Monday, December 21, 2009

1 Thessalonians 3: How To Wait For Christ (Enduring Opposition)

Theme: Wait for Christ

2) By enduring opposition (2:13 - 3:10)

*This passage gives several ways Paul sought to encourage the Thessalonians to endure opposition: By sending Timothy (1-2; 5-8), by reminding them to expect opposition (3-4), and by praying for them (9-10)*.

Having been forced to leave Thessalonica prematurely (possibly in as little as three or four weeks after arriving; Acts 17:2), due to the persecution of some unbelieving Jews, the missionary team went to Berea. The Jews followed them, and forced them out of that city as well. Paul went on from there to Athens, leaving Silas and Timothy behind to complete the work. From Athens, Paul sent for them (Acts 17:10-15), and then sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to
establish and comfort them (1 Thess. 3:1-5). Paul went to Corinth alone (Acts 18:1), and shortly afterward, Silas and Timothy met him there (Acts 18:5). Timothy returned a good report about the Thessalonians' love for Paul, and stand in the faith during persecution (3:6-9). From Corinth, Paul then wrote this Epistle to express thanks for their faith, explain his absence, and complete that which was lacking in their faith (3:10).

The missionary team first sent Timothy, to check on, strengthen and encourage the Thessalonians to stand in their faith (1-2; 5-8).  Faith in Bible doctrine (specifically the return of Christ for the church, and punishment of those who persecute us: cf. 4:13 - 5:11; 2 Thess. 1:4-10) provides a basis for enduring afflictions. Sending a mature believer along side of new converts helps to strengthen, encourage, and complete what is lacking in their faith.

The missionary team reminded them to expect opposition (3-4).  They had suffered it, and had told the Thessalonians it would come.  Expecting opposition will make it easier to endure once it arrives (cf. John 16:1-4).  

The team also continued in prayer for the Thessalonians, thanking God for their existing faith, praying they would continue to stand in it, and that they might have opportunity to complete what was lacking in their faith. Follow-up Bible study is key to establishing new converts in the faith, and encouraging them to endure opposition. The missionaries continued in prayer to this end.

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