1 Thessalonians 3:10
Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
I. ITS CHARACTERISTICS.
1. It was incessant; his aspiration by day, the breathing of his heart in the stillness of the night.
2. Intensely earnest. Above ordinary measure. It was a wrestling with his covenant God that he might see their face again. Satan had hindered this; hence the importunity.
3. Prevalent. It was heard.
II. ITS OCCASION. He desired this boon not for the mere gratification of any feeling of friendship in him or them; but because there were what he calls "the lacking measures of your faith."
1. As to doctrine, their knowledge was defective. They were entertaining not only imperfect but erroneous views, e.g. about the coming of the Lord, about the state of those who had fallen asleep, and the shares these would have in the glories of the second advent. In matters of this kind the apostolic churches generally had less defined views than those to whom have come "the long results of time."
2. As to practice, there was much that called for correction. The apostolic churches, like the mission churches of our own day, were in the midst of a social corruption of which we can barely form even a conception. There were especially four classes of evils prevailing:(1) Licentiousness, in its most degrading forms, was the besetting sin of the heathen world. The Christian converts often became contaminated with it. It lingered in the flesh when the spirit had cast it off. Even within the pale of the Church it sometimes assumed the form of a mystic Christianity. There were those who imagined themselves to have found in licentiousness the true freedom of the gospel. Chap. 1 Thessalonians 4 points in this direction.
(2) In the Church itself there reigned the spirit of disorder — enhanced in the case of Thessalonica by the idleness engendered by belief in the nearness of the second coming. There are constantly recurring evidences of this in these two Epistles.
(3) There were scruples of conscience as to the observance of days, and eating with the unclean and unbelievers. The contact of Jews and Gentiles in the privileges and work of the Church could hardly fail in those days to give rise to such questions.
(4) Disputes about doctrines and teachers bred dissentions and marred the beauty of Christian life. In all these different ways "unreasonable and wicked men" (2 Thessalonians 3:2) worked mischief which needed to be guarded against and withstood.
III. ITS PURPOSE — to "perfect that which is lacking." The word "perfect" means to readjust, to restore. It is used in surgical language, of the setting of a bone or joint, and of repairing nets, and also of refitting and strengthening of ships.
1. In each of these senses we have fitting illustrations of Paul's purpose. His aim and that of all ministers is that Christians may be —
(1) "perfectly joined together" (1 Corinthians 1:10, Ephesians 4:12). Whatever may be their graces they have still lacking measures of faith. They need to be "fitly joined together" (Ephesians 4:16).
(2) So perfected in knowledge and practice that there shall be no defects in the gospel net.
(3) So ceaselessly to be repaired, built up, as the Ark of Safety, that they shall withstand all the rude billows of this world.
2. Thus filling up that which is lacking in faith on earth, Christ's Church will at last pass into heaven where there will be nothing lacking in glory. John Howe has said, "We read indeed of certain afterings of faith (as it may be significantly rendered) 'things lacking' we render it; but there will be no afterings of glory. What is perfect admits of no increase, it is already full; and why should not a full glory satisfy? It is fulness of joy."
(J. Hutchison, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?