Summary: 4th is series on 1 Thessalonians (4 of 8).
TAKE A STAND
INTRO: Before a child can walk, he must learn to stand. Usually the father and mother teach the child to stand and then to walk. Paul was “spiritual parent” to these believers, but he had been forced to leave Thessalonica. How, then, could he help these young Christians learn to stand in the trials of life?
The key word in this chapter is establish (2, 13). The key thought is expressed in verse 8: “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”
I. HE SENT THEM A HELPER (vv. 1-5).
When Paul and his friends left Thessalonica, they went to Berea and ministered the Word. But the troublemakers from Thessalonica followed them and stirred up opposition. Paul left for Athens while Silas and Timothy remained at Berea. Later, Paul sent him back to Thessalonica to help the young church there with their tribulations.
Several important factors were involved in this decision.
1. - Paul’s concern (v. 1). The “wherefore” that opens this chapter refers to 2: 17-20 where Paul expressed his great love for the believers. It was because of this love that he could not abandon them when they needed spiritual help.
2. - Timothy’s character (v. 3). Not every believer is equipped to establish other Christians in the faith. Ideally, every Christian should be mature enough to help other Christians grow in the Lord and learn to stand on their own two feet.
Unfortunately, some are like those described in Heb. 5:11-14. They have gone backward in their spiritual walk and have forgotten the basic truths of the Word. Instead of teaching others, they themselves need to be taught again.
3. - The church’s conflict (vv. 3-5). The trials and testings that come to our lives as Christians are not accidents--they are appointments. We must expect to “suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29). Persecution is not foreign to the believer. It is a normal part of the Christian life.
Of course, behind these persecutions is Satan. He is the tempter, and he seeks to ruin our faith. Notice the emphasis on faith in this chapter (vv, 5-7, 10).
Timothy’s task was to establish these believers and encourage them in their faith. It is faith in God that keeps our feet on the ground when the enemy attacks. Without faith in God we are defeated.
II. HE WROTE A LETTER (vv. 6-8).
Timothy met Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:5) and gave him the glad news that things were going well at Thessalonica.
Timothy reported that the new believers were standing firm in spite of persecution. They did not believe the lies that the enemy had told about Paul, but they still held him in the highest esteem in love.
Paul’s response was to write them this letter. Paul wrote some letters which are not a part of the N. T. (1 Cor. 5:9), but the two letters to the Thessalonician church are a part of God’s inspired Word.
This suggests that God’s Word is one of the best tools for establishing new Christians in the faith (see 2 Thes. 2:15). When Jesus was tempted, He used the Word of God to defeat him (Matt. 4:1-11).
The Bible is able to establish us because it is inspired of God (2 Tim. 3:16). It is not simply a book of religious ideas or good moral advice; it is the very Word of God.
First Thessalonians is saturated with Bible doctrines. Every major doctrine of the faith is touched on. A working knowledge of the Bible is essential for spiritual growth and stability. God’s Word is food to nourish us (Matt. 4:4), light to guide us (Ps. 119:105), and a weapon to defend us (Eph. 6:17).
Paul sent them a man, and that man established them in the Word. Paul ministered to them in a third way.
III. HE PRAYED FOR THEM (vv. 9-13).
Jesus prayed for His disciples, just as Paul prayed for the Thessalonican Christians, that their faith would not fail (Luke 22:31-32).
Paul prayed for three specific requests:
1. - That their faith might mature (v. 10). Paul asked God to make it possible for him to minister to them personally, but God did not answer that request. Our faith never reaches perfection; there is always need for adjustment and growth.
2. - That their love might abound (v. 12). Times of suffering can be times of selfishness. Persecuted people often become very self-centered and demanding. Some people build walls in time of trial, and shut themselves off. Others build bridges and draw closer to the Lord and His people. This was Paul’s prayer for these believers, and God answered it. Our growing faith in God ought to result in a growing love for others.