“Therefore when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions, for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this.”
Apparently reports had been coming through that there were difficulties at Thessalonica, and because of these difficulties Paul could only stand it so long and then he had to find out what was going on there. Apparently some of the Thessalonian believers were confused. One of the confusions was regarding the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church. Some of the men who were in business in Thessalonica had finally decided to give up their businesses and wait for the Rapture by apparently doing nothing. However, the exact nature of the problem was not known to Paul when he was in Athens. In order to determine what was going on, Timothy was detached from the missionary team and sent back to Thessalonica to make a full report after a complete inspection.
We thought it best refers to the fact that there are many members of any team with many different types of spiritual gifts. Some of these gifts have to do with leadership, some with administration, and some with discernment and are all used in order to determine the status of any given situation. Notice that Paul met with the other members of his team, and together they thought over the situation. It is not contrary to the Word of God for Christians to think! Nor is it contrary to the Word of God for Christians to put their heads together in order to determine a course of action. So it is not contrary to the Word of God, for example, for those who have the proper gifts to gather themselves together in order to recommend or to determine a course of action. Therefore, as a result of this conference of Paul’s team a decision was made to send Timothy.
Notice that when Timothy was sent on his way that there are several things which are mentioned by way of describing him. First of all, he is called a “brother” which means he was a believer in Jesus Christ. He is also called a fellow worker (a minister). This is the specialized use of the word. The word “minister” is found in three separate and distinct ways in the New Testament. First of all, and very important, every believer has the ministry of reconciliation. So first of all the word is used to designate every Christian, for every Christian is the representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. During the absence of our Lord from the earth everyone who is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is a minister. This is the doctrine of the universal ministry of the believer. Often the pastor of a church was called a minister. In this particular case Timothy was not the pastor of a church, he was a fellow worker of the Pauline missionary team. Therefore, under that concept he was being sent forth as a minister in a specialized way. The word minister is also used for those who devote their entire time to special jobs within the framework of the local church.
Timothy was sent back to do two things. He was sent back to strengthen and encourage the believers in Thessalonica. Timothy was returning to Thessalonica to stabilize the situation which had become unsettled. Because they had some gaps in their understanding of the Word and because they had misconstrued certain events in life like the Rapture, they needed some strengthening of their doctrine (your faith) and encouragement as well.
Verse 3 begins with the phrase that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions, which refers to affliction and pressure in the Christian Way of Life. However, God has so designed the Christian life any believer can have perfect peace, perfect stability, perfect comfort, and perfect happiness in the midst of the pressures of life. Timothy was going back to fill them in on the necessary doctrines and principle. Every believer sooner or later faces the difficulties and the trials of life. The Thessalonian believers knew that the Pauline team was appointed to address any of these problems with doctrine.
It is impossible to be happy as a believer in Christ without obeying the principles and commands we find in the Word of God. Disobedience brings only self-induced misery and discipline from our Heavenly Father. As Christians, we must learn to make good decisions from a position of strength. Our position of strength is in direct proportion to the amount of truth we have stored in our souls and the maximum utilization of that truth to our circumstances. This is what is meant by creating an environment in your soul for happiness. Bible doctrine is stored in the soul and is accessed from the soul by wisdom (application). This was the message that Timothy would reinforce upon his return to Thessalonica. (Proverbs 3:13)
“For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.”
Apparently it was quite a shock to the Thessalonian believers when the trouble came, despite the warning by Paul and his team. They repeatedly taught it. If a believer has doctrine on the inside he has the equipment to be stable at all times, and since these Thessalonians were brand new Christians this was one lesson they hadn’t learned yet. In spite of all the doctrine that Paul taught them while he was there, Timothy had to go back to teach them about stability in the Christian life.
I also sent to find out about your faith means to find out about the operation of the faith-rest technique in the lives of these believers. In effect he is saying, “I sent Timothy to find out how you were doing with the Faith-Rest Technique; I sent Timothy to check out your spiritual tools.” Paul wanted to know if they were using the Problem-Solving Devices that they had been taught.
The tempter, of course, is reference to Satan and his many ways of trying to get believers away from occupation with Christ. When Paul was in Thessalonica he worked day and night teaching the Word of God and making tents to survive. He labored to the point of exhaustion. He studied and taught until he was totally exhausted, and he said it was possible that this labor could become vain. The word vain means empty, void, or no purpose accomplished. The principle is that it is possible for accurate Bible doctrine to be taught day after day, month after month, year after year, and that Bible teaching end up being vain, to no purpose, and not used (applied) by believers in their daily lives. That would have been a tragedy, and that is why Paul was concerned, and that was why he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica.
Let’s not forget who we are battling during the Church Age. Our greatest enemy is Satan and his demon followers (fallen angels). You cannot fight against an enemy that you know absolutely nothing about. So let’s review just who our enemy is and how we are to do battle against this him. Let’s begin with the Angelic Conflict and the reason we are here in the first place.
The Angelic Conflict began as a rebellion to the authority of God by the most beautiful creature to come from the hand of God, Lucifer. Lucifer was the highest ranking of the angelic host. By an act of arrogance Lucifer attempted to overthrow God and become the ruler of the angelic host. Of course, this didn’t happen and Lucifer and the angels that followed him were tried and sentenced to the Lake of Fire. Apparently Lucifer, now called Satan, appealed the sentence and an appeal was granted. Mankind was created to resolve this conflict by showing Satan and the fallen angels that God was justified in His sentence. If only one person in history accepted the salvation solution offered by God in His grace, this would prove the fairness of His sentence. Of course, many have accepted the salvation solution found in Christ and every time another person trusts Christ as Savior, another witness is created for the prosecution.
Isaiah 14:12-15 details the arrogance of Satan and his rebellion against God. In verse 13 Satan attempts to replace the authority of God with his authority (I will ascend into heaven). He also tries to take over the throne of God and set himself up as the ruler of the angelic host. (I will exalt my throne above the stars (angels) of God). He also wants to rule over the entire earth. (I will sit in the mount of the congregation). In verse 14 he continues with wanting to displace God as the Sovereign of the universe (I will ascend above the heights of the clouds). Satan wants to become God or at least counterfeit Him in every aspect. (I will be like the Most High)
In Revelation 12:3-4 we are told that Satan led one third of the angels in his revolt against God. As a result of this revolt, Satan and the one third that followed him were cast down to earth. (Ezekiel 28:15-17) Their rebellion against God led to a sentence to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. (Matthew 25:41) Hebrews 2:2 seems to indicate that there could have been a salvation solution offered to Satan and his followers, but was rejected.
Since the sentence imposed upon Satan and the fallen angels was not carried out immediately, it is obvious that an appeal was granted and the sentence delayed. Mankind was created as a means to prove to Satan and his followers that God is fair and just. (I John 3:18) The time frame of this appeal is from the sentencing in eternity past until Satan and the fallen angels are cast into the Lake of Fire. (Revelation 20:10)
Believers in Christ are involved in spiritual warfare as a result of Satan’s appeal. It is by trusting Christ as Savior and executing His plan for our lives that we can become credible witnesses for the prosecution. We have already seen that angels are observing us and when one person comes to know Christ as Savior the elect angels rejoice. Why? They rejoice because another victory for Christ has been won and it is additional proof that God is fair and just in His dealings, not only with mankind, but also with angels. So you see that by studying, believing, and understanding the doctrine of angels, the believer can make application to his life. What is the application? You can glorify God by becoming a credible witness through the faithful execution of His purpose, plan and will.
Jesus Christ won the strategic victory (planning and directing of operations to counter the enemy) over Satan. God told the Serpent (Satan) that He would put “enmity between Satan and the woman; between his seed and the seed of the woman.” The seed of Satan (those that crucified Christ) would bruise the heel of Christ (a non-fatal blow), but the woman’s seed (Jesus Christ) would bruise the head of Satan (a fatal blow). (Genesis 3:15) This prophesy was fulfilled at the Cross when Satan dealt a non-fatal blow to Christ (since He came back from the dead and is alive today). Christ, on the other hand, dealt Satan a fatal blow that will be reality at the end of human history (when Satan and his fallen angels are cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity).
It is because of Christ’s victory over Satan that the believer can win the tactical victory (the method or procedure carried out against the enemy) over Satan. The filling of the Holy Spirit supplies the power to accomplish this. The Christian Way of Life is a supernatural way of life and it requires a supernatural power to live it and to overcome the tactics of Satan, his demons (fallen angels) and his world system. (John 16:33; I Corinthians 15:51-57; I John 5:1-21)
God has given us a power system so that we can execute His plan, purpose and will while living in Satan’s cosmic system. It is an encapsulated environment in which we can choose to live and it affords the believer all the necessary tools for a successful life as a Christian. Jesus Christ tested and proved this encapsulated life for us and now sits at the right hand of God the Father as a testimony to its effectiveness. As believers, we have been given the same power system that was given to Christ, which enabled Him to live a sinless life. Though we cannot live a sinless life, we can live a life pleasing to God when we reside in God’s encapsulated environment and utilize His power system.
Only by residing in God’s system can the believer overcome the craftiness and deceit of the Devil. Satan is the great counterfeiter and will do everything in his power to stop the unbeliever from trusting Christ as Savior and to stop the believer from executing God’s plan. Satan uses his power and genius to present himself and his followers as ministers of righteousness, while leading the unsuspecting and duped believer into a life of self-righteous arrogance or lascivious lawlessness. However, no one has an excuse when it comes to Satan’s ploys. We all possess volition and we choose to reside in either God’s system or Satan’s system. (Colossians 1:13)
Even when we do fail and fall into Satan’s trap, we can be delivered from Satan’s power. God in His matchless grace has provided a way back into His system. The believer does not have to spend time in Satan’s cosmic system. The way back into God’s system is the Rebound Technique, which is naming or acknowledging your personal sins directly to God. The believer is then restored to fellowship with God and to the control of God the Holy Spirit (God’s power system). This is why it is so important to keep “short accounts” with God. When you, as a believer, realize that you have sinned, immediately name it to God. This way you will sustain any momentum that you have and will stay in fellowship with God for longer periods of time. No believer, regardless of geographic location, upbringing, I.Q. or any other factor has an excuse for not living within God’s power system.