In this chapter, Paul appraises the Thessalonians for their faith upon receiving a report from Timothy. Paul is particularly encouraged and impressed by their faithfulness to Christ despite their harsh conditions of distress and persecution which in turn, is an inspiration for their own perseverance through the hardships they themselves are encountering.
He summarises their work and their relationship by discussing these elements:
1. The importance of prayer and mutual support in the maintenance of their perseverance
2. What this ‘faithfulness’ entails
Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
Paul emphasises the importance of continuous peer support and prayer when it comes to maintaining faith. In verse 10, their commitment and sincerity is obvious as they pray ‘night and day’ to strengthen the Thessalonians’ faith – such that they would not be ‘tempted’ (verse 5). This is a relationship of reciprocity: Paul expresses gratitude towards them for their encouraging simply by being faithful. He explains that, from this encouragement, they are able to live in joy “in the presence of our God” (verse 9): good faith and good support allows us to live in His presence.
SUPPLYING WHAT IS LACKING IN FAITH
12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
Paul also explains to us what he means in verse 10 by supplying what is lacking in faith and how we should respond in times of distress. The answer is of course: LOVE. But what’s more important is that he says that love is to be bestowed upon us by God himself – it is not something we can do by our own efforts. He also touches the importance of upholding purity and having a godly righteousness! Again, this is not something that can be achieved simply by our own will or by our ‘manly nature’ – it is something we should earnestly pray to God for!