1 Thessalonians 3:2
We sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,
Sermons
A Difficult and Important MissionG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Alone in AthensBp. Huntington.1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Loneliness with Some is Unfavourable to Virtue1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Paul and TimothyR. Fergusson.1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Solitary SaintsC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
SolitudeF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
The Risks of SolitudeJ. Parker, D. D.1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
The Solitude of a Great CityG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 3:1-2
Proof of the Apostle's Love for the ThessaloniansB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
The Design of Timothy's Mission to ThessalonicaT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
Great Desire to See the ThessaloniansR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
Comforted Concerning the FaithA. Raleigh, D. D.1 Thessalonians 3:2-3
Ministers of JoyH. W. Beecher.1 Thessalonians 3:2-3
Timothy and His MissionJ. W. Burn.1 Thessalonians 3:2-3
When the apostle could no longer control his longing to see his converts, he sent them Timothy by way of relieving his solicitude in their behalf. His love for them was manifest in all the circumstances of this mission.

I. HE SACRIFICES HIS OWN IMMEDIATE COMFORT TO THEIR BENEFIT. "We thought it good to be left at Athens alone."

1. Though Timothy was most necessary to him in the ministry, he parted with him for their good.

2. Athens, as a seat of boundless idolatry, exercised such a depressing influence upon him that he needed the stimulus of Timothy's society. Yet he denied himself this comfort that he might serve them.

II. HE DESPATCHES TO THEM THE MOST HIGHLY ESTEEMED OF HIS FELLOW-LABORERS. "Our brother, and minister of God, and fellow-laborer in the gospel of Christ." He selects one best fitted to serve them by his gifts, his experience, and his knowledge of the apostle's views and wishes. The various titles here given to Timothy help to honor him before the Churches, and to challenge the abiding confidence of the Thessalonians.

III. THE DESIGN OF TIMOTHY'S MISSION. It was twofold: "To establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith," and "to know your faith."

1. The necessity for his mission. The afflictions which they were enduring for the gospel.

(1) These afflictions had a most disturbing tendency. "That no one be disquieted by these afflictions." The converts had newly emerged from heathenism, and therefore the apostle was more concerned on their behalf. Yet, as we know from the Second Epistle, they remained firm. "We ourselves glory in you in the Churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure" (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

(2) These afflictions were of Divine appointment. "For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." They were, therefore, "no strange thing." They come by the will of God, who has determined their nature, severity, and duration. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." The afflictions were not accidental.

(3) They were clearly foreseen by the apostle. "When we were with you we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction."

(a) It is the duty of ministers to forewarn their converts of coming affliction, lest they should be offended thereby.

(b) Converts, when forewarned, ought to be forearmed, so that they may not sink under them, much less forsake the gospel on account of them. "For the light afflictions are but for a moment, and work out an exceeding weight of glory."

(4) Satan is the main source, of danger in these afflictions. "Lest by any means the tempter had tempted you. The apostle was "not ignorant of his devices," and was apprehensive lest Satan should get an advantage of his converts by moving them from the hope of the gospel, and causing them to relinquish their profession of it.

(5) The only security against Satan's temptations - faith; for this "is the victory that overcometh the world" - this is the shield "wherewith they could quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

2. The manner in which Timothy's mission was to be discharged. "To establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith."

(1) In relation to the Thessalonians. Timothy would

(a) establish them by giving them a fresh exhibition of the truth with its manifold evidences. The strongest faith needs confirmation. The apostles were in the habit of confirming the souls of the disciples (Acts 14:22).

(b) He would comfort them concerning their faith by exhibiting the example of Christ, the glory that must accrue to God from their steadfastness, and the hope of the coming kingdom.

(2) In relation to the apostle himself. "To know your faith." One object of his sending Timothy was to put an end to his own anxieties and doubts on their behalf, for he might fear that "his labor would be in vain." He might hope the best but fear the worst, for he was most deeply concerned in their welfare. - T.C.







And send Timotheus
This is the first of a long series of similar missions. As the context shows, the youthful evangelist gave full proof of his ministry from the first.

I. THE QUALIFICATIONS OF THE MESSENGER.

1. Brotherhood. The man sent on an errand of mercy must have —(1) Brotherly relations with his fellow messengers. There are extraordinary circumstances in which a man may legitimately break through all the trammels of ecclesiastical order and discipline in order to save souls. The prophets and apostles were examples of this; so were Luther and Wesley. But generally the messenger must sustain close relations of amity and colleagueship, if not of subordination, with those who hold a similar office. This gives —(a) Might to his utterances, when his solitary authority would be questioned or ignored.(b) Comfort in hours of despondency and loneliness, in the thought that he has sympathy and has brethren to fall back upon.(2) A brotherly feeling towards those to whom he goes: "Our brother" — mine and yours. The brotherly feeling in the Christian worker avoids the evils of —(a) Haughty superiority: "Lord over God's heritage." His office may be more dignified, but his spiritual nature is the same: "One is your Master," etc.(b) Feminine weakness — such as would pander to tastes and humours; fear to rebuke; suppress unpalatable truth. Brotherliness is the manly love of another's soul.(c) Selfish motives. The minister is to save men, not make money out of them: "I seek not yours, but you." As brothers our interests are common.

2. Divine ministry. A true minister is —(1) Called of God. No ecclesiastical sanction can compensate for the want of this. A man may be able to trace his "uninterrupted succession," and be instituted to an illustrious office, but unless he is inwardly moved by God he is an intruder and no minister of God.(2) Qualified by God. This does not, of course, dispense with human qualifications. Indeed, gifts of learning and eloquence carefully cultivated and employed are required as signs that qualifications essentially Divine are prized and made the most of. But the Divine qualification is distinct. It is the enduement of power for the conversion of souls. Without this a man may be a profound philosopher, a skilful dialectician; his mind may be stored with masses of erudition, and his tongue nimble with the most bewitching oratory. But without the Holy Ghost he is "a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal," and no minister of God.(3) Supported by God. Hence —

(a)Courage: "I have made thy face as a flint."

(b)Expectation of success: "My word shall not return unto Me void."(4) Owned of God, in the conversion of souls.(5) Rewarded by God: "Well done, good and faithful servant."

3. Labour. The ministry is a "work" involving —

(1)Mental preparation;

(2)pecuniary sacrifice;

(3)abnegation of comfort;

(4)consuming zeal.

II. THE PURPOSE OF HIS ERRAND.

1. Establishment.(1) To base moral life upon Christ: "Other foundation can no man lay," etc. Then men are basing their lives on no foundation at all. Morality, good intentions, hope in God's elemency, are castles in the air which the labourer for God must destroy, that he may induce men to build on the only foundation. This foundation is stable and everlasting (Matthew 7:24, etc.).(2) To build up moral life in Christ by promoting the growth of the Christian graces. Is Christian life a building? Then "love, joy, peace, gentleness," etc., are stones and rafters. Is it a tree? Then these are the fruits.

2. Comfort.(1) Encouragement concerning the faith. Such is afforded when faith —

(a)Is shown to be well grounded: "We have not followed cunningly devised fables."

(b)Is stimulated into vigorous exercise —

(c)When its end, "the salvation of your souls," is kept steadily before the eye.(2) Consolation in trouble. "Tribulation" affects the body in times of persecution, as here; the mind in times of scepticism and denial; the soul in times of spiritual darkness. Comfort comes from the Divine promises, the Divine sympathy, and the Divine support.

(J. W. Burn.)

Some men move through life as a band of music moves down the street, flinging out pleasure on every side through the air to every one, far and near, that can listen. Some men fill the air with their presence and sweetness, as orchards in October days fill the air with perfume of ripe fruit. Some women cling to their own houses, like the honeysuckle over the door, yet, like it, sweeten all the region with the subtle fragrance of their goodness. There are trees of righteousness which are ever dropping precious fruit around them. There are lives that shine like star beams, or charm the heart like songs sung upon a holy day. How great a bounty and a blessing it is to hold the royal gifts of the soul go that they shall be music to some and fragrance to others, and life to all! It would be no unworthy thing to live for, to make the power which we have within us the breath of other men's joy; to scatter sunshine where only clouds and shadows reign; to fill the atmosphere where earth's weary toilers must stand with a brightness which they cannot create for themselves, and which they long for, enjoy, and appreciate.

(H. W. Beecher.)

To comfort you concerning your faith
1. These Epistles may preeminently be called letters of comfort. There are many streams of consolation which are shallow and apt to run dry. They are good as far as they go and as long as they last. God has filled life for us with consolations — the ministries of nature; many little things that happen every day. The lesser consolations, however, do not supersede the necessity for the greater. After drinking of the former we "thirst again," "but the latter" spring up into everlasting life."

2. Does the apostle refer to faith as objective truth, or the affection which embraces the truth? Both. The faith that comforts must not only be true, but must be accepted and become a heart possession. We are comforted concerning the faith —

I. BY THE PERSUASION THAT THE FAITH IS TRUE; that it is a real revelation of grace and salvation spoken by God to man.

1. Any doubt on this fundamental point will affect essentially all forms of comfort. Say that the gospel is false or fallacious, or, although historically true, that it is yet largely mythical, and it is bereft of all its consolation. The old words would remain, such as "God hath given us everlasting consolation," "Comfort one another," etc.; but a dead tree, although still rooted, casts no shadow, yields no fruit; a well may be deep, and have no water in it. With a sorrow deeper than that of Mary might the Church, and even the world, exclaim in that ease, "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him."

2. Are any of you in this sore trouble — intellectually at sea about the gospel? I shall make no attempt to meet your doubts intellectually. Doubts are solved by faith, prayer, Providence, time, love. But it may do no harm, but good, to speak out our own faith (Hebrews 1:1; John 1:1; John 3:16; 1 John 2:1, 2, etc.). You may question, but we know whom we have believed; and He will take your souls in trust also, and keep them against that day.

II. By the fact that TO THE HUMBLE AND SINCERE, DOUBT RUNS ITS COURSE, AND THEN SUBSIDES AND PASSES AWAY. The experiences of this changeful, troubled life explain the gospel wonderfully to some. The experiences of the heart explain it, reveal the need of it, make it welcome; and then doubting Thomas is found among the rest, exclaiming, as He falls at His Master's feet, "My Lord and my God."

III. Inasmuch as IT WILL BEAR THE STRAIN AND PRESSURE OF LIFE, howsoever heavy. The faith will bear it, although it is borne by persons. What we believe and know enables us to bear and pass through what would otherwise overwhelm us. Human nature, in itself, as the work of God, will do and bear a great deal. Heroic deeds are done and sufferings endured even without Divine help. If it were a matter of stern silent endurance, the old Stoics, Roman soldiers, and the Red Indians could set us an example. But such a state of mind is attained by almost uprooting the finer sensibilities of our nature, by shutting out the future, by putting all our strength into mere obstinate resolution. But that is not moral greatness; for this we must have our nature unabridged, nay, developed and enlarged, made responsive, sensitive, to spiritual things. It is not a question of getting through this life, but of getting through it worthily. Christ comes to elevate and transform all. The Man of Sorrows reproduces Himself in His followers; but though "the sufferings of Christ abound in us," our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

IV. Because our faith WILL BEAR ALL THE BURDEN AND STRAIN WHICH COME BY THE ENLARGEMENT AND INTENSE ACTION OF THE POWERS OF OUR BEING. The pain of life which is increased by Christian sensibility will be assuaged by the Christian consolation and borne by the Christian courage. We have tried the plan of "no faith," and that has failed. The new faith brings new pain, because it draws to us the pain of others; but it brings the promise that "all things shall work together for good," etc. We have put that to the proof, and, resting upon it, have found it firm. Pain has been shown to have a Divine mission to bless and sanctify us. By the sorrow of the Saviour's soul all the Church is redeemed; and by the sorrows of individual souls, when they are touched with grace, are those souls purified as they could be in no other way. Only "if we suffer with Him" in some way can we "be glorified together." Believing this, we are to go on the simple way of duty, whatever may be the difficulty of it, trusting all the while to the sustaining power of faith in Christ. "My grace is sufficient for thee," etc.

V. In that our faith teaches us THAT A TIME AND STATE ARE COMING WHEN THERE SHALL BE NO MORE PAIN. "In His presence is fulness of joy." Conclusion: We must remember that however strong and firm the objective truth may be, and whatever its power to carry us through the straits of life and its adaptation to lift us towards a life to come, it will be and do none of these things if we have not the subjective principle by which we embrace what is true, trust what is strong, and rise to what is high and pure. The gospel, as a practical power and abiding consolation, is in our hearts, or it is nowhere for us.

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

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