Sunday, 16 July 2017
…and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 1 Thessalonians 3:2
It is evident from these words that Paul had sent Timothy from Athens. As noted in 3:1, there is no contradiction with this and with the account in Acts, as long as Paul’s terminology in the use of singular and plural pronouns is properly understood. He then calls Timothy “our brother.” This makes a fraternal connection between Timothy and the church in Thessalonica. Paul didn’t send someone disinterested in the church, but rather someone who was intimately united to it.
Further, he then calls him a “minister of God.” It is again a set of words intended to show Paul’s care for the church. He didn’t just send someone with a note in his hand which was filled with a bunch of directions. Instead, he sent a minister who was both learned and experienced in ministerial duties of preaching, teaching, and exhorting. And to add to the special personage of Timothy, he then says, “…and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ.”
Timothy was personally useful to Paul, and he was a person who worked directly along with him in spreading the gospel. It wasn’t at all the case that Timothy was of no use to Paul at the time. Rather, he was someone which Paul heavily relied upon and found useful at all times. But the weight of his care for the church at Thessalonica was of greater importance to him than having Timothy stay with him to evangelize.
Everything about Timothy’s credentials which has been stated here is to show the superlative nature of Paul’s love for the Thessalonians, and how much it meant to him that they be properly ministered to by someone that bore even his own abilities. All of this was done “to establish you.” The word “establish” is one which means “a support that fixes plants down.” Thus, it is to solidly plant. Paul’s intent was the church that He had established would now be more deeply rooted by the coming of Timothy.
And more, Paul’s desire for them in sending Timothy was to “encourage you concerning your faith.” Paul knew that they were suffering trials for their faith. They were persecuted by unbelieving Jews, and they were ridiculed by unbelieving Gentiles. Like all of us, those at Thessalonica were not super spiritual. Rather, they were common people who needed encouragement and uplifting in their faith. Paul knew this, and he sent his trusted companion and fellow worker, Timothy, to accomplish this in them.
Life application: Those who say they don’t have moments of doubt or times of weakness in their faith probably think too much of themselves. It is human nature to face such times, and it is exactly why we need to remain united to a body of believers that we can go to when they arise. Let us not forsake the gathering together of the body.
Lord God, thank You so much for the people around us who are there to encourage us and strengthen us in our faith when we are struggling. Doubts arise about many things in our walk, because it is a walk of faith and not of sight. But when our faith is weak, someone else might be at a high point in his faith; able to strengthen us. And thank You for Your word which also is there to build us up and establish us. How good You are to us to give us these things. Amen.