Chapter 3:1-13,
The Encouragement of Timothy's Visit

The Study


J. Deering,



Chapter 3, Verses 1-13 The Encouragement of Timothy's Visit


Paul, Silas, and Timothy's Predicament 3:1
3:1 Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone,


1.     What was the Apostle's "predicament?" (2:17-20)

A.     We observe that Paul, Silas and Timothy were very concerned about the well being of the Thessalonian church. After talking among themselves, they decided that Paul and Silas would stay in Athens and let Timothy return to the Thessalonians.


2.     Who thought it best?

A.     Our first conclusion could be that Paul thought it best, however these three men were firmly committed to their ministry and most certainly would have sought agreement among the three.


3.     Who would be "left alone" in Athens?

A.     Paul and Silas would be left alone - without Timothy - in Athens. It is from here that Paul writes this epistle. The text says "We," and Timothy went to Thessalonica, so that leaves Paul and Silas.


The Apostles' Care for the Thessalonians

3:2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and Godís fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know.


1.     Who sent Timothy, and from where to where?

A.     This is not meant to be a "trick" question. Unity is such an important characteristic for the Holy Spirit. It would be safe to assume then that all three members of the immediate party would have agreed that Timothy should be the one to travel to Thessalonica.


2.     Verse 2 lists four qualifications about Timothy. What are they?

A.     Brother, God's fellow worker, a strengthener, and an encourager.


3.     In Verses 3-4 Paul talks about what young Christians should be taught about the Christian's life. What is it that they should know?

A.     The importance of knowing that being a Christian does not mean riches and comforts for this life, but a life that may often be full of suffering and afflictions.


A Question of the Soil

For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.

1.     For what reason?

A.     Paul's reason for concern is based upon the combination of "suffering afflictions," and the tempter's power of temptation. Often the tempter uses adversity to drive temptation  - especially in those who minister, that they may loose heart and give up, seeing their own condition and not the need of those they minister to.


2.     There has been a change from "we," to "I." What does this indicate?

Paul just changes the focus of his meaning. This change does not mean that Silas or Timothy have parted company or had a disagreement of ministry. It is only natural that Paul, the gifted writer, would focus some parts of this letter to be directly from his heart.


3.     What would be your conclusion about the facts so far:
        a.     Paul loved the Thessalonians
        b.     Paul thanked God the Thessalonians were so receptive to the Gospel.

        c.      The Word of God had come to them in "Power and full conviction."

        d.     The word of their faith has spread throughout Macedonia.

        e.     Paul sent Timothy to see if Satan had made all this a work "in vain?"

A.     All True!


Their Faith brings Comfort

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

1.     When Timothy returned what 4 news items did Paul find most important?

A.     The good news of their FAITH
        The good news of their LOVE

        Their Kindly affection toward Paul, and his companions

        Their strong desires to see Paul, and his companions, that mirror the Apostle's strong desires to see them.


2.     What made the difference for Paul, Silas, and Timothy?

A      Paul says that they were most affected by their FAITH. It brought them (Paul and the others) comfort amid their distress and affliction.


3.     What does Paul mean when He ways "for now we really live"?

A.     Paul uses hyperbole in order to help his readers understand how very much their growth in faith serves to encourage Paul and the others with him. He was not just living, but REALLY living - because of their faith.


4.     How does Paul qualify that remark?

A.     He uses this last statement to encourage the Thessalonians to keep standing firm in the Lord. If they believe that Paul's life is in-fact better because they stand firm, they may be encouraged to stand firm - for him.


The Apostles Follow-up Ministry

For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

1.     What does Paul mean by verse 9?

A.     Have you ever said, "I just don't know how to thank you," to someone after a great gift to you. Paul tells the Thessalonians that no only does he not have the words to Thank the Lord for them, but that his desire is to be returned to them in order to "complete" the job he started by finishing their spiritual education.


2.     The Thessalonian church was thriving, apparently. They loved Paul, and his companions, and they loved them. They were full of the Word of God and ministry. What does Paul mean by "complete what is lacking in your faith?

A.     Paul was not among the Thessalonians to complete the process of introducing them into the full doctrines of the teachings of Christ. He longed to get back to them and finalize their education. Second Thessalonians give us some insight into some of the teachings in which they were unsure.



LOVE = Hearts - Without Blame - in Holiness

11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.

1.     What does Paul wish for the Thessalonians - Itemize

A.     (1) That God would bring him back to them (2) That God would cause them to love each other - as well as outsiders to the faith (3) That they would have blameless and holy hearts before God.


2.     What are the requirements (for the Thessalonians) that will result in being without blame at the return of Jesus and His saints?

A.     Paul states that they will be present at the "coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints." That will happen after the Rapture of the church, and after the Tribulation. Jesus will return with His Saints at the beginning of the Millennium (the one-thousand years of peace in the earthly Kingdom of Jesus).