God’s Saving Word: Encouragement
1 Thessalonians 2:17—3:13: Paul expresses his desire to visit the Thessalonians again, and he sends Timothy to Thessalonica to encourage the believers to remain strong in their faith.
Paul’s Desire to Visit Them Again
17 As for us, friends, when we were separated from you for a little while—not in our thoughts, of course, but only in body—how we missed you and how hard we tried to see you again! 18 We wanted to return to you. I myself tried to go back more than once, but Satan would not let us. 19 After all, it is you—you, no less than others!—who are our hope, our joy, and our reason for boasting of our victory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes. 20 Indeed, you are our pride and our joy!
3 Finally, we could not bear it any longer. So we decided to stay on alone in Athens 2 while we sent Timothy, our brother who works with us for God in preaching the Good News about Christ. We sent him to strengthen you and help your faith, 3 so that none of you should turn back because of these persecutions. You yourselves know that such persecutions are part of God’s will for us. 4 For while we were still with you, we told you ahead of time that we were going to be persecuted; and as you well know, that is exactly what happened. 5 That is why I had to send Timothy. I could not bear it any longer, so I sent him to find out about your faith. Surely it could not be that the Devil had tempted you and all our work had been for nothing!
6 Now Timothy has come back, and he has brought us the welcome news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always think well of us and that you want to see us just as much as we want to see you. 7 So, in all our trouble and suffering we have been encouraged about you, friends. It was your faith that encouraged us, 8 because now we really live if you stand firm in your life in union with the Lord. 9 Now we can give thanks to our God for you. We thank him for the joy we have in his presence because of you. 10 Day and night we ask him with all our heart to let us see you personally and supply what is needed in your faith.
11 May our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus prepare the way for us to come to you! 12 May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow more and more and become as great as our love for you. 13 In this way he will strengthen you, and you will be perfect and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all who belong to him.
Today’s Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 3:8b
Stand firm in your life in union with the Lord.
Today’s reading includes another reference to Christ’s return (2:19 and 3:13; see also 1:10). What are your thoughts as to why Paul speaks of this? What was Paul’s reason for sending Timothy to the Thessalonians (3:2-5)? What was Timothy’s report to Paul (3:6)? Verses 3:11-13 read like a prayer. What does Paul say? Do you find his words a source of encouragement? why or why not?
Holy God, help me to keep growing stronger in faith and in my love for others. And help me to be a source of encouragement to others in their faith journeys. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-18: The apostle Paul writes about the Lord’s return.