Caring for converts is hard work. New Christians are often very vulnerable to false teaching. Sometimes they mistakenly believe that receiving Jesus will solve all problems and that the Christian life is smooth sailing. This weekend’s bible study reveals the hard realities of our spiritual warfare. Paul obviously was stressed about the welfare of the believers in Thessalonica. He knew they would be tested. Faith is always tested. He also had been prevented by Satan from going to them. We are not told the nature of this opposition, but Christian workers are quite familiar with the opposing forces that hinder us in our work. These forces are Satanic. In Paul’s case it could have been his own struggles against persecutors. It could have been illness, time issues, or travel challenges. Any of these realities can serve to suppress our ministry and thus serve Satan’s purposes. Most likely, however, Paul had reference to personal opposition which had been inspired by Satan. Satan can not only use unbelievers to hinder God’s work, he can deceive and use believers to unwittingly serve his purposes. Even Simon Peter fell into his trap and was rebuked by Christ. (Matthew 16:23)
Paul is finally able to send Timothy to them. His trust in Timothy is a reminder to us that we can multiply our own effectiveness by investing heavily in the growth of others. Paul had been able to see Timothy develop to the point that sending him was an extension of his own heart to Thessalonica. Timothy returns with an encouraging report, and Paul is overjoyed. Not to be overlooked in this epistle is the prominent place given to prayer. In fact two things are strongly coupled together. Paul’s love for them and his prayers for them. A very important emphasis of his prayer is that they may overflow with God’s love. Nothing better prepares us to be ready to see Jesus face to face than to be filled to overflowing with the love of God.