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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

1 Thessalonians 3

Verses 1-13

Chapter 3

WHEREFORE when we could no longer forbear, we thought it would be good to be left at Athens alone; And we sent Timothy, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith ( 1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 ):

Paul was there in Athens waiting for Silas and Timothy to arrive. He was discouraged. When Timothy came, he was concerned about the church of Thessalonica. "We were there such a short time. Go back Timothy. I'm gonna go on down to Corinth; you go back and find out how they're doing." So, "When I couldn't take it any longer, I was so concerned about you, worried and concerned for you, I sent Timothy our brother that he might establish you and comfort you concerning your faith."

That no man should be moved by these afflictions: [Or by the tribulation by the efforts of the enemy to destroy them.] for yourselves know that we were appointed thereunto ( 1 Thessalonians 3:3 ).

In other words, "Don't be discouraged because I've had such a bad time, I've been afflicted; God's appointed me for that."

For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass ( 1 Thessalonians 3:4 ),

You know Paul, he said, "Hey, I'm gonna suffer tribulation man." He prophesied it, and he said it came to pass. Now this is an interesting thing to me. Paul said, "I was appointed to this." When Paul was converted on the way to Damascus and the Lord spoke to Paul and called him to go to the Gentiles, the Lord told Paul on the road to Damascus all of the things that Paul was gonna have to suffer for Jesus' sake. Huh? That's no way to call a man into a ministry in my estimation.

You know, when we seek to inspire men to the ministry, we try and tell them of all of the glorious things that will happen to you as a servant of Jesus Christ, you know. Oh, you'll have the joy of seeing lives transformed and you'll have the thrill of being able to, you know, share God's love with people. And we try and, you know, the people are out there hungry; they're, you know, wanting to hear the gospel. They're waiting to hear. And oh, you'll have the chance to just . . . you know. That's not the way the Lord called Paul. When He called Paul to his ministry He said, "Now, Paul, these are the things that you're gonna suffer for my name's sake. You're gonna be beaten; you're gonna be stoned." And He went on and laid out for Paul all of the sufferings.

Jesus, when he called Ananias to go pray for Paul there in Damascus, and Ananias said, "Heh, heh, heh, oh no, not Paul. Hey, you've made a mistake. I've heard about that guy. He's a terror. He's been ripping up the church in Jerusalem, and he's come down here to imprison everybody that's calling on Your name." And Jesus said, "He is a chosen vessel unto me, and I have showed him all of these things that he is gonna suffer for my name's sake." So, for whatever reason or purposes, God chose Paul to suffer affliction. He told him in advance.

Now, I do believe that at that point Paul did have the power of choice and he can say, "Lord, call someone else. I don't think I like that. I think I'll just as soon spend the rest of my life making tents and tarsus and living a quite peaceable life. You know, get someone else to do your dirty work." Paul went knowing that it was going to be affliction, knowing that he was gonna suffer, knowing that he was gonna be persecuted. God help us who are looking for the easy path. Lord, can't you plant roses along the side. You know, just sort of carry me along and make it easy. Lord, as long as things are going smooth, I'm gonna serve You with all my heart. But the moment some affliction or trouble comes along, "Aw, wait a minute, I didn't bargain for this."

No wonder the writer of Hebrews wrote to those who were complaining and said, "What have you got to complain about? You've not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. Show me your scars."

"So don't be upset," Paul said, "because of the affliction that came, I told you it was gonna happen. You remember that."

For this cause, when I could no longer forbear [because I couldn't really take it any longer], I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain ( 1 Thessalonians 3:5 ).

"I sent to know about how your faith was doing because I didn't want your faith to be in vain, by Satan coming and ripping it off."

But now when Timothy came from you to us, and he brought us the good tidings of your faith and charity [love], and that you have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all of our afflictions and the distress by your faith ( 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7 ):

So, when Timothy came to Paul in Corinth and said, "Oh Paul, they are going on. They're doing great. And oh, how much they love you, Paul, and how they long to see you," and all, it was such an encouragement to Paul's heart and he was strengthened and encouraged by that.

Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live [or are satisfied], if you stand fast in the Lord ( 1 Thessalonians 3:7-8 ).

They . . . that's what we're really concerned about.

For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all of the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking your faith? ( 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10 )

So Paul was praying night and day for the opportunity of going back and ministering to them again, for he had been with them such a short time, he had not been able to establish them fully in the faith; the understanding of the word. And so, "I'm praying and seeking God that somehow I might be able to come back and complete my ministry to you."

Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you ( 1 Thessalonians 3:11 ).

Paul's prayer:

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all [man] men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all the saints ( 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 ).

Again, notice at the end of each chapter he brings you again to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In chapter one, they were waiting for God's Son to come from heaven to deliver them from the wrath to come: the great tribulation that was gonna come. They were waiting for the Lord to come and deliver them. Chapter two, the end of the chapter, Paul's joy and reward, crown, was that they might be with him there in the presence of Christ that is coming. Now, in chapter three, that God would establish their hearts unblameable in holiness, even our Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all the saints.

When Jesus comes, He is coming with the saints, which means that the saints have to be with Him before they can come with Him. Now, we'll get into this as we move into chapter four. And we come into the end of chapter four, Paul is gonna spend a great deal of time talking about the coming of the Lord with the saints and for the saints.

And so we'll be dealing with the subject of the rapture of the church next Sunday night as we finish the book of first Thessalonians, dealing with chapters four and five. And we deal with those passages that do relate to the rapture of the church, being caught up to meet the Lord, and hopefully we'll be able to clear up some of the confusion that has arisen by taking some of the scripture out of its context. And so next week, continue and finish the book of Thessalonians, chapter four and five. Not that much reading, but surely important teaching in regards to the coming again of Jesus Christ for His church.

Father, we thank You again for tonight, for the privilege of studying the word of God. Thank You, Father, for the hope, the blessed hope of the coming of our Lord to save us and deliver us from the wrath to come. Lord, do establish our hearts in Your love, and may we walk in love as You would have us to walk Father: in holiness, in purity, in honesty, unblameable. Oh God, do thy work in our lives and glorify thy name. In Jesus' name we ask it, Amen.

May the Lord bless and give you a beautiful week. God Bless, God strengthen and fill you with His love. In Jesus' name. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.