Encouragement to Love
                                                                      (1Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:13)

 

1Th 2:17  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. 

1Th 2:18  Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 

1Th 2:19  For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 

1Th 2:20  For ye are our glory and joy. 

 

1Th 3:1  Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 

1Th 3:2  And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 

1Th 3:3  That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 

1Th 3:4  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 

1Th 3:5  For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. 

Timothy's Encouraging Report

1Th 3:6  But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 

1Th 3:7  Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 

1Th 3:8  For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 

1Th 3:9  For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 

1Th 3:10  Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 

1Th 3:11  Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 

1Th 3:12  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 

1Th 3:13  To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. 
 

Paul had been forced to flee Thessalonica because of persecution after spending only a very short time preaching the Gospel in the synagogues. Many Jews and Gentiles were converted under his ministry.
After a while, Paul and his fellow workers were concerned for the new believers and although he would have loved to return himself to Thessalonica, he could not go himself.


1Th 2:18  Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 

Although Paul needed Timothy with him, he decided that Timothy would be the one to go and check on these new believers.

This letter is sent to the Thessalonians after Timothy returns to Paul with the news of them.

In this chapter, Ch 3, the apostle gives further evidence of his love to the Thessalonians, by telling them why he sent Timothy to them, explaining  his feelings towards them and his desires for them.

He tells them that he would have loved to have gone himself but Satan prevented him.
He wanted them to know how much they were loved and how much he and the brethren were concerned for them.
Because he couldn’t bear the thought of them suffering and having the fear that some of them might fall away, he sent Timothy.
He really couldn’t spare Timothy but because he felt that their need was greater than his at this time he felt Timothy should go and he stay behind in Athens.
Notice that Paul calls Timothy, our brother,
1Th 3:2  And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 

Even though Timothy was young, Paul was treating him as an equal in the Gospel, recognising Timothy’s ministry.

As ministers of the Gospel, we should respect one another, not hindering one another but supporting each other by love and encouragement, helping each other to recognise our own individual ministry within the body of Christ.
The reason why Paul sent Timothy: 
To establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith, v. 2.

 Paul had introduced them to the Christian faith, and now he was desirous that they might be confirmed in the faith and comforted in love, that they might be sure in the choice they had made of the Christian religion, and comforted in the profession and practice of it.
The motive inducing Paul to send Timothy for this end, namely, a godly fear or jealousy, lest they should be moved from the faith of Christ,
 v. 3.
He was desirous that no man, no one among them, should be moved or shaken in mind, that they should not apostatize (fall away) or waver in the faith.

He knew there was danger, and feared the consequence. There was danger, by reason of affliction and persecution for the sake of the gospel, v. 3. These Thessalonians had seen first hand what afflictions the apostles and preachers of the gospel met with, and this might possibly stumble them; and also those who made profession of the gospel were persecuted, and without doubt these Thessalonians themselves were afflicted.
Sadly many preachers today do not warn new Christians about the dangers of persecution. “Come to Jesus and He will solve all your problems, he will fulfil all your needs, family problems, money problems, accept Jesus and all in the garden will be rosy”.
This is a false Gospel, a Gospel that does not encourage discipleship. Young Christians should be told the truth, that there is a cost to being a follower of Jesus Christ, otherwise when persecution comes, they will be in danger of falling away.
Paul had warned the new converts in Thessalonica of the probable persecution that they may encounter as a result of following Jesus Christ.


1Th 3:3  That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 

1Th 3:4  For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 
 

There are many scriptures that verify that tribulation and persecution could be the portion of any Christian.

2 Tim 3:10 You, however, have observed my teaching, my conduct, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, my endurance, 
11 my persecutions, and the sufferings that came upon me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 
12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,…


2 Timothy 3:12 - Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
John 15:18 - If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.
Matthew 5:44 - But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
1 Peter 4:12-14 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  
1 Peter 3:17 - For [it is] better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
1 Peter 3:14 - But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
1 Peter 3:16 - Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
Matthew 5:10 - Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Luke 6:22 - Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you [from their company], and shall reproach [you], and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
1 John 3:13 - Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.


Mathew Henry in his commentary puts it like this:, It is the devil’s design to hinder the good fruit and effect of the preaching of the gospel. If he cannot hinder ministers from labouring in the word and doctrine, he will, if he be able, hinder them of the success of their labours. Note also, Faithful ministers are much concerned about the success of their labours. No one would willingly labour in vain; and ministers are loth to spend their strength, and pains, and time, for nought.2. To prevent this danger, with its bad consequence, the apostle tells them what care he took in sending Timothy, (1.) To put them in mind of what he had told them before concerning suffering tribulation (v. 4), he says (v. 3), We are appointed thereunto, that is, unto
afflictions. So is the will and purpose of God that through many afflictions we must enter into his kingdom. Their troubles and persecutions did not come by chance, not merely from the wrath and malice of the enemies of religion, but by the appointment of God. The event only came to pass according as God had determined, and they knew he had told them before it would be; so that they should not think it strange, and, being fore-warned, they should be fore-armed. Note, The apostles were so far from flattering people with an expectation of worldly prosperity in religion that, on the contrary, they told them plainly they must count upon trouble in the flesh. And herein they followed the example of their great Master, the author or our faith. Besides, it might prove a confirmation of their faith, when they perceived that it only happened to them as was predicted before. (2.) To know their faith, that so he might inform the apostles whether they remained stedfast under all their sufferings, whether their faith failed or not, because, if their faith did not fail, they would be able to stand their ground against the tempter and all his temptations: their faith would be a shield, to defend them against all the fiery darts of the wicked, Eph. 6:16 .

 

 It appears from Timothy’s good report of the love, faith and endurance of the new believers in Thessalonica, that they had taken good note of what they had been told by the Apostle Paul.
Here is a good example of proper Gospel preaching and explanation of the Christian conversion. This is good follow up technique.
This wasn’t just a Gospel message and leave the new converts to themselves but whilst with them the Apostle Paul and his fellow workers made it quite clear what had occurred and warned them of what to expect. They would have been warned about falling back into old practices and how to avoid the snares of the devil.
This was obviously the beginnings of discipleship.
The tribulations and persecutions they were experiencing drew them closer together. This tends to promote religion, and the success of the gospel. The world hates them, and therefore they should love one
another.

1Th 3:7  Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 
1Th 3:8  For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 

 

Therefore, brethren, we were comforted in all our affliction and distress. The apostle thought this good news of them was sufficient to balance all the troubles he met with. It was easier for them to bear affliction, or persecution, or fightings from without, when he found the good success of his ministry and the constancy of the converts he had made to Christianity; He was encouraged in that he knew that he had not laboured in vain, when he understood their faith and the perseverance of it. This put new life and spirit into the apostle and made him vigorous and active in the work of the Lord. Thus he was not only comforted, but greatly rejoiced also:
This is why it is so important for us to make sure that people don’t just make a decision to follow Jesus without fully understanding the implications.
We must ensure that Gospel that we preach is the full Gospel, to help those listening to understand the meaning of sin and separation from God, the need for repentance and forgiveness and the acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then of course, to continue to lead them on in the faith, or make sure that they have further counselling and fellowship, with other believers.

Sadly, one of the things that happens after large campaigns or Gospel meetings is that the Gospel is preached and heard, people are encouraged to believe the Gospel and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour. They may get some form of counselling but are then sent back to apostate churches or heretical churches.
It is most important to make sure that new converts are introduced to doctrinally sound fellowships if they are to be brought on in the faith.
It is no good counselling a Jehovah’s  Witness who comes by faith to Christ and then sending him back to the Kingdom Hall.
Or a converted Mormon back to the Latter Day Saints temple.

The object of the Gospel is not to make a new born again believer a better heretic but to lead him into truth.

Most importantly, it is essential that we keep new converts in our prayers.

Paul was, 
v. 9. full of joy, and full of praise and thanksgiving.
When we are most cheerful and uplifted, we should be most thankful. What we rejoice in we should give thanks for.

Our work is not finished after we have shared the Gospel with someone. We need to be fervent in our prayers, that God would cement the word in the hearts of the listener, watering the seed sown and cause it to flourish.

 

1Th 3:10  Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 

1Th 3:11  Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 
 

Paul speaks as if he could not tell how to express his thankfulness to God, or his joy and rejoicing for their sakes.
But he was careful God should not lose the glory.
If God is working in our lives and we are seeing results of our faith and witness, we should always remember it is God who is at work in us to do and to will of His good pleasure.


Phil 2:13 For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure. 

We see this in vv 12,13: 1Th 3:12  And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 

1Th 3:13  To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. 
 

This the recognition that it is God who is drawing His elect to Himself. It is Him who is sanctifying and perfecting the saints.
v. 13. This spiritual benefit is mentioned as an effect of increasing and abounding love: 
To the end that He (the Lord) may establish your hearts.
The more we grow and abound in grace, and particularly in the grace of love, the more we are established and confirmed in it.

Mutual love is required of all Christians, and not only that they love one another, but that they also have a charitable disposition of mind and due concern for the welfare of all men.

 

Through this lesson, may we be encouraged in the fact that we are loved in the beloved.

John16:27. "For the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from the Father."

Also may this knowledge encourage each of us to love the brethren in word and deed.

John 13:35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another

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