October 11, 2011

Wednesday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity

Lectionary

Morning - Ps. 119:113-128, 1 Kings 8:22-30, 1 Thess. 2:14-3:13
Evening - Ps.119:129-144, Mt. 10:16-31

Commentary
1 Thess. 2:14-3:13

To be followers of the churches in Judea (2:14) is first to be in Jesus Christ and the faith delivered to the Church by Him, taught by His Apostles, and recorded in the Scriptures. Second, it is to suffer persecution from your own people. The "Jews" of verse 14 are not the average "man in the street" but the religious and political leaders and their henchmen who committed the horrible deeds of verses 15 and 16. Many Jews were also Christians. Others were sympathetic to the Church and held it in high esteem (Acts 2:47). Thus, Paul's statement in verse 14 is not against Jews as a people, but against all who do evil in the name of God.

Paul desired to return to Thessalonica, and had planned to do so many times. When he says Satan hindered him (2:18) he probably refers to the attention his return would call to the Christians, renewing and intensifying the persecution against them. While Paul did not fear for himself, he preferred not to further endanger the Thessalonian Church. Thus, he sent Timothy to Thessalonica from Athens to further establish and comfort them in the faith (3:1, 2, 4). Timothy was not as well known as Paul, and could easily enter the city without causing another riot. His task was to continue to teach the faith to the Church, and to help them not loose heart due to the continuing persecution of Paul and his companions (3:3 & 4).

Paul is encouraged by the good news Timothy brought back from Thessalonica (3:6-8). His sacrifices and sufferings for the Gospel are worth it when he sees people standing firm in the faith due to his work. This is true joy for all faithful ministers of Christ (3:9), while it is almost crushing sorrow to see people they have spent and been spent for (2 Cor. 12:15) turn away from the Church and their ministry. Thus, chapter 3 ends with a benediction (11-13) which summarises Paul's prayers for the Thessalonians. Everything he asks in this prayer is for the benefit of the Thessalonians, even his prayer that God will direct his way back to them, is a request that he may continue to teach and strengthen them in Christ. When a true minister of the Gospel asks you to come to church, Bible studies, and prayer circles, he is not asking you for his benefit. He is asking you to come for your benefit, so you may increase in Christian love and be established in holiness before God, and so you will be found in Christ at the coming of our Lord.

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