The Agora
Waiting For His Son - Thessalonians

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V. Paul's Continuing Concern (2:17-3:13)

A. Paul's Desire to Return (2:17-20)

v. 17
"But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
v. 18
"Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
v. 19
"For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
v. 20
"For ye are our glory and joy."


v. 17 "Being taken from you": "Aporphanizo" (used only here in the New Testament) is literally to be "torn away from" (NIV). This graphic word (from which comes the English "orphan") combines the two aspects of physical separation and mental anguish. Paul's intense affection for the Thessalonians is manifested in an amazing mixture of metaphors: in this one chapter he is, by turns, "mother" (vv 7,8) and "father" (v 11) and now even an orphaned child!

"For a short time": Paul's concern for his friends was so great that only a very short time elapsed before he was making serious efforts to return to them.

"In presence, not in heart": He hastens to explain that, though absent physically, he was still with them in heart and mind and spirit. As Moffatt puts it, "out of sight, not out of mind."

"Endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire": "Out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you" (NIV). Practically every word in this phrase is a superlative.

There is nothing of a "token" effort in Paul's love. He does not just "try" -- he struggles earnestly to see them! He does not just "desire" -- he greatly longs to be with them! (The word is "epithumia" -- a fierce passion, commonly translated "lust" and used in an evil sense.)

v. 18 "Once and again": Literally, "again and again" (NIV). Not necessarily twice only, but perhaps several times Paul had made plans to return to them.

"Satan": The agent that hinders Paul from returning he calls "Satan", the "adversary." One commentator writes of this verse: "It cannot be positively affirmed that Paul here means anything more than a personification of all that is opposed to God -- the hostility of wicked men, etc." And, plainly, that is the Satan/"adversary" that Paul has in mind: the Jewish and Gentile opposition to him in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-10), which had perhaps gone so far as to put a price on his head. It was not so much that Paul was afraid for his own safety -- the man who could write 2Co 11:23-29 was used to taking risks. The concern was predominantly for the Thessalonians themselves (maybe especially Jason?): their trials were severe already; Paul's presence in the city might so intensify their persecutors' anger against them that their lives would become absolutely unbearable. And of this Paul could not bear to think, he loved them so much.

v. 19: The NIV translation reorganizes the phrases of this verse into a much more understandable pattern:

"For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?"
The "crown" is "stephanos", the chaplet or coronal wreath awarded to the victor in the Olympic Games. The only "crown" in which Paul will glory or boast on the Day of Judgement will be the faithful of Thessalonica (and other cities -- cp Phi 4:1), whom he has brought to the gospel and nurtured along the Way. This thought is similar to that expressed by Paul in 1Co 3:14:

"If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward."
The "stephanos" is used in Scripture as a symbol of victory in the fight or race of life. To obtain that crown requires personal discipline (1Co 9:25), and respect for laws set down (2Ti 2:5). The "stephanos" is a wreath of "evergreens" in the truest sense; unlike the Olympic crown it will never fade away (1Pe 5:4). It relates to the future reward (2Ti 4:8; James 1:12); but it can be snatched away (Rev 3:11).

"Coming": The letters to the Thessalonians are particularly about the "parousia" -- "coming" or "presence" of Christ (see again the Introduction). References to the "parousia" occur seven times in the two letters (1Th 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2Th 2:1,8,9).

v. 20 "Glory": "Doxa", often translated "praise." This would seem to be basically equivalent to the "crown of rejoicing" in v 19.

"Joy": Compare 1:6.


Paul's letters to the Thessalonians add much to our knowledge of this ecclesia and of Paul's relations with it. They also present us with an aspect of the apostle's character which is not revealed in the concise record given in Acts. Far from Paul forgetting the Thessalonians in the strenuous work in which he was engaged, his thoughts turned constantly to these new converts, and his heart yearned to see them again. His failures, time and again, to visit them only increased his longing for them.

As in so many directions, Paul shows us here the way we should follow him. He not only preached the gospel and brought men and women into it; but, having done that, he cherished them, encouraged them, and loved them. These two works are equally necessary in our day as they were in Paul's. Let us both preach the Word with zeal and courage, and do all in our power to strengthen and establish new converts by our loving care and encouragement. If we do this, then, like Paul, we may anticipate that lovely laurel wreath of victory: the eternal fellowship with our "children" in the Kingdom.

* * *

A brief summary of some "Satan" passages:

An angel of God
= "Satan" (Num 22:22,32).
Human adversaries
= "Satan" (1Sa 29;4; 2Sa 19:22; 1Ki 5:4; 11:14,23,25; Psa 38:20; 71:13; 109:4,6,20,29.
= "Satan" (Mat 16:23; Mark 8:33).
The "world"
= "Satan" (1Co 5:5; 1Ti 1:20).
The Roman (or Jewish?) power, as an adversary to the gospel
= "Satan" (Rev 2:9,13)

The combination of Jewish-Roman opposition to Christianity, what Paul calls "Satan" in 1Th 2:18, is alluded to again and described in much greater detail in 2Th 2:3-12 written, (or so it would seem) very shortly after the first letter. It seems evident that Paul had first in mind a system already in existence (2Th 2:7), as Acts 17:1-9 abundantly indicates.

B. Timothy's Mission (3:1-5)

v. 1
"Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;
v. 2
"and sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
v. 3
"that no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
v. 4
"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.
v. 5
"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 labor be in vain."


v. 1 "When we could no longer forbear": The verb "stego" (also in v 5) originally meant to remain watertight -- as a house or a ship that does not leak. Then of course it came to mean "to contain" or "to endure", as in 1Co 9:12: "But (we) suffer ('endure') all things", and 1Co 13:7 -- love "endureth all things." When Paul could no longer endure having no news of the Thessalonians, the "roof caved in" and he decided he must send Timothy to them.

"We thought it good to be left at Athens alone": "We" would include Silas and Timothy. It is possible Silas had already gone on some other mission, or that he left at this time -- since both Silas and Timothy rejoin Paul later at Corinth (Acts 18:5). Now, with these departures, "we" becomes "I" (cp 1Th 2:18 -- "I Paul"); Paul was left truly alone to preach in Athens. The city was the intellectual capital of the world, its inhabitants for the most part educated and cultured. But to Paul it was the most barren wilderness. The small results of his efforts there (Acts 17:34) prove what a forbidding place it was for Paul. For the good of the Thessalonians (and for his own ultimate peace of mind) he realized it was necessary to send Timothy to them, but this verse gives us a glimpse of what it cost him.

v. 2 "Timotheus": see notes, 1:1.

"Minister": "Diakonos." The word literally means servant, and a lowly servant at that -- one who waits on tables. In the New Testament the word refers to many variations of service. It is used of the following:

  1. The angels who ministered to Jesus (Mat 4:11);
  2. Jesus himself (Luke 22:22; Rom 15:8);
  3. Timothy, at a time when he would surely have been an "elder-bishop" as well (1Ti 4:6);
  4. The other apostles (Acts 1:25; 6:4);
  5. A sister (Rom 16:11);
  6. All the followers of Jesus (John 12:26; Eph 6:21);
  7. A special class of servants within the church (1Ti 3:8-13).
"Fellow-laborers": Literally, as 1Co 3:9, this is "fellow-worker with God." There is some question about the text at this point, and some commentators object to the idea that man can be a companion in work with God. Why being a fellow-laborer with God should be objectionable is rather difficult to see.

There are many reasons, it would seem, why we should be fellow-workers with God. Primary among these is that we, along with Christ, must work, to repair the breach between God and man -- following the example of Christ himself:

"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17).

Labor is needed on our part, as well as God's and His Son's. Also, and more to the point, in preaching and in strengthening the believers, we must work with God -- because there is no one else to do it. These activities are "off-limits" to the direct physical efforts of either Christ or his angels. "Fellow-laborers with God" indeed! If we do not do this work, then who will?

Since Timothy was a mere lad at this time (cp 1Ti 4:12 -- where about twelve years later he is still a "youth"), Paul speaks so highly of him so as to encourage the Thessalonians to respect his presence and his mission.

"To establish you": The verb "sterizo" means, in the classical sense, to put a buttress or support so as to strengthen a building. It appears in Exo 17:12, LXX, of Aaron and Hur "staying up" the arms of Moses. It is used primarily by Paul of the work of "strengthening" or confirming new believers (Acts 14:22; 15:32,41; 18:23; Rom 1:11), although he well recognized that the Father and the Son were the ultimate workers in this matter (1Th 3:13; 2Th 2:16,17; 3:13; Rom 16:25-27). So "fellow-workers with God" is, after all, a very Scriptural concept.

"To comfort you": "Parakaleo" (cp 1Th 2:11).

v. 3 "That no man should be moved": "Saineo" (only here in New Testament) is used of a dog wagging its tail. Here it means to be tempted (cp v 5) from one's duty by an alluring bait -- in other words, to be coaxed or wheedled away from the faith by the "kind" words of former friends: "Why can't we be friends again? Give up these weird ideas of yours -- it can't be worth it! Look at all the problems it's causing you!"

Perhaps in our more relaxed atmosphere we tend to forget how hard the way was, and correspondingly how insidiously easy would have been the choice of surrender. In the first century all it would have meant in many cases was to burn a handful of incense to Caesar -- a mere "nominal" gesture. Time and again lenient judges pleaded with the early Christians to do so, but in most cases their pleadings were met with absolute refusal. How would we have fared under the same circumstances?

"by these afflictions": Literally, "in the midst of these afflictions." Compare notes on "affliction" in 1Th 1:6.

"We are appointed thereto": The word "keimai" is very suggestive. It actually applies to a sentry posted by his officer ("set for the defense of the gospel": Phi 1:17 -- Phi 1:16 in NIV), or a "city set on a hill" (Mat 5:14). The idea is of remaining steadfast and doing one's duty; bearing up under afflictions is part of that duty, as the New Testament abundantly testifies:

"yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2Ti 3:12).

v .4 "We told you before:'' Paul is not telling them anything strange and new. Even in his short stay with them, he had emphasized this lesson -- knowing, no doubt, how much they would need it.

v. 5 "For this cause": Because of the tribulations I know you to be experiencing, I was desperate to know how you were faring.

"When I could no longer forbear": Same word as in v 1.

"I sent to know your faith": He wanted to learn how well they were holding on to their faith. For Paul, faith was the fundamental activity and characteristic of a believer, out of which grew everything else. He knew that there were possibilities of defection, and he wanted to be sure that their faith was still real and active to sustain them.

"... lest by some means the tempter have tempted you": The Greek reads literally "how the tempter did not tempt you,'' neatly implying their steadfastness. The words "tempter" and "temptation" are both from the same root, signifying to test or try. The "tempter" must be the same as the "Satan" of 1Th 2:18 -- the Jewish and Gentile opposition to the new Thessalonian believers. As Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness immediately after his baptism to meet the "tempter" (Mat 4:3 -- the only other verse where the noun occurs), so these new believers were experiencing severe temptations very soon after their baptisms. Sometimes some of the severest trials can come upon those who are newly baptized, as soon as the newness of their conversion begins to wear off, and especially if problems impinge upon them from the world outside. This entire verse is very similar to the idea expressed by Paul when writing to the Corinthians:

"For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things... lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2Co 2:9,11).
"And our labor be in vain": If the Thessalonians' faith collapsed, then truly Paul's work would become meaningless (cp 1Th 1:5; 2:1) and he would have no "crown" to wear (1Th 2:19). The phrase "in vain" is found only in Paul's writings. The idea of laboring in vain is found also in 1Co 15:58, associated with the thought of no resurrection; and in Phi 2:16, in a form very similar to this verse. In Gal 2:2 Paul submits his gospel before the leaders of the Jerusalem ecclesia, "lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain"; in 2Co 6:1 he warns the Corinthian believers against receiving the grace of God in vain.


There is a distinct parallel between Paul's actions here and those of Jesus under somewhat similar conditions, as we read in John 16:

"It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove (convince) the world of sin, and of righteousness..." (vv 7,8).
The Lord, being taken away from his disciples for a little while (v 7), sent the Holy Spirit or "Comforter" to his "orphaned" followers (14:18, mg.) Thus by this means he helped to make up for his absence from their midst. In like manner Paul, forced to be away from the Thessalonians for a little while (1Th 2:17), sent Timothy to be the "comforter" (3:2, same word) of the "orphaned" (2:17) ecclesia. In such a wonderful way the apostle imitated his Master in showing love and consideration for his flock.

C. Timothy's Encouraging Report (3:6-10)

v. 6
"But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
v. 7
"Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
v. 8
"For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
v. 9
"For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
v. 10
"night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?"


v. 6 "But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you": Notice that Timothy brought good news of their faith and love -- but not necessarily of their hope! Does Paul hint here at the deficiencies which he decides to make good in 1Th 4:13-14? At this point they had just arrived (Acts 18:5; Pro 25:25) with the good news (literally, the "gospel", as in v 2) that all is well, and that the believers in Thessalonica are holding fast the faith as they were taught (1Th 1:3). Out of great relief Paul now begins to write this letter (cp his feelings: 2Co 7:4-6). Paul expresses a great deal of personal satisfaction here. First, it was a good sign that the Thessalonians held the apostles in affectionate remembrance and longed to see them again (cp 1Th 2:17). They could hardly have had such intense longing if they had been inclined to give way under the temptations they were experiencing. Secondly, it proved to Paul that they held no ill will against him for indirectly bringing this tribulation upon them, in introducing the gospel to them. Thirdly, they were anxious to see him again, notwithstanding the wave of increased persecution which no doubt would ensue if he were to return to Thessalonica. This also would cheer him greatly.

v. 7 "Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith": Since leaving Thessalonica, Paul had been rejected at Berea (Acts 17:13,14) and Athens (Acts 17:32,33) and had met with many difficulties at Corinth: hunger, thirst, nakedness, revilings, and persecutions (1Co 4:11-13; 9:12). All this had left him "pressed in the spirit" (Acts 18:5), and living in "weakness (malaria, or some other illness?) and in fear, and in much trembling" (1Co 2:3). It is possible even that malaria (or some other physical infirmity) was as much the "Satan" that hindered Paul's return to Thessalonica (1Th 2:18) as was the persecution that awaited him there.

v. 8 "For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord": Until the wonderful news of vv 6,7, Paul was a dying man (perhaps even literally so). But now he has found a new lease of life. Like John, he could experience no greater joy than to learn that his "children" continued to walk in the Truth (3Jo 1:4).

v. 9 "For what thanks can we render to God?": The sustained thanksgiving introduced in 1Th 1:2-10 and resumed in 1Th 2:13 is concluded in 3:9 with a rhetorical question. It is as if Paul is implying, "This gift (of good news about you) is so marvelous that I can never repay God for it!" (cp the question of Psa 116:12: "What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me?").

The word "render" conveys the idea of giving somebody what is due to him (Rom 12:19; 2Th 1:6).

v. 10 "Exceedingly": "Hyper-ekperissou", a quite unusual word that means to overflow abundantly: in this case, "super-abundantly!" Thessalonica was famous for its hot springs which continually overflowed; the city had once been called after them: "Therma" (see Introduction). Paul was fond of using this figure in varying degrees; he was like a hot spring, bubbling over with warmth and love -- and so he wanted his converts to be. (The same or similar words occur in v 12; 1Th 4:1,10; Eph 3:20; Rom 5:21; and 2Co 7:4.)

"And might perfect that which is lacking in your faith": "And make good the deficiencies in your faith." "Katartizo" is a verb signifying "to render fit or complete"; it occurs thirteen times in the New Testament. It is used of mending nets (Mat 4:21; Mark 1:19); of reconciling disputes (1Co 1:10), of preparing a person for a work (Heb 10:5); of restoring a sinner to fellowship (Gal 6:1); and of completing the instruction and character of a believer (as here; Luke 6:40; Eph 4:12; 2Co 13:11; Heb 13:21; 1 Pet 5:10). The perfecting of believers is therefore the fitting or equipping of them, not for "show", but for service.

It is possible that, in his absence, some of Paul's converts had gone astray in their understanding of certain doctrines, and that this fact was revealed to him by Timothy in addition to the more joyful news (see note, v 6). It might as reasonably be assumed that Paul knew of some of these deficiencies even before Timothy came to him, deficiencies in their faith due to the little time he had to devote to them originally. (In that case, we have at least an indication that new converts were not expected to know absolutely everything before baptism!) Certainly among these problems were matters concerning the resurrection and the return of Christ. Paul's words here serve as a gentle reminder to the Thessalonians of their continuing need for further spiritual growth -- a fact which he did not deny or try to "sweep under the carpet." His words also tactfully prepare them for the remaining part of his letter.


There can be no question that Paul loved these people more than life itself. He prays for them continually, and desires more than anything to be with them. They have suffered together, and out of that shared experience of adversity they have developed an unshakeable bond of fellowship (1Th 1:6). Surely this is the "fellowship of his sufferings" to which Paul refers in Phi 3:10.

Although Paul is constantly moving about to preach in new areas, he never abandons the ecclesias he has established. Paul at Athens and at Corinth still feels obligated to the believers in Galatia and Thessalonica. All of his ministry is marked by such concern: although he is heavily involved in the concerns of the Gentile ecclesias of Europe, he nevertheless works hard at taking up an offering for the material needs of the Judaean brethren. Paul's faith is a global faith, an international faith that ignores (or breaks down, if necessary) the cultural and ethnic barriers that exist in the Roman Empire.

Paul's strategy takes risks with the newly established ecclesias. It leans heavily upon faith in and prayer to the Father through the Son, and that the Holy Spirit they control can work in ways unrecognized by men to strengthen and comfort believers. Paul cannot be everywhere and do everything himself; with a reasonable view of his own limitations, he instructs and trains (and then trusts!) his assistants in the work -- young men like Timothy and Titus. This benevolent responsible attitude allows them in turn to grow to their full potential, and become more useful "fellow-laborers with God."

* * *

"Life" (ie, v 8) and "death" take on new symbolic meanings for the believer. In his struggles against sin and human adversaries he expects to "die daily" (1Co 15:31) -- for he bears about in his body "the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest" in that body (2Co 4:10-12). The believer is a continually changing compound of the old man, who is (or should be) dying, and the new man, who is continually being born or "created" (Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:8-10). And even as the physical body is wasting away day by day, so the inner man is being renewed (2Co 4:16).

The business of serving Christ intensifies the daily experiences of life. Literally everything about one's life is now seen to hold the potential of affecting eternity. Thus we see Paul cast down and afflicted because of thoughts of problems of other people many miles away. And we then find him, in a moment, overjoyed at the good report about them. "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?" So it must be small "deaths" and small "resurrections" each day -- for one who takes upon himself the care of all the ecclesias (2Co 11:28,29). Is this a difficult way of life? Most assuredly. But can there be any other way for a true follower of Christ?

D. Paul's First Prayer for the Thessalonians (3:11-13)

v. 11
"Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
v. 12
"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
v. 13
"to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints."


v. 11 "Direct": "To make straight" -- a word that appears also in 2Th 3:5 and Luke 1:79. Paul prays that God and Christ may remove all hindrances (as in 1Th 2:18) to open the way for Paul to return to Thessalonica. As Paul was directed to them in the first place (Acts 16:6-10), so he prays, and confidently expects, to be directed again:

"The steps of a good man are ordered ('made straight:' same word in LXX) by the Lord: And he delighteth in His way" (Psa 37:23).
Though he may not fully understand, still he relies upon the unseen constraints, the "ways of providence":

"Ponder the path of thy feet, And let all thy ways be established ('made straight' -- same word again)" (Pro 4:26).

v. 12 "Increase and abound": The two words are practically synonymous; thus they reinforce one another, ie, "greatly abound" or "abound more and more." "Increase" ("pleonazo") is used of grace (Rom 6:1); the manna (2Co 8:15) and love (here). "Abound" is the word we saw also in v 10, which conveys the delightful impression of a bubbling, overflowing spring.

"Love one toward another": "Agape", the self-sacrificing love that is distinctly Christian. It is the pre-eminent "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:22), out of which all other aspects of Christ-like character arise. God's sacrificial love is seen in the gift of His Son (John 3:16; Rom 8:22; 1Jo 4:9,10), which sets the pattern for all subsequent acts of love to which His children are directed (1Th 4:9). In the same way that Christ loved us, so we the believers must love one another (John 13:34). Only by their acts of love, and only in their participation in the "agape"/"love feast" of fellowship, may they show others that they belong to Christ (v 35). There is nothing more important, for love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom 13:8).

"And toward all men": This aspect of love is perhaps one that is most easily overlooked. The love of God is basic to our lives in the Truth. His love for us is so immense and far-reaching that it seems almost "natural" for us to love Him in return. Loving our Christian brothers and sisters, as members of the same divine family, is but the next logical step, for we are all bound together in the most wonderful fellowship. However, having come this far, something inside us seems to balk at the next step... "toward all men." Perhaps our failure here is that our perceptions of God and His work and His love are just too limited. The God who loved us when we were yet "sinners" (Rom 5:8) -- and loved us so much that He gave up His Son in death -- surely expects us to love all men in the same way. The God who bestows the blessings of sunshine and rain on just and unjust alike is teaching us to love even our enemies and those who despitefully use us (Mat 5:44,45).

Jesus, in perhaps the greatest and most sublime of his parables, warns us against a narrow conception of one's "neighbor" (Luke 10:25-37). "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" is the second commandment, like unto the first, and like the first unlimited in its scope (Mat 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Gal 6:10).

"Even as we do toward you": Paul refers to his own example, an indication that this verse is not only a prayer but also an exhortation. That Paul and his companions could present themselves as examples of overflowing love may seem embarrassingly bold, but it is not uncommon in his letters (1:6; 2Th 3:7-9; Acts 20:35; 1Co 4:16; 11:1; Phi 3:17; 4:9). While we would not wish to emulate Paul in what might easily appear to be -- for us! -- unwarranted "boasting", still it is useful for us all to remember how the examples of our own personal lives either support or detract from the message we preach.

v. 13 "To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness": A man can never hope to stand "holy and unblameable and unreprovable" before God (Col 1:21-23) by means of his own efforts, no matter how dedicated he may be. But he may be "established" or "presented" (Col 1:22; Jude 1:24; Eph 5:25-27) blameless by Christ, if he "continues" (again, Col 1:22) or "abides" (1Jo 2:28) in him. The emphasis must not be on strenuous endeavor, but on thankful loyalty. Good works are a reasonable expectation from those who have been gratefully redeemed, who have already received the means through God's grace of standing blameless in His sight (Eph 2:9,10); but good works will never be the means themselves for that standing -- that can be only by "grace" (Eph 2:7,8)!

In the love and mercy of God, as revealed through Christ, we may have confidence to stand unblameable before God (1Jo 2:28; 3:20,23; 4:17); but never can we place such confidence in our own works -- no matter how numerous and how commendable!

"Coming": "Parousia" again (cp 1Th 2:19)

"With all his saints": "All his holy ones" (NIV). We may tend too much to equate "saints" in KJV with believers only, whereas the word literally means "holy ones" and can refer to the angels. Numerous passages, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, refer to the angels of God as the "holy ones", or other similar designations. While some of the passages appended here may be ambiguous, it is a good principle of interpretation to be aware of the two possibilities in almost every Theophany-type passage where "hagios" or its equivalent occurs. To fail to do this is to invite unnecessary misunderstandings and complications: Deu 33:2; Psa 68:17; 89:5; Dan 4:13; 7:10; 8:13; Zec 14:5; Mat 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2Th 1:10; Jude 1:14.

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