1 Thessalonians 3:7
For this reason, brothers, in all our distress and persecution, we have been reassured about you, because of your faith.
Sermons
Great Desire to See the ThessaloniansR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
The Happy Issue of Timothy's Visit to ThessalonicaT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 3:6-8
The Return of TimotheusB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
Christian SteadfastnessJ. N. Pearson.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Inspiring Christian SteadfastnessNeander.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Joy in the Progress of the GospelW. Baxendale.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Ministerial Gratitude and PrayerD. Mayo.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Saved Sinners a Minister's JoyC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Thankfulness for SuccessS. Smiles, LL. D.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The Faith of the People the Comfort of the MinisterJ. Irons.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The Pastor's Life Wrapped Up with His People's SteadfastnessC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The Pastor's Thankful JoyCanon Miller.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The People's Stability the Minister's ComfortC. Simeon, M. A.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The Spiritual Relation Between the Apostle and the ThessaloniansCarlyle., J. Hutchison, D. D.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The Steadfastness of Believers a Source of Ministerial SatisfactionG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The Steadfastness of Christians the Happiness of MinisterEssex Remembrancer1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
The Steadfastness of the Church the Life of the MinistryEssex Congregational Remembrancer1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
We Live, If Ye Standfast in the LordR. Walker.1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Zealous for the Souls of Others1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
This Epistle was written immediately after Timothy's return as expressive of the apostle's hearty relief at his tidings.

I. THE GOOD TIDINGS. "Your faith and charity, and that ye have remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you."

1. Their faith. He was gratified to hear of the steadfastness and soundness of their faith. They abounded in the

(1) grace of faith, which was unfeigned, growing, and lively;

(2) in the doctrine of faith, which had much light in it;

(3) in the profession of faith, which they held fast without wavering, out of a pure conscience.

2. Their love. This, which was the fruit of their faith, had not waxed cold on account of abounding iniquity. Their faith worked by love. The two graces are always found together. Christian love must be without dissimulation, in deed and in truth, fervent and constant.

3. Their constant and kindly remembrance of the apostle. "Ye have a good remembrance of us always." They thought much of their spiritual teachers, bore their persons in memory, thought of them with gratitude and respect, and, no doubt, remembered them in their prayers.

4. Their desire to see the apostle. They desired to have their memories refreshed by a personal visit from him. If they had begun to fall away, they would not have been so anxious to see him. There was a tender attachment on both sides, for there was a longing on both sides for further fellowship.

II. THE EFFECTS OF THESE GOOD TIDINGS ON THE APOSTLE. "Therefore we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith."

1. They enabled him, if not to forget, at least to bear up, under a weighty burden of trial. He was now at Corinth, in peril and persecution from the Jews, who "opposed themselves and blasphemed" (Acts 18:5-17; 1 Corinthians 2:3). He was disconsolate and dispirited, almost like a dead man, carrying about with him the dying of the Lord Jesus; but now the news of Timothy revived him, like life from the dead, infusing into him new life and vigor. It was their faith especially which comforted him. There is no comfort to a minister comparable to that which springs from the stability and perseverance of his people.

2. The very continuance of his life seemed to be dependent upon their steadfastness. "For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord." The language is almost painfully strong. It suggested to them:

(1) The necessity of continued watchfulness and faith.

(2) The true secret of steadfastness - being "in the Lord." Thus only would "they build themselves up in their most holy faith," "continuing steadfastly in the Church's prayers and instructions."

(3) How much they could affect, not the comfort only, but the life of their teachers, by their vigilance and perseverance! - T.C.







Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction
The scholar finds his happiness in intellectual exercises, and in accumulating knowledge; the politician in the excitement of debate, and the triumph of principles; the scientist in testing and harmonizing the laws of nature; the merchant in his gains; and the minister in the increase of converts to the truth, and in their consistency and perseverance. Observe:

I. THEIR STEADFASTNESS WAS A SOURCE OF COMFORT.

1. The apostle was comforted in the midst of personal suffering (Acts 18:6). So great was his trouble that the Lord thought it needful to encourage him (Acts 18:9, 10). The bitterness of his afflictions at this time was sweetened by hearing of the constancy of his Thessalonian converts, The faithlessness of the people is a grief to the true minister now: but at last the horror will be theirs.

2. The apostle was comforted concerning their faith. The Church is in danger, and cause of deep anxiety, when its faith wavers.

II. THEIR STEADFASTNESS INTENSIFIED THE PLEASURE OF LIVING. The good news thrilled his soul with new life. For now, whatever else befall — now, in the face of Jewish fury and Gentile scorn — now, amid infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses and deaths oft — now we live if ye stand fast in the Lord. The relation of the minister to his people is so close and vital that they have it in their power to make his life happy or miserable. There is a method of destroying life without its becoming utterly extinct. To lessen the cheerful flow of life, and depress the spirits of the man of God, is a species of murder: to starve him into submission by studied neglect and privation, is diabolical. The ministerial life and energy of even an apostle depended on the sympathy, faith, and steadfastness of the brethren (John 3:4).

III. THEIR STEADFASTNESS WAS PRODUCTIVE OF GRATEFUL JOY.

1. This joy was copious and sincere: "For the joy wherewith we joy before our God." The transitions of the emotions are rapid. From the midst of the apostle's grief a fountain of joy breaks forth. This joy filled his soul even in the presence of God. It was a pure, sincere, undissembled, overflowing joy, such as God could approve.

2. This joy arose from a disinterested love: "For your sakes." True love gives us an interest in the safety and happiness of others. He who possesses this never lacks joy: if it flows not on his own behalf, it does on behalf of others. Bernard has said, "Of all the motions and affections of the soul, love is the only one we may reciprocate with God: to re-love Him is our happiness: woe, if we answer Him not in some measure of re-loving affection."

3. This joy was expressed in fervent thanksgiving: "What thanks can we render," etc. His gratitude was so great that he could hardly give it expression. The grateful heart prizes blessings that seem to others of small value.

IV. THEIR STEADFASTNESS EXCITED AN EARNEST LONGING TO IMPART ADDITIONAL GOOD.

1. The apostle assiduously prayed for the opportunity of a personal interview: "Night and day," etc. The longer the absence the more eager the desire. The good news of their constancy increased the desire. A love like his could be satisfied only with personal spiritual intercourse. It was not enough simply to write. Voice and manner have a charm of their own. Reading, praying, etc., will be unavailing if we despise prophesying — the oral declaration of the truth.

2. The apostle sought this interview to supply what was lacking in their faith. None are so perfect in faith as not to be susceptible of improvement. Faith is based on knowledge, and as knowledge is capable of indefinite extension, so faith may be continually increased. The less distinctly the great subjects of faith are understood, the more defective is faith. We all have to cry, "Lord, increase our faith."Lessons:

1. The true minister cannot be indifferent to the spiritual state of his people.

2. The fidelity and perseverance of believers is an inspiration and an unspeakable joy to the anxious worker.

3. Faith and practice powerfully react upon each other.

(G. Barlow.)

It is natural for labourers to look for wages: the minister's best wages is the faith of his people. The apostle's work was laborious and discouraging, but his comfort was the growing faith of the Churches. On this point he was more anxious than about his own safety (ver. 5).

I. THE APOSTLE'S AFFLICTION.

1. The abuse of the world and the devil. This abuse is —(1) A sure sign of a valid ministry: "If I pleased men I should not be a servant of Christ." Christ sent His servants as sheep in the midst of wolves.(2) Natural. Satan claims the world as his king dom. When havoc is wrought in it it is not to be expected that he will bear it quietly. The carnal mind which is enmity against God is opposed to the gospel, because it abates human pride, and calls for much humiliation and sacrifice.

2. Non-success in many Christian efforts. The apostles "essayed to go" hither and thither: but the Spirit forbade them. In other places they were rejected; in others all their labour seemed to be in vain. There is no greater grief to a minister than to be hindered, rejected or fruitless.

3. The aboundings of heresy and wickedness. It is impossible to describe the anguish of Lot, who "vexed his righteous soul" on account of the iniquity of Sodom, and equally impossible to describe the pain of God's servants, to whom the honour of Jesus is dear, to hear His name degraded, His faith frittered away, and the work of His Spirit melted down into a little cold water.

4. Personal suffering, whether of a bodily or spiritual character.

II. HIS SOLACE. "Your faith." The minister is comforted by the knowledge —

1. That faith is wrought in his hearers; that his preaching is owned of God to the working of faith in the soul. This faith is not an intellectual assent to his teaching — that would bring him a little glory, no doubt. What he wants is that faith which works not admiration but transformation.

2. That his hearers are living the life of faith; when he witnesses the love which faith works and the purity that faith imparts. A faith that does not make a man love holiness and hate sin will never make the heart fit for Divine inhabitation.

3. That his hearers are growing in faith — in its possession and exercise — in the strength and stature of faith; growing whether in the "child," "young man," or "father"; whether in the "blade, ear, or full corn in the ear."

4. That his hearers have the full assurance of faith.

5. That the stability of their faith is evincing its reality: "not moved with afflictions."

6. That their faith strengthens his own.

(J. Irons.)

I do not know anything that can make a man forget his pain and weariness like grasping the hand of a sinner saved. I speak here from experience, for yesterday evening, when I was thinking of this subject, I was myself somewhat dull through pain and weakness, and as God would have it, I took up the last Report of the Baptist Missionary Society, and as I glanced over it I saw my own name. It seems that our missionary in San Domingo has had a discouraging year, but it was lighted up with one most pleasing incident. A man had come down from the interior of Hayti to ask for baptism on accepting Christ as his Saviour. The missionary asked how he came to know anything about it. In reply he told him that he had fallen in with a sermon translated into the French language, which was preached by Mr. Spurgeon. Oh, friends, I was dull no longer! I had meat to eat. Had an angel stood in the study, I could not have felt more delighted with his visit than I did when I read of a sinner saved.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

For now we live if ye stand fast in the Lord
I. HIS WELL-BEING DEPENDED ON THEM.

1. Paul's distress while he was at Corinth is represented as a species of death, as he says elsewhere, "I die daily." But from this, as it were, he revived. He felt himself raised again to the full enthusiasm and activity of life by learning of their faithful adherence to Christ. When Jacob had the good news brought to him that Joseph was alive, and governor of Egypt, "his spirit revived." His years of mourning had been a kind of death to him, and the tidings delivered him from it. In the same way was Paul quickened in the midst of all his sorrows. As Newman says, "He felt all his neighbours to be existing in himself." We may further say that he existed in them — his life was bound up in theirs.

2. This identity of interest and aim can only rightly manifest itself in those who are one in Christ. Human character in its nobler elements can be developed alone in sympathy with others, in the willingness to share in each others joys, sorrows, failures, triumphs. Isolation of spirit is spiritual death. It is with hearts as with the embers of the hearth — "Do you not see glimmering half red embers, if laid together, get into the brightest white glow"

(Carlyle.)

3. What a striking contrast to the apostle was such an one as Goethe, the apostle of mere worldly culture, the picture of a man living in "the miserable dream of keeping the course of his inward development free from all foreign interference," reluctant to devote himself and his inner life to anything, or any one outside of himself; consumed with the desire, as he expressed it, "to raise the pyramid of my existence, the base of which is already laid, as high as possible in the air; that absorbing every other desire, and scarcely ever quitting me." There is no more revolting picture to the Christian than that. We can never rise to God as long as we try to do so in the way of selfish isolation. We can only find ourselves when we first lose ourselves in others. It is thus that Christianity extends itself. "Till each man finds his own in all men's good, and all men work in noble brotherhood."

II. THEIR STEADFASTNESS REVIVED THE APOSTLE. What is implied in it?

1. That individually and collectively the members of the Church are "in the Lord," abiding in Him both in faith and practice.

2. That while in the Lord they are exposed to the danger of wavering. The language seems military (1 Corinthians 16:13). Christ's Church, each section of it, is exposed to assault. The army of the living God is subject to having its ranks broken in upon. This is the aim of the tempter, of whom the apostle had just been speaking. Hence the exhortation to steadfast adherence to God and His truth, for "by faith ye stand"; steadfast adherence, too, to one another, that so they may present the strength of a united phalanx to the enemy, and at last rejoice in a day of triumph.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

Essex Congregational Remembrancer.
I. THE NATURE OF THIS STEADFASTNESS. It comprehends —

1. Their steadfastness in the faith of the gospel. This faith is not merely the assent of the mind to its truth, but also the dependence of the heart on its salva tion. The latter depends indeed on the former; for if the word of the gospel be not received as true, the salvation of the gospel cannot be depended on as sure. Steadfastness, then, comprises a firm belief in the truth of revelation, and a firm reliance on the Saviour revealed; believing with the heart unto righteousness, having the heart established with grace.

2. Their steadfastness in the profession of the gospel. The gospel not only reveals truths to be believed, and a Saviour to be depended on, but presents claims to be recognized. It not only invites the confidence of the heart, but the confession of the mouth. It requires an avowed separation from the world and sin, and a professed subjection to the authority of Christ. Two separate interests divide the world — the kingdoms of Satan and of Christ. Christ has fully declared His determination to allow of no compromise. Many at different times have gone over to the enemy again. To stand fast is to maintain our profession, and not to deny the Saviour's name and desert His cause. In the early Church there was much persecution and apostasy. Now there is not much persecution, but temptation; and probably more have been induced to desert by the smiles of the world than were ever driven by its frowns.

3. Their steadfastness in the practice of the gospel. The gospel not only requires belief and profession, but action. Christianity is a practical religion. If our faith is genuine and our confession sincere, they will lead to obedience. The practice of the gospel includes —(1) Self-government of the head, heart, hands; thoughts, words, and deeds must be brought into subjection to Christ.(2) Relative duty. The gospel finds man a social being, and is adopted to his circumstances as such. His relative duties are —(a) Natural; and the practice of the gospel consists in the discharge of duties owing to parents, children, etc.(b) Civil. Such as relate to governors, subjects, masters, etc. These are comprehended in the golden rule.(c) Religious — our duty to the Church.

4. Their steadfastness in the hope of the gospel. The religion of Christ is preeminently a religion of hope (Titus 2:12; Philippians 1:6; Hebrews 6:17).

II. ITS EFFECT. That of the text is only one out of many. The most important benefit would arise to themselves, but it would not terminate in themselves. It had a happy effect on their connections, especially on their spiritual instructors.

1. It increased their joy — "Now we live," we are happy. Who that seriously reflects on the nature and design of the ministry can avoid the conclusion that the prosperity of the people is the happiness of the minister (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20).

2. It promoted their diligence: "Now we live," are alive in our work, and can apply ourselves with energy. When his people's faith is firm, their profession uniform, their prayers torrent, their practice consistent, etc., the minister goes forth to his work like "a giant refreshed."

3. It contributed to their usefulness. The early history of the Church proves this (Acts 2:41). The greatest obstacle to religion is the inconsistency of its professors, and their uniform consistency its most powerful auxiliary. Ministers preach to the Church; but the Church preaches to the world.

III. THE OBLIGATION OF CHRISTIANS TO MAINTAIN IT.

1. The authority of God enjoins it: "If ye love Me keep My commandments."

2. Their own interest is involved in it: "It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace."

3. The good of others requires it: "Look not every man on his own things."

4. A due regard for ministers demands it: They are to be esteemed very highly in love for their works sake.

5. Experience of Divine mercy and hope of eternal life add strength to all other obligations.

(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)

Here the purest zeal for the honour of his Master, and the most generous love to the souls of men, are happily united, and expressed in the native language of a warm and upright heart: the purest zeal and the most generous love, for no tincture of selfishness appears in either; if Christ is glorified, if men are saved, Paul obtains his utmost wish; his happiness is independent of everything else; he enjoys all that in his own estimation is worthy to be accounted life, if his spiritual children stand fast in the Lord.

(R. Walker.)

So, in a later time, wrote Samuel Rutherford, to his parishioners at An woth: "I long exceedingly to know ii the oft-spoken watch between you and Christ holdeth, and if ye follow on to know the Lord. My day thoughts and night thoughts are of yon. While you sleep I am afraid for your souls that they be off the Rock."

1. Are you standing fast, by the assurance, of understanding, in the doctrines of the gospel?

2. There is danger of our not standing fast in regard to the adherence of our hearts to the doctrines of the gospel. That they be clearly apprehended by the mind is important, not in order to their becoming matters of idle talk or curious speculation, but in order to the sanctification of the heart, and the conduct of the life.

3. Endeavour to find out by another test whether you are standing fast in Christ. The test I mean is proposed by St. John, in his first epistle: "He that saith he abideth in Him (that is, in the Lord Jesus Christ), ought himself also so to walk even as He walked." I demand, then, whether you are taking Jesus Christ for an example, and following His steps? I proceed to point out some of the dangers which threaten your religious steadfastness.(1) Beware of false teachers, who may "come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." "By their fruits ye shall know them."(2) Arm yourselves with the powerful hopes of the gospel against the hostility and terrors of the world.(3) If your steadfastness is endangered by the terrors of the world, it is yet in greater danger of yielding to worldly stratagems and fascinations. Many a stout soldier, after successfully contending against the world as an embattled foe, has fallen by its enchantments.(4) There is danger of losing our hold of Christ through disgust at the difficulties of a religious course. We find the road narrower, the enemies which infest it more numerous and troublesome, the seasons of refreshment less certain and frequent, than we had anticipated. And hence we grow faint and weary.

5. Moreover, spiritual pride is the stumbling block of many a soul. Lastly: I charge you to bear constantly in mind, that it is by the help of the Holy Spirit, and by that alone, that any one stands fast in the Lord.

(J. N. Pearson.)

Essex Remembrancer.
s: — There is a most beautiful harmony and dependence in the works of God; so there must be in civil relations; so there should be between minister and people.

I. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN STEADFASTNESS.

1. It is distinct from an obstinate perverseness — the pursuit of a given course without reason, and against reasons when they favour a change. The Christian keeps his mind open to conviction even when strongly persuaded, and is ever ready to alter his conduct when truth commands.

2. It is consistent with advancement. Spiritual progress is the aim of every Christian. Having tasted the pleasures of Divine knowledge and grace he desires more. To stand still is not to stand fast (Philippians 3:10).

3. It is identical with constancy; firmness and immovableness in spite of outward circumstances. Opposition we are warned to expect, but we are to be firm to the end.

II. IN WHAT RESPECTS CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE STEADFAST.

1. In our attachments.

(1)To Christ.

(2)To Christians.

(3)To truth.

(4)To duty.

2. In our zeal. Earnestness is commend able in worldly things, much more in religion. Here coldness is criminal. Stead fastness demands uniformity — not hot today and cold tomorrow.

3. In our Christian profession. Some make no public avowal of Christ; others make it but contradict it in their lives.

III. THE MOTIVES WHICH SHOULD LEAD TO STEADFASTNESS. "Now we live if ye stand fast." It —

1. Confirms the truth and power of the gospel we preach. Every steadfast Christian is an evidence of it in circles which ministers cannot reach.

2. Indicates our call to the work. Usefulness is the best proof of Divine ordination.

3. Warrants of hope of meeting you in glory.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

Ministers who are really sent of God greatly rejoice in the spiritual prosperity of their people. If they see God's word prosper they prosper. On the other hand it is like death to them if God does not bless His word. They get depressed, and say, "Who hath believed our report."

I. SOME ARE NOT IN THE LORD AT ALL.

1. A solid mass of infidelity and godlessness hems as in. Our heart is heavy because the city shuts its eyes to the light.

2. Our greater sorrow is that there are many who hear the gospel and are not in the Lord. Some of you contribute to God's work, and are in many points excellent, but you lack the one thing needful, and after having joined with God's people in outward acts of devotion are in danger of being driven from His presence forever.

3. If there be a deadening influence about the thought that some amongst us are not converted, think of what the effect must be upon a minister's mind who has laboured long and seen no fruit. There may be instances in which a man has been faithful but not successful. Then the soil breaks the ploughshare, and the weary ox is ready to faint. Are you working for Jesus? Then you know what it is to feel the shadow of death when you do not win a soul.

II. THERE ARE SOME WHO PROFESS TO BE IN CHRIST BUT ARE CERTAINLY NOT STANDING FAST. This is a Marah — a bitter well.

1. There are many over whom we rejoice who, nevertheless, apostatize. They run well, and begin in the Spirit, but by and by attempt to be made perfect in the flesh. Oh, foolish ones, who hath bewitched you? We can never be sufficiently grateful to our Lord for allowing a Judas to be among the twelve, for thus He bore Himself what has been to His servants the most crushing of griefs.

2. Many do not believe in such a way that we could remove their names from the Church roll; but they decline in grace. Too many grow worldly, and it is especially the case when they grow wealthy.

3. Others whom we look upon as likely to become leaders and helpers are diverted from the work of God. We do not now expect to see them at a prayer meeting, etc., for they are careless about the salvation of souls. They were once full of zeal, but are now neither cold nor hot.

4. Some are always shifting their doctrinal positions.

5. Some are not steadfast in their service of Christ.

6. We stand fast in the Lord if the Lord keeps you true in the matter of holy conversation. I call that holiness which minds its work at home, which makes a kind father, an obedient child, an honest tradesman, etc. But when men turn round and fling in our teeth, "These are your Christians," then down goes our spirit, and we wish we could die.

7. Unless men are steadfast the Church is weakened. The strength of any Church must be the aggregate of the strength of all its members; therefore, if you have a set of weak brethren you multiply the weakness of each by the number of the membership. What a hospital is the result!

8. The minister is disappointed of his reasonable expectations when men do not stand fast. He is like a farmer who sees the seed grow, but just when it is about to yield him a crop he spies out black smut, and his wheat is blighted. He may well weep that it went so far and yet failed so utterly. Judge ye mothers what it is to nurse your children till they are. near manhood, and then to see them sink into the grave.

III. THERE ARE SOME WHO ARE IN THE LORD AND STAND FAST IN THE LORD, AND THESE ARE OUR LIFE.

1. Because their holy life fills us with living confidence.

(1)In the reality of Christianity.

(2)In the keeping power of God.

2. By stimulating us to greater exertion. We are able to speak many things which could never have been spoken, and to point to such and say, "See what God hath done."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT IS THAT STABILITY WHICH ALL CHRISTIANS MUST ATTAIN. When any persons first receive the gospel so as to yield themselves up to its influence, they are said to "be in Christ;" when they make advances in grace they are said to "walk in Christ;" and when they are established in a firm adherence of the truth, they are said, as in the text, "to stand fast in the Lord." This is that stability which is required of us.

1. In the faith of the gospel.

2. In the profession of it.

3. In the practice of it. That all may be stirred up to seek this stability, we observe:

II. WHY THEIR ATTAINMENT OF IT LIES SO NEAR TO THE HEART OF EVERY FAITHFUL MINISTER. A minister stands related to his people as a pastor to his flock, over which he is to watch, and of which he must give a just account; and his solicitude about them, instead of terminating when they are brought into the fold, may be said then more properly to commence. He will be anxious about their attainment of stability in the Divine life.

1. Because the honour of God is deeply interested in it.

2. Because their salvation altogether depends upon it.

3. Because the great ends of the ministry are answered by it.We conclude with a few words —

1. Of grateful acknowledgment.

2. Of affectionate warning.

3. Of joyful encouragement.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

An image of Cybele was carried round in one of her usual cars on one occasion, in the reign of the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and accompanied by a great multitude of people. All fell on their knees; but Symphorianus, a young man of high family, conceived that his conscience would not allow him to participate in this rite, and most probably, on being taken to task for it, took occasion to speak of the vanity of idolatry. He was instantly seized, and conducted before the governor, Heraclius, a man of consular dignity, as a disturber of the public worship, and a seditious citizen. The governor said to him, "You are a Christian, I suppose. As far as I can judge, you must have escaped our notice; for there are but a few followers of this sect here." He answered, "I am a Christian; I pray to the true God, who rules in heaven, but I cannot pray to idols; nay, if I were permitted, I would dash them to atoms, on my own responsibility." The governor, on this avowal, declared him guilty of a double crime, one crime against the religion, and another against the laws of the state; and, as neither threats nor promises could induce Symphorianus to abjure his faith, he was sentenced to be beheaded. As they led him to execution, his mother cried out to him, "My son, my son, keep the living God in thy heart; we cannot fear death, which leads so certainly to life: up, my son I let thy heart be up, and look to Him who rules on high. Thy life is not taken from thee today, but thou art conducted to a better. By a blessed exchange, my son, thou wilt pass this day to the life of heaven."

(Neander.)

For what thanks can we render to God again for you for all the joy
I. ITS NATURE.

1. It was a joy for their sakes. It implies a love towards them. We do not joy for the sake of those to whom we are indifferent.

2. It was a joy before God. Not a carnal joy, but a holy joy, which he could carry to the mercy seat in thanksgiving and praise.

3. An undant, not a scanty joy — "all the joy."

II. ITS CHARACTER AND CAUSES. It is to be traced to the fact —

1. That God had owned His preaching among them (1 Thessalonians 1:5, 9; 1 Thessalonians 2:1.13).(1) This joy was not as over a triumph of his own wisdom and strength. The true minister does not say, "I have converted a soul," attributing that vast result to his own logic or rhetoric, but to sovereign grace.(2) He estimates this work by striving to follow it out in its eternal consequences. It is much, indeed, to trace the present effects of grace in reformation, comfort, peace, etc.; but fully to estimate it the minister must look onward to the soul enjoying the eternal inheritance (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20).(3) This joy, therefore, is not derived from the praise which may greet the minister in the vestry from a mere admirer, the drawing room compliments of mere sermon hearers. These, if he be not watchful, are snares, and must puff up by ministering to vanity. But the artless acknowledgments of stricken hearts, the loving thanks of anxious ones who have been eased, of mourners who have been comforted, etc., do not puff up, but send him to his knees in thank fulness and tears.(4) It is hard to say whether the joy of conversion or the joy of edification is the greater. For the latter has to do with no secondary branch of the ministry. It is not only a ministry of reconciliation, but is also for the perfecting of the saints.

2. That the Thessalonians adorned the gospel by the practical exhibition of its power in their hearts and lives. They had received the word as the Word of God. They had not listened from the mere love of novelty, nor from being caught by the apostle's eloquence. They had not been as the men of Ezekiel's day (Ezekiel 33:30-32). No; in Thessalonica we read of a work of faith, go. They were "ensamples to all that believe," etc., etc. Here was more than a name to live, more than the form of godliness — power, life, growth, fruitfulness. Here, then, is a distinct cause of ministerial joy; not only sinners added, but believers growing. This every faithful pastor covets. He would not have a congregation like any of those mentioned in Revelation. He desires that when the heavenly Bishop inspects the flock He may have nothing — not even "a few things" against them. No tampering with false doctrine, declension from the faith, barrenness in good works, etc.; but a spiritual people, a praying, loving, fruitful, unselfish people. Over such he can "joy."

3. The affection of the Thessalonians towards himself. Not that Paul's great object was to centre the affection of his converts on himself. "We preach not ourselves," etc. A minister preaches himself when he employs enticing words of man's wisdom to attract a congregation and to get a name; when he would attach his congregation as partizans to his own person and preaching; when he uses flattering words as a cloke of covetousness, when, to keep his seats full and his friends round him, he accommodates his preaching to their taste. But Paul preached not to make Paulines but Christians, not to enrich himself, but to enrich them with "the unsearchable riches of Christ." Yet he did not repel the affection of his people when called forth in lawful measure toward himself. Paul loved the pastoral tie. He loved his people, and rejoiced that his people loved him.

(Canon Miller.)

I. OBSERVE NOW THANKFUL THE APOSTLE WAS (ver. 9). When we are most cheerful we should be most thankful. What we rejoice in we should give thanks for. This is to joy before the Lord, to spiritualize our joy. Paul speaketh as if he could not tell how to express his thankfulness to God, or his delight and rejoicing for the sake of the believing Thessalonians; but he was careful God should not lose the glory of that comfort he received in the welfare of his converted friends. His heart was enlarged with love to them, and with thanksgiving to God; he was willing to express the one and the other as well as he could. As to thankfulness to God, this especially is very imperfect in the present state; but when we come to heaven we shall do this blessed work perfectly.

II. OBSERVE HOW PRAYERFUL THE APOSTLE WAS (ver. 10). He prayed for the Thessalonians night and day; that is — evening and morning, or very frequently, in the midst of the business of the day, or between the slumbers of the night, lifting up his heart to God in supplication for them. Thus we should pray alway. And Paul's prayer was fervent prayer: he prayed exceedingly — was fervent in his utterances. When we are most thankful we should be most prayerful; for those we give thanks for have need to be prayed for. Those we most rejoice in, and that are our greatest comforts, must be our constant care in this world of temptation and imperfection. There was something still lacking in the faith of the Thessalonians Paul desired might be perfected, and to see their face in order thereunto. And is it not true that the best of men have something wanting in their faith, either in the matter of it, there being some mysteries or doctrines not sufficiently apprehended by them, or yet as to the clearness and certainty of their faith, there being some remaining darknesses or doubtings as to the effects and operations of it, these being not so conspicuous and perfect as they should be? The ministry of the Word and the ordinances of the Sanctuary are exceedingly helpful in such a truly important matter; they are, therefore, to be desired and used for "the perfecting of the saints."

(D. Mayo.)

Telford stated to a friend, only a few months before his death, that for some time previous to the opening of the Menai Suspension Bridge his anxiety was so great that he could scarcely sleep, and that a continuance of that condition must have very soon completely undermined his health. We are not, therefore, surprised to learn that when his friends rushed to congratulate him on the result of the first day's experiment, which decisively proved the strength and solidity of the bridge, they should have found the engineer on his knees engaged in prayer. A vast load had been taken off his mind; the perilous enterprise of the day had been accomplished without loss of life; and his spontaneous act was thankfulness.

(S. Smiles, LL. D.)

A pious Armenian, calling on Mr. Hamlin, the missionary at Constantinople, remarked that he was astonished to see how the people are waking up to the truth; how, even among the most uncultivated, some were seeking after it as for hid treasure. "Yes," said he, "it is going forward; it will triumph; but alas! I shall not live to see it. Alas, that I am born an age too soon!" "But," said Mr. Hamlin, "do you remember what our Saviour said, 'There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth'? You may not live to see the truth triumphant in this empire, but should you reach the kingdom of heaven your joy over your whole nation redeemed will be infinitely greater than it could be on earth." He seemed surprised at this thought; but after examining the various passages to which I referred him, he seemed to be perfectly enraptured at the thought that our interest in the Church of Christ is something that death cannot touch, and which, instead of ceasing with this life, will only be increased and perfected in another. "Oh, fool, and slow of heart," said he, "to read the gospel so many times without perceiving this glorious truth." If this be so, no matter to what age a Christian is born, nor when he dies.

(W. Baxendale.)

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