1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Why when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;…
When the apostle could no longer control his longing to see his converts, he sent them Timothy by way of relieving his solicitude in their behalf. His love for them was manifest in all the circumstances of this mission.
I. HE SACRIFICES HIS OWN IMMEDIATE COMFORT TO THEIR BENEFIT. "We thought it good to be left at Athens alone."
1. Though Timothy was most necessary to him in the ministry, he parted with him for their good.
2. Athens, as a seat of boundless idolatry, exercised such a depressing influence upon him that he needed the stimulus of Timothy's society. Yet he denied himself this comfort that he might serve them.
II. HE DESPATCHES TO THEM THE MOST HIGHLY ESTEEMED OF HIS FELLOW-LABORERS. "Our brother, and minister of God, and fellow-laborer in the gospel of Christ." He selects one best fitted to serve them by his gifts, his experience, and his knowledge of the apostle's views and wishes. The various titles here given to Timothy help to honor him before the Churches, and to challenge the abiding confidence of the Thessalonians.
III. THE DESIGN OF TIMOTHY'S MISSION. It was twofold: "To establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith," and "to know your faith."
1. The necessity for his mission. The afflictions which they were enduring for the gospel.
(1) These afflictions had a most disturbing tendency. "That no one be disquieted by these afflictions." The converts had newly emerged from heathenism, and therefore the apostle was more concerned on their behalf. Yet, as we know from the Second Epistle, they remained firm. "We ourselves glory in you in the Churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure" (2 Thessalonians 1:4).
(2) These afflictions were of Divine appointment. "For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." They were, therefore, "no strange thing." They come by the will of God, who has determined their nature, severity, and duration. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." The afflictions were not accidental.
(3) They were clearly foreseen by the apostle. "When we were with you we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction."
(a) It is the duty of ministers to forewarn their converts of coming affliction, lest they should be offended thereby.
(b) Converts, when forewarned, ought to be forearmed, so that they may not sink under them, much less forsake the gospel on account of them. "For the light afflictions are but for a moment, and work out an exceeding weight of glory."
(4) Satan is the main source, of danger in these afflictions. "Lest by any means the tempter had tempted you. The apostle was "not ignorant of his devices," and was apprehensive lest Satan should get an advantage of his converts by moving them from the hope of the gospel, and causing them to relinquish their profession of it.
(5) The only security against Satan's temptations - faith; for this "is the victory that overcometh the world" - this is the shield "wherewith they could quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
2. The manner in which Timothy's mission was to be discharged. "To establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith."
(1) In relation to the Thessalonians. Timothy would
(a) establish them by giving them a fresh exhibition of the truth with its manifold evidences. The strongest faith needs confirmation. The apostles were in the habit of confirming the souls of the disciples (Acts 14:22).
(b) He would comfort them concerning their faith by exhibiting the example of Christ, the glory that must accrue to God from their steadfastness, and the hope of the coming kingdom.
(2) In relation to the apostle himself. "To know your faith." One object of his sending Timothy was to put an end to his own anxieties and doubts on their behalf, for he might fear that "his labor would be in vain." He might hope the best but fear the worst, for he was most deeply concerned in their welfare. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;
WEB: Therefore, when we couldn't stand it any longer, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone,