About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
1 Thessalonians 3
verses 17 Paul says that he and his fellow workers were “torn away”
from the Thessalonians, yet this tearing away was in person, not in
thought. The word
"torn" is a good word here because it shows the feelings of
Paul. He was only with these
people three short weeks, but there was such a heart felt bond of
emotion that when he left them, he felt totally torn in his heart.
also the words "intense longing to see you" in verse 17.
Again, we see the heart of Paul here.
He was one tough guy to be able to withstand all of the hardships
that he went through but deep in his heart, he was sensitive, caring,
verse 18 He goes on to say that “out of intense longing” they tried
to go back to Thessalonica, but “satan stopped us”.
Now this is interesting. Here
is the great apostle Paul being “stopped by satan”.
Paul believed the opposition that he experienced was directly
from satan, and at this juncture he could not do what he wanted to do
because satan was in the way. It
seemed that in this instance satan was stronger that Paul.
Or, it might possibly be that God was using satan in order for
Paul not to go to Thessalonica at that particular moment.
This is conjecture only. We
really don’t know. Suffice
to say, satan stopped Paul, so if this is the case, he could most likely
stop us from doing things as well, unless we are no threat to him and
then he would have nothing to do with us, which is probably the case
more times than not. The one
thing we learn here is that satan is a powerful enemy and we should take
him seriously. I've often
thought concerning some Christian songs we sing, that we make light of
satan. I don't think we
God using satan; God does use him. He
will use the anti-Christ at the end of this age to bring this age to a
verses 19 and 20 Paul asked the question, “what is our hope, our
glory, our crown in the presence of our Lord Jesus?”
Paul answers his own question by saying the Thessalonians
themselves were his hope, glory and crown.
Paul understood that on the day when Jesus judges the work done
by His people, he will present all those he had responsibility for to
Jesus. This would be the
crowning event in Paul’s ministry, to see his people accepted into the
presence of the Lord. This
is the joy of his life that he lived for.
Paul would rather have this joy than any joy from earthly
word "crown" is used in a number of ways in the Bible.
Here it is used as a congregation of the saints in reference to
the return of Christ when Jesus will judge the work of the believers.
chapter 3 verse 1 Paul decided to stay where they were.
The Greek is a bit obscure here.
We're not sure if it was just Paul who stayed behind or Paul and
others. Most lean to just
Paul being left behind. In
verse 2 when he could stand it no more, he sent Timothy” to
Thessalonica. For some
reason Paul could not go himself. Satan
got in his way. Whether this
was because of persecution, an illness, a messenger from satan, thorn in
his flesh, we really don’t know. All
that we know is that since Paul could not visit these people, Timothy
could, so he sent him “to strengthen and encourage them in their
that Paul calls Timothy a fellow worker in the Lord.
In one sense of the word, Paul viewed Timothy as a son, but here
he viewed him as a co-worker, one who worked along side of him.
We need to understand that even though Paul considered Timothy as
son, he was also a co-worker. This
says something about their relationship.
It was not a heavy handed father/son, submission and authority
verse 3 Paul mentions the trials these people were going through.
He was deeply concerned about these people, and so he wanted to
encourage them, thus the reason for sending Timothy.
Paul tells these people that both him, his co-workers, and the
Thessalonians, "were destined" to these trials.
That means that trials were just par for the course as a
Christian. I would imagine
that when Paul spoke the gospel to these people he told them that if
they gave their lives to Jesus, they would experience troubles.
As a matter of fact, verse 4 tells us just this.
Paul told these people in the three short weeks he was with them,
that they would suffer persecution.
They were destined to trouble in those days.
It was to be expected. I
wonder how we would do under such persecution today.
a Christian in Paul's day was a real commitment to Jesus.
One had to really count the cost, as Jesus Himself said we
should. This tells me that a
quick trip to the altar or a brief "repeat after me prayer"
does not necessarily constitute one's salvation.
As a matter of fact, an emotional plea in this sense of the word
should be out of the question. We
should think seriously about becoming a Christian.
No decision should be based on emotion, because if it is, once
the emotion leaves, so does the commitment.
This does not mean that once you've made a serious commitment you
might not be emotional, but you might.
It's just that emotion should not influence your decision.
verse 5 Paul says that "he could no longer stand it."
He couldn't bear not knowing how these people were doing. He was
especially worried about how their faith was holding up.
Here we see how concerned he was for these people.
He had great love and compassion for those Jesus had led him to.
This is a mark of a great leader in the Lord.
was concerned about their faith, that is, their trust in Jesus.
Faith is fundamental in being a Christian.
We are saved by faith, that is to say, our trust in Jesus.
We live our lives by faith. Once
again that is our trust in Jesus. Paul
did not want them to give up on this trust they had in Jesus, because
losing your faith means losing your salvation.
verse 5 we see the great apostle Paul expressing a fear.
Yes, the great apostle Paul did have fears.
His fear was that “the tempter (satan) might have tempted them
and that his efforts might have been useless”.
Paul was afraid that they would give into satan’s temptation to
give up. If this was the
case, Paul’s ministry and all the effort he put into it, would be in
vain, would be useless. This
would disturb Paul more than anything.
He being a driven man, hated to do anything for nothing, that is,
do something and have someone else destroy what he has done.
the last number of decades I've heard various Christians rebuking and
binding satan. It is
interesting to me that Paul neither rebuked satan or bound him.
I don't believe it is our place to rebuke or especially bind
satan. Only Jesus will bind
satan for one thousand years when He returns to earth.
We can cast demons out of people, but we can't bind satan.
verse 6 Paul mentions that Timothy had just arrived with good news,
which was most likely the occasion for writing this letter.
The good news that Timothy brought was concerning their “faith
and love”. Once again,
Paul often puts faith and love together.
First comes faith, that is, trust in Jesus.
Then comes love, that is, selfless actions that are a result of
true faith. I think that if
you really want to love others, then you need to trust Jesus more.
Love, as defined in Biblical terms does not come natural to us.
The better of a trusting relationship we have with Jesus, the
more we will be able to love as Jesus wants us to love. That's
why Paul always puts "faith" before "love".
of what Timothy told Paul was that these people “always had pleasant
memories” of Paul and his team, even though they were with each other
for a short period of time. Timothy
also mentioned that “they longed to see” Paul again, which was
reciprocal. This just made
Paul feel great, especially in the midst of all the trials he was going
see here Paul's feelings coming forth.
He was a man of great feelings.
I've said this before, but if you read his second letter to the
Corinthians, you will see him wearing his feelings on his sleeve, so to
speak. You see a bit of it
begins verse 7 with the word “therefore",
suggesting a conclusion to what he just said.
He continues to say that "in all of our distress and
persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith”.
Once again, you see the importance of faith, or trusting Jesus in
the thinking of Paul. You
also see that when people trusted Jesus if would sure lift Paul's
and his companions went through great distress and persecution.
In Acts 9 Jesus told Paul that he was called to suffer for His
sake, and suffer he did. This man who suffered a lot, received a lot
from the Lord.
verse 8 we see a result of hearing such good news about the
says, "now we really live…”.
It is as though a great burden was lifted from Paul’s shoulders
once he found out that they were “standing firm in the Lord”.
Paul, a man of great emotion would feel the feelings caused by
fear for his people. Once knowing that they were okay, these feelings
would revert to feelings of great relief and ecstasy.
pastor or Christian leader should have the same fervor as Paul had
concerning the faith of God's people.
Our faith is fundamental. If
our faith is in good shape we will grow in the Lord, but if our faith is
in bad shape, we will not grow, and may even fall away from the Lord.
goes as far to say in verse 9, “how can we thank God enough for all of
the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”
Can you see Paul’s emotion coming through in these words?
He just can’t thank God enough for hearing such good news from
Timothy, which produced overwhelming joy in Paul’s life.
that Paul was thanking these people.
You might think it should be the other way around.
They should be thanking Paul for all that he did for them, for
all the trials he went through on their behalf.
I'm sure these people were thankful, but seeing Paul being
thankful of them is something. When
God's people do well in the Lord, the real servant of God is full of
goes on to say in verse 10 that “night and day we pray most earnestly
that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith”.
Again and again in Paul’s writings you see the intensity he has
for his people. Here you see
it by him saying that he prays day and night for these people.
though Timothy’s report concerning their faith was good, Paul wanted
to visit them again “to supply what was lacking in their faith”.
Once again, you see Paul’s genuine concern about the faith of
his people. Yes, their faith
was strong in the midst of trials, but Paul knew that even with the
greatest of faith, there was still room for improvement.
Trust in Jesus is a growing virtue that never ends.
words of Paul show us his love and compassion he has for those in his
care. This should be a text
book for how Christian leaders should minister today.
I believe such conviction can only come from a serious
relationship with Jesus Himself. Too
often ministry becomes pure routine.
This was not so with Paul.
11 to 13 are a doxology, an ending to a letter which gives praise to
God, even though this is not the end of the letter.
In verse 11 we see that it is Paul's prayer that God the Father
and the Lord Jesus clear the way for him to visit these people again.
Note that Paul calls God his father.
Note also that Paul links Jesus to God, as he always does.
God is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That's the only God there is.
that it is God and Jesus who Paul expected to clear the way for Paul and
his brothers to come to these believers.
Note the words "clear the way".
This tells me that the way was blocked, and, from what we saw
earlier, it was satan who blocked Paul's path.
Note that it was Jesus who unblocked this path, not Paul.
Paul's part in all of this was praying.
verse 12 Paul's hope and prayer is that the Thessalonians' love will
overflow to each other and to other people as well.
The love the individual has must overflow to others. If it
doesn't, it really isn't love. Love
must be in action, not just word. If
love isn't seen in actions, then love doesn't overflow.
verse 13 Paul's hope and prayer is that God will strengthen the hearts
of these people so they will be blameless on the day Jesus returns to
earth. This is one
reoccurring theme throughout Paul's writings.
The return of Jesus is always in the forefront of Paul's
thinking. Just meeting Jesus
isn't all that Paul thinks about in connection with his return.
Paul wants to be ready to meet Jesus.
He wants his life to be as blameless as possible so Jesus will be
proud of him. Paul would be
overjoyed and greatly humbled if Jesus smiles at him on the day he meets
13 ends with the words "come with all of his holy ones."
The words "holy ones" here either refers to angels or
believers. I believe it
refers to the believers who return with Jesus when He comes back to