3. The Warm Heart of a Disciple-Maker (1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (26:26)

In Lesson 2 we examined the character of a disciple-maker. In this lesson we'll examine the emotions of Paul, the disciple-maker. And we'll also discuss the rewards -- in addition to salvation -- that come to believers at Christ's return.

Paul Longs to See Them Again (2:17-18)

As you may recall, Paul's mission to Thessalonica was abruptly cut short when the Jews fomented a riot and then blamed Paul and his followers for causing trouble, resulting in their expulsion from the city.

"17 Brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you -- certainly I, Paul, did, again and again -- but Satan stopped us." (2:17-18)

You can feel Paul's heart in these verses. When he was forced to leave the city it difficult for the new church, but it was wrenching for Paul himself. He describes it as being "torn away from you" (NIV). The word Paul uses (aporphanizo) introduces the image a sudden separation of parent and child. The word can refer either to children deprived of their parents or to parents deprived of their children. Here it refers to bereavement in general The emphasis is on unnatural separation, both forcible and painful.[70]

Paul mentions his emotion of "intense longing"[71] to see them. Paul feels the separation acutely, even though it has been only a short time -- probably just a few months at most.

Prevented by Satan from Returning to Thessalonica (2:18)

He longs to see them and has tried several times to do just that, "But Satan stopped[72] us..." (2:18b). What was the Satanic hindrance that kept Paul from returning to Thessalonica? There have been several speculations:

  1. Jewish opposition, perhaps a plot formed against him by the Jews.
  2. His "thorn in the flesh," a bodily ailment (2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 4:13-14).
  3. The legal ban the city leaders put on Jason (Acts 17:19), with severe penalties if Paul were to return.
  4. A sin or scandal that detained him in Corinth.

The truth is, we just don't know exactly what that Satanic hindrance was.

Paul had been "hindered" elsewhere in his ministry. Prior to landing in Macedonia, Paul and his missionary team are "kept[73] by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia," (Acts 16:6), and then not "allowed"[74] by the Spirit of Jesus to enter Bithynia and evangelize there (Acts 16:7). God had a mission for them in Macedonia, finally revealed in a dream where Paul saw "a man from Macedonia" calling them to come (Acts 16:9-10).

After writing these letters to the Thessalonians, Paul is prevented[75] (Romans 1:13) and often hindered[76] (Romans 15:22) from travelling to Rome. Here we're not told whether God or Satan did the hindering.

Sometimes Paul is hindered by Satan (2:18c); at other times by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:7). How does Paul know the hindrance from travelling to Thessalonica is Satan, rather than God who is greater? Probably his discernment of the spiritual dynamics of the situation. Ultimately, of course, God works out his purpose in spite of Satan's obstacles. Whatever the case, Paul's purpose in our letter to explain to his beloved children in the faith that he couldn't return due to circumstances beyond his control, even though he desperately longed to see them. Perhaps his enemies had told the believers that Paul didn't care about them or he would have returned.

You Are Our Hope, Our Joy, Our Crown (2:19-20)

"19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory[77] and joy." (2:19-20)

When we think of "crown," we think of a king's crown. But the word Paul uses indicates a laurel wreath that was awarded to the winning runner or athlete in the games.[78] Paul uses this image in 1 Corinthians:

"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." (1 Corinthians 9:25)

  Paul's converts are his "crown" or prize, the evidence that he has not "run in vain" (Galatians 2:2). He calls the Philippian believers, "my joy and my crown" (Philippians 4:1). These converts in Thessalonica will be the basis of his glorying "in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes." This "crown" will be Paul's "glory" (NIV), "crown of boasting" (NRSV), "crown of rejoicing" (KJV), kauchēsis, "act of taking pride in something, boasting," or perhaps, "that which constitutes a source of pride, object of boasting, reason for boasting."[79]

In other words, Paul will present his converts to Christ at his return as the proof of his labor, as he says elsewhere,

"...That I may boast (kauchēma[80]) on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." (Philippians 2:16).

"We will boast (kauchēma) of you in the day of the Lord Jesus." (2 Corinthians 1:14)

Rewards on the Day of the Lord for Service

This all sounds very much like Jesus' Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and Parable of the Pounds or Minas (Luke 19:12-27), where the returning master calls in each of his servants, has them present what they've accomplished, and rewards them appropriately.

Paul himself writes about the judgment seat of Christ,[81] where the same thing takes place.

"We will all stand before God's judgment seat.... So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." (Romans 14:10, 12)

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him[82] for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10)

To the Corinthians, Paul also writes about rewards -- or none -- on the Day of the Lord.

"His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)

Note that our reward is determined at this time -- not our salvation, which is based on grace, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9).

"Reward" in 1 Corinthians 3:14 is misthos, literally, "remuneration for work done, pay, wages," then by extension, "recognition (mostly by God) for the moral quality of an action, recompense." While the word can be used in an unfavorable sense as "requital" for the wicked, it usually positive, referring to our rewards in heaven.[83] For example, Jesus says, "great is your reward in heaven" (Matthew 5:12), a "reward from your Father in heaven" (Matthew 6:1), "a righteous man's reward" (Matthew 10:41), a reward for labor in church planting (1 Corinthians 3:8, 14), "rewarded fully" for a conscientious Christian life (2 John 8). The rewards are distributed at Christ's coming, "rewarding your servants the prophets" (Revelation 11:18), probably at the "judgment seat of Christ."

By now you may be feeling rather uncomfortable. That's because the idea of receiving rewards for our good works here on earth is embarrassing to modern-day Christians for two reasons:

1. Free grace. First, some of us have been so indoctrinated concerning God's free grace that rewards for "works" don't seem to fit into our theology. However, rewards (payments for work done) are nearly always distinguished in Scripture from salvation (freely offered by God's grace). Paul clearly differentiates them in Ephesians 2:8-9 and 1 Corinthians 3:13-15.

Salvation by grace is the rock solid foundation that we do not lose, because it is anchored by our faith in the finished redemption of Christ on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Rewards for works are the "icing on the cake."

To work for rewards seems somehow unappreciative of the freeness of God's grace in salvation. Salvation seems like enough -- more than enough, all we could ever ask or think. But no matter how you or I might feel emotionally, the New Testament clearly teaches that there will be rewards in addition to the gift of salvation, when Christ returns.

2. Sincere love. Second, we pride ourselves on serving out of pure love for God, not for any gain. Surely, obeying the first commandment, to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37) should be the motivation for our work -- our "labors of love," as we call them.

But in spite of that love, Jesus -- and his Apostles Paul and John -- teach us that we will be rewarded for our labors.

Paul is concerned that his converts continue in their faith so that he won't have labored "for nothing" (Philippians 2:16; 1 Thessalonians 3:5). Yes, Paul loves God supremely, but he is looking forward to glorying in these "trophies of grace," when Christ appears, much like the master in the Parable of the Talents, who invites the faithful servant to "enter into the joy of your master," to join in the welcome-home party that is going on inside the house in celebration of the master's return (Matthew 25:21). Indeed, their faithful service is an indication that these servants loved their master, just as the refusal to use the "talent" given him is an indication of the unfaithful servant's hatred for his master (Matthew 25:24-26).

Q1. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20) How can we justify a desire for rewards for our labor in light of God's free gift of salvation and our love for him? What does Christ reward? What doesn't he reward? Why should showing accountability to our Master bring us pleasure? How does it motivate us?

When Jesus Comes (2:19)

The phrase, "at his coming" (NRSV, KJV) or "when he comes" (NIV) in 2:19 represents the earliest use of the noun parousia in the New Testament to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. "Coming" is parousia, "coming, advent." This word became the official term for a visit of a person of high rank, especially of kings and emperors visiting a province.[84] We also see this term in 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:15; and 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9. The Coming of Christ is a major theme of both Thessalonian letters. We'll consider this theme further in Lesson 5 on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.

Sent Timothy from Athens to Strengthen the Thessalonians (3:1-5)

Now we move from a teaching portion of the letter to a narrative one. The warm heart of a disciple-maker is clear in this passage.

"1 So when we[85] could stand it[86] no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 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, 3 so that no one would be unsettled[87] by these trials.[88] You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4 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 Thessalonians 3:1-4)

The suspense is killing Paul. Have the Thessalonian believers survived persecution with their faith intact? Paul dispatches Timothy from Athens to find out. Timothy doesn't catch up with Paul until he gets to Corinth (18:5). Timothy is just a young man, but he is given this important assignment. Paul can't return to Thessalonica because he had been declared persona non grata by the city leaders, but Timothy has a lower profile and can "fly under the radar" without raising trouble for the church.

Timothy is described here in two ways:

  1. "Brother," and
  2. "God's fellow worker" (NIV) or "co-worker for God" (NRSV). The word here is synergos, "pertaining to working together with, helping," a "helper, fellow-worker."[89]

You may not have thought about it, but perhaps you could be described in the same way: a brother or sister who works in God's cause alongside great men and women of God. You are a valued co-worker or co-laborer of God's! The field of Timothy's labor is spreading or proclaiming[90] the gospel of Christ. I hope that is your focus too.

Notice Timothy's assignment in this return mission:

"To strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials." (3:2b-3a)

Persecution is difficult, especially for new believers. Paul is concerned that the pressure would be too much for this new church, so Timothy's role is to  "strengthen and encourage."

  • "Strengthen" (NIV, NRSV), "establish" (KJV) is stērizō. The basic meaning is "to fix firmly in a place, set up, establish, support." Here it is used figuratively, "to cause to be inwardly firm or committed, confirm, establish, strengthen."[91]
  • "Encourage" (NIV, NRSV), "comfort" (KJV) is parakaleō, a word that has a wide scope: "to urge strongly, appeal to, urge, exhort, encourage" as well as "to instill someone with courage or cheer, comfort, encourage, cheer up."[92]

Timothy is to be a strengthener and encourager on behalf of Paul.

Q2. (2 Thessalonians 3:2-3) Why is Timothy's role to be a strengthener and encourager so important? In what ways was this a sensitive role. How did it help Timothy to be sent on this assignment? How does delegating ministry help the overall enterprise of the Kingdom?

Destined for Persecution (3:3-4)

So Timothy is sent,

"3 ... so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.[93] And it turned out that way, as you well know." (3:3-4)

Paul talks about the "trials" (NIV), "persecutions" (NRSV), "afflictions" (KJV). The word is thlipsis, that we saw in 1:6 and will see again in 2 Thessalonians 1:6 -- literally, "pressing, pressure." Here it is used in a metaphorical sense, "trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation."[94]

Sometimes when we suffer persecution and trouble we ask, "What did I do to deserve that?" That's the wrong question. A better one might be, "What did Jesus do to deserve being crucified?"

Jesus said,

"10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you
and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
(Matthew 5:10-12)

In other words, we should have joy because our persecution means that people see enough of Christ in us to be worth persecuting. We have good company in our persecutions -- Christ and the honored Old Testament prophets. Elsewhere, Paul himself expresses blessing in suffering with Christ. He prays,

"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death...." (Philippians 3:10)

For the Christian, persecution isn't some kind of anomaly. We are destined[95] for persecutions (3:3b). As Paul later encourages Timothy, who is himself feeling a bit timid in the face of persecution,

"In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."[96] (2 Timothy 3:12)

Persecution is the lot of all Christians -- some more, some less. Get used to it!

The Tempter Who Is Behind Persecution (3:5)

Paul knows that Satan, the tempter, has been hard at work. He tempted Jesus in the wilderness and was behind Jesus' persecution and betrayal (Luke 23:3; John 13:27). Paul knows that this is a spiritual battle, that we humans are vulnerable.

"For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid[97] that in some way the tempter[98] might have tempted you and our efforts[99] might have been useless.[100]" (3:5)

  God tries us to examine and refine our character. But Satan tries us to try to get us to fall. Here Satan is referred to as the "chief tempter," as he is elsewhere as well (Matthew 4:1-3; 1 Corinthians 7:5; Revelation 2:10).

Q3. (1 Thessalonians 3:3-5) In what ways does persecution discourage Christians from active, open service? In what ways does it mature them? In what ways does it reveal our underlying motives? Why do you think God allows the tempter the ability to tempt us? Why hasn't he done away with Satan already?

Timothy Returns with Good News (3:6)

  What a relief it must have been for Paul when Timothy returned with a good report!

"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[101] to see us, just as we also long to see you." (3:6)

Timothy reports on their:

  1. Faith
  2. Love
  3. Pleasant memories
  4. Longing to see Paul

When you're away from someone you love and receive no word from them, your mind can go crazy exploring scenarios of the worst that could happen. But now Paul is reassured, both about the Thessalonians' Christian faith and their intense love for him.

Paul's Delight in the Thessalonians' Faith (3:7-10)

In the next verses you get a hint of Paul's personal involvement in these children in the gospel:

"7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress[102] and persecution[103] we were encouraged[104] about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith." (3:8-10)

Paul is undergoing struggles in Corinth, but word from these dear believers heartens him. The recent news has him thanking God and praying constantly that he can return to Thessalonica.

Paul's expression in 3:8 is a bit confusing:

"For now we really live, since you are standing firm[105] in the Lord." (3:8)

He's not talking about spiritual life. It's just an expression describing his high level of encouragement. We might say, "a breath of fresh air" or "now we're living!" Wanamaker notes that Paul "derives a sense of strength from the endurance of his converts that enables him to continue his missionary work in the face of opposition and oppression"[106]

  In 3:10 you can sense the intensity of his prayer to return to see his dear friends there.

"Night and day we pray most earnestly[107] that we may see you again and supply what is lacking[108] in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way[109] for us to come to you." (3:10-11)

When he says he wants to "supply what is lacking in your faith," he doesn't mean it as a criticism. "Supply" (NIV), "restore" (NRSV), "perfect" (KJV) is katartizō, "to cause to be in a condition to function well, put in order, restore," with the idea of "put into proper condition."[110] Paul's passion is to bring each believer to his potential. To the church at Colossae he wrote:

"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ." (Colossians 1:28)

To the Romans, whom he has not yet visited, he wrote later on:

"I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong...." (Romans 1:11)

We shouldn't see this as pride so much as Paul's confidence that God will work through him to strengthen people in the faith wherever he goes. Oh, how he wants to return to Thessalonica! Unfortunately, he doesn't get to do so for another five years.

Q4. (1 Thessalonians 3:10-11; Romans 1:11) What is the value of visits of special speakers to a congregation? What can they impart that your regular pastor can't? Why is a ministry of itinerant preaching so difficult -- and important?

A Brief Prayer (3:11-13)

As Paul closes this section of the letter, he offers a brief benediction, asking God to do for them remotely what Paul longed to do for them in person through his ministry.

"12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow[111] for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen[112] your hearts so that you will be blameless[113] and holy[114] in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." (3:11-13)

  Notice Paul's strong expectation of the coming[115] of Christ Jesus. It will be an awesome day of judgment as we're are ushered in God's presence -- that's why Paul prays for blameless and holy hearts on that Day!

Christ's coming will also be a day of glory when King Jesus comes with "all his holy ones" (NIV) or "all his saints" (NRSV, KJV). As we'll see in Lesson 5 on 4:14, Christ isn't returning alone. His coming will be sudden, but not silent. He will come "with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God (4:16). Hallelujah!

Lessons for Disciples

In these verses we've formed a picture of Paul's heart.

  • Great love and longing for his spiritual children.
  • Expectation of rewards for his disciple-making ministry at Christ's coming.
  • Willingness to delegate ministry duties to his assistant Timothy.
  • Endurance of persecution as our lot as believers in this world.
  • Delight in the growth and increasing maturity of his spiritual children.

May God work in us some of these qualities as we seek to make a difference in our world!


Father, thank you for what we've seen of Paul's heart for disciple-making. We ask you to impart to us the same kind of passion and love for the ministry you've called us to. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy." (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." (1 Thessalonians 3:13)

[70] Stott, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, pp. 61-62, citing Ernest Best, A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (Black's New Testament Commentary; A. & C. Black, 1972), p. 124. The word aporphanizo (we get our English word "orphan" from the same root --orphanizō), can have two meanings: "to make an orphan of someone" (BDAG 119) and "to bereave of a parent or parents" (Thayer, p. 57, from apo, "from" +"orphanizō, "make orphan").

[71] "Intense longing" (NIV), "great eagerness" (NRSV), "great desire" (KJV) translate a combination of two words, the comparative adjective polys, "much" and epithymia, "a great desire for something, desire, longing, craving" (BDAG 372, 1b). Later in 3:6, we see the same idea expressed by the verb epipotheō.

[72] "Stopped" (NIV), "blocked our way" (NRSV), "hindered" (KJV) is enkoptō, literally, "to cut into," then figuratively, "to make progress slow or difficult, hinder, thwart" (BDAG 274), from en, "in, into" + koptō, "cut, smite, strike."

[73] "Prevented" (NIV, NRSV), "let" (KJV) is kōlyō, "to keep something from happening, hinder, prevent, forbid" (BDAG 586, 1a).

[74] "Allow" (NIV, NRSV), "suffer" (KJV) is eaō, "to allow someone to do something, let, permit" (BDAG 269, 1).

[75] Kōlyō.

[76] Passive of enkoptō.

[77] The word here is doxa, "glory," in this context, "honor as enhancement or recognition of status or performance, fame, recognition, renown, honor, prestige" (BDAG 257, 3).

[78] The word is stephanos, "a wreath made of foliage or designed to resemble foliage and worn by one of high status or held in high regard, wreath, crown." Here it is used figuratively, "that which serves as adornment or source of pride, adornment, pride" (BDAG 944, 2).

[79] Kauchēsis, BDAG 537, 1 and 2.

[80] Kauchēma is a synonym of kauchēsis, and means the "act of taking pride in something or that which constitutes a source of pride, boast" (BDAG 537, 1).

[81] The judgment seat of Christ sounds suspiciously like the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20:12, where people are judged "according to their works." I know that Bible teachers say these are separate judgments, one for rewards and the other for salvation, but I think that's a bit arbitrary.

[82] Komizō, "to come into possession of something or experience something, carry off, get (for oneself), receive," frequently as recompense. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, "receive a recompense" (BDAG 557, 3).

[83] Misthos, BDAG 653, 2a.

[84] Parousia, BDAG 780, 2bα.

[85] The "we" in 3:1 is apparently the "epistolary we." In 3:1 Paul uses "we," but in 3:5 he uses "I." There are a number of other examples of such a shift between "we" and "I" in Paul's writings. (See, for example, Romans 1:1 with 1:5; 2 Corinthians 1:15-2:13 with 2:14-4:18). We also see this in 3 John 9-10 and in secular writings of the period (Stott, Message, pp. 71-74).

[86] "Stand it" (NIV), "bear it" (NRSV), "forbear" (KJV) is stegō, "to bear up against difficulties, bear, stand, endure" (BDAG 942, 2).

[87] "Unsettled" (NIV), "shaken" (NRSV), "moved" (KJV) is sainō, "to shake," here figuratively, "to cause to be emotionally upset, move, disturb, agitate." Danker says that some take this to refer to the primary meaning of dogs, "wag the tail," hence "to try to win favor by an ingratiating manner, fawn upon, flatter" (BDAG 910, meanings 2 and 1). I think the idea of "shake" is preferable to "fawn upon."

[88] "Trials" (NIV), "persecutions" (NRSV), "afflictions" (KJV) is thlipsis. Literally it means, "pressure, pressing." Here it is used metaphorically as "trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation" (BDAG 457, 1).

[89] There is some confusion in what is the original Greek wording. A few ancient manuscripts read "co-worker of/for God" (D* 33 itd, 85*), which seems to be the reading that best explains the others. Most ancient texts read "servant (diakonos) of God (Aleph A P Ψ vg cop etc.). Later, some texts (Dc K Byz Lect syr) conflated both readings as did the Textus Receptus which lies behind the KJV (Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 631).

[90] "Spreading" (NIV), "proclaiming" (NRSV) does not appear in the Greek text but is implied.

[91] Stērizō, BDAG 945, 2. We see this word also in 3:13, and 2 Thessalonians 2:17 and 3:3.

[92] Parakaleō, BDAG 765, 2 and 4.

[93] "Be persecuted" (NIV), "suffer persecution/tribulation" (NRSV, KJV) is thlibō, from the same root as "persecution" (thlipsis) in verse 3. The verb means "to cause to be troubled, oppress, afflict" (BDAG 457, 3).

[94] Thlipsis, BDAG 457, 1.

[95] "Destined for" (NIV, NRSV), "appointed thereunto" (KJV) is keimai, "lie, recline," hereby extension, "be appointed, set, destined for something" (BDAG 537, 3a).

[96] Diōkō, "to harass someone, especially because of beliefs, persecute" (BDAG 254, 2).

[97] "I was afraid that" (NIV, NRSV), "lest" (KJV) is mēpōs, "marker of a negative perspective expressing misgiving," frequently rendered "lest" (BDAG 902, 2b).

[98] "Tempter" and "tempt" both translate the verb peirazō, "try," here negatively, "to entice to improper behavior, tempt" (BDAG 793, 4).

[99] "Efforts" (NIV), "labor" (NRSV, KJV) is kopos, "work, labor, toil" (BDAG 558, 2).

[100] "Useless" (NIV), "in vain" (NRSV, KJV) is kenos, "empty," here, "pertaining to being without purpose or result, in vain" (BDAG 539, 3).

[101] "Long" (NIV, NRSV), "desiring greatly" (KJV) is epipotheō, "to have a strong desire for something, with implication of need, long for, desire," from epi- "motion, approach, direction toward or to anything" + potheō, "to yearn" (Thayer, 243 and 233, D2).

[102] "Distress" (NIV, NRSV), "affliction" (KJV) is thlipsis that we saw in verse 3.

[103] "Persecution" (NIV, NRSV), "distress" (KJV) is anankē, "a state of distress or trouble, distress, calamity, pressure" (BDAG 61, 2).

[104] "Encouraged" (NIV, NRSV), "comforted" (KJV) is parakaleō (which we saw in 3:2), "to instill someone with courage or cheer, comfort, encourage, cheer up" (BDAG 765, 4).

[105] "Stand firm / stand fast" is stēkō, "to be firmly committed in conviction or belief, stand firm, be steadfast" (BDAG 944, 2).

[106] Wanamaker, 1&2 Thessalonians, p. 136.

[107] "Pray most earnestly" (NIV, NRSV), "praying exceedingly" (KJV) is two words, deomai, "to ask for something pleadingly, ask, request," (BDAG 18, b), and hyperekperissou, "quite beyond all measure," a compounding of three words to create the highest form of comparison imaginable. This superlative also appears at Ephesians 3:20 -- "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine." (BDAG 1033).

[108] "Lacking" is hysterēma, "a defect that must be removed so that perfection can be attained, lack, shortcoming" (BDAG 1044, 2).

[109] "Clear the way" (NIV), "direct our way" (NRSV, KJV) is two words: hodos, "way" and kateuthynō, literally "make/keep straight." Here, figuratively, "lead, direct" (BDAG 532). These words render a Hebrew expression familiar from the Old Testament, especially in this verse: "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct (literally, 'make straight') thy paths" (Proverbs 3:6, KJV).

[110] Katartizō, BDAG 526, 1b.

[111] "Overflow" (NIV), "abound" (NRSV, KJV) is perisseuō, "to cause something to exist in abundance, cause to abound" (BDAG 805, 2b).

[112] "Strengthen" (NIV, NRSV), "stablish" (KJV) is stērizō (that we saw in 3:2), "to cause to be inwardly firm or committed, confirm, establish, strengthen" (BDAG 945, 2).

[113] "Blameless" (NIV, NRSV), "unblameable" (KJV) is amemptos (of which we saw in adverb in 2:10), "blameless, faultless," froma-, "not" + memphomai, "to blame" (BDAG 52).

[114] "Holy" (NIV), "holiness" (NRSV, KJV) is hagiōsynē, "holiness" (BDAG 11), "moral purity" (Thayer, 42, 2).

[115] "Comes/coming" is parousia, "coming, advent." This word became the official term for a visit of a person of high rank, especially of kings and emperors visiting a province" (BDAG 780, 2bα).

Copyright © 2024, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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