As we return to Paul’s first century letter to the Thessalonians, we pick up in chapter 3 verses 6-10.
Paul and the team experienced much anguish when they were pushed ahead and had to leave the church sooner than they had desired. The young church was under heavy affliction for their faith by the city leaders, the Jews in the synagogue and probably from their own family. Paul made the very sacrificial act of sending Timothy, his right hand man, back to Thessalonica to check on them and encourage them in their faith.
In verse 6, we have the report back from Timothy and the good news of how the church was doing. To their great joy, the church in Thessalonica was going strong with much love for God and their neighbors. This was a great relief and encouragement to Paul. Paul’s response to the report also indicates the deep mutual desire to see the church “face to face” and further develop the sanctifying work that was started there.
Affliction, discouragement and trials are part of life “under the sun” in this fallen world. (Remember the series on Ecclesiastes?) The Thessalonians responded to the pressure and strain of trials with increasing FAITH and LOVE. This is the desired right response that we are aiming at as believers. While we fall short of this standard, this is the goal for ourselves and each other as we cling to and rest in the One who is acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). Only Jesus provides the ultimate and truly right response to affliction. And it is only Jesus, by His grace and through His Spirit, in which we are able to respond rightly to the affliction and trials we face. Let us be an encouragement to one another, to place priority on a growing faith, individually and corporately, as we aim to fill up what is lacking in our trust, confidence and faith in Christ.
We will be looking at this section under three headings: Report, Relief and Response. As we prepare our hearts for Sunday’s teaching, read 1 Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:13 for the fuller context.
Some study questions for discussion of 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10:
- What good news comforted Paul as he received the report from Timothy?
- Why did Paul feel comforted and relieved by the report?
- Who did Paul direct his thanksgiving to for the glowing report? Why?
- What was Paul’s prayer request and what was he hoping to do?
- What did Paul intend to do when he was there with the church again?
- How would a report sound of your faith? Of our church’s faith?