Thursday: Paul’s Renewed Prayers (1 Thess. 3:11-13)
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The second coming of Jesus is a powerful incentive to spiritual growth. Every act of abuse or oppression will be brought to justice. Every act of love or kindness will be recognized and rewarded (see, for example, Matt. 10:42). That means that every act in this life, no matter how small, has meaning in the ultimate scheme of things.

But equally important for Paul, and the emphasis in this week’s lesson, is that the Second Coming will be a glorious reunion of family and friends, whose relationships will last forever because of what Jesus has done. Christian relationships do not have an expiration date. They are designed to last forever.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13. What are the things that Paul includes in his prayers for the Thessalonians after the arrival of Timothy?


First Thessalonians 3:11-13 sounds almost like the benediction at the end of a worship service. Paul, of course, wishes to return to Thessalonica and make up the deficits in the church’s faith (1 Thess. 3:10). But even if he is not able to return, he can still plead with God to motivate and grow the Thessalonians into an abundance of love, not only for each other but also for their neighbors and everyone they meet. This love will be an important component of their characters when Jesus returns.

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

Somewhat puzzling is Paul’s comment in verse 13 that Jesus will come “with all his saints.” The word saints or holy ones is normally applied to human beings in the New Testament. On the other hand, Second Coming texts in the New Testament normally describe Jesus as accompanied by angels rather than human beings (Matt. 24:3031Mark 8:3813:27). So, who are the “saints” in this verse?

The solution to this problem is to recognize that in verse 13 Paul adopted the language of Zechariah 14:5 and applied it to the second coming of Jesus. The “holy ones” in the Old Testament are best understood as angels (see also Deut. 33:2 and Dan. 7:10). The New Testament, on the other hand, gives the word saints new meaning: they are human beings whose righteousness is from Jesus. In 1 Thessalonians 3:13, however, Paul reverts to the Old Testament definition of the word saints as angelic beings who stand in the presence of God. As such, they will accompany the God-man Jesus when He returns to earth.

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Thursday: Paul’s Renewed Prayers (1 Thess. 3:11-13) — 7 Comments

  1. "Every act of abuse or oppression will be brought to justice. Every act of love or kindness will be recognized and rewarded." In my opinion there are two errors that we can fall into here.

    The first problem is the idea of judgment and justice. It is part of our natures under sin to want revenge on those who hurt us. Sometimes that can be so subtle that we arem't even aware of it but it is still there working in us the spirit of the devil that only increases over time. For us there is a big lesson in the incident concerning a Samaritan village (Lk 9:51-56). Notice the two opposing attitudes, one that says destroy those who reject us and the other that forgives because those who reject us, "do not know what they do" (Lk 23:34 NKJV). Jesus' analysis was that James and John was that they did not know what manner of spirit they were of (Lk 9:55). Those who have the spirit of Christ aren't going to be happy over the destruction of the wicked but rather full of tears because they actually chose to be a danger rather than a blessing - to be dead rather than alive with Christ. Besides that, essentially the purpose of the judgment is to justify the righteous (Dan 7:22) rather than to condemn the wicked because they are condemned already (Jn 3:18) by their own choices before the judgment even begins. That is basically what the Day of Atonement is all about, justifying the righteous.

    The second problem is that often when we think of Heaven all kinds of riches and pleasurable things come to mind. The problem is that the world has those things at the top of its priority list. What Heaven has to offer is a government that has no sin, no selfish desires or goals, only the happiness of the people within its responsibility. That starts with God and filters down to the lowest supervisor, all will have that same attitude.

    The material things in life don't make happiness; they only add to what is already there. If one is without sin then whatever material things he has doesn't destroy either him or his neighbor because they are not the primary object in his life - the well-being of everything around him is his focus. That is what gives a person the most joy and that is what makes Heaven as great as it is.

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  2. Just a couple of things; 1. "Paul reverts to the Old Testament definition", we need to remember Paul thought in Old Testament terms. How do we know this? Simply put, because he was a Jew. And not just a Jew, but a very well educated one. So to state that "Paul reverts to the Old Testament definition" is a bit confusing, how else could he think?
    2.'Somewhat puzzling is Paul’s comment in verse 13 that Jesus will come “with all his saints.”' The key to this is the part of the verse that procedes it "when you stand before God the Father at the coming" this can be further understood by 2 Thess 1:7 and Rev 19:14.

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  3. "Somewhat puzzling is Paul’s comment in verse 13 that Jesus will come 'with all his saints.' The word saints or holy ones is normally applied to human beings in the New Testament. On the other hand, Second Coming texts in the New Testament normally describe Jesus as accompanied by angels rather than human beings ( Matt. 24:30, 31; Mark 8:38; Mark 13:27). So, who are the 'saints' in this verse?"

    So, who are the “saints” in this verse?

    My understanding is these saints are those who came from the grave:

    As Christ arose, He brought from the grave a multitude of captives. The earthquake at His death had rent open their graves, and when He arose, they came forth with Him. They were those who had been co-laborers with God, and who at the cost of their lives had borne testimony to the truth. Now they were to be witnesses for Him who had raised them from the dead (Desire of Ages 786.1).

    ..But those who came forth from the grave at Christ's resurrection were raised to everlasting life. They ascended with Him as trophies of His victory over death and the grave. These, said Christ, are no longer the captives of Satan; I have redeemed them. I have brought them from the grave as the first fruits of My power, to be with Me where I am, nevermore to see death or experience sorrow. (Desire of Ages 786.2)

    The Ascension:

    "All heaven was waiting to welcome the Saviour to the celestial courts. As He ascended, He led the way, and the multitude of captives set free at His resurrection followed." (DA 833.2)

    • Acts 1:10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”

    [Note]jk Since These people followed Jesus into heaven and he will return with these people following him at the Second Coming.
    "…He presents to God the wave sheaf, those raised with Him as representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming…" DA 834.2; Type: Lev.23:16-17,20

    1 Thess 3:13 May He make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. Amen.

    1 Thess 4:14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.

    Rev. 17:14 These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

    "…Christ will come in His own glory, in the glory of His Father, and the glory of the holy angels. Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands of angels, the beautiful and triumphant sons of God, possessing surpassing loveliness and glory, will escort Him on His way…" (DA 739.3).

    Isa. 51 [11] Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

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  4. Jim, obviously you have given this a great deal of thought. It seems you are making a case for the righteous dead ascending to heaven at death as opposed to sleeping in the grave until the parousia. If I am understanding you correctly, wouldn't that be problematic when considering such texts as 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, and Psalm 118:17-18? Even Job whom I would expect would be considered a saint did not expect to be restored until the second coming if I am understanding Job 19:25-26 correctly.

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  5. As i read Jim's comment, I thought he was referring to the people who were raised at the time of Christ's resurrection and who ascended with Him at His ascension, he wasn't saying that the righteous dead ascend to heaven at death.

    It was only a select group that were raised and ascended with Christ at His ascension. A "representatives of that great multitude who shall come forth from the grave at His second coming…” (Desire of Ages 834.2)

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    • Thank you, Ulicia. The part that has me wondering is the quoting of 1 Thessalonians 4:14 out of context. Those who support the idea that the dead are immediately taken to heaven often use this verse to support their argument. As I stated in my previous comment, I am not sure I am understanding correctly where Jim is coming from so I asked him for a clarification. Perhaps he will be able to help out here. When there is a misunderstanding, Matthew 18 tells us to go to the person involved to clear it up, so I am following that counsel regarding my quest for understanding with Jim. If it is simply a misunderstanding, I have faith that he will make that clear as one brother to another. :)

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  6. Thank you Stephen for asking for more clarity.

    Ulicia, you are correct. This is the only group of people who entered heaven at Christ ascension. Christ fulfilled. Lev.23:15-21.

    Stephen, no one can enter heaven for this reason:
    Lev.16:17 And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.

    Christ entered into the Most Holy in 1844 and we've been in the anti-typical Day of Atonement since then. No one can enter heaven, not until Christ finish's his intercessory work in heaven.

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