Online Bible Commentary
Pray for Others
1 Thessalonians 3:11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. (NKJV)
The undisputed writer of this letter is Paul. Paul and Silas planted a church in Thessalonica in early 50 A.D. on Paul’s second missionary journey. Thessalonica was located in Macedonia, the northern area of Greece.
After leaving Thessalonica because of persecution Paul and Silas travelled south, ministering in Athens and Corinth. They spent eighteen months in Corinth (Acts 18:11).
When Timothy joined them in Corinth he gave a good report on the new church in Thessalonica, which prompted the writing of this letter in late 50 or early 51 AD. Timothy delivered the letter to the church shortly thereafter. This was Paul’s second letter, after his letter to the Galatians.
In this passage, Paul offers a prayer for the new church in Thessalonica. This prayer applies to all churches. In the original Greek this short prayer is one long sentence.
Paul begins by asking God to “direct our way to you” (v. 11). Paul is anxious to return to the new believers. He and Silas were forced to abruptly depart in order to preserve their lives to fight another day. Their work there was not finished. They needed to disciple the new believers.
Paul’s request of God is addressed to two members of the Godhead, the Father and Jesus. It is appropriate to pray to God the Father and/or the Lord Jesus Christ. Normally we would not pray to the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. However, if the request is specific to the work of the Holy Spirit it may be appropriate to pray to Him.
The literal translation of the Greek in verse 11 reads “Himself and the God and Father of us, and the Lord of us Jesus Christ, may He direct the way of us to you;” Note the reference to the plural Father and Jesus as the singular “Himself” and “He”. The verb “direct” is also a singular verb in the Greek. This mix of the plural with the singular reveals the nature of the Trinity. The One true God reveals Himself in three Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s, prayer for the new Thessalonian believers is twofold. First he asks that “the Lord make you increase and abound in love” (v. 12a). He is asking that their love will increase for not only their fellow believers, but also for all people (v. 12b). He then expands on this when he resumes his letter in 4:9-12. He follows this request with his expression of increasing and abounding love to them from Paul and Silas (v. 12c).
Paul’s second request for the new believers is that God “may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (v. 13). “Blameless in Holiness” is a reference to pure hearts.
His request is that the new believers would continue to be sanctified by the Lord so that they would be blameless before the Lord at His second coming when He returns with all believers, “His saints”, and manifests Himself to the world. Paul then expands on this second request when he resumes his letter in 4:1-8.
This short prayer is also a powerful prayer. It is an example of intercessory prayer. Paul is not praying for himself, but for others. He is praying for the new believers in Thessalonica. As Christians, we are called to pray not only for ourselves, but also for others.