1 Thessalonians Chapter Three, Faith In Action
In our study of 1 Thessalonians chapter three, we continue our look at the
letter that Paul wrote to the "church" that he started in Thessalonica (modern Greece). This chapter
shows us how Paul taught them to be disciples and not just converts.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves
in Athens. 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, so that no one would be unsettled by these
trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.
The trials that Paul speaks of are described in Acts 17 where things got so bad in
Thessalonica that Paul had
to leave the city in the middle of the night. Now, he is saying that they could not stand it any longer
but just had to know how the believers there were doing. He sent Timothy to check out the situation in
Thessalonica and to bring back a report of the body of believers. Paul also says that the trials that
they had experienced there had not taken God by surprise.
1 Thessalonians 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.
Paul is reminding them that he knew that the persecution was going to happen
because that is what happens when you follow Christ. The same is true for us today as Jesus said that we
would be persecuted as well.
1 Thessalonians 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
Paul knew that persecution was coming and that the new believers in
Thessalonica would face trials. He was concerned that the devil would snatch away their seeds of faith
as described by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew chapter 13).
1 Thessalonians 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.
Paul is rejoicing in the good report of Timothy concerning the Christians in
Thessalonica. As a body of believers, we can rejoice at the triumphs of the other parts of the Body and
hurt with and for the parts that are struggling.
1 Thessalonians 3:7
Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged
about you because of your faith.
Nobody wants to work day after day and year after year without any sign of
accomplishing something. Therefore, even when it was difficult, Paul and his team were encouraged by the
fact that the efforts produced results (fruit).
In John 15, Jesus said that if we remain in Him we will bear fruit.
We do not always get to see that fruit immediately but when we do we can be encouraged just as Paul was
in this verse. It can also remind us to ask ourselves if we are producing any fruit and if we are not to
get back to Jesus as that is the only way that will produce a harvest.
1 Thessalonians 3:8 & 9
For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we
thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of
We truly live when we bring others to knowing and trusting in Jesus. Paul was
filled with joy because of the fact that people's lives were changed and they were living by faith in
God. It never gets old seeing people turn to God and being saved from hell. That, my friends, is really
1 Thessalonians 3:10
Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what
is lacking in your faith.
At this time, they did not have a Bible like we do today and so it was harder
for them to gain knowledge. Paul simply wanted to teach them more about their faith in Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 3:11
Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to
come to you.
Paul had learned that he could only go where God opened the door for them. He
was able to listen and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in directing his steps. We need to
understand the same thing in that we cannot do anything on our own but we can do all things through
Christ. We are called to follow Jesus and that means we have to listen and go where he tells us. It may
be a foreign country or a simple visit to a neighbor. Either way, we must listen to the prompting of the
1 Thessalonians 3:12
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for
everyone else, just as ours does for you.
Paul's wish for the Thessalonian believers is quite simple and that is an
increase in love. God is love and that is how His people will be made known. Paul wants them to draw
closer to God so that they will love people more and that love will lead more people to accept
1 Thessalonians 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.
Paul's final prayer for the believers here is for God to give them strength to
follow Jesus. It is not easy to be holy but that is our calling and we cannot do so on our own. Paul
knew that the ability comes from God through the working of the Holy Spirit.