Tuesday, 25 July 2017
Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 1 Thessalonians 3:11
What seems like a straightforward and simple verse actually has wording of great interest. Paul begins this prayer of supplication with, “Now may our God and Father Himself.” The petition is to God, but a note of specificity is then given by saying, “and Father Himself.” Three times in this chapter, he has already referred to God, first in verse 2 and then in verse 9. However, he also referred to “the Lord” in verse 8. Now, in this verse, he makes his solemn petition to “our God and Father Himself.” But then he next says, “…and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here, there is definitely a distinction made between God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. They are two separate entities. It is something the Bible teaches, and we take it at face value. However, Paul then gives us the beginning of the substance of his prayers. May God “direct our way to you.” In verse 2:18, Paul noted that Satan had hindered their travel to Thessalonica. He is certainly showing us a contrast then between that thought and what he now desired – “As Satan had hindered us, so we now petition God to direct our way to you.”
The verb he uses is one which is found only three times in the New Testament. It is seen first in Luke 1:79. It is then seen here, and once again in 2 Thessalonians 3:5, both in the form of an optative verb; one expressing a wish or desire. The verb itself gives the sense of going straight and in the most direct route. In this, there would not be any loss of time or effort. The sincerity of Paul’s words is fully evident. He truly desires that he, and those with him, would be completely unhindered in their travel back to this beloved congregation.
However, what is most important here it that the verb translated as “direct” is singular, not plural. Therefore, it can be taken in no other way than that in Paul’s mind Jesus is equal to God the Father, they are One, and yet He is not the Father. They are separate Persons with equal authority to grant the petition. And that thought then opens up another theological truth which is seen elsewhere. Can we pray to Jesus? The answer is found right here. Paul is petitioning both God the Father and Jesus Christ equally. For full emphasis, he is petitioning them together. Words have meaning, tenses have meaning, and in this case, the number of the verb (singular) is of special importance.
Life application: This is a good verse to highlight as another of the myriad proofs found in Scripture that the Apostle Paul believed Jesus to be on equal standing with the Father, being fully God Himself. If someone who is confused about this issue is really willing to accept the word at face value, it will give them something to consider. Also, let us never feel that we are in the wrong by praying to God through Jesus and to Jesus. Paul has already set an example for us to follow.
Lord God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Great are You, and You are greatly to be praised. Amen.