1. The first section of this epistle contains Paulís thoughts as he reflects on his work:
a. Praised their wonderful reception of the gospel - 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
b. Reviewed the nature of his ministry among them - 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16
c. Expressed his love and concern for their spiritual condition - 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:10
2. This section ends with a prayer in their behalf - 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
a. A common practice of Paul in his epistles - cf. Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12
b. In which Paul expresses his desires regarding his brethren
3. In considering such prayers, I find it beneficial to remember that Paul wrote by inspiration
a. So he is not just expressing his own desires, but those of God's as well!
b. In most cases, these prayers are just applicable to us today as they were for them!
A. PAUL'S DESIRE TO SEE THEM
1. He had expressed this desire earlier - 1 Thessalonians 2:17
2. He had been hindered by Satan - 1 Thessalonians 2:18
B. PAUL'S PRAYER TO SEE THEM
1. Requesting aid from both the Father and Jesus
a. Note the distinction between the Father and the Son - 2 John 1:9
b. This implies the Trinity, the distinction between the Persons of the Godhead
c. Suggesting both joint and separate actions of the Father and Son
2. Implying belief in the providence of God
a. That God could overcome the hindrance of Satan's efforts - cf. 1 Peter 5:8-10
b. That God could provide safe travel if it be in accordance to His will - cf. Romans 1:10
C. GOD'S DESIRE FOR US
1. That we remember God's will in our prayers - 1 John 5:14
2. That we remember God's will in our planning - James 4:13-15
3. As Paul desired to see his beloved brethren, so we should desire to see our loved ones. But in our planning and prayers to see them, let's not forget the will of God!
A. THROUGH THE WORKING OF GOD
1. Our spiritual growth involves the working of God - cf. Philippians 1:6
2. He works in conjunction with our own efforts - cf. Philippians 2:12-13
3. So let us pray as though it depends upon God, but work as though it depends upon us!
B. TO INCREASE AND ABOUND
1. Our spiritual growth is to be never-ending, always increasing - 2 Peter 1:5-8; 3:18
2. Our physical may grow old and slow down, but our inner man can be renewed every day! - cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16
C. IN LOVE TO ONE ANOTHER AND TO ALL
1. Especially increasing and abounding in love
a. Something the Thessalonians already possessed - 1 Thessalonians 1:3
b. Something the Thessalonians didn't really need to be told - 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
2. Yet we can never say that we cannot grow more - Philippians 3:13-17
3. Love not just for one another, i.e., our brethren, but for all men!
a. It is easy to love our brethren
b. But it is loving our enemies that we become like God! - Luke 6:32-35
4. It is certainly God's desire for all His children to abound in love, and this should be the focus of many prayers - cf. Philippians 1:9
A. BLAMELESS IN HOLINESS
1. To be blameless is very reason Jesus gave Himself for us - Ephesians 5:25-27
2. Without holiness, we will not see the Lord - Hebrews 12:14
3. While Jesus makes it possible through His blood, we must cooperate as well - 2 Corinthians 7:1
B. BEFORE GOD AT THE COMING OF JESUS
1. Here is the "where" and "when" we must be blameless in holiness
a. Where - before God at the Judgment!
b. When - when Jesus comes with all His saints (lit., holy ones)!
2. Note the following about the Lord's coming
a. This is the third time in three chapters that Paul refers to this event - 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 3:13
b. While "saints" (holy ones) could refer to angels (cf. Matthew 25:31), it may also include the redeemed (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:14)
1. From this prayer, we have seen that it is appropriate:
a. To seek God's providential guidance when we desire to see our loved ones
b. To pray for one another's spiritual growth and the Lord's blessing
2. If we desire to see each other
a. In this life from time to time
b. Increasing and abounding in love
c. Blameless in holiness in the presence of God at Christ's coming
3. This is the sort of prayer that we should diligently offer for one another!
-- Don Treadway, September 2009 --