Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
August 31, 2014
2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
1901 ASV Translation:
2 and sent Timothy, our brother and God's minister in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort [you] concerning your faith;
3 that no man be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that hereunto we are appointed.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
5 For this cause I also, when I could no longer forbear, sent that I might know your faith, lest by any means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor should be in vain.
- I. Paul's Description of Timothy (and Omission of Silvanus altogether).
- A. Our brother [See the Message Outline for Aug. 3, 2014 <064> for a more detailed statement of the significance].
- 1. A "brother" is, under most circumstances, taken to refer to someone who can be trusted to be "on your side", and the indications are that Paul wanted the Thessalonians to see Timothy as a "substitute Paul" in their situation.
- a. For some reason, Satan was able to block Paul's repeated attempts to get back to Thessalonica, but not Timothy's (probably because Paul was the "lightning rod" in the eyes of the adversaries and they did not get as bent out of shape by the presence of a "lesser" individual [thus revealing a most critical oversight: the impact that is made through a person committed to Christ is made by the Holy Spirit, not the personality typically identified as the one governing the behavior of the body that has the lips to speak the truth of the Gospel, thus making Timothy as potent a weapon against the adversaries as any other believer walking with God]).
- b. But the adversaries were not the only ones who were inclined to make this "natural" mistake; so also were the Thessalonians.
- c. Thus, Paul takes pains to "qualify" Timothy in the eyes of the Thessalonians so that they would see him as God's minister of truth to their need. A "brother" is the first qualification that Paul chose to set forth.
- 2. The term is filled with the overtones of someone you can trust.
- B. The fellow worker of God in the Gospel of the Christ.
- 1. There is a difference in the textual traditions that is revealed by simply comparing the translations posted at the beginning of this outline. At least some of the textual commentators give the ASV's textual tradition a "B" rating (which makes it highly likely to be the correct one).
- 2. Paul is attempting to get the Thessalonians "over the hump" of the adversaries' dismissal of the Spirit of Jesus Who dwells in every believer and makes each one of us a potent instrument of edification if we allow Him to have dominion over our bodies.
- 3. That Timothy is identified as "a fellow-worker of the God" is a deliberate exaltation of the man as God's instrument of labor for the sake of the believers in Thessalonica. 1 Corinthians 3:9 is as "parallel" a text to this one as we will find and it is clear that "fellow-workers with God" is an "exalted identity" that, at least some, do not want to see applied to all believers.
- a. It is true that not all believers are "fellow-workers of God" because of the inherent reluctance of immature and carnal believers.
- 1) This is not to say that God can not and does not "use" the immature and carnal as His instruments of "work". God can, and does, use whatever, or whoever, He chooses whenever He chooses.
- 2) But the idea of "fellow" worker strongly implies a spirit of cooperation that does not exist when the "tool" is not willingly engaged in the work because the "heart" and "mind" are twisted at both the "values" and "understanding" levels.
- b. But it is not true that the identity is reserved for those within, or very close to, the "apostolic inner circle". Any believer that is filled with the Spirit is capable of being a willing tool of God to accomplish His "work".
- 4. That Paul qualifies the "fellow-worker" concept by adding the realm of the work (the Gospel of the Christ) means that Paul is doubling down on the fact that the Gospel is the premier "truth" in this creation. It does not matter how much education a person has in any arena of study, if there is not a fundamental commitment to the Gospel of the Christ in that person, his/her educational efforts are not only worthless, but actually dangerous in that "knowledge puffs up" (1 Corinthians 8:1).
- a. The "Gospel of the Christ" is a very large "topic", but the fact that the Bible presents it as the premier instrument of God for "Life" and "Hope" means that whenever people are subjected to persecution because of it, they have a potent need to stand firm and be clear.
- b. There simply is no other realm of "Truth" that requires a proper understanding and a willing commitment more than the good news about God's plans for His creation as they will ultimately bring that creation into submission to His Christ.
- II. Paul's Intention for Timothy and the Thessalonians.
- A. The "to" is a "toward this end" term.
- B. The two words Paul used indicate what he wishes to happen.
- 1. First is the term "stablish" (we would normally opt for "establish" outside of the King's English.
- a. Paul used the term four times in the two letters he wrote to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:2 and 3:13, and 2 Thessalonians 2:17 and 3:3). Three of those four times, it is "God" Who does this work.
- b. The word signals "a settled reality" that is not subject to alteration (Luke 9:51 and 16:26). As a "work" it signals whatever heavy lifting that needs to be done in order to create an immutable conviction.
- c. Clearly, Paul sees the Thessalonians in significant danger unless/until this immutable conviction is created in their hearts/minds.
- 2. Second is the term "comfort".
- a. This is a word that shows up eight times in this letter and serves as a most fundamental characterization of "the Gospel of the Christ" (2:2-3). It signals a summons to come alongside and is translated by whatever term is seen by the translators to effect that summons in the setting where it is found.
- b. The focus in this context is upon "taking a stand" at someone's side: either God's or that of the adversaries.
- C. The particular issue at stake: "their faith".
- 1. What they actually "believe" at the "established" level of "strength of conviction".
- a. As a group, human beings lie a lot to themselves about what they "believe" and, consequently, they also lie to others about the same thing.
- b. The "bottom line" of "actual faith" is revealed by what it produces and this makes the maintenance of "lies" far more difficult.
- 1) The reason that "what it produces" is the key is found in the nature of "faith" itself: "faith" is a dependent confidence in a promise made by God.
- 2) Thus, "what it produces" is the activity of God in the mix, not anything of "work" that the human who "believes" produces.
- 3) When "faith" does not bring about the expected result, we can be absolutely sure that it is not "faith" because anything else makes a liar out of God, Who cannot lie.
- 2. If a person claims to "believe" but craters at the very point of the thing "believed" we can be sure that the "claim" is delusional and deceptive.