11);
b.May the Lord make them increase and abound in love (v.12);
c. May believers blameless in holiness at the coming of our Lord (v.13);
II. Verse by Verse commentary
1Thess. 3:1 “Therefore, when we could
no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in
YLT: “Wherefore no longer
forbearing, we thought good to be left in
Meaning of Words: “endure”: roof over, cover with silence, suffer, bear; “be left”: leave, reserve, forsake;
Literal Meaning: “when we could no longer endure it”, “we” refer to Paul, Silvanus and Timotheus (see 1:1), but actually, here it refer to Paul himself (see v.5, “I could no longer endure it”). Paul mentioned that he affectionately longed for the Thessalonians and yet could not go to them personally (see 2:17-20). “Could no longer endure”, could not restrain one’s internal feeling; Paul was afraid the believers in Thessalonica who were young in spiritual life were unable to stand firm in persecutions.
thought it good to be left in
“Be left”, it in the original carries the meaning of solitude and yearning and expectation after one is separated from those who are very close to him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The mind of Paul at that time could not be understood by those who really love believers and yet are unable to be with them. To those who serve for wages in the church, they care for their own lives only. How are they concerned about the sheep (John 10:12-13)?
2) No matter what environment it is, the servants of the Lord shall not forsake the Lord’s flock. When those who serve God live in the flesh, they live for others (Phil. 1:22-24).
3) Christian shall endure, for he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matt. 24:13). And Christian shall also “no longer endure”. Whether endure or not endure is decided by the nature of everything.
4) We shall endure unto the end in spite of our own benefit or things in the world. However, for the sake of God and the profit of others, we shall no longer endure so that we will be used by God.
5) Sometimes, though we have to “wait alone” in other place because of the arrangement of God in our circumstance, we can still do our part in prayer ---- the crowd pressing on me daily, the burden of all the assemblies (2Cor. 11:28).
1Thess. 3:2 “and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,”
YLT: “and did send Timotheus -- our brother, and a ministrant of God, and our fellow-workman in the good news of the Christ -- to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith,”
Meaning of Words: “minister”: steward, servant, waiter; “establish”: strengthen, steadfastly set; “encourage”: call near, comfort, invite;
Literal Meaning: “and sent Timothy, our brother”, “our brother”, it shows that they have close relationship in life.
“And minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ”, “in the gospel of Christ”, it means that his chief mission is the preachment of Christ’s gospel. “Minister of God”, it refers to the title of his works. Paul so seriously mentions the responsibility of Timothy so as to remind the Thessalonians not to despise the youth of Timothy (see 1Tim. 4:12).
“Minister” contains the meaning of steward and fiduciary, which suggests the close relationship of God’s servants with Him. In some old scriptures, “minister of God” is copied as “the fellow worker of God”. In fact, the minister of God is the fellow worker of God (1Cor. 3:9; 2Cor. 6:1).
“To establish you and encourage you concerning your faith”, “establish”, it in the original means buttressing the building. And the symbolic meaning of this word is applied in the New Testament. “Your faith” (see v.5, 6, 7, 10): according to the context in which the same word “faith” appears, it (“faith”) carries at least the following three meanings: 1) the faith in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His redemption when one is saved (John 20:31; 1Cor. 15:2-4); 2) one believers on God and His word after he is saved (2Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:6; Rev. 22:6); 3) hold fast the form of sound words (2Tim. 1:13-14).
“Establish… comfort”, it indicates that the “minister of God in the gospel of Christ” shall not only preach the gospel to lead men to believe the Lord but also establish and comfort believers that have received the gospel.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Timothy is indeed the right person to help Paul to establish the church, for: 1) he is humble to receiving “sending”; 2) he is “our brother”, a man in the Lord; 3) he is God’s minister, who does not fear to labor or toil; 4) he is the “fellow worker”, who does not draw men to follow him by showing off himself.
2) The content of Christ’s gospel ---- the redemption ---- is accomplished by Christ alone. However, the preachment of the gospel needs many people who are ready to be used by God to cooperate with Him.
3) It is rather important to preach the gospel and lead men to the Lord. And the establishment of their faith afterwards is also indispensable.
4) There are two common mistakes that Christians often make: 1) they are zealous in preaching the gospel, but pay little attention to feed believers who have just been favored; 2) they are unwilling to practically care for or establish the young believers around them on the pretext of committing them to God.
5) God shall never use one who is not steadfast himself to establish others. If we long to be used by God, we shall seek earnestly and be firstly established.
6) Paul not only cares for the church in his heart but also sends men to go to help the church. The common mistake that preachers have made is “paying lip service without taking any action”.
1Thess. 3:3 “that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.”
YLT: “that no one be moved in these tribulations, for yourselves have known that for this we are set,”
Meaning of Words: “shaken”: wag, move, be drawn aside; “appointed”: lay, be laid up, be set, lie outstretched;
Literal Meaning: “that no one should be shaken by these afflictions”, “afflictions” refer to the persecutions
and troubles that the Thessalonians are faced with (see Mark. 4:17; John 16:33;
Acts 14:22; 2Tim. 3:12; 1Pet. 4:12). However these difficulties are not
disasters, for they have fulfilled the counsel of God (see Acts 11:19;
“For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this”, Christians are appointed to suffer afflictions (Matt. 17; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2Tim. 3:12; 1Pet. 4:12). In other words, tribulations are the portion appointed by God to us. In order to fulfill the counsel of God, He puts us in afflictions.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Afflictions not only may make believers physically pain but also produce another worry, that is, the faith of someone may be moved because of afflictions.
2) Only those who are not steadfast in faith will be moved by afflictions (see v.2).
3) Indeed, the wicked one schemes to shake the faith of believers by afflictions (see v.5), and yet the affliction is also a tool appointed by God the Father to edify believers.
4) All the trials and temptations in our Christian life are not by chance ---- they are appointed. To common Christians, afflictions are our “normal” experience, and are “unavoidable” (see v.4).
5) In fact, tribulations may prove the reality of believers’ faith and are the pledge of our coming glory (see Acts 14:22; Rom. 8:17-18; 2Tim. 2:12).
6) Many times we have not overcome in afflictions. Actually, it is not because we have no power to overcome afflictions, but that we have not attached importance to them. therefore, they will lose will to fight and complain and take the consequences
7) If we firmly believe that afflictions are the necessary experience of godly Christians, we will prepare our heart. No matter what affliction get to us, we will be enabled to overcome it by the Lord.
8) Afflictions for Christians are appointed for reasons as follows: 1) since we are not of the world, we will be hated by the world (John 15:19). 2) Not only does Satan scheme to gain us by afflictions, but also God is appointed to gain us through afflictions.
9) The scheme of the devil is to make men allow temporary afflictions and enter into eternal pain. However, God’s will is to let us experience transient afflictions and thus enjoy eternal glory (2Cor. 4:16-17).
10) If believers have the mind of suffering of the Lord (Phil. 1:19), they will be stumbled by nothing. Afflictions can not shake the faith of true believers and yet will establish them (Rom. 8:36-39; 2Tim. 2:11-13).
11) If we are established in faith (v.2), afflictions will profit us according to the will of God (Rom. 8:27-28). Otherwise, we will be drawn aside by “the tempter” (v.5) through afflictions.
12) Since the word “shaken” in the original means “flatter” or “fawn on”, we may think that Satan may not shake our faith through afflictions only and it may also sometimes flatter believers to lead them astray.
1Thess. 3:4 “For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.”
YLT: “for even when we were with you, we said to you beforehand, that we are about to suffer tribulation, as also it did come to pass, and ye have known [it];”
Literal Meaning: “we told you before”, the tense in the original is progressive tense, which shows that Paul tells them repeatedly.
“When we were with you that we would suffer tribulation”, it indicates that the afflictions of believers are not unexpected.
“Just as it happened”, see Acts 17:4-9;
“And you know”, Paul mentions “you know” in chapter one to three (see 1:5; 2:2, 5, 11) again and again. Therefore, the three chapters are just recounting things in the past.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Some preachers and believers are prepossessed by a bias, that is, they hold believers are suggested to talk about only “positive” things in the church and shrink from discussing “passive” things. However, Paul told the Thessalonians that believers would suffer afflictions. Many negatives are recorded in the Scriptures, which occupy one third of the whole book.
2) We shall warn those who have just believed the Lord that this is not an easy way when they desire to live to the Lord. Otherwise, when trials come, these babies in Christ will be discouraged and distressed.
3) A truly faithful servant of the Lord not only has spiritual insight, but is also able to address timely warnings against the crisis that the church may be faced with. A truly wise believer will surely receive the warnings of the Lord’s servants humbly and study the spiritual experiences from others.
4) What great encouragement and comfort it is, if in the afflictions we have truly known that the sufferings are according to the will of God and for the sake of Christ.
1Thess. 3:5 “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.”
YLT: “because of this also, I, no longer forbearing, did send to know your faith, lest he who is tempting did tempt you, and in vain might be our labour.”
Literal Meaning: “for this reason, when I could no longer endure it”, “I” in the original is singular and emphatic in the original. Paul here emphasizes his deep concern for the church in Thessalonica. “Could no longer endure”, it is mentioned for the second time (see v.1), which shows that he is anxious about them (2Cor. 11:29).
“To know your faith”, “faith”, it is the beginning of salvation as well as the foundation of Christians’ life. If the faith of Christians goes wrong, they will become cold and backward and will be stumbled.
“Lest by some means the tempter had tempted you”, “the tempter had tempted”, the tempter is Satan. It is the head of all evil spirits (see Matt. 13:39; 2Cor. 4:4), and it always entices men to sin and go against the will of God and hurts men’s body (2Cor. 12:7) and soul (Matt. 13:39; Mark. 4:15; 1Cor. 7:5; 2Cor. 4:4). Satan firstly deceived Eve (Gen. 3:1-6; 2Cor. 11:3; 1Tim. 2:14) and had tempted the Lord Jesus (Matt. 4:1-11) and the Lord’s disciples (see Luke 22:3). However, it was defeated by the Lord (Col. 2:15). Finally, the devil shall be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10). Therefore, believers need not to fear it.
“And our labor might be in vain”, Satan tempts believers for the purpose of hindering and destroying the gospel works accomplished by the ministers of God see 2:18) and making them in vain.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Satan often discourages believers by the tool of afflictions and entices them to turn away from Christ. Therefore, it often makes troubles (see Job. 1:9-11; 2:4-5).
2) The central point that Satan attacks is the faith of Christians. The devil will weaken our faith towards God by all means (see Gen. 3:1). Once Christians have lost faith, they will become indifferent, not to mention the pursuit of the growth of life.
3) Indeed, we shall know our labor in the Lord is not in vain (1Cor. 15:58). Besides, we shall also take necessary actions as Paul so as to prevent the devil from destroying the fruit of our labor randomly.
1Thess. 3:6 “But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you--”
YLT: “And now Timotheus having come unto us from you, and having declared good news to us of your faith and love, and that ye have a good remembrance of us always, desiring much to see us, as we also [to see] you,”
Literal Meaning: “but now that Timothy has
come to us from you”, “come”: return back to
“And brought us good news of your faith and love”, “faith and love” are essential qualities of believers. Faith is the right attitude toward God. And love is the right attitude toward men. One can establish the right and perfect relationship with both God and men on the basis of faith and love.
“Good news” originally refers to the gospel, but here it is the only exceptional usage. Paul uses good news to suggest that he has really obtained unusual joy after hearing their news.
“Good news of your faith and love”, that is, their faith has not been shaken by the afflictions (see v.3), and their love to one another has not been changed (see 4:9).
Paul mentions “faith, love and hope” in chapter one (1:3), but here misses “hope”. Some Bible exegetes think possibly it was because some of them died (4:13) and the rest of them had wrong ideas of and attitude to the Lord’s coming. Therefore, Paul did not praise their “hope” and corrected them in chapter four and five.
“And that you always have good remembrance of us”, this is the second good news brought back by Timothy. That believers remember Paul and his fellow workers indicates they respect and love Paul and have not forsaken the teachings he has preached to them.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) There are two giant enemies on the heavenly way on which Christians run ---- Satan and world. To Satan, we shall resist in steadfast faith (1Pet. 5:8-9). To the world, it is our faith that makes us overcome the world (1John 5:4). Therefore, holding fast the faith is rather important.
2) Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct (Heb. 13:7).
1Thess. 3:7 “therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith.”
YLT: “because of this we were comforted, brethren, over you, in all our tribulation and necessity, through your faith,”
Meaning of Words: “affliction”: anguish, trouble;
Literal Meaning: “in all our affliction and
distress”, “all”, it
referred to all the affliction and distress that Paul had experienced in the
past and at that time. Paul was just faced with opposition in
“We were comforted concerning you by your faith”, the Lord’s workers work on believers and bear them as a burden. The sound condition of believers is always a comfort to them.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) In spite of the “affliction and distress” that Paul was suffered at that time, he still cared for the church in Thessalonica and was comforted by their “good news”, which unveiled that the Lord’s workers paid more attention to the troubles of others than that of themselves.
2) Though Paul was in all affliction and distress, he was still concerned with others, lest they should be shaken by all afflictions (v.3). Preachers do not solve their own problems and then help others to deal with their problems, nor “give” others only when they are “abundant”.
3) Paul supplies the believers in Thessalonica, and the Thessalonians comforted Paul. The relationship of spiritual giving and receiving is not “unidirectional” but “mutual” communion. A preacher shall humble himself so that he will obtain spiritual provision from common believers.
4) The servants of the Lord shall be ready at any time to supply the need of others as well as receive the provision of others.
5) In the church, though the degree of the growth of our spiritual life is different, things that are worthy of “comfort” and encouragement can always be found in everyone (see Rom. 1:12).
6) The deeper the loving care is, the deeper the comfort will receive.
7) The more one is suffered, the more he shall be comforted. The experience of afflictions profits not only oneself but also others.
8) The testimony in afflictions may establish the heart of others in a wordless manner. God allows us to suffer afflictions for the purpose of building us as well as others through our experiences.
1Thess. 3:8 “For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.”
YLT: “because now we live, if ye may stand fast in the Lord;”
Literal Meaning: “for now we live”, believers’ standing fast in the Lord is opposite to the condition that their faith is shaken in faith (v.3).
“If you stand fast in the Lord”, if believers stand fast in the Lord, the Lord’s servants will lead a richer and more meaning life (see Is. 38:16);
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The true workers of the Lord shall share life and death with the believers whom they serve (2Cor. 11:29). The spiritual conditions of believers may often influence the spiritual life and feeling of preachers before God.
2) The sound spiritual condition of the common believers may encourage the heart of preachers and improve their working.
3) To the servants of the Lord, the secret of making them “live” is to establish the common believers. If we are willing to shift the core from ourselves to others, we will be strengthened and have better service.
4) Christians are not supposed to live for
1Thess. 3:9 “For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God,”
YLT: “for what thanks are we able to recompense to God for you, for all the joy with which we do joy because of you in the presence of our God?”
Literal Meaning: “we rejoice for your sake before our God”, Paul mentions again and again that believers in Thessalonica are their joy (see 2:19-20).
“For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy”, “for all the joy”, it refers to the joy because of the believers in Thessalonica; “what thanks”: the indescribable joy; “render to God for you”, it reveals that the performance of believers in Thessalonica is totally due to the working of God in them.
Note that Paul does not thank God for the sake of the fruit of his works in Thessalonica, but for “all the joy”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The true joy of Christians is the joy “before God”.
2) Many people rejoice because of what they have gained. Seldom does a man have joy because of others, let alone “great joy”.
3) What is the motivation of our service and joy before God on earth? For our own performance of works, or for the spiritual conditions of the servants? Many preachers emphasize “things” more than “men”. Therefore, their joy is different from Paul.
4) The joy of Paul here and his previous anxiety contrast sharply (v.1, 5). The joy of preachers is obtained at the cost of tears (Ps. 126:5-6).
5) There two methods for Christians to rejoice: 1) preach the gospel to men in the world and thus enjoy their joy of being saved; 2) preach the word or supply life to believers and enjoy the joy of their victory;
6) Anything of us worthy of joy is gifted by God. Therefore, we shall give thanks to God. However, how much thanks have we given to God on earth?
7) When God is involved, the service and shepherding in the church will be efficacious. All that is done by God can be done “before God”. And “thanks” and glory will be given unto God.
8) We often give thanks for the grace we have personally received, not for “you” (for others). May the Lord enlarge our mind, from “me” to “us”, and more to “you” and “them”.
1Thess. 3:10 “night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?”
YLT: “night and day exceedingly beseeching, that we might see your face, and perfect the things lacking in your faith.”
Meaning of Words: “perfect”: fit, mend, restore, prepare, repair; “lacking”: that which is behind, want, deficit;
Literal Meaning: “night and day praying exceedingly”, “night and day”, it does not mean praying in the two fixed period (once in the morning and the other in the evening) nor praying only without doing anything, but means prayer frequently (see 1:2-3). “Exceedingly”, the word in Greek is a strong and seldom-used compound (see 5:13; Eph. 3:20), which expresses the earnestness of Paul’s prayers.
“Perfect what is lacking in your faith”, “prefect”: make complete; “your faith”, note that this is the fifth time that Paul mentions their faith (see v. 2, 5, 6, 7). “What is lacking”, since believers in Thessalonica are still young, they still have shortage in the faith they have just obtained. In the next two chapters (chapter four to five), Paul gives the teachings to them to make up what is lacking in their faith.
The last paragraph of this chapter (v.10-13) is the
prayer of Paul. Paul often inserts his prayers suddenly in the epistles (e.g.
Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:9-11;
The next verse is the subject of his prayer ---- expect to return to visit the church in Thessalonica again to perfect what is lacking in their faith. And from verse eleven to thirteen, it is the content of his prayer ---- pray for the two aspects mentioned in the subject in detail. In verse eleven, he asks God the Father and the Lord Jesus to bring him back to Thessalonica. And in verse eleven and twelve, he asks the Lord to make up the three aspects of shortages of believers in Thessalonica ---- abound in love, be established in hearts in holiness until the Lord comes again.
There are altogether one hundred and thirty six verses in both the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, among which twenty four verses mention “pray” or “prayer”, more than one fifth of the whole. Obviously, Paul pays attentions to prayers closely.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) If one does not persevere at prayer, he just appears to have no prayer.
2) Paul praises the faith of believers in Thessalonica (see v.6-7; 1:3, 8), and also points out what is lacking in their faith. Preachers shall not only praise believers for their growth but also discern their shortage to make them complete.
3) The faith of Christians shall never be utterly perfected, so it is endless. That is why our faith needs to be regulated, supplied and increased continually ---- “on the principle of faith to faith” (Rom. 1:17). Self-content faith is not true faith.
4) The most important work of preachers is not preachment, but prayer. Prayer first and then preachment (see Acts 6:4). Where there is no prayer, there is no preachment.
5) The prophet Samuel told the people of Israel, “moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1Sam. 12:23).
1Thess. 3:11 “Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.”
YLT: “And our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you,”
Literal Meaning: “now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ”, in the First and Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, God the Father is often mentioned with the Son together, relating to the relationship of the holy Trinity (see 1:1; 2Thess. 1:2, 8, 12; 2:16; 3:5).
“Direct our way to you”, “direct”: make the way straight; “direct” is the singular verb in the original, which shows that God the Father and the Son are one.
There are also some other Bible exegetes think that the variation of verb is according to the subject nearest to it, namely, the verbs modifies the subject “the Lord Jesus”. Therefore, it is singular verb. If this explanation is acceptable, it shows us that the Lord Jesus directs believers according to the will of God and the actions of the Lord Jesus is in accord with God the Father.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Someone misunderstands the words in the Book of James, thinking that Christians should not take initiative to go to some place or do anything but have to do everything passively with the view that “if the Lord will” (see James 4:13-15). Actually, Christians are allowed to have their own desire and plan. What is important is obedience to God’s will and guidance (see Rom. 1:10).
2) Wherever we Christians go or whatever we do, we may have a burden and desire according to the inspiration in Spirit and then commit them to God through prayer and wait for God to direst our steps… (Jer. 10:23).
1Thess. 3:12 “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,”
YLT: “and you the Lord cause to increase and to abound in the love to one another, and to all, even as we also to you,”
Literal Meaning: “and may the Lord make you…in love to one another”, “the Lord”, in the epistle, the Lord often refers to the Lord Jesus, not God the Father; “you”, it is emphatic in the original, which suggests “no matter whether I am with you”;
“Love to one another”, it refers to the brotherly love (see 4:9);
“Increase and abound in love to all”, “all” refers to all the people (see 2Pet. 1:7); “increase and abound”, it means being abundant unto fullness.
“In love to one another and to all”, it indicates that the way of the increasing of Christians’ love ---- to love the brethren one has known firstly and then love all; to love the brethren who are begotten by God firstly (1John 5:1) and then love all that are created by God;
“Just as we do to you”, he sets his own conversation as an example and asks believers to imitate him (see 1:6). This is totally different from the Pharisees (see Matt. 23:3).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Paul firstly cares for the faith of believers in this chapter (v.2-10), and then mentions love. Therefore, love is out of faith (Gal. 5:6) and works with faith together (1Tim. 1:14).
2) The love of Christians shall increase and abound as their spiritual life grows. Love is the index of our growth in live (see 1:3).
3) There is great crisis for the one who is in afflictions, that is, he is prone to love himself but not love others ---- one may become self-centered in afflictions. Those who are persecuted often become self-interested, demanding love of others and yet grudging loving others.
4) Actually, if we really suffer afflictions for the sake of the Lord, the furnace of afflictions can mostly manifest the reality of our inner life ---- love, the love that has been tried and purified by the Lord.
5) Generally, Christians love the brethren in the church firstly ---- “love one another” and then love “all” (see 2Pet. 1:7). However, many people have a strange thought, that is, they are unable to love those who are around them and yet love those whom they are unfamiliar with. Such love may not be out of the Lord.
6) We shall lead a life of “loving one another” in the church ---- love those brothers and sisters who are with us in the gatherings and let love increase and abound in practical life and thus “love all” naturally ---- love those who have lost and our enemies (see Rom. 12:14, 20).
7) The love that increases and abounds is unlimited and expands unto all thirsty hearts. True love of Christians is toward both believers and all.
8) Love of believers shall not be given to those who have the same faith only. Many Christians are hostile to men in the world and even to other Christians who have different views on truth. Such attitude of them unveils that they lack the love in the divine life of God (1John 5:1) and have only natural life in their soul.
1Thess. 3:13 “so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
YLT: “to the establishing your hearts blameless in sanctification before our God and Father, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”
Meaning of Words: “in holiness”: sanctification;
Literal Meaning: “so that He may …at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints”, “all the saints”, in the Scriptures it refers
to: 1) believers in Christ (
“Establish your hearts before our God and Father”, “establish your hearts”, the firm faith (v.2-3) and the increasing and abundant love (v.12) make believers steadfast in hope of the Lord’s second coming. Thus, they will seek holiness in faith, love and hope.
“Blameless in holiness”, here, “holiness” is a kind of condition, not process. When the Lord comes again, believers will become holy to a degree that they will be able to give an account before God. This is the fruit of the continual working of the Holy Spirit in men.
In fact, each believer has been sanctified when he
is saved because of the accomplished redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb.
10:10), so he is called “saint” (2Cor. 1:2). The Bible scholars call it
sanctification on objective position. After believers are saved, believers
shall bear fruit unto holiness in works by the Holy Spirit (see
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Paul sets “Christ’s second coming” as the motivation and hope of his prayer. There are two great motivations of Paul’s works ---- one is the gospel, and the second is the second coming of Christ.
2) When Christ comes again, He will examine how we spend our days in the world and reward us according to His judgment. Therefore, the second coming of Christ shall encourage us to lead a sanctified life.
3) The words “so that” at the outset of his verse show that the increasing and abounding (v.12) of love is the foundation of the establishment and sanctification of one’s heart. He who has no love is far from establishment and holiness.
4) The manifestation of love is the only way to holy life. If love has not been filled in one’s heart, selfishness will restrain the development of his virtues so that he will care for himself only and lead a life away from God and holiness.
5) The second coming of Christ motivates believers lead a sanctified life, for “without holiness no one shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). The church is Christ’s bride, who shall adorn herself with holiness and prepare herself to meet her bridegroom (Rev. 19:7-8; 21:2).
6) We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1John 3:2-3).
7) According to our nature, we are changeable and often become double-minded with the environmental change. Only when we hope the second coming of Christ with perfect steadfastness, can we gird up the loins of our mind and be sober (see 1Pet. 1:13). Therefore, the Lord’s second coming motivates Christians to “be established in hearts”.
8) He who is established in heart shall be sanctified. He who is not sanctified will not be established in heart. Both are closely linked with one another.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
A Blessed Church that is Established
A. They are blessed for having obtained a preacher who are responsible for establishing the church:
1. He can not suffer believers’ being tempted by the tempter (v.1, 5);
2. He sends his fellow workers to establish believers (v.2);
3. He foretells believers that they will suffer afflictions, lest they should be shaken by afflictions (v.3-4);
4. He rejoices for the sake of the church’s standing firm, though he himself is in affliction (v.6-9);
5. He asks God to lead him to perfect what is lacking in their faith (v.10-11);
6. He prays for the establishment of them until the Lord comes again (v.12-13);
B. The conditions of their blessedness of being established:
1. They have not been shaken in all afflictions (v.3-4).
2. They have overcome the tempter (v.5).
3. They have faith toward God and love toward the saints and always remember the Lord’s servants (v.6).
C. The spiritual elements of their blessedness of being established:
1. Because of standing firm in the Lord (v.8);
2. Because of being kept by God (v.9);
3. Because of good spiritual examples ---- “just as we…” (v.6,12);
4. Because of the hope of the Lord’s second coming (v.13);
The Reasons for the Change of Paul and the Actions He Has Taken
A. Could no longer “endure…” ---- action: send Timothy (v.1-5);
B. Reason: the good new brought by Timothy ---- be “comforted” (v.6-7);
C. Reason: believers stand fast ---- “live” (v.8);
D. Rejoice for the sake of believers ---- action: reward God with thanksgiving (v.9);
The Purposes of Paul’s Sending Timothy to Thessalonica
A. Establish the faith of believers in Thessalonica (v.2, 5);
B. Encourage them concerning their faith (v.2b);
C. Prevent them from being shaken by afflictions (v.3);
The Relations of Preachers with Believers’ Faith
A. Who encourage believers concerning the faith (v.2);
B. Who care for the condition of believers’ faith (v.5);
C. Who has known the faith of believers (v.6);
D. Who are encouraged because of believers’ faith (v.7);
E. Who perfect what is lacking in believers’ faith (v.8);
Know about the Firm Faith
A. The firm faith is build on the faith (v.2);
B. The firm faith is not shaken by afflictions (v.3-5);
C. The firm faith will produce good testimony (v.6);
D. The firm faith is able to encourage and stir up preachers and believers (v.7-10);
E. The firm faith leads to abundant love (v.12);
F. The firm faith makes believers keep until
the Lord comes again (v
G. The firm faith leads to sanctification finally (v.13b);
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Mary Zhou