#194 “THE JOY IN OTHERS” (1 THESSALONIANS 3:6-10)
- 6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good (pleasant; joyful) 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—Based on the “but now” or “just now,” it seems Timothy had just returned before Paul initiated the letter to the Thessalonians while in Corinth (Ac. 18:1-8). Good news—Paul, who was so concerned that the Thessalonians abandoned their faith (3:5), utilized the verb form of euangelizō (almost exclusive to the proclamation of the gospel) to express how overjoyed he was to hear they were standing strong in their faith and love for God. Remember us kindly—There is a play on of words in the GK. It not only voices the Thessalonian’s fond memories of Paul but how their charitable acts were done in remembrance of him. This speaks to the kind of role model Paul was to these young converts. As we long to see you—In GK., the directive is “to long after.” In all likelihood, Paul was able to see some of the original converts when he sailed off to Macedonia. Luke records, in Ac. 20:1-4: “After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia. 2 When he had gone through those regions and had given them much encouragement, he came to Greece. 3 There he spent three months, and when a plot was made against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 4 Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and the Asians, Tychicus and Trophimus.”
- 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. Although Paul faced many of his own challenges, it brought him comfort to know the Thessalonians were “standing strong in the Lord.” It is vital for Christians to have a strong community of fellowship and a support system that is there to help them learn and grow in all aspects of life.
- 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.It was an encouragement to Paul to hear the Thessalonians were standing strong in their faith. The picture of standing fast is an army being attacked and refusing to surrender to the enemy.
- 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,This is one of the most heartfelt expressions of Paul that speaks to how much he loved and cherished the Thessalonians. Thanksgiving can we return—This expression is reflective of Psalm 116:12, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?” The Knowledge Bible Commentary, “It is noteworthy that Paul thanked God for the Thessalonians’ behavior; he did not take credit for this. Paul acknowledged that their endurance was really a tribute to the work of God in them (cf. Phil. 2:13). He commended the Thessalonians, but also recognized and acknowledged the hand of God at work in their lives.” On many occasions Paul gave thanks to God for the joy he felt for the church (see Rom. 16:19; 2 Tim. 1:4). Paul writes in Phil. 1:3-5, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
- 10 as we pray most earnestly (more than exceedingly abundant)night and day that we may see you face to face and supply (“to correct, restore, and equip) what is lacking in your faith? There is a pattern to Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians. He moves from giving thanks to God (v. 9) to a petition (v. 10). Earnestly night and day—Paul intensely prayed that he may see them again (2:17-18). His second petition is that they will be supplied with the necessary means to grow in their faith. Lacking in their faith—The GK for lacking means to “lack or be in need of the essentials.” The description points to a deficiency that was evident in their faith. Although their faith “produced good works” (1:3)—the Thessalonians, like all Christians, are in a process of sanctification. Faith continues to grow stronger the more it is tested. Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.” Most likely the Thessalonians needed more guidance and solid teaching in their newfound faith. Paul will address a few questions that troubled the early church: moral issues (4:1-12), the return of Jesus (4:13-5:11), and disciplinary matters (5:12-24). In 3:11-13, Paul will transition into a prayer he prayed over the Thessalonians as a guide to help them stand strong in their faith, as they walk in the holiness of God.