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Commentary on "Friends Forever (1 Thess. 2:13-3:13)"



Day 4: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 - Timothy’s Substitute Visit (1 Thess. 3:1–5)



The key text for today’s lesson is 1 Thess. 3:1-5 where Paul shares with the Thessalonian church why he sent Timothy to them in his place upon Timothy’s return to Paul. The Quarterly lesson also includes Matt. 24:9-22 as additional suggested reading.



When you study 1 Thess. 3:1-5 carefully you will notice that Paul is concerned that the Thessalonian brothers in Christ might despair and fall away in their faith because of the suffering and affliction Paul and his fellow evangelists were experiencing. Whereas the Quarterly lesson author makes it sound as if Paul is concerned that the Thessalonians might be falling away because of their own suffering. Paul is simply saying that the persecutions he and his co-workers are experiencing are the things all Christians who are challenging the works and power of Satan can expect to undergo in all ages. There is no justification for claiming Matt. 24:9-22 as having any bearing on what is happening here. Paul makes no such claim. The Matthew passage was proclaimed by Jesus and was directed towards a specific people and place, the Jews in Judea, at a time when the “abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” occurs. Since the temple in Jerusalem hadn’t yet been again desecrated there is no justification for including this passage in today’s study.

The lesson author also asserts that Paul is building up Timothy’s authority as a co-worker and stand-in for himself. Well, if Paul did this it certainly wasn’t in this epistle because it was written and sent to the Thessalonian church after Timothy’s return to Paul. Paul’s words of praise in this epistle for Timothy come after the Thessalonians were fully aware of Timothy’s qualifications.



  1. The lesson author seems to be pursuing an agenda that is out of step with what Paul is really teaching by combining unrelated biblical texts. Paul is talking about the normal afflictions that any Christian can expect in any age when they are challenging the strongholds of Satan. Jesus, on the other hand, is talking about what is referred to as ‘end time events’ and is directing his warning to a specific people, time and place.
  2. Yes, Paul is concerned with the welfare of the Thessalonian brothers. However, it would be far better to simply stay within the context and words Paul actually uses.
  3. Paul’s commending of Timothy’s spiritual qualifications wasn’t to build him up with an introduction to the brothers in Thessalonica, at least not in this epistle, because this it was written after his return to Paul.




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