The selfless concern of the missionaries is noted by their willingness to temporarily separate from one another in order to encourage the believers in Thessalonica. They rejoiced in the faith demonstrated by these young believers, but they also knew Satan’s determination to destroy them as well as the trouble that was stirred up by their countrymen. The missionaries could accomplish more by staying together as they continued their ministry toward the South, but they decided against that which would be convenient for them, manifesting their love and concern for those that had trusted the Lord for salvation.
A. Their Decision 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
The missionaries understood that the Lord would take care of His children, but He also taught them an important lesson – the Lord uses the mature believers to care for the young. The Lord works through His people!
Romans 15:1-3 (KJV) We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
The missionaries determined that they needed to share what they had learned through the grace of God in their lives. Notice that each had been blessed by the Lord through His strength in afflictions they faced –
At Damascus, escaping for his life by being lowered over the wall in a basket.
At Jerusalem, not being trusted by the brethren.
At Lystra, being dragged out of the city, stoned by the crowd, and left for dead.
At Philippi, being humiliated, beaten, and put in prison.
At Jerusalem, suffering with the brethren as outcast from the Jews.
At Philippi, with Paul in being humiliated, beaten, and imprisoned.
As a resident of Lystra, observed the treatment of Paul and Barnabas.
As a partner in the work at Philippi, observed Paul and Silas suffer
1 Peter 2:20 (KJV) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
These men knew the grace and mercy of God and determined that they had to share the faithfulness of God with others.
In returning to Macedonia, they would –
1. Confirm them in their walk. (Establish)
Ephesians 5:1 (KJV) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2. Comfort them, which involves admonition and consolation.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (KJV) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
3. Commit themselves to the Lord. 3:3
Paul used an interesting word here when he exhorted them not “to be moved by these afflictions…”. The word ‘moved’ is a description of a dog wagging its tail. The dog wags its tail as an emotional response. Paul is reminding these believers that they do not have to respond emotionally to the afflictions they will face when they are confirmed in their way, comforted in their knowledge of the Lord and committed to His purpose for their lives.
Because of the missionaries knowledge of God’s working in their lives, they were agreed in sending Timothy to the Thessalonians to help them “we”, and when he was departed, Silas also returned to those in Macedonia to help them leaving Paul alone, “I”, to begin the work in Corinth.
The missionaries knew the difficulties that this decision involved, but they also knew through God’s working in their lives the importance of slowing down and helping the brethren.
Paul revealed his emotional state to the Corinthians as he entered into the ministry to them without his companions in the work –
1 Corinthians 2:3 (KJV) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
But he went on anyway knowing the Lord would give him strength!