#195 “ARE YOU SEEKING DIRECTION FOR YOUR LIFE?” (1 THESSALONIANS 3: 11-13)

  1. 11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct (make straight) our way to you,Paul patterns his prayer (3:11-13) after a Jewish prayer of appealment on behalf of another. This prayer of Paul’s acts as a transition from his first half of the letter (2:1-3:10) to the second half (4:1-5:22). Paul firstly prays that God will open a way to the Thessalonians. He knows he can’t do it on his own strength. He needs God to supernaturally direct him back to Macedonia. God did answer Paul’s prayer. In 1 Cor. 16:5, Paul mentions to the Corinthians he will visit them after passing through Macedonia. It took approximately five years for Paul to return to Macedonia. Luke mentions Paul’s traveling to Macedonia: “Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome” (Ac. 19:21). In Ac. 20:1, it reads, “After the uproar ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them, he said farewell and departed for Macedonia.” God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus—Paul addresses two members of the Godhead in singular verb, suggesting the perfect and eternal unity shared between God the Father and Jesus, the Son. That is the key to prayer. Praying to God and acknowledging that it is through Jesus Christ we have access to his holy throne through grace. Rom. 5:1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Direct our way—It wasn’t like Paul didn’t know how to return to the Thessalonians. Satan had been hindering his return to Macedonia (2:18).
  2. 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you,Secondly, Paul’s prayer request is that the Thessalonians will grow in their love and appreciation for one another. Vine’s Expository Bible Notes, “Paul’s insistence on love as the chief characteristic that defines the church’s fellowship is clearly portrayed here. Note the words translated “increase” and “abound” (1 Thess. 3:12). The Greek words are pleonazō and perisseuō  Both terms carry the idea of supra-abundance; that is, having more than enough, a running over. Using both words may seem to be redundant, but it is Paul’s way of emphasizing the fact that believers should love one another.” Jesus is the standard of unconditional love for us to follow (Jn. 13; 15:12). Paul even put himself out there as an example of love for others to emulate. 1 Thess. 4:9-12, “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” The prime object of love are people of the household of God (see Gal. 6:10).
  3. 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming (parousia, the presence of the Lord) of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. This final section of Paul’s prayer leads in to the next two chapters. Establish your hearts—The GK is stērizō means “to strengthen, fix something in place, establish.” Blameless in holiness—Paul prays the Thessalonians live holy lives of devotion to God and to one another. The Encyclopedia of the Bible: “The holiness of God is expressed not only in His own mighty acts both of judgment and of mercy, but is also reflected in the holiness of His people. This is what Brunner calls His transitive holiness.” 1 Thess. 4:1-3, “Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality…” at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints—Paul is probably referring to Zech. 14:5, “the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.”