As much as Paul needed Timothy in his gospel-spreading ministry to remain with him, it was more important to get him to the Thessalonians for spiritual reasons, which will soon be cited.
So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. (1 Th 3:1)
Timothy's mission was to strengthen and encourage them in their faith because of their trials. (All Christians are destined to have trials, as unpleasant as they may be.)
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. (1 Th 3:2,3)
These trials were related to persecution, which comes to the godly. One of the truths Paul repeated when in the presence of the Thessalonians was that we would be persecuted.
In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. (1 Th 3:4)
For the second time he mentions he could stand it no longer. He felt it imperative to send Timothy. His godly anxiety was too much. Verse 5 reveals the reason Timothy was sent—to find out about their faith. Paul also reveals his godly fear, that is, the devil (tempter) might have somehow tempted them because of trials and persecutions. Paul knew the devil will use anything to hurt or fatally destroy a Christian, if possible. The mind games the tempter can use is amazing.
For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless. (1 Th 3:5)
**NOTE: Dear saint, don't ever forget trials/problems will also come to you as long as you live. They don't have to be devastating as can be the case! To have salvation will definitely mean you will suffer, and at times, very painful trials (1 Pet. 4:12). It goes with being a follower of Jesus just like breathing air goes with physical life.
Timothy returned with good news about their faith and love. They still had pleasant memories of Paul and his fellow workers and they also longed to see them again. That was sweet music to their spiritual ears.
But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. (1 Th 3:6)
They were standing firm in the Lord and what problems Paul was suffering were secondary to their spiritual health and welfare. Among other things, we learn that Paul's grace message knew a saving faith in Jesus, which those Thessalonians had, could become shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19,20). He knew people who were once saved and afterwards died spiritually. Therefore, he wanted to protect, as much as possible, other Christians. Besides prayer, encouragement, sympathy and divulging the unpleasant truths of the Christian life can help. Without question, Christian follow up (a follow up ministry) is important.
Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. (1 Th 3:7,8)
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