The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

My Notes on 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 21, 2011

1Th 3:7  Therefore we were comforted, brethren, in you, in all our necessity and tribulation, by your faith.

  A masterful reversal!  Paul shows himself to be adept at the use of rhetoric (in the good sense).  Timothy had been sent to comfort the Thessalonians in their distress and affliction (vs 2), and the Thessalonian’s adherence to the faith now provides comfort to the missionaries who were distressed and afflicted concerning that adherence.

1Th 3:8  Because now we live, if you stand in the Lord.


Recalls 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20.  Being assured of the love and affection of their converts towards them, the evangelists play upon their heartstrings, using that love and affection as a motive for the converts maintaining their standing in the Lord.  Recalls the use of “establish” in verse 2.

1 Th 3:9 For what thanksgiving can we render unto God for you, for all the joy wherewith we rejoice for your sakes before our God?

The section opens with a rhetorical question which clearly recalls 1 Thess 1:2; 2:13. The question also starts with the Greek conjunctive gar, “for,” thus linking this section with what immediately precedes it (2:17-3:8). English translation cannot bring out adequately the meaning of the question, many people end up thinking that Paul is saying that he and his companions cannot even begin to give appropriate thanks to God for what he has done; but this is not the meaning. The emphasis is on the joy the missionaries feel after having received the report of Timothy (vss3-8) concerning the situation in Thessalonica.

Vs 9 cont. Joy. In 2:19 the missionaries had referred to their converts as their “hope and joy and crown of boasting in the presence of” Jesus “at his coming.” There the reference was eschatological (end time). Missionaries will be judged on how they have fulfilled their obligation to the Gospel and to those who believe in it (Luke 12:42-48). Paul and those with him had hoped that the Thessalonians mere maintaining their stand on the Gospel, thus showing the missionaries as good and faithful servants when Christ returned. Timothy’s news that they were indeed standing firm (vs 8) is cause for their present joy in hope of the coming return of Christ.

1 Th 3:10 Night and Day we pray exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith.

Paul began and ended part 1 of the letter (1:1-2:16) with a reference to thanksgiving (1 Th 1:1-10; 2:13-16). His reference to thanksgiving in the previous verse, and his prayer in this section help to unify the letter, though the prayer he actually has in mind here is one of petition, the subject being that God may allow the missionaries to return to Thessalonica to continue what had been left undone. The reference to seeing the face of the converts calls to mind the opening section of part 2, namely 1 Thess 2:17-20 (see the outline above, and the outline of the whole letter HERE).

Vs 10 cont. may perfect that which is lacking in your faith. The missionaries had laid the foundational message of the Gospel down but had been unable to build upon it, their desire is to rectify that situation through another visit to the city. The third part of the letter (4:1-5:28) seeks to present some of what is still lacking in the faith of the converts.

1 Th 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you.

In the previous verse Paul had spoken about the missionaries abundant prayer’s that they be able to return to their converts; here he writes out such a prayer .

1 Th 3:12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love towards one another, and towards all men, even as we also do towards you

The Lord (i.e., Jesus) is asked to bestow a superabundance of faith and love upon the community which was already in possession of these virtues (see 1 Th 1:3; 3:6). In this life the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love can never be possessed to such a degree that we can exhaust them, there is always room for an increase, hence, in a certain sense, our faith will always be lacking because it can always be improved, extended, strengthened.

Vs 12 cont. Towards one another and towards all men. Here St Paul is preparing for the final part of the letter (4:1-5:28), which will focus on moral conduct towards fellow Christians (1 Thess 4:1-10), and towards outsiders (1 Thess 4:11-12).

Vs 12 cont. Even as we also do towards you Here Paul not only reassures the community of his and his companions love for their converts, but also subtly holds himself and the others up as an example for imitation (see 1 Thess 1:6).

1 Th 3:13 To the end He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones

Paul is still preparing for the final part of the letter, where holiness of life in preparation for the coming of Christ will be a major subject. Grammatically, this verse is linked to the previous one. To be blameless in holiness entails acting in love towards one another and all men.

2 Responses to “My Notes on 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13”

  1. […] My Notes on Today’s First Reading (1 Thess 3:7-13). […]

  2. […] My Notes on 1 Today’s 1st Reading (1 Thessalonians 3:7-13). […]

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