Louis Roth Ministries

Helping with the Road to Spiritual Maturity

First Thessalonians: 1 Thessalonians 1:2-Paul, Silvanus and Timothy Thanked the Father for the Thessalonians Lesson #7

Wenstrom Bible Ministries; Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom; Sunday, September 9, 2018; www.wenstrom.org.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-Paul, Silvanus and Timothy Thanked the Father for the Thessalonians Lesson # 7 1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers. (ESV)

1 Thessalonians 1:2 We make it our habit of always giving thanks to the one and only God (the Father) on behalf of each and every one of you because we cause ourselves to make it our practice of bringing each and every one of you into remembrance during our prayers. (Author’s translation)

Verse 2 reveals that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy made it their habit of always giving thanks to God the Father because they constantly made it their practice of bringing each member of the Thessalonian Christian community into remembrance during their corporate prayers.

This is the first of three instances in which Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy express thanks to God for the Thessalonians (cf. 2:13; 3:9).

J. Hampton Keathley III writes “In nearly all of Paul’s epistles, he begins by giving thanks for his readers with Galatians being the only exception. Undoubtedly this was because of his deep disappointment over the works mentality (legalism) that had developed in the Galatian church. But there was no disappointment over the Thessalonians. In fact, they had become an example (1:7) so the missionaries continued to give thanks to God for this ministry of believers.”[1]

Now, the participle form of the verb poieō in this verse is a causal participle which expresses the cause or the reason why Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy made it their habit of giving thanks to the Father for the Thessalonians.

This indicates that they did so “because” they constantly made it their practice of bringing them into remembrance during their prayers.

This interpretation of the participle form of the verb poieō is further supported by the fact that in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 which reveals that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy thanked the Father for them when they recalled their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope” in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In other words, they gave thanks to the Father for the Thessalonians because they remembered their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope” in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, this verse teaches that the Thessalonians’ “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope” in the Lord Jesus Christ caused Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to remember the Thessalonians during their corporate prayers which consequently caused them to give thanks to the Father for them.

J. A. D. Weima writes “Despite the stereotyped nature of the thanksgiving formula, the rest of the passage and indeed the whole letter indicate that Paul is genuinely thankful to God for what has taken place in the Thessalonian church. The positive response of the Thessalonians to the gospel is a reality that motivates the apostle to speak first of all words of thanksgiving to God rather than words of congratulations to his audience or words of commendation to himself. Even though the Thessalonians are to be praised for their faith, love, and hope (1:3); their exemplary life amid persecution (1:6–7); their evangelistic activity (1:8); and their conversion (1:9–10); and even though Paul and his fellow missionaries are to be praised for the genuineness of their original ministry in Thessalonica (1:5), all of these good things that have happened in the Thessalonian church are ultimately due to God’s work of election (1:4), and so God is the one to whom thanksgiving must be given.”[2]

Therefore, 1 Thessalonians 1:2 indicates that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy habitually interceded in prayer on behalf of the Thessalonian Christian community, which is an essential element of a productive prayer life.

John Walvoord writes “What a rebuke it is to many of us who serve the Lord that often our hearts are not burdened with the needs of God’s people. Nor are we thankful for the Lord’s grace in their lives, especially when they are out of sight and out of mind. But Paul gave his testimony: ‘We give thanks to God always for all of you.’ Of interest is the fact that Paul did not thank the Thessalonians; he thanked God.”[3]

Intercessory prayer refers to praying for both the temporal and spiritual needs of believers and unbelievers, friends and enemies (Luke 23:34; Eph 1:16-23; 3:14-19; 6:18; 1 Ti 2:1-4).

Intercessory prayer refers to praying for both the temporal and spiritual needs of believers and unbelievers, friends and enemies (Luke 23:34; Eph 1:16-23; 3:14-19; 6:18; 1 Ti 2:1-4) and is an expression of the love of God in our lives and, therefore, directly relates to what the Scriptures teach on love.

Prayer can be either general or specific.

A general prayer is when a believer prays either not knowing the specific needs of the person he is interceding for or not knowing the person at all, whom he is praying for. Prayer should be specific when petitioning for ourselves but does not have to be specific when interceding for others.

Often times, when we pray for others, we have little or no knowledge of their particular needs (Rom. 1:9; 1 Thess. 1:2).

Therefore, the Scriptures encourage us to “make mention” of others in our prayers, even without knowing their current situation or circumstances (1 Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 4).

When praying for others, the believer-priest should always pray for their spiritual growth.

Intercession for another believer’s spiritual growth will help him or her, no matter what specific situation he or she is going through, and in addition, the believer-priest should have a routine prayer list.

Whether mental or written down, a prayer list facilitates our intercessory prayers and ensures we forget no one.

The apostle Paul prayed for the Philippians, Ephesians, whom he knew, and the Colossians (cf. Col. 1:3-12), whom he never came to know face to face and he prayed for their spiritual growth and enlightenment (cf. Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:9-11).

1 Thessalonians 1:2 also mentions one of the characteristics of a productive prayer life, namely thanksgiving (Matt 15:36; 26:27; Mark 8:6; 14:23; Luke 22:17-19; John 6:11; 23; 11:41; Acts 27:35; 28:15; Rom. 1:8; 7:25; 1 Cor. 1:4; 11:24; Eph. 5:20; Col. 1:12; 3:17; Phlp. 1:3-4; 4:6; 1 Thess. 1:2; 2:13).

We should never forget to thank God in prayer since our gratitude demonstrates our respect and appreciation for God’s grace policy, which blesses us without us ever earning or deserving blessings.

Colossians 4:2 Each of you must continue to make it your habit of being dedicated to persevering in prayer while at the same time continuing to exist in a state of being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. (Author’s translation)

In 1 Thessalonians 1:2, “always” (pantote) and “constantly” (adialeiptōs) express the fact that Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy persevered in interceding in prayer for the Thessalonian Christian community.

These words do not indicate that these three men were in prayer every moment of the day or day and night but rather it was a habitual activity of theirs or in other words, they were persistent.

One of the characteristics of an effective prayer life is perseverance (Matt. 26:39-44; Luke 11:9-10; 18:1-8; 21:36; Rom. 12:12; 15:30; Acts 1:14; 6:4; 12:5; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Tim. 5:5; 2 Tim. 1:3; Col. 1:9; 4:2, 12; Heb. 10:22).

Matthew 7:7 Ask repeatedly, and it will be given to you; seek repeatedly, and you will find; knock continuously, and it will be opened to you. (Author’s translation)

Now, in 1 Thessalonians 1:2, the noun theos, “God” is a reference to the Father which is indicated by the word’s articular construction which in the New Testament commonly signifies the first member of the Trinity unless otherwise indicated by the context.

Furthermore, the New Testament teaches that all prayer is to be addressed to the Father (John 14:13-14; 16:23-27; Rom. 8:15; Eph. 3:14; 5:20; Col. 1:3, 12; 3:17; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 1:6).

The apostle Paul taught the churches, throughout the Roman Empire, to address the Father in prayer (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6; Eph 2:18; 3:14; Col 1:3; 1:12) and the apostle Peter also stated that prayer was to be addressed to the Father (cf. 1 Pet. 1:17).

The Lord Jesus Christ taught that prayer must be made in His name or His person since He is the intermediary to the Father (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23, 26-27; Eph 5:20; Col 3:17).

Finally, prayer must be made by the power of the Spirit or by means of the Filling of the Spirit (Jude 20).

Jefferey Weima writes “The importance of prayer in Paul’s ministry becomes readily apparent from a comparative analysis of the apostle’s other thanksgiving sections. In virtually every occurrence of this epistolary unit, Paul makes mention of giving thanks to God for his readers by means of prayer (Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:4; Col. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:3; Philem. 4) and/or includes a summary report of his actual prayers for them (Rom. 1:10; Phil. 1:9–11; Col. 1:9–14; 2 Thess. 1:11–12; the absence of such a reference in Galatians and 1 Corinthians almost certainly reflects the tensions experienced between Paul and those churches). That Paul valued intercessory prayer is also evident from his appeal at the end of the letter that the Thessalonians ‘pray also for us’” (5:25).”[4]

1 Keathley, J. Hampton III; I Thessalonians: An Exegetical and Devotional Commentary; Biblical Studies Press, 1998

2 Weima, J. A. D. (2014). Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1–2 Thessalonians. (R. W. Yarbrough & R. H. Stein, Eds.) (p. 81). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

3 Walvoord, John F., Hitchcock, Mark, 1 and 2 Thessalonians; pages 20-21; Moody Publishers; Chicago; 2012

4 Weima, J. A. D. (2014). Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: 1–2 Thessalonians. (R. W. Yarbrough & R. H. Stein, Eds.) (pp. 83–84). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.