Evening Bible Study
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
They made their way south through Macedonia to the city of Thessalonica.
Thessalonica was the capital city of Macedonia – a major trade center and
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.
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
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,
:1 when we could no longer endure it
endure – stego – deck,
thatch; to cover over with silence
from – stege – a roof: of a
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
:2 to establish you
establish – sterizo (“steroids”)
– to make stable, fix; to strengthen, make firm; to render constant
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;
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
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
Here’s a couple of lessons about developing faith from passages that all
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
Do I really trust God?
Am I counting on Him?
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.
Paul wrote to the Romans, a church he had not yet visited …
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
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
Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
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
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…
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
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.
encourage – parakaleo – to
call to one’s side; exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction, admonish,
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:
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:
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.
:3 shaken by these afflictions
afflictions – thlipsis – a
pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction,
from – thlibo – to press
(as grapes), press hard upon; metaph. to trouble, afflict, distress
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.
: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.
: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
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…
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
(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
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.
(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
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
: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 … tempted – peirazo –
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.
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
How will I respond to difficulty?
As a test? Or time
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—
:7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were
comforted concerning you by your faith.
: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 news – euaggelizo
(“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
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.
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,
:10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect
what is lacking in your faith?
:10 night and day praying exceedingly
praying – deomai – 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.
exceedingly – perissos – 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.
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
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
Over the years I’ve come to believe that this daily
concern for the churches was more difficult for Paul than shipwrecks or
3:11-13 Paul’s Prayer
:11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct
our way to you.
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
love – agape – 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
It’s an unconditional love that is characterized by doing good towards the
How does Paul want agape love to be at work? He
wants it to…
increase – pleonazo – to
super-abound; to exist in abundance
abound – perisseuo – to
exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or
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.
:13 that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness
establish – sterizo (“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,
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
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?
If we really love one another, shouldn’t there be a time when we speak up
and say something?
Real love means that we will need to challenge each other from time to time