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Timothy’s Encouraging Report April 17, 2013

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Thessalonians that Timothy has brought him a joyous report of their true piety. He declares his zeal for God and Christ by stating that the fact that the Thessalonians are doing well swallows up all of his other anxieties. Indeed, he cannot find an expression of gratitude to God that can come up to the measure of his joy. He persistently prays to God that he can visit them and complete their faith.

Paul then prays that God and Christ would remove Satan’s obstructions and allow him to visit the Thessalonians. He prays that they would be filled with love mutually cherished and love for all people; he stimulates them by his own example in this regard. Paul concludes by praying that God would make the Thessalonians internally holy when they stand at His judgment seat – when Christ returns with his holy ones.

Thoughts: In this passage, we see that Timothy’s report regarding the Thessalonians made Paul quite joyous. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point:

This manner of testifying to the joy he felt about the steadfastness of the Thessalonians had the force of an exhortation, for Paul’s intention was to stir up the Thessalonians to persevere. It was undoubtedly a most powerful encouragement when they learned that the holy apostle felt so great consolation and joy from the progress they had made in their piety.

We see that Paul did not describe the depth of his joy for the sole purpose of sharing his feelings with the Thessalonians – he wanted his words to have an impact on them by spurring them to honor God more fully in their lives. Paul and the Thessalonians were enduring persecution at this time, and so the importance of mutual reinforcement and encouragement is stressed throughout the letter. The Thessalonians’ “progress” would spur Paul to make “progress” in his ministry, and his “progress” would spur them to continue their Christian walk, etc. Clearly neither Paul nor the Thessalonians could make “progress” on their own.

In verse 10, Paul prays that he would be able to see the Thessalonians again and help them attain perfection in terms of their faith. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

Now, this is the faith he had previously extolled. From this we infer that those who far surpass others are still far away from the goal. Hence, whatever progress we may have made, let us always keep in view our deficiencies, that we may not be reluctant to aim at something higher.

Perhaps this quote implies that even if a Christian nears the end of their life on earth, they “are still far away from the goal.” One must wonder if a Christian’s distance “from the goal” decreases at any point in their walk with God; conversely, can this distance increase at any point in their walk with God? What we do know, though, is that a Christian’s distance “from the goal” vanishes when they are reunited with Jesus Christ – either through physical death or at His Second Coming. That should encourage us during our walk with God.

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