1 Thessalonians 3

Encouragement of Timothy's Visit

1 Therefore 1when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at 2Athens alone,
2 and we sent 3Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,
3 so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that 4we have been destined for this.
4 For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; 5and so it came to pass, as you know.
5 For this reason, 6when I could endure it no longer, I also 7sent to find out about your faith, for fear that 8the tempter might have tempted you, and 9our labor would be in vain.
6 But now that 10Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of 11your faith and love, and that you always 12think * kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you,
7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith;
8 for now we really live, if you 13stand firm in the Lord.
9 For 14what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account,
10 as we 15night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may 16see your face, and may 17complete what is lacking in your faith?
11 18Now may 19our God and Father 20Himself and Jesus our Lord 21direct our way to you;
12 and may the Lord cause * you to increase and 22abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you;
13 so that He may 23establish your hearts 24without blame in holiness before 25our God and Father at the 26coming of our Lord Jesus 27with all His saints.

1 Thessalonians 3 Commentary

Chapter 3

The apostle sent Timothy to establish and comfort the Thessalonians (1-5) He rejoiced at the good tidings of their faith and love. (6-10) And for their increase in grace. (11-13)

Verses 1-5 The more we find pleasure in the ways of God, the more we shall desire to persevere therein. The apostle's design was to establish and comfort the Thessalonians as to the object of their faith, that Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the world; and as to the recompence of faith, which was more than enough to make up all their losses, and to reward all their labours. But he feared his labours would be in vain. If the devil cannot hinder ministers from labouring in the word and doctrine, he will, if possible, hinder the success of their labours. No one would willingly labour in vain. It is the will and purpose of God, that we enter into his kingdom through many afflictions. And the apostles, far from flattering people with the expectation of worldly prosperity in religion, told them plainly they must count upon trouble in the flesh. Herein they followed the example of their great Master, the Author of our faith. Christians were in danger, and they should be forewarned; they will thus be kept from being improved by any devices of the tempter.

Verses 6-10 Thankfulness to God is very imperfect in the present state; but one great end of the ministry of the word is to help faith forward. That which was the instrument to obtain faith, is also the means of increasing and confirming it, namely, the ordinances of God; and as faith cometh by hearing, so it is confirmed by hearing also.

Verses 11-13 Prayer is religious worship, and all religious worship is due unto God only. Prayer is to be offered to God as our Father. Prayer is not only to be offered in the name of Christ, but offered up to Christ himself, as our Lord and our Saviour. Let us acknowledge God in all our ways, and he will direct our paths. Mutual love is required of all Christians. And love is of God, and is fulfilling the gospel as well as the law. We need the Spirit's influences in order to our growth in grace; and the way to obtain them, is prayer. Holiness is required of all who would go to heaven; and we must act so that we do not contradict the profession we make of holiness. The Lord Jesus will certainly come in his glory; his saints will come with him. Then the excellence as well as the necessity of holiness will appear; and without this no hearts shall be established at that day, nor shall any avoid condemnation.

Cross References 27

  • 1. 1 Thessalonians 3:5
  • 2. Acts 17:15
  • 3. 2 Corinthians 1:1; Colossians 1:1
  • 4. Acts 9:16; Acts 14:22
  • 5. 1 Thessalonians 2:14
  • 6. Philippians 2:19; 1 Thessalonians 3:1
  • 7. 1 Thessalonians 3:2
  • 8. Matthew 4:3
  • 9. 2 Corinthians 6:1; Philippians 2:16
  • 10. Acts 18:5
  • 11. 1 Thessalonians 1:3
  • 12. 1 Corinthians 11:2
  • 13. 1 Corinthians 16:13
  • 14. 1 Thessalonians 1:2
  • 15. 2 Timothy 1:3
  • 16. 1 Thessalonians 2:17
  • 17. 2 Corinthians 13:9
  • 18. 2 Thessalonians 2:16
  • 19. Galatians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:13
  • 20. 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; Revelation 21:3
  • 21. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
  • 22. Philippians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3
  • 23. 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 3:2
  • 24. Luke 1:6
  • 25. Galatians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 3:11
  • 26. 1 Thessalonians 2:19
  • 27. Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:7

Footnotes 6

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 THESSALONIANS 3

In this chapter the apostle expresses his great love to the Thessalonians, by sending Timothy to then, to establish and comfort them; and declares his satisfaction with the things he brought of them, and concludes the chapter with fervent prayers for them: such was his affection for them, that he chose rather to be left alone at Athens, and send Timothy to them, though so very dear and useful to him, as his characters show, to the end that they might be established and comforted, 1Th 3:2 and not be shaken with the afflictions the apostles met with, seeing these were no other than what God had appointed them to; and besides, they had been apprized of them before hand by the apostle, 1Th 3:3,4 but however, lest Satan should get an advantage of them, the apostle could not be easy without sending to know how things stood with them, 1Th 3:5 next he proceeds to give an account of the success of this mission, and the satisfaction it gave him and his fellow ministers to hear of their faith and charity, their remembrance of them, and desire to see them, 1Th 3:6 which comforted them under their afflictions, made them lively and cheerful, filled them with joy and thankfulness, and put them upon praying to God to see their face, and perfect what was lacking in their faith, 1Th 3:7-10 and then follow the petitions themselves, which are made both to God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that their way might be directed to them, that they might increase and abound in love to one another, and to all men, as they did to them, and that God would establish them in holiness in his sight, at the coming of Christ, 1Th 3:11-13.

Ver 1. \\Wherefore when we could no longer forbear\\ Or "bear", as the word properly signifies; or "bear that", as the Ethiopic version reads; that is, "that desire", as the Arabic version renders it; that ardent and longing desire of seeing them again, expressed in the latter part of the preceding chapter; which was as fire in their bones, and was retained with great pain and uneasiness; but now they could hold it no longer, and like Jeremiah, Jer 20:9 were weary with forbearing, and could not stay; or it was like a burden, which they stood up under as long as they could, even Paul, Silas, and Timothy, but now it became insupportable:

\\we thought it good to be left at Athens alone\\: that is, Paul and Silas, or Paul only, speaking of himself in the plural number; for he seems to have been alone at Athens, at least at last; he considering everything, thought it most fit and advisable when at Athens, where he waited for Silas and Timothy, having ordered them to come thither to him from Berea, Ac 17:14,15 either to send orders to Berea for Timothy to go from thence to Thessalonica, to know the state of affairs there, and Silas elsewhere; or if they came to him to Athens, of which Luke gives no account, he immediately dispatched Timothy to Thessalonica, and Silas to some other part of Macedonia, for from thence they came to him at Corinth, Ac 18:5 such was his desire of knowing how things were at Thessalonica, that he chose rather to be left alone at Athens, disputing with the unbelieving Jews, and Heathen philosophers of the Epicurean and Stoic sects, sustaining all their scoffs and jeers alone; and was content to be without his useful companions, Silas and Timothy, who might have been assisting to him at Athens, in hope of hearing of his dear friends at Thessalonica. 06448-940725-0731-1Th3.2

1 Thessalonians 3 Commentaries