1 Thessalonians 3:1-8
1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone,
2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,
3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.
4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you–
7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.
8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.
Oh how he loved them Thessalonians!
Paul proves his love when he speaks of going without, of sacrificing his brother Timothy and to be left alone in Athens due to his concern over the Thessalonians.
But what was Paul’s concern?
Though he had warned the young believers of distress, pain and suffering to enter into their lives, he was concerned that these forewarned trials might still nullify his work in the believers.
You see, Paul’s concern was their faith. For these believers to be “moved” by afflictions is a threat that Paul could not endure. Would the believers maintain faith in the midst of trials?
It seems Paul’s faith in the Thessalonians faith was a bit weak – but fully understandable, since the Thessalonians faith was being tested, and their faith seemingly hadn’t been tested prior to this. Beyond all this, Jesus is the only One we really can trust to be fully faithful!
But what else was Paul trying to infer/imply? It is interesting that the term “moved” in the Greek, generally refers to a dog waggin his tail.
Moved – σαίνω saínō, sah’-ee-no; akin to G4579; to wag (as a dog its tail fawningly), i.e. (generally) to shake (figuratively, disturb):—move.
Isn’t that interesting, that Paul uses such a word. Somewhere else in his writings he refers to troubles as being not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.
Paul is referring to trials “moving” the believer. Is he implying the trials have the potential to control the believer? Like a dog controls his tail? Am I making too much of this?
But if trials have the potential to control a believers life, and if the believer being controlled by these trials would nullify the work of the apostle….
But alas, Paul had no reason to fear that his work in the believers would be in vain. They were standing strong in their faith, exhibiting love to each other and desire for the apostle.
Which implies that apostles work being in vain (empty) would be that they did not stand strong in their faith.
Vain, κενός kenós, ken-os’; apparently a primary word; empty (literally or figuratively):—empty, (in) vain.
Hang on Carl – according to some great Bible teachers, if these Christians were not strong in their faith, they would still be Christians. The work of the apostle would still be evident, just a bit dimmed and blunt.
But not nullified Paul!
Come on – they gotta still be Christians!
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