Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

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The major theme of this chapter and going back into the previous (1 Thess. 2:13—3:13) is friendship. There was a deep, emotional bond between Paul and the Thessalonians. But their relationship was more than an emotional bonding, it was a forever friendship (1 Thess. 2:19-20; 3:13). This was not merely a relationship of convenience for the sake of evangelism. Paul intends to continue being close to them throughout eternity.

One reason Paul longs so much to see the Thessalonians is because he sees them as a validation of his ministry. When Jesus returns the Thessalonians will be his joy and his boast before Jesus. (2:19-20). Paul was not content merely to be saved, he also wanted evidence that his life had made a difference in the lives of others. The church needed Paul, but Paul also needed the church.

While the gospel (what Jesus thinks of us) is a powerful way to build a stable sense of self-worth, our fragile humanity craves tokens of success. The apostle Paul seems to have been no exception. To some degree, his sense of self-worth as a person was tied to the success of his mission endeavors (3:6-8). I find it encouraging that even apostles can wonder what others think of them!

The ultimate goal is to be accounted blameless by God in the final judgment (3:11-13). But equally important for Paul is that the Second Coming will be a glorious reunion of family and friends, whose relationships will last through eternity because of what Jesus has done. Christian relationships do not have an expiration date. They are designed to last forever.

 

Jon Paulien

Loma Linda University

United States