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I THESSALONIANS (12)
Paul’s Written Prayer
I Thessalonians 3:9-13
Victor M. Eskew
A. Paul had received “good tidings” from Timothy about the church in Thessalonica (I Thess. 3:6).
B. This news had comforted Paul (I Thess. 3:7) and had brought him back to life from his deep state of concern over them (I Thess. 3:8).
C. Paul’s thoughts are now turned heavenward. In I Thessalonians 3:9-13, we have “Paul’s Written Prayer.”
1. He uses the word “thanks” in I Thessalonians 3:9 and “praying” in I Thessalonians 3:10.
2. He makes requests of God in I Thessalonians 3:11-13.
3. Let’s look at this prayer that was in Paul’s heart and that flowed from his inspired pen.
I. APPRECIATION (I Thess. 3:9)
For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God.
A. Paul was literally filled with joy due to the condition of the church at Thessalonica.
B. Paul seems to be saying that he would not be able to render enough thanks to God for the joy that was within him.
1. “For what thanks can we render to God again for you…”
2. Here, we are amazed at that which brought Paul joy.
a. It was the faith and charity and steadfastness of the saints.
b. It was not just joy, it was great joy, an exuberance of heart. “…for all the joy wherewith we joy…”
c. NOTE: Paul understood what their faithfulness meant both to themselves and to him. Had they not be faithful, he would have been shattered.
1. Faithful brethren need to bring us joy.
2. When we hear of the faithfulness of others, we need to show our appreciation to our heavenly Father.
II. SUPPLICATION (I Thess. 3:10)
Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith.
A. Paul once again says that he as praying to be reunited with the saints. “…that we might see your face…”
B. Remember: Up to this point in time, Paul’s prayers were answered negatively.
1. This did not cause Paul to quit praying.
2. Two points of earnestness in his prayers.
a. Night and day
b. Praying exceedingly (more, beyond, over)
3. LESSON: Paul shows us the definition of “importunity” in prayer.
a. It is that continual asking of God.
b. We don’t give up. We don’t quit believing. We just ask over and over and over.
C. Paul’s longing was not just for reunion, but he also wanted to perfect that which was lacking in their faith.
1. Their faith was positive, but it was not perfect, that is full-grown.
2. Remember: These are new Christians. Too, many of them were Gentile converts.
3. Two words:
1) Strong (5303): a deficit, specifically poverty
2) Thayer: deficiency
3) Vine: shortcoming, that which is behind.
1) Strong (2675): to complete thoroughly, repair, adjust
2) Thayer; to render fit, sound, complete, to strengthen, to make it what is ought to be
3) Vine: to render fit, the right ordering of something
c. Three things that Paul would do to their faith:
1) Complete it: that is, make it mature, bring it from Point A to Point B
2) Adjust it: it may have been partially correct, but needed adjustments
3) Repair it: it may have been completely wrong is some areas and needed to be overhauled
III. INTERVENTION (I Thess. 3:11)
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
A. It was Satan who had hindered Paul’s efforts to see the Thessalonians (I Thess. 2:18).
B. Paul asked God to “make the way straight” to the saints in that city. He asked God to remove all the hindrances that had been set by Satan.
C. LESSON: Paul believed in the providential hand of God in his life.
1. He knew God could work to remove obstacles.
2. He knew God could work to open doors.
3. He knew God’s power was available and was much stronger than the power of Satan.
4. NOTE: Paul was in one of those positions where we often find ourselves. He was asking and asking things from God, but the answer was not in the affirmative.
a. Paul did not doubt and quit praying.
b. Paul trusted in God’s power and prayed even more!
IV. AFFECTION (I Thess. 3:12)
And the Lord make you to increase and about in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.
A. Even though Paul is not referred to as “the apostle of love,” he never discounted this trait. In fact, he encourages it in many of his epistles.
B. The word love is “agape.”
1. It is that supreme love that was expressed by deity for man.
2. It manifests the qualities of love found in I Corinthians 13:4-8a.
C. Paul wanted their love to increase and abound.
a. Strong (4121): to make or be more, to increase, to superabound
b. Thayer: to superabound, to exist in abundance
c. Vine: n/a
a. Strong (4052): to superabound, be in excess, be superfluous
b. Thayer: to exceed a fixed number or measure, that which comes in abundance, overflow
c. Vine: above a certain number, something above ordinary
D. Two groups are to be loved:
1. Toward one another
2. Toward all men
E. He says this is the type of love that he had for them.
F. LESSON: No church can ever have too much love for each other.
1. There should be a superabundance of love in every congregation.
2. This is agape love, not gooshy love.
V. SALVATION (I Thess. 3:13)
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with his saints.
A. The end purpose of Paul’s desires was for the hearts of the Thessalonians to be established.
1. To be established mean to be set fast, to turn resolutely in a certain direction.
2. The direction he wanted to point them in was holiness.
a. Holiness involves being consecrated and set apart to God.
b. It also means to stand before God unblameable.
B. Paul wants them to be established when Jesus comes with His saints.
1. Jesus is going to return for the redeemed.
2. He will be looking for Christians whose hearts are established unblameable in holiness (Eph. 5:27).
That he might present it unto himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.
3. LESSON: God will not accept just anyone into heaven in the last day. He will only accept those who are unblameable in holiness before Him. Thus, this ought to be our major concern in this life.
A. Paul was a man who engaged in constant prayer.
B. In this text, we gain some insight into the content of Paul’s prayers.
1. His gives thanks for that which brings him joy.
2. He makes requests of God.
a. Requests that require faith
b. Requests that are spiritual in nature
c. Requests for other Christians
C. May God help us to develop a deeper prayer life like that of the apostle Paul. And, like Paul, even when our prayers are not answered in the affirmative, may we continue to prayer, night and day, exceedingly.