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Bible Commentaries

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Thessalonians 3

Verses 1-13

Comfort in tribulation

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Paul gives an account of his sending Timothy to Thessalonica to minister to them. He expresses his joy over the report Timothy brought back concerning their faith and love.

1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 . Paul had a great love for the people in this church: and he is saving that when the suspense and yearning for some word from them became unbearable, he was content to remain alone in Athens and send Timothy to them:

1. ‘To establish you.’ These people were young converts and needed to be established in the truth of the gospel. This is done by the ministry of the word (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 4:11-14).

2. ‘To comfort you concerning your faith.’ It is the will of God that his people have assurance, peace, and comfort in Christ. These people had been persecuted and afflicted because of their faith. Paul intended that they understand that their faith was like precious faith with (the same precious faith as) the apostles, and they should stand fast and be comforted in that faith (2 Peter 1:1).

1 Thessalonians 3:3 . None of you should be surprised, disturbed, or led astray by trials and afflictions for the sake of the gospel; for you know that trials are the appointed lot of all of God's people they are appointed by God! It is the will of God that we should have them, patiently bearing them and profiting by them (John 16:1-3; James 1:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).

1 Thessalonians 3:4 . When I was there in person I told you that you would suffer tribulation, and it came to pass (Acts 17:5-9). The apostle did not deceive people with promises of worldly prosperity, good health, fame, and ease in this world; on the contrary, he told them, as our Master told his disciples, that they would have trouble in the flesh.

1 Thessalonians 3:5 . This is one of the reasons why I sent Timothy to you, that I might know if your faith is staggering under these afflictions or standing firm. The apostle speaks of his fear that Satan may tempt them to turn back and his preaching among them prove to be in vain (Hebrews 10:32-39).

1 Thessalonians 3:6-7 . Timothy brought back a good report! It is always a great joy to preachers and all believers to know that the people of God in any location continue in the faith and love of Christ (3 John 1:4). These two graces are always found together: faith and love. It is impossible to separate them. Those who believe, love! Therefore, in spite of all the trials and pressures of his own ministry, Paul was comforted by their faith.

1 Thessalonians 3:8-9 . Paul carried about with him a sentence of death, being hunted, imprisoned, and sentenced; but he says now, upon the news of their faith and love, his spirit is revived and he really lives! He had given thanks to God for them (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3); and now, having received a further account of their faith growing under trying circumstances, he must give fresh thanks to God!

1 Thessalonians 3:10-13 . Here is an account of the prayer Paul prayed continually:

1. That he might visit with them again.

2. That he might minister the word to them and more perfectly instruct them in the knowledge of divine things. The ministry of the word is the means of planting faith, increasing faith, and perfecting it. There is no believer living who does not need the continued preaching, teaching, and reading of the word that he might grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ (1 Corinthians 8:2; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Corinthians 13:9; 1 Corinthians 13:12).

3. If I come to you, God himself must guide and direct my way. A journey is not to be taken without the will of God: dependence on his will, seeking his will, and submission to his will. Men may devise their ways, but God directs their goings! (James 4:13-15; Romans 1:10.)

4. ‘The Lord make you to abound in love toward one another and toward all men as our love abounds toward you.’

5. That God may establish your hearts in holiness before him. This is where the true work of repentance, faith, and sanctification is performed in the heart before God. The Lord Jesus will come and his saints with him; then excellency of heart-holiness, as well as the necessity of it, will appear.

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Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.