1 Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:13
Paul’s Earnest Desire to be with Them: The Hindrance of Satan (2:17-20)
The Sending of Timothy because Paul couldn’t Wait (3:1-5)
The News from Timothy and Its Effect on the Apostle (3:6-10)
Paul’s Prayer: for their Profit and Preservation (3:11-13)
Not including benedictory prayers at the ends of his epistles, Paul records twenty-eight of his prayers! It is nice to trace these prayers through his writings. We are very thankful for them because they give us: (1) an insight into the heart of the apostle, and (2) a pattern for the way we should pray.Paul prayed that God would direct their way back to Thessalonica, that he could see the saints in person. He also prayed that they would be established spiritually, and that they would grow in love for one another, for all believers, exemplified by Paul’s love for them. This touches on the importance of bonds between believers, especially new converts. The words “exceed” and “abound” denote spiritual growth. The local assembly, and actually the whole body also, is built up in love; “…maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:16). True love results in holiness (1 John 2:10), in contrast with the world’s false love (tolerance), which results in licentiousness. True fellowship is “in the light” (1 John 1:7). Whether it was the Thessalonians’ relationships between themselves or with the apostle, it would result in hearts confirmed in holiness. Paul presents the appearing of Christ, and our coming with Him, as a motivation for Christian holiness. The word “holiness” here is the root word for sanctification, which is the act or process of making holy. Sanctification will be taken up in the following chapter. We know it is the appearing of Christ because of the expression; “with all his saints”. The second coming of Christ has two parts, the rapture and the appearing. When Christ comes at the rapture, He comes alone, and He gets the saints at that time and brings them to heaven to be with Himself. But when Christ comes at the appearing (after Daniel’s seventieth week), He will not come alone. Instead, “all his saints” will come with Him, as re read in Rev. 19:14, “and the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, etc.”. The appearing is the day of Christ’s public manifestation here in this world where He was once rejected. It is the time when He will publicly intervene in the course of the earth, and establish His own righteous kingdom for 1000 years! Paul’s desire for the saints then, and our God and Father’s desire for us now, is that we would be now as morally suitable to the presence of Christ in glory as we will be in that day, when we “appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:4). The rapture is always connected with grace, and the appearing with responsibility. So here, it is in connection with holiness before God, and therefore is refers to the appearing.1
- When Paul, occupied with the coming of Jesus, considers the privilege of faith, he sees the saints all gathered together to the Lord, tasting before Him the common joy. When he considers the responsibility of the Christian walk, he always sees the appearing of Christ. – Darby, J.N. Exposition of First Thessalonians.
- Fawcett, John. Blest be the tie that binds. 1782