1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we decided to be left alone in Athens; 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and co-worker for God in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you for the sake of your faith, so that no one would be shaken by these persecutions. Indeed, you yourselves know that this is what we are destined for.

4 In fact, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we were to suffer persecution; so it turned out, as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith; I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you and that our labor had been in vain. 6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love. He has told us also that you always remember us kindly and long to see us-- just as we long to see you.

7 For this reason, brothers and sisters, during all our distress and persecution we have been encouraged about you through your faith. 8 For we now live, if you continue to stand firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you?

10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.



  • Paul ended chapter 2 expressing how much he missed the Thessalonians.
    • This followed naturally from his deep love for them (2:8).
    • In chapter 3 he continues to express his deep concern.
  • After Thessalonica, he had headed to Berea, and then to Athens (Acts 17). After Timothy joined him in Athens (see Acts 17:15), he realized a way to reconnect with the Thessalonians: to send Timothy back to Macedonia!
    • He was afraid that his persecutions might have unsettled the Thessalonians (v.3).
    • He had previously warned them that opposition is part and parcel of the Christian life (vv.3-4).
    • Timothy brought a positive report (v.6), which was a source of great joy to Paul (vv.7-9).
  • Paul prayed for the people he loved, and for the churches he started (vv.10-13).
    • Notice that he did not only pray once daily (v.10).
      • While the Bible encourages daily prayer in many places, nowhere is found the doctrine of the "quiet time."
      • Still, for most of us daily prayer and scripture study, in a concentrated period, are a wholesome practice. Highly recommended!
    • While Paul speaks glowingly of the Thessalonians, still he is not naive. He knows that there is room to grow, and that their faith can be even stronger (v.10). With this in mind,
      • He asks the Lord to pave the way for his return to Thessalonica (v.11).
      • Love is at the heart of their relationship (v.12).
      • Holiness is Paul's goal for the Thessalonians. "Saints" means those living a holy life.
        • True Christians should be living holy lives when the Lord returns (v.13). The next coming of Christ is a major theme in 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
        • Through striving for holiness, we grow stronger spiritually.
          • This is not to say that we do not grow through evangelism or other godly activities. These are vital.
          • But without an emphasis on holy living, we will be a worldly church. In that case, even growth in numbers means little.
          • Our hearts -- and this is where we should focus (Proverbs 4:23) are strengthened through holy living.


  • The tempter is none other than Satan (Matthew 4:3, 6:13; 1 Corinthians 7:5). God allows us to be tempted (James 1:13-15; Job 1-42); in a way, he indirectly tempts / tests us.
  • For more on persecution, click on www.persecution.net. Sign up for regular updates featuring problem spots in the world (northern Africa, China, India, etc).
  • Holiness means sanctified living; living a consecrated life. Click to learn about the original Greek word for saints. For more articles on holiness (v.12), click here, here, or here.

Thought questions:

  • When you're separated from brothers and sisters in Christ, is it ever painful? Do you long to be reunited? (In other words, how much do you need Christian relationships?)
  • Is there any area of your life in which you could be living in a more holy, Christlike, way?
  • Are you still in contact people you have led to the Lord?