Realism about Life as a Believer
Paul has expressed to the Thessalonians how valuable they are to him.
He has also explained why he did not come to them.
He employs terminology of spiritual warfare.
Satan had prevented him from coming to the Thessalonians.
This might have been an attempt to discourage Paul.
Paul has used a fourth family term.
He describes himself as orphaned from the Thessalonians.
Jesus’ teaching remains the foundation of Paul’s view of the place of believers in the world.
His ultimate goal here is a pastoral one.
He wants to know the condition of their loyalty to the gospel and their view of him (this latter one is to come in the verses tonight).
Disillusionment Vs. Doubt
Paul has explained that he could not come to Thessalonica himself.
He wants the Thessalonians, then, to understand what course of action he took and why.
Through this, he conveys to them, yet again, his degree of concern for them.
Note the term “consequently.”
Paul’s desire to know about the Thessalonians eventually reached a point where he could no longer stand it.
We “approved to be left in Athens alone.”
More than likely, he expresses to them that he found the option of being by himself in Athens preferable to knowing nothing about them.
He sent Timothy “so as to strengthen and to encourage you all on account of your faith.”
Paul commends Timothy to the Thessalonians, even though he is writing, per 1 Thess. 3:6, after Timothy had already returned from them.
He described him with two non-trivial terms:
Our brother: note the associational language
God’s coworker: Paul clearly means Timothy is someone supplied to him by God as a fellow-laborer in the gospel of Christ.
Another way to understand “of God” would be for God to govern the brotherhood and coworker relationship that existed between Paul and Timothy.
We might, at this point, ask why Paul found it so urgent to send Timothy.
Why did the Timothy need to strengthen and encourage them?
Why did their faith need strengthening?
Paul did not want the Thessalonians to “be shaken in these troubles.”
This seems to imply the intensity of the initial opposition had not died down for them in his absence.
He reminds them, perhaps in a statement meant to reinforce the present rather than reflect on the past, that they know something.
To face intense opposition is the lot of believers.
Paul had never hidden this fact from them.
When he was there initially, he had predicted tribulation.
They knew it had come to pass.
Paul concludes this first paragraph by returning to his concern for them.
He did not want them to forget that this was part of living as a believer in the world.
That could have come as a shock to them, but he had prepared them for it.
Now, he had sent them Timothy to remind them of it.
Paul was genuinely worried that under this extreme spiritual test they might have abandoned the faith.
If so, that would have rendered his difficult labor among them for naught.