OceanSide church of Christ

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Timothy’s Visit (1)

I Thessalonians 3:1-5

Victor M. Eskew




A.    In our previous lesson, we saw that Paul longed for the saints in Thessalonica.

1.      He had been taken from them as a child orphaned from his parents (I Thess. 2:17).

2.      He had desired to see them, endeavored to see them, but Satan hindered his efforts (I Thess. 2:18).


B.      In I Thessalonians 3, Paul’s yearning for the Thessalonians comes to a head.  Instead of going personally, he sends Timothy, his young son in the faith.


C.     I Thessalonians 3:1-8, tells of “Timothy’s Visit.”  Let look at the first five verses of this section of Scripture in this lesson and see what we can glean from it.


I.                   THE ANGST OF THE APOSTLE (I Thess. 3:1, 5)


A.    The word “angst” involves anxiety and concern.  This is what Paul felt for the Thessalonians.  Thus, he wanted to see them.


B.      Two times in this text, Paul says that he could no longer forbear.

1.      Wherefore when we could no longer forbear (I Thess. 3:1).

2.      For this cause, when I could no longer forbear (I Thess. 3:5).

3.      Forbear

a.      Strong (4722:  to endure patiently

b.      Thayer:  to bear up against, hold out against

c.       Vine:  to bear up under

4.      Paul’s longing to see the Thessalonians finally got the best of him.  If he could not go, someone else would have to go.


C.     The plan involved two things:

1.      …we thought it good to be left at Athens alone (I Thess. 3:1).

2.      I sent to know your faith (I Thess. 3:5).

3.      NOTE:  This was a sacrifice for the apostle.

a.      Athens was a large city filled with idolatry, immorality, and the wisdom of men.

b.      Paul could have used the support and talents of Timothy in the city.


D.    The purposes (I Thess. 3:5b)


…to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.


1.      Paul wanted to know their faith.

a.      Faith is what undergirds all we do in our Christian lives.

b.      A deep faith enables us to be steadfast in the gospel.

c.       A weak faith makes us susceptible to the devil.

2.      Paul was afraid that in some way the tempter had gotten to them.

a.      Paul knew Satan is real and that he is at work.

b.      He tempts man in an effort to get him to sin against God.

c.       Paul says that this could be done “by some means.”  Satan has many tools in his toolbox.  He has many methods whereby he seeks to bring harm to a Christian’s life.

3.      If Satan was successful, Paul’s labor would have been in vain.

a.      Example:  Kathleen’s brother lost his house to a fire after laboring almost a year to get it completed.  His labor seemed to be in vain.

b.      Paul considered himself to be a wise masterbuilder within the temple of God (I Cor. 3:7). 

1)      Each convert was a living stone in the temple (I Pet. 2:5, 9).

2)      It took toil and labor to bring these individuals to Christ.

3)      Satan, however, could bring ruin.

4)      If this happened. Paul felt that his labor was in vain.  It was empty and useless.


II.                THE ARRANGEMENT (I Thess. 3:2-4)


A.    The person Paul chose to send to the Thessalonians was Timothy (I Thess. 3:2a).


And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow labourer in the gospel of Christ.


1.      Timothy joined Paul’s team on the second missionary journey as Paul passed through Lystra (Acts 16:1-3).

2.      Timothy was with Paul when they brought the gospel to the Thessalonians.

3.      Paul describes Timothy in four ways.

a.      His name:  Timotheus

1)      His name comes from two words:  time (value, precious, honor, dear) and theos (God)

2)      Thus, his name means one who is dear, valuable, and precious to God.

b.      His relationship:  our brother

1)      Paul was a Jew and Timothy was half Jew and half Greek

2)      In Christ, they were brothers.  They were both begotten by the same God and by the same gospel.

3)      The blood of Jesus Christ joined them together as the sons of God.

c.       His position:  minister of God

1)      The word “minister” can have a broad, general meaning for all Christians as simply servants.

2)      The word can be applied specifically to preachers of the gospel of Christ (I Tim. 4:6).


If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine, whereunto thou has attained.


3)      NOTE:  Paul did not call Timothy a “pastor.”

a)      A pastor was an elder, overseer, or bishop over a local congregation.

b)      Timothy was minister, a preacher, an evangelist.

d.      A companion:  our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ

1)      Paul’s position as an apostle was not used to lord it over others.

2)      Paul saw the young Timothy as a fellow-laborer.

a)      The word fellow-laborer comes from the word “union, joined together” and “work.”

b)      Paul was appreciative of this young man.  He was patient with him.  He used him to do some very difficult tasks.

B.      The purpose of Timothy’s visit was threefold (I Thess. 3:2b-4)


…to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:  that no man should be moved by these afflictions:  for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.  For verily, when we were with you, we told you that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.


1.      To establish you

a.      Definition

1)      Strong (4741):  to set fast, to turn resolutely, in a certain direction

2)      Thayer:  to make stable, place firmly, set fast, strengthen, to render constant, confirm, one’s mind

3)      Vine:  to fix, make fast

b.      The persecutions suffered by the Thessalonians Christians may have caused some to waver or drift from the truth.  Some may have doubted the sureness of the Christian faith.

c.       Timothy was to bring stability to their minds and practices.

d.      LESSON:  God does not want His children vacillating and wandering to and fro.  He wants them to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Cor. 15:58).

2.      To comfort you concerning your faith

a.      Definition

1)      Strong (3870):  to call near, to bring consolation

2)      Thayer:  to call to one’s side, to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort

b.      Trials and tribulations get us down.  Sometimes we need to be encouraged.  Paul sent Timothy to comfort the hearts of these new Christians.

3.      To keep them from being moved by their afflictions

a.      Definition

1)      Strong (4525):  to shake, disturb

2)      Thayer:  to agitate, disturb, trouble

b.      Afflictions have a negative impact on the mind.

1)      Individuals wonder and doubt.

2)      They quit attending services.

3)      They give up on God and His work.

c.       Timothy was sent to ease the trouble and agitation in the minds of some of these new converts.

d.      Timothy would remind them of two things:

1)      Their appointment

a)      To be appointed means to be destined to this end.

b)      Evil does not like good.  The darkness hates the light. 

c)      Thus, it is inevitable that the world will persecute the church.

2)      His teaching:  “…we told you before that we should suffer tribulation.”

a)      Paul was honest with his converts.

b)      He had suffered for Christ, and he knew that all Christians would suffer.

c)      In his teaching, he followed in the footsteps of Jesus (Matt. 5:10-12).


Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake:  for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:  for great it your reward in heaven:  for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.





A.    Did Timothy make the visit?  Yes


B.      What did he learn and report to Paul?  That will be the subject of our next lesson.


C.     Summary of some lessons:

1.      Faithful Christians should have a deep concern for other Christians, especially those who are suffering trials and tribulations.

2.      Satan is on the prowl seeking to tempt Christians and to destroy their faith.

3.      Persecution and afflictions cause God’s children to be agitated and deeply disturbed.

4.      Sometimes we need to be established and comforted.

5.      We need to remember that persecution is part of the Christian life.