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1Thessalonians 3

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 21, 2017


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Target 3300 words   Video = 75 wpm

Paul and his team had been in Philippi when they got into trouble by casting a demon out of a fortune-telling slave girl.

They were beaten and thrown into jail overnight before being asked to leave town.

They made their way south through Macedonia to the city of Thessalonica.

Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia – a major trade center and seaport.

The city of Philippi didn’t have enough Jews to form a synagogue, because Paul found people praying near a river, not a synagogue.
Thessalonica had a large Jewish synagogue.

Paul and Silas preached in the synagogue for three weeks before the Jewish leaders turned on him.

Paul had seen many come to Christ, especially among the Gentiles, and the Jewish leaders got angry with Paul. When they couldn’t find him, they took one of the other believers, and had him beaten.

Paul and his team moved on to the city of Berea where they had more fruitful ministry until some of the Jews from Thessalonica showed up and stirred up trouble for Paul.

The church in Thessalonica was a church birthed in a hostile anti-Christian environment.

Paul moved on to Athens, and eventually Corinth, but sent Silas and Timothy back to the Macedonian churches (including Thessalonica) to encourage them.

While Paul was in Corinth, Silas and Timothy come back with news of what’s been happening in Macedonia, and Paul writes the letters 1&2Thessalonians. 

It’s about AD 51.

3:1-5 Paul’s Concern

:1 Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone,

to be leftkataleipo – to leave behind

:1 when we could no longer endure it

endurestego – deck, thatch; to cover over with silence

fromstege – a roof: of a house
I think it’s the idea of “keeping a lid on something”. 
Paul had been greatly concerned about the Thessalonians.
Paul could no longer “keep a lid” on his feelings for the Thessalonians and did something about it.

What did Paul do?

He decided he’d go it alone in Athens and send Silas and Timothy back to Thessalonica.
Sometimes you just “have” to do something.

:2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith,

fellow laborersunergos – a companion in work, fellow worker

:2 to establish you

establishsterizo (“steroids”) – to make stable, fix; to strengthen, make firm; to render constant


Strength training

The Greek word is only used 13 times in the New Testament, and four of those times are in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians (1Th. 3:2,13; 2Th.2:17; 3:3)
Paul had only been with the Thessalonians about a month, and he was concerned about whether they were strong enough to face the difficulties ahead of them.
A seaman meets a pirate at Starbucks, and talk turns to their adventures on the sea. The seaman notes that the pirate has a peg-leg, a hook, and an eye patch. The seaman asks “So, how did you end up with the peg-leg?” The pirate replies “We were in a storm at sea, and I was swept overboard into a school of sharks. Just as me men were pulling me out, a shark bit my leg off” “Wow!” said the seaman. “What about your hook”? “Well...”, replied the pirate, “We were boarding an enemy ship and were battling the other sailors with swords. One of the enemy cut me hand off.” “Incredible!” remarked the seaman. “How did you get the eyepatch”? “A seagull dropping fell into me eye”, replied the pirate. “You lost your eye to a seagull dropping?” the sailor asked incredulously. “Well...”, said the pirate, “...it was me first day with the hook.”

Just as the pirate was a little new at having a hook, the Thessalonians were a little new at being Christians. They’ve been through some tough times even from the start. Paul has been concerned about how they were doing.

Here’s a couple of lessons about developing faith from passages that all use sterizo.

Exercise Faith
We get our word “steroids” from the word for “establish” – a word that conjures up images of big muscles.

God wants us to have serious spiritual “muscles” when it comes to living out our faith.

I find that when I go through a period of time when I don’t exercise, my muscles lose strength.

I need to keep exercising my faith if I want my faith to grow and be strong enough to handle what’s up ahead.

When do I exercise my faith the most?  When I go through difficult times, things I don’t understand.

Do I really trust God?  Am I counting on Him?

Peter wrote,

(1 Peter 5:10 NKJV) But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

Spirit Work
Paul wrote to the Romans, a church he had not yet visited …

(Romans 1:11 NKJV) For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—

Paul tied the imparting of spiritual gifts (pneumatikos charisma) with being strengthened.

God wants to work through each of you in a supernatural way, through the gifts of the Spirit.

The working of those gifts strengthens you and those around you.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

(1 Corinthians 14:4 NKJV) He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

God wants you to have spiritual gifts, and He wants you to use them.

We have a role in strengthening each other.
Paul sent Timothy to “establish” (strengthen) the Thessalonians.
Jesus had warned Peter that he would deny Jesus, but…

(Luke 22:32 NKJV) But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

One of the ways we strengthen each other is through sharing our own failures, just as Peter denied Jesus.

Sometimes we are ashamed to admit that we’ve failed in things.

A parent might be reluctant to share with their children the failures in their past.

Yet when you’ve “returned” like Peter would, these are things that strengthen each other.

:2 encourage you concerning your faith

Timothy was sent to establish and encourage.

encourageparakaleo – to call to one’s side; exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, admonish, exhort

This is a very common word, used 108 times in the NT.



Here are a few examples of how Paul “encouraged” people:
To the Romans:
(Romans 12:1–2 NKJV) —1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
To the Corinthians:
(1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT) I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
We need to have people in our lives who will encourage us:
(Hebrews 3:12–13 NKJV) —12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

We need people in our lives who can nudge us in the right direction, like Paul did in his letters and Timothy did with his visit.

:3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.

shakensaino – to wag the tail (like a dog); metaph.; to move (the mind of one); to agitate, disturb, trouble

:3 shaken by these afflictions

afflictionsthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress

fromthlibo – to press (as grapes), press hard upon; metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress
Video:  I Love Lucy Stomping Grapes
Stomping on grapes might be fun for those who are doing it, but it’s not fun for the grapes.
You and I are the grapes.  thlipsis isn’t fun.
Paul is worried about how the Thessalonians are doing in the grape vat.

appointedkeimai – to lie; metaph.; to be (by God’s intent) set, i.e. destined, appointed

:4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.

told you beforeprolego – to say beforehand, to predict

we wouldmello – to be about; to be on the point of doing or suffering something; to intend, have in mind, think to

suffer tribulationthlibo – to press (as grapes), press hard upon; metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress

:4 we would suffer tribulation

The word for “tribulation” is the verb form of “affliction”.  thlibo

Paul had warned the Thessalonians from the very beginning that being a Christian was not an easy thing.

Paul had “predicted” it for the Thessalonians (“told you before”)

The Thessalonians weren’t the only ones to hear this message about suffering.

Earlier, on Paul’s first missionary journey, he and Barnabas were traveling through the Galatian region, and God was doing amazing things.  Paul also got into trouble, was stoned, and left for dead.  Later Paul went back to those same churches…
(Acts 14:21–22 NKJV) —21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”


Suffering is normal

From time to time we get surprised when difficult times hit us, but we really shouldn’t.
Peter wrote,
(1 Peter 4:12 NLT) Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.
Paul tied the suffering of Christians with how close their walk was with Jesus.  Listen what he told Timothy in his latter years:
(2 Timothy 3:10–12 NKJV) —10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

If you are taking your relationship with Jesus seriously, you will experience difficult times.

Don’t think that the stronger you are as a Christian, the easier your life gets.  It’s just the opposite.

We often wish we could prevent people from going through difficult times.
A parent who constantly holds their little one’s hand to keep them from falling will find that their child won’t learn to walk properly. 
Scrapes and bruises are a part of growing up.
Paul wrote,
(Romans 5:3–4 NKJV) —3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

You don’t develop character and hope without tribulation.

:5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.

endurestego – deck, thatch, to cover; to cover over with silence; by covering to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, hold out against, and so endure, bear, forbear

Same word used in vs. 1

:5 the tempter had tempted you

Paul was worried that the Thessalonians might have been so troubled that they had given up their faith in Jesus.

tempter … temptedpeirazo – to try whether a thing can be done; to test; to solicit to sin, to tempt

This word is a tricky one.
It can be translated “test” in the sense that God might be “testing” use to see what our faith is made of.
(Hebrews 11:17 NKJV) By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
It is more often translated “tempt” to describe Satan or our flesh tempting us to do the wrong thing, such as when Jesus was tempted by Satan:
(Luke 4:2a NKJV) being tempted for forty days by the devil.


Satan takes advantage

God will use our difficult times to test and purify us.
Satan wants to take advantage of our difficult times to tempt us to walk away from God.
How will I respond to difficulty?

As a test?  Or time to bail?

3:6-10 Timothy’s Report

:6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you—

greatly desiringepipotheo – to long for, desire; to pursue with love, to long after

:7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith.

comfortedparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to address, speak to, (call to, call upon), which may be done in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, etc.; to admonish, exhort; to instruct, teach

afflictionthlipsis – a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

distressanagke – necessity, imposed either by the circumstances, or by law of duty regarding to one’s advantage, custom, argument; calamity, distress, straits

:6 brought us good news of your faith and love

Paul was greatly relieved when Timothy came back from his time with the Thessalonians and found out that they were not only surviving their difficult times, but they even had positive memories about Paul and his visit.

They weren’t blaming Paul for their troubles.
That was really, really good news to Paul.

brought us good newseuaggelizo (“evangelize”) – to bring good news, to announce glad tidings.

We get our word “evangelize” and “evangelism” from this word.
We often think of evangelism as that horrible thing we are supposed to do, sharing our faith with others so they can mock us.
Others consider evangelism that moment where you tell someone they’re going to hell unless they repent.
In truth, evangelism is about sharing “good news”.  Really good news.
What is that good news that we are to share? (discuss it)

God has plans for us.

That God cares about us.

That Jesus died to pay for our sins.

That Jesus has changed our lives.

:7 in all our affliction and distress we were comforted

Just like the Thessalonians, Paul had his own measure of affliction and difficulties.

Paul found comfort by hearing how the Thessalonians were doing.

This is what fellowship is all about.
Having a loving connection with others and sharing life together, being encouraged by how others are doing.
It’s the thought that, “If you can do it, so can I”.
Encourage folks to sign up for the Home Fellowships.

:8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.

stand faststeko – to stand firm; to persevere, to persist; to keep one’s standing

Paul is just thrilled to hear that the Thessalonians are persevering in their faith despite their difficulties.

:9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God,

renderantapodidomi – in a good sense, to repay, requite.

Paul saw it necessary to give God some kind of “pay back” for having taken care of the church.

:10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?

perfectkatartizo – to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete; to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair; to complete; to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust

lackinghusterema – deficiency, that which is lacking; in reference to property and resources, poverty, want, destitution

:10 night and day praying exceedingly


Strong Prayer

prayingdeomai – to want, lack; to desire, long for; to ask, beg
It’s prayer based on need.
This isn’t some simple repetitive prayer that Paul learned as a child.

He’s been begging God for the things he’s seen needed in the lives of the Thessalonians.

exceedinglyperissos – over and above, more than is necessary
Paul has had this sense of urgency for the Thessalonians and as a result he has been regularly praying for them, both day and night.
Paul has been praying that he would get to see them again and be able to spend time building them up.
Then when Timothy came back with the report that the Thessalonians were doing quite well, Paul was completely overblown with joy and gratitude toward what God had been doing.
Who are you praying for?
Are there people in your life that you are committed to in such a way that you are praying regularly for them, begging God to work, praying night and day?
I think God wants us to cultivate that kind of prayer life for each other.

It starts with having people you care about.

It grows by knowing what to pray about for them, knowing what they are lacking, what they really need.

Paul wasn’t the only guy to pray like this.

(Colossians 4:12 NKJV) Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

When Paul was writing to the Corinthians, he was having to deal with the issue of false apostles who were boasting about how much greater they were than Paul.  Paul responded with a little boasting of his own – boasting that gives us insight as to what ministry is all about:
(2 Corinthians 11:24–29 NKJV) —24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—

Ministry is all about being willing to face difficulties if it means being used by Jesus.  But that’s not really the heart of ministry, Paul goes on…

28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?

Over the years I’ve come to believe that this daily concern for the churches was more difficult for Paul than shipwrecks or beatings.

3:11-13 Paul’s Prayer

:11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.

directkateuthuno – to make straight, guide, direct; of the removal of the hindrances to coming to one

This is part of Paul’s prayer to God for the Thessalonians.

He wants to be able to see them again.

:12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,

:12 make you increase and abound in love

loveagape – affection, good will, love, benevolence

This is that unique kind of love that God has for us.
This is that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” kind of love.
It’s not a love based on emotions, but based on a choice to value someone else.
It’s an unconditional love that is characterized by doing good towards the other person.
How does Paul want agape love to be at work?  He wants it to…
increasepleonazo – to super-abound; to exist in abundance
aboundperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure

Paul’s love for them is doing this, and Paul prays that their love for one another would do the same… but all to produce a desired effect…

:13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.

blamelessamemptos – blameless, deserving no censure, free from fault or defect

holinesshagiosune – majesty, holiness; moral purity

:13 that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness

establishsterizo (“steroids”) – to make stable, fix; to strengthen, make firm; to render constant

This is the same word used in verse 2, where Paul sent Timothy to “establish” them in their faith.
The stability that Paul is looking for is the stability that comes from holiness, purity, being right with God.
When Jesus returns, you won’t have anything to be afraid of.
Not all of God’s servants will be in a good place when Jesus returns.  Jesus said,
(Matthew 24:45–51 NKJV) —45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Love leads to holiness

Paul’s prayer in vs. 12 was that God would help them to increase in their agape towards one another, with the result being hearts that are blameless in holiness.
Loving each other properly isn’t just about making people feel good about themselves.
Loving others doesn’t mean we don’t say something when a loved one is heading into danger.
Paul expected that overflowing agape would lead to hearts getting right with God.
Do you remember this commercial from 1993?
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If we really love one another, shouldn’t there be a time when we speak up and say something?
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Real love means that we will need to challenge each other from time to time – lovingly.