1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
1 Th 3:1 (KJB)
Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;
Alone - Solitary or no other
(Acts 17:13-14 KJV) But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. {14} And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. When Paul had gone to Berea which was a few miles west of Thessalonica, the envy driven Jews had pursued him there and caused another major uproar. So Paul had removed himself from Berea and went to Athens which would have been about 200 miles south and remained there by himself. Timothy and Silas had remained behind in Berea. Since it was Paul who they were after, it was wise for him to leave and then Timothy and Silas could continue ministry without bringing much attention to themselves. When it says “we thought” in the verse, they had probably discussed this situation among the three of them and came up with the strategy of Paul leaving and Timothy and Silas being left behind.
1 Th 3:2 (KJB)
And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
Establish - Fix or set firmly
Comfort - Encourage
Paul was a wise man and knew that Timothy could help these people continue to grow in the faith. Timothy must have finished up his work in Berea and went back to Thessalonica to continue the work there. It was probably because of the way Paul and some of the Christians were being treated that maybe there was discouragement among them. Timothy went there to help establish that church and teach them that they are set firmly upon the Lord Jesus Christ and no outside persecution can ever move them away from the Lord. He also encouraged them in the faith that they need to trust the Lord during these types of persecution. He also would have encouraged them that in the fact that if they prepare for persecution, knowing that it could come to all of them, then they would be able to cope with it and not lose heart. He wanted them to know that no matter what type of persecution they face, they can never be moved from the Lord.
1 Th 3:3 (KJB)
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
Moved - Disturbed, shaken, or agitated
Afflictions - Tribulations
Appointed - To order something to be done, destined, or set
Here Paul is warning the Thessalonians that tribulation is part of the Christian life. In fact, if a Christian is not persecuted in some manner, that means he or she is appeasing the world. Paul warns that they will see affliction but they should not be moved when this happens, in fact, persecution will strengthen the true believer. What they needed to understand and digest was that the world had hated the Lord Jesus Christ and because Christians are His disciples, they will hate them too. (John 15:18 KJV) If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. What reason could they possibly hate someone for who is such a peaceful person. Healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the multitudes of people, who would want to rid their country of a person like that? (John 15:25 KJV) But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. They literally hated Jesus for doing good simply because jealousy had crept in and needed to get rid of him. This is the same reason that unbelievers everywhere hate Christians because of jealousy. We are the only “religion” on earth that has a cure for the sin sick soul, the others do not. We must also understand that we live in a hostile world and because of that fact, we are destined to be persecuted and the faster we understand that, the easier it will be to endure it. (1 Pet 4:1 KJV) Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
1 Th 3:4 (KJB)
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
If there is one prophecy that every true Christian can make, it is that they will eventually suffer some form of persecution for their faith. Paul is telling the Thessalonians that he had warned them before the persecution came and his prophecy came to pass real quick. All one has to do is go against the religious establishment which is packed with unbelievers, and you will draw persecution as a lightning rod draws lightning. Paul knew from prior experiences that whenever the true Gospel was preached the persecution was right on its heels. However, it is a different thing to hear about it than it is to experience it. This is why Paul had previously warned them that it was coming but he also encouraged them that nothing could move them away from the Lord Jesus Christ. They would never be abandoned by the Lord or by him because of persecution.
1 Th 3:5 (KJB)
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
Forbear - Shelter, protect, or sustain
Vain - Void
Since Paul was away from the Thessalonians and was unable to oversee their spiritual growth, he had dispatched Timothy to stay with them and to evaluate their spiritual condition. What Paul was afraid of was that Satan would tempt them again and he probably had in mind them going back into the false religion of Judaism in case the persecution was so bad they could not or did not know how to deal with it. If they would have gone back, then the labor that Paul had invested on them would have been in vain since the spiritual fruit would have been lacking. This is a good lesson for those who disciple new Christians that they need to be looked after and cared for so they will not make any wrong decisions which could bring them back into a false religion or into some previous sin which they were delivered from. Paul had so much concern that he could not rest until he knew their spiritual situation and it is good to have a faithful partner who can help in those situations.