Summary: Trials are a common part of the Christian life, but not one that we should allow to rule us. This portion of Thessalonians gives us insight into how we can stand up against the trials that come our way.
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 the “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 established in verses 2 and 13. The key thought is expressed in verse 8, “for now we really live, if you stand firm 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.
o But the troublemakers from Thessalonica followed them and stirred up opposition.
o Paul left for Athens while Silas and Timothy remained at Berea.
o Later Paul sent Timothy 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 “therefore” 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 to 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 testing 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 of 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, before the battle even begins.
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 these two letters to the Thessalonician church are a part of God’s inspired Word.
• This suggest that God’s Word is one of the best tools for establishing new Christians in the faith.
• When Jesus was tempted, He used the Word of God to defeat Satan.
• The Bible is able to establish us because it is inspired of God.
• 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 if touched on.
• A working knowledge of the Bible is essential for spiritual growth and stability.
• God’s Word is food to nourish us, light to guide us, and a weapon to defend us.
• Paul sent them a man, and that man established them in the Word.
• Paul ministered to them in a third way as well.
III. He Prayed for Them (vv. 9-13)
• The Word of God and prayer should go together.
o The prophet Samuel told the people of Israel in 1 Sam 12:23; Peter said it in Acts 6:4.
o Paul had this same emphasis in Acts 20:32.
• Jesus prayed for His disciples, just as Paul prayed for the Thessalonian Christians, that their faith would not fail.
o 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.