Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessaloniansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In chapter one of 1 Thessalonians we have the structure and origin of a holy life for the church life, and in chapter two we have the fostering of this life. Now in chapter three we have the establishing of a holy life for the church life. We have seen that this holy life is constructed of faith, love, and hope. Along with fostering, this life needs to be established. Its establishment involves the three main aspects of its structure; that is, it involves faith, love, and hope. In chapter three Paul is establishing the believers’ faith, love, and hope.
We should keep in mind that 1 Thessalonians is a book written to new believers. Therefore, everything in this Epistle is presented in a brief way, not in a profound way. This principle applies in particular to chapter three. In writing this chapter, Paul sought to avoid profound terms. His word here can be compared to that of a father given to young children. But although Paul speaks in a brief way, he covers a number of crucial points.
In 3:1 Paul says, “Wherefore, when we could bear it no longer, it seemed good for us to be left in Athens alone.” Athens was the chief city of the province of Achaia of the Roman Empire. In this city the Apostle Paul preached the gospel to philosophical Greeks (Acts 17:15-34).
The word “wherefore” at the beginning of this verse refers us to the previous chapter, especially to verses 17 and 18. These verses say, “But we, brothers, being bereaved of you for a little while in presence, not in heart, were more abundantly eager with much desire to see your face. Wherefore we wanted to come to you, indeed, I Paul, both once and again, and Satan hindered us.” The apostles had been bereaved of the Thessalonian believers in presence and were intensely eager to see them again. This was the reason Paul says in 3:1 that he could bear the situation no longer. The word “wherefore” in verse 1 indicates that chapter three is a continuation of 2:17 and 18. Paul was willing to remain in Athens alone and, as he says in verse 2, to send Timothy to Thessalonica.
Verse 2 continues, “And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow-worker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and encourage you for the sake of your faith.” Instead of fellow-worker, some manuscripts read “minister of God.” The minister of God is God’s fellow-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1). What a privilege! What a blessing!
Timothy was sent to the Thessalonians to encourage them for the sake of their faith. This indicates that what is covered in chapter three is related to establishing and encouraging. In speaking of the Thessalonians’ faith, Paul returns to the matter of the structure of a holy life for the church life covered in chapter one. His concern in chapter three is with the establishing of such a life.
If we are established in our faith, we shall not be shaken by affliction. Concerning this, Paul says in verse 3, “That no one be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed for this.” If we are established in the faith, afflictions will do good to us (Rom. 8:28) according to God’s purpose in His appointment. Otherwise, we may be shaken by the tempter (1 Thes. 3:5) through the afflictions. The Greek word rendered “appointed” also means destined, set, located. God has destined, appointed, us to pass through afflictions. Hence, afflictions are God’s allotted portion to us, and He has set us, located us, in the situation of afflictions.
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