More often than not, Paul was forced to leave a newly formed community of believers much sooner than he would have preferred. It was particularly heart-wrenching in the case of the Thessalonian church. In this passage, Paul details the Progression of his actions in Response to his forced departure.
His response develops through four stages:
(2:17-20) He and his co-workers earnestly sought to return to Thessalonica but were met with insurmountable obstacles, which Paul clearly recognizes as from Satan’s hand.
(3:1-5) Paul knows Satan’s schemes and acknowledges his concern for their vulnerability. And so, unable to bear the burden of separation any longer, Paul remains alone in Athens and sends Timothy.
(3:6-10) Upon Timothy’s return with a report full of good news, Paul’s spirit is lifted, his heart is full of joy, his prayers overflow with thanks to God. And significantly, Paul is stirred to pray all the more that he might be granted opportunity to see them.
(3:11-13) Finally, even as he writes this letter, Paul gives expression to his prayers. It is God who alone opens the doors and directs his steps. It is God alone who will guard and establish the Thessalonians’ hearts.
In summary, Paul’s ministry and the prayers that drive that ministry are under this banner: Satan may be powerful but God is sovereign!
Paul’s ministry and the prayers that drive that ministry are under this banner: Satan may be powerful but God is sovereign!
(In the following, I leave several propositions together in a condensed arc, in order to highlight the big picture flow of Paul’s logic).
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