James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13
PERSONAL AND CONGRATULATORY
PAUL’S DESIRE TO REVISIT THE CHURCH (1 Thessalonians 2:17-19)
Satan hindered in the execution of this desire in ways indicated in Acts 17, specifically, by stirring up opposition on the part of the Jews. Observe the teaching here as to the personality of Satan, his hatred of the true church, and the power he has to use agents in opposition to it. Paul’s desire to visit the church is explained by his interest in the saints (1 Thessalonians 2:19). Observe here the reference to the Second coming of Christ, and the teaching of Paul that he would then meet his converts, and know and rejoice over them in the Lord’s presence. What an answer to the question so often raised, Shall we recognize each other in the future life?
TIMOTHY’S MISSION TO THE CHURCH (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5)
Refer to Acts 17 and observe the circumstances under which Paul was left at Athens. Driven out of Thessalonica and Berea, by persecution, the brethren had sent him there. Observe the reason why Timothy was returned to Thessalonica; to establish and comfort the young saints (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Their affliction arising out of their faith was great, and though they had been warned to it (1 Thessalonians 3:4), yet they might have succumbed under it, and Paul’s labor on their behalf would in that sense have been “in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:5).
TIMOTHY’S REPORT OF THE CHURCH (1 Thessalonians 3:6-10)
Their faith was firm, their love warm, their remembrance of Paul keen, and he was comforted. This was life for him, to know that his children in the faith stood “fast in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:8).
PAUL’S PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13)
That he might see them again and that their love might increase toward one another, and toward all. But all this would be fulfilled in permanent perfection only at the Coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:13).
1. What are the four main points of the lesson?
2. How did Satan hinder Paul?
3. What light does this lesson throw on the question of future recognition of believers?
4. Why did Timothy return to Thessalonica?
5. What was the nature of his report to Paul leading to the writing of this letter?