ENCOURAGED THROUGH THE BELIEVERS’ FAITH
Timothy returned to Paul with good news, telling him that their labor among the Thessalonians was not in vain. Paul refers to this report in verse 6: “But Timothy, having just come to us from you, and bringing good news to us of your faith and love, and that you have good remembrance of us always, longing to see us, even as we also you.” This good news concerning the Thessalonians’ faith assured Paul that their labor among them had not been in vain.
The apostle was in Corinth after leaving Athens (Acts 17:15-16; 18:1, 5). It was here that he wrote this loving letter to the dear saints in Thessalonica for their encouragement.
In verse 6 Paul speaks of both faith and love. Love is the outflow, the issue, of faith. We have seen that faith is the foundation, love is the building, and hope is the topstone. In writing an establishing word to the Thessalonians, Paul first covers faith and gradually brings in love. Therefore, in verse 6 he speaks of the believers’ faith and love.
Verse 7 says, “Because of this we were encouraged over you, brothers, in all our necessity and affliction, through your faith.” The sound condition of the believers is always an encouragement to God’s fellow-workers, who work with them and bear them as a burden. The Greek word rendered “necessity” can also be translated distress. It denotes an urgent need resulting from calamity. A calamity puts people into a position of having an urgent need for necessary supplies such as food, water, clothing, and housing. Even though the apostles were in necessity, in distress, they were encouraged over the Thessalonians through their faith. Once again Paul speaks concerning faith.
In verse 8 Paul goes on to say, “Because now we live if you stand firm in the Lord.” The believers’ firm standing in the Lord ministers life to the apostles. To stand firm in the Lord is in contrast to being shaken from the faith (v. 3). If the young believers you are working with stand firm in the Lord, that standing will certainly minister the life supply to you.
PERFECTING WHAT IS LACKING
Verses 9 and 10 say, “For what thanks can we return to God concerning you, for all the joy with which we rejoice because of you before our God, night and day beseeching exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?” The Greek word translated “perfect” in verse 10 also means complete. The same Greek word is used in 2 Corinthians 13:9. The believers at Thessalonica, being young in the Lord, were still lacking in their new faith. The apostle realized this with much loving concern for them. This is the reason he wrote this Epistle.
When Paul wrote the book of 1 Thessalonians, the believers at Thessalonica probably had been Christians for less than a year. To be sure, they needed to see much more concerning the contents of God’s economy. Likewise, even many of us who have been in the recovery for years may still be lacking in our view of the all-inclusive and all-extensive Christ as the content of God’s economy. This means that we still have a lack in the objective faith. Having such a lack in the objective faith, we also have a shortage in subjective faith. Because our seeing is limited, our believing ability is also limited. Our ability to believe depends on our seeing, on our view. During the time we have been in the recovery, our view concerning Christ and God’s economy has been broadened. Since our view has been broadened, our objective faith has increased. This results in an increased ability to believe.
Night and day, exceedingly, Paul prayed that the apostles might see the Thessalonians face to face in order to perfect what was lacking in their faith. In these verses Paul seems to be saying, “You Thessalonians have been in the Lord only a short time. Surely there is a lack both in your objective faith and subjective believing. Many things have not yet been opened to you or shown to you. We would like to visit you again in order to show you more of Christ. Then, having a greater view of Christ, your objective faith will be broadened and, spontaneously, your subjective faith will be increased. This is your need, and this is our burden in praying to see you again.”
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)