by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 1 Study # 3 March 6, 2016 Humble, Texas
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:
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 thepatience of Christ.
I. We Have Confidence in The Lord Upon You.
A. The verb "we have confidence" is a Perfect Indicative indicating that the "confidence" is the on-going result that Perfects indicate and that "persuasion" is the effective historical activity that has left "confidence" trailing in its wake.
B. The "in" is more than likely a faulty translation simply because the issues of the text require a "persuader" Who leaves "confidence" in the wake of His persuasion. Thus, it is "by [the] Lord" that the confidence exists.
1. This is wholly demanded by one simple fact: Paul could not have the confidence he claims if it were to be left up to the Thessalonians themselves.
2. Apparently, the "Lord" gave Paul and his ministry team "confidence" regarding the Thessalonians by some means of persuasion that those Thessalonians were to be special objects of His grace for at least a portion of the times to come.
II. The Focus of the Confidence.
A. You are doing what things we are commanding.
1. Confidence regarding their present activities could easily be based upon Timothy's report upon his return to Paul in Corinth.
2. But even this is subject to some level of difficulty because the public face that believers put on in front of others (like Timothy) is not always the real (private) face of reality.
3. The use of "commanding" is significant. The word is used in "light" settings (such as telling people to take a seat) and in extremely "heavy" settings (such as demanding that demons depart from their host bodies). There is not much wiggle room. The will of God is being made known and those who know it are under obligation to "do" it.
a. This is Paul's first reference to his act of "commanding", but he uses it again three more times in the remaining part of this chapter.
b. That Paul refers to his "commands" for the first time in 3:4 would automatically raise a question in his readers' minds: what "commands" are you writing about? Thus, the immediate return to this thesis in 3:6 seems designed to give them their answer. The straightforward implication is that his "commands" are focused instructions with a specific issue in mind and a specific insistence upon how to handle it.
1) Interestingly, the specific insistence seems to directly contradict what he has already written about his "confidence": instead of the Thessalonians being "super Christians", he anticipates that some of them will not like what he has said and may well refuse to follow his theology or practice.
2) If this should be the case, the instructions are plain: withdraw yourselves from any who react this way.
3) The remaining uses of "command" (3:10 and 12) are both continuations of Paul's anticipated "problem". The conclusion we draw is that the Thessalonians were not so different after all. As a group, things are exceedingly bright, but there are individuals who are not responding like they should.
a) What happens in the "group" setting is exceptional.
b) But, as always, there are some in "individual" settings who are not at all what the group purports to be.
B. You will do what things we are commanding.
1. This is where "confidence" runs aground if it is rooted in human issues: people are notoriously fickle and past success is no guarantee of future success.
2. For Paul to have this kind of confidence has to mean that the Lord has revealed somewhat of His future plans for the Thessalonians. But even this has boundaries. Did it include only those who were converted under Paul's preaching? Did it include all those converted under Paul's preaching, or were there already some who "believed for a while" (Luke 8:13) and then jettisoned the Gospel because of its costliness?
III. Paul's Rationale For Making His Declaration.
A. He is ramping up a foundation for the Thessalonians to continue on their good path. In order for them to do that, they must have "confidence" in "The Lord". Thus, Paul's speaks of having such confidence himself "by the Lord". He is using "confidence" to attempt to produce the same.
B. Paul is, and has been, fixated upon the Thessalonians' "faith" and whether, or not, it will remain a "fixed" entity.
IV. Paul's Wish.
A. He wishes for "The Lord" to "direct your hearts into the Love of The God".
1. This is, of course, both fundamental and foundational: no one pursues the things of God who considers them worthless.
2. This is also, of course, something only God can do: no one can force his/her own heart to set its own agendas aside; it is too desperately wicked and deceitful.
a. The verb "direct" is rare in the New Testament, but its uses are fairly clear: it means "to so dominate a matter that it is under the control of the one 'directing'".
b. 1 Thessalonians 3:11 reveals that the issue is God's sovereign dominion over our decisions.
1) Paul had tried multiple times to "have his way".
2) Satan had effectively blocked his pursuit.
3) Paul turned the issue over to the Lord.
B. He wishes for "The Lord" to "direct your hearts into the endurance of The Christ".
1. The Authorized Version takes this to mean to "patiently wait for Christ" even though that runs counter to the grammar.
2. At issue is "endurance" in the face of significant and on-going opposition.
a. Many of us do not realize that both God and satan are seriously interested in what is going on in our innermost hearts.
1) God wants to purge it of all impurities of motive and method.
2) Satan wants to use it against us again and again so that, if we survive one onslaught, he simply comes at us again from another direction.
b. The example of the Christ is to be the standard for "endurance" (note Peter's comment in 1 Peter 2:21).