Memory Text: “May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thessalonians 3:13, NIV).
Key Thought: Paul continues to praise the Thessalonians for the good things he sees in them and to encourage them amid the persecution they are facing.
As we read these passages, we can see that, to Paul, the Thessalonians aren’t just church members; they are his friends. There is a deep, emotional bond between Paul and these people, and Paul stresses that bond as he seeks to continue reinforcing in their minds the love that he has for them. While certainly sincere, his words will also help prepare them for the criticism that will soon follow.
Paul begins and ends this section with a prayer. In a sense the entire passage is written with prayer in mind. The underlying theme of this focus on prayer is Paul’s desire for the Thessalonians to be “blameless and holy” (1 Thess. 3:13, see also 1 Thess. 2:19, 20) at the second coming of Jesus.
The friendship Paul has with them is deeper than earthly friendships; it is a friendship that goes beyond the boundaries of time and history on this earth. Paul is looking forward to spending eternity with the Thessalonian believers. This desire, in part, is what drives his intense concern throughout the letter for their beliefs and behavior. Paul loves these people and wants them to be ready for the return of Christ.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 11.