Paul’s Anxiety in Athens: 3:1-10.
Since Paul could not visit Thessalonica, he sent Timothy to encourage them. Paul always had a great burden for fellow believers (2 Corinthians 12:28). He feared that Satan could tempt the believers and his labor would be in vain (3:5). Timothy was sent to strengthen, to establish and to encourage the believers in the faith. Paul warned them that if the afflictions would shaken their faith, it would be evident that they never truly believed the gospel. The believers are not immune from sufferings (John 16:33; Acts 14:22). Paul was encouraged by Timothy's good news about their faith and love in Christ. Paul always worked with others servants of God and sought their help in the ministry. He considered them as brothers, ministers of God and fellow laborers. Paul was thankful for what God is doing in their lives (3:9). He also longed to see them face to face to minister what is lacking in their faith (3:10). His stay among them was brief and they still have much to learn about Christ ( Acts 17:2). This should be the earnest desire of all who are in the ministry. The true power for change comes from Christ in whom we trust. Pray that God would increase our faith in Christ to do great things for God. Our labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Paul’s Prayer and Blessing: 3:11-13.
Paul prays that the Thessalonians may be encouraged and strengthened in their Christian life. In Paul’s prayer, we see threefold requests. He earnestly prays that God would direct his way back to them. His prayer was personal, particular, purposeful and submissive. Prayer is not forcing or persuading God to move things on our way or overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of God’s will in life. Paul waited for God’s timing to visit them (Acts 19:21; 20:1). His prayer was addressed to “God our father and our Lord Jesus''. God is not indifferent towards the object or the manner of prayer. We must pray to the Father through Christ in the Spirit ( John 14:13, 14; Jude 20). God is our Father through Jesus Christ (John 1:12). The Father and the Son are one and whatever the Father does, the Son also does (John 10:30; 5:19). In light of the imminent return of Christ, Paul prays that the Thessalonians may increase and abound in love for one another and for all people (3:12). Humanly it is impossible. Only the Lord makes our love grow. We love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love (Romans 5:5). Christ sets an example for us to love one another (John 13: 34). We are commanded to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Love covers a multitude of sin and never keeps a record of wrong doings (1 Peter 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:5). There is no fear in love because perfect love expels all fear (1 John 4:18). Without love our worship and sacrifices are empty and gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Only sincere love can strengthen our hearts and keep us from sin. Paul prays that Thessalonians may be strengthened in holiness as they wait for the coming Savior. Christ is coming with all his saints. The Lord is the one ultimately making us blameless (Ephesians 5:26-27; Jude 24). Everyone who has this hope in Christ purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3). The key to living the Christian life is the genuine transformation of our desire to love and serve Christ.