Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
February 21, 2016
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have [free] course, and be glorified, even as [it is] with you:
2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all [men] have not faith.
3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil.
4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.
1901 ASV Translation:
1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run and be glorified, even as also [it is] with you;
2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for all have not faith.
3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and guard you from the evil [one].
4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command.
5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patience of Christ.
- I. There Are Some More Things I Need to Say.
- A. The phrase translated "finally" does not mean that Paul has come to his "final" issue(s) as is clearly seen from his use of this phrase in both Philippians 3:1 and 4:8. Additionally, he used the phrase in his first letter (1 Thessalonians 4:1) two chapters before he was "finally" finished with what he wanted to say. In point of fact, the word I used to begin my immediately prior sentence ("additionally") is more consistent with Paul's "to loipon" than is our English "finally".
- 1. The phrase points to "things coming after" the present things (2 Timothy 4:8).
- 2. Sometimes the phrase indicates a differentiation between magnitudes of importance such as a major thesis followed by a lesser, but nonetheless important, thesis. Sometimes it indicates a kind of automatic consequence (Hebrews 10:13; Acts. 27:20 and 1 Corinthians 4:2). In any case, it does not seem to have a "finally" sense in any, but one, of the 14 times it is used in the New Testament.
- B. Because of the request Paul makes of the Thessalonians, the "finally" has more the sense of "moreover, and of significant importance" than any sense of finality.
- 1. Paul's request is that the Thessalonians "pray for us".
- 2. The things he attaches to their "prayer" are of such importance that, in one sense, we are amazed that he would attach them so.
- a. He wants the word of the Lord to run and be glorified, and for himself and his team to be delivered from evil men.
- 1) The metaphor of "running" is the idea of the hurried pursuit of an objective, doing something quickly.
- 2) The idea of the message of the Lord being "glorified" means two things in this context: that the message will be as clear as possible, and that it will make a notable difference in the lives of those who hear it. The "standard" is "just as it has been glorified toward you: the remarkable church."
- 3) The issue of being delivered from evil men was a temporary request until the course has been run; for Paul was not finally delivered.
- b. His desires move him to ask for prayer regarding them.
- c. To what degree does their "prayer" have any real part in the fulfillment of the desires?
- 1) Does God actually attach whether He will make the word of the Lord run and be glorified to the prayers of the saints? What happens if they do not "pray"?
- 2) Additionally, will God actually protect the apostolic team if the Thessalonians pray and not protect them if they do not? When Paul was sent to his own death, was it because the saints failed to pray for him?
- 3) At issue is the entire question of the divine intention for prayer among the saints.
- a) On one hand, James declares that "we have not because we ask not" (James 4:2).
- b) Alternatively, it can as easily be said that we asked and did not receive (James 4:3).
- c) Prayer has never been presented as an iron clad way to get what we desire, nor has God actually tied His activities of "grace" to whether certain people prayed, or not.
- d) What place, then, does "prayer" actually have in the outworking of the divine plan?
- i. First, "prayer" is the very natural outworking of a real relationship between the people of God and their God in that it is nothing more or less than a real expression of relationship.
- ii. Second, "prayer" is metaphorically presented in Revelation 5:8 and 8:3-4 as the "incense" that is offered upon the altar of sacrifice before God. It strongly implies the pleasure of God with His people "praying" to Him. In other words, it is a delight to God to have His people trust Him and converse with Him.
- iii. Third, when "prayer" is really critical to the plan of God, the Spirit of God Himself takes over (Romans 8:26-27). This strongly implies the integral place prayer has in the actual outworking of the plan of God.
- iv. It seems, then, that "prayer" is more important as a key aspect of relating to God as a real Person than it is to "getting" something, but it also has an actual place in the outworking of God's activities.
- 4) So, what do the "hina" clauses mean? Typically they introduce purpose or result clauses.
- a) The most likely answer is that Paul asked the Thessalonians to "pray for us". This indicates that the issue is not the larger issue of whether the word of the Lord will "run", but the issue of whether that word will "run" through Paul and his team.
- b) The conclusion I draw is that Paul was concerned about his own weaknesses and frailties in view of the gigantic task and his own penchant for tying his soul to the people to whom he ministered. In 1 Thessalonians 3:8 he pointedly declared that the quality of his experience was tied to some degree to whether the Thessalonians remained committed to the Gospel. 2 Corinthians 11:28 also indicates this penchant. It is not a bad thing, but no man can hold fast if the task gets overwhelming. Thus, "pray for us" makes a lot of sense.
- c) This is underwritten by the rest of this current verse: "...just as also with you...". In other words, Paul and his team were supported by God in Thessalonica to a very large impact and he wishes for this to continue in other places also -- by their prayer. Philippians 1:19-20 pretty much declares this reality in Paul's mind: "...through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit...I shall not be ashamed, but with all boldness...".