1 Thessalonians Chapter 3: A Message of Hope and Love
In his absence from the Thessalonians, Paul sends Timothy to Thessalonica and later receives a very encouraging report of the faith and perseverance of those he left to build the church. In chapter 3, he expresses his joy and gratitude for their faith and love, but he does much more.
Verses 12 through 13 are succinctly and densely packed with key messages to the Thessalonians. Paul articulates his emphasis on holy living, on loving one another as God loves them and on the second coming of Christ. Not only does he speak of when the Lord returns, but he adds “with his holy ones.” This foreshadows a later mention of concerns some early Christians had relating to the ultimate fate of those who died before Christ’s return.
Paul not only communicated the truth about God, the love of God and the need for members of the church to extend such love to each other; he also demonstrated his love and sincere concern for the members of the broader community.
The Thessalonians of the period were most familiar with the Hellenistic Judaic creeds. These creeds were not based on the love of humanity, and there was no message for the poor, the wretched or the sinner. In that context, we can see how Christianity offered a new hope and message for the people of the time.
A Moment to Reflect:
I experience and feel the genuine love for one another that is exhibited daily by the members of my own church community. There is a heartfelt warmth and sincere caring for each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Those within the congregation who need added spiritual or emotional support never feel alone or unnoticed. That Christian attitude and love extend to those in need outside our immediate church family. Can you say the same for your church community? If not, do you have spiritual gifts that you can use to bring about positive change within your church that extends beyond the church and into the broader community?