Sermon Notes & References

A Pastor’s Desires for His Flock

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

January 7, 2018

A.  Paul writes from his heart

      1.  Parental desires


      2.  Paul, a spiritual parent


B.  Paul’s desires expressed

      1.  For their faith (vv 2, 5, 6, 7, 10) 1


      2.  For their spiritual strength (vv 2, 7, 8, 13) 2


      3.  For their overcoming temptation (or testing) (vv 3, 4, 5, 7, 13) 3


      4.  For their love (vv 6, 12) 4


      5.  For their joy of fellowship (vv 6, 9, 11, 13) 5


C.  Our pastors’ group (“ORPA”)

      1.  Desires specific to a particular church


      2.  Desires common to us all

1 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 . . . . . . . . A Pastor's Desires for His Flock


A. Paul Writes from the Heart

    1. Parental Desires

        a. for “Biological Children”

            (A)    a couple of centuries ago there were traditional desires of parents for the success of the children in the middle class:

                 (1)    first child, a doctor

                 (2)    second, a lawyer

                 (3)    in third place, a minister

            (B)    desires for your children can be good or bad

                 (1)    bad if it is self-seeking, the living out of a parent’s dream in the child or as something to brag about

                 (2)    but good when it is high ideals for their character

            (C)   some of the good motivations for these desires

                 (1)    to avoid the mistakes that we have made

                 (2)    that they realise their potential – our eldest son, Tim is quite gifted musically: our goal was not that he become a virtuoso but rather able to play well enough to enjoy doing so

        b. for “Spiritual Children”

            (A)    as parents, Sunday School teachers, Awana leaders, and such, many of us have the privilege of having spiritual children

                 (1)    some who have come to faith in part because of that relationship or activity

                 (2)    some who have grown in their faith for the same reason

            (B)    and for these, we also cherish desires on their behalf

                 (1)    that they should be the most he or she can be in serving God

                 (2)    that they should overcome temptation and Satan’s attacks

                 (3)    the same desires that Paul expresses in the chapter


    2. Paul, a Spiritual Parent

        a. Paul the Missionary

            (A)    is how we usually think of this man

            (B)    setting out on his various missionary journeys accompanied by his evangelistic team, made up of such men as Barnabas, Timothy, Silvanus (Silas), Epaphroditus (Epaphras) and so on

            (C)   covering with the gospel the various lands to the east & north of the Mediterranean Sea

            (D)   bringing people to faith, founding churches in many cities

            (E)    but Paul’s letters to these churches reveal another side to the man

        b. Paul the Pastor

            (A)    though he may have left their city, as a shepherd he had a continuing care for the welfare of his flock

            (B)    to this end, he would send some of his team – Timothy, Titus, etc., – unto them to give encouragement, instruction, correction as well as to bring back news concerning their welfare

            (C)   this is what had happened with the church in Thessalonica

                 (1)    he had recently come from the creation of a church in that city, going on to Athens

                 (2)    while in Athens, he sent Timothy back to see how these new believers were getting on

                     (a)    at the same time it appears sending Silas somewhere else

                     (b)    so leaving himself uncomfortably alone in Athens

                     (c)    showing his great care for this new church

                     (d)    and then going on to Corinth

                 (3)    when Timothy returned with good news, Paul immediately sat down to write this letter back to them (verse 6: “just now”)

                 (4)    so in this letter, he tells of his desires on their behalf and also rejoices in those desires that have been realised in them


B. Paul’s Desires Expressed

    1. For Their Faith

        a. keep this in mind: faith is not simply an intellectual belief in the facts of Jesus Person and work, but the entrusting ourselves and our present and eternal destiny unto Him as the eternal Son of God,

        b. his desire for this is found in

            (A)    3:2: “to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith

            (B)    3:5: “to find out about your faith

            (C)   3:6: “brought us good news of your faith

            (D)   3:7: “comforted ... through your faith

            (E)    3:10: “what is lacking in your faith

        c. the dual importance of faith

            (A)    it is essential as the instrument of salvation

                 (1)    that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved …” (Romans 10:9-10)

                 (2)    For by grace you have been saved through faith; ...” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

            (B)    but it is also essential for our walk on a daily basis with God;

                 (1)    the sole basis of having a continuing relationship with God

                 (2)    for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7)

                 (3)    And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

        d. verse 10 emphasises that faith is ever open to growth; as is evident in Paul’s further teaching in this letter, it can be improved in the areas of

            (A)    being willing to trust God whenever grave doubts should assail us

            (B)    the way that our faith is reflected in our life

            (C)   it is, then, a pastor’s proper desire God’s people grow in faith


    2. For Their Spiritual Strength

        a. his desire for this is found in

            (A)    3:2 “to strengthen and encourage you

            (B)    3:7 “we were comforted about you

            (C)   3:8 “if you stand firm in the Lord

            (D)   3:13 “He may establish your hearts

        b. what is the source of spiritual strength?

            (A)    Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10)

        c. and its character?

            (A)    And He has said to me,’My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

            (B)    so both by example and by command, this is a pastor’s proper desire Christians in his flock should pursue,

            (C)   how is it to be obtained? The realization of our own weakness, and then relying, as Paul did, on the Lord Jesus Christ


    3. For Their Overcoming Temptation or Testing

        a. his desire for this is found in

            (A)    3:3 “no man may be disturbed by these afflictions

            (B)    3:4 “going to suffer affliction

            (C)   3:5 “Tempter ... have tempted you ...

            (D)   3:7 “in all our distress and affliction

            (E)    3:13 “unblameable in holiness

        b. there are many various forms of temptation, as for example,

            (A)    here, such suffering as to tempt a child of God to abandon God – Job had this kind of temptation presented to him through his wife

            (B)    doubts and misgivings about God – Eve was led to this by Satan

            (C)   and most obviously, to do something displeasing to God

        c. the single purpose of Satan’s temptation is to insert anything he can between us and God so that our relationship and service is harmed

        d. why does God allow us to be tested? ... here are a few reasons:

            (A)    to prove, i.e, approve, our quality, before men & to ourselves – as

                 (1)    For Thou hast tried us, O God; Thou hast refined us as silver is refined.” (Psalms 66:10)

                 (2)    and as Job could say, “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

            (B)    to show His presence and power by helping us to overcome – 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

            (C)   when this pastor’s proper desire for his people is achieved, he will have joy in their reward: Revelation 21:7 “He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.


    4. For Their Love

        a. his desire for this is found in

            (A)    3:6 “brought us the gospel (good news) of ... your love

            (B)    3:12 “his desire for this is “

        b. this is a pastor’s proper desire since it reflects God’s nature

            (A)    the source of our love is God’s love for us: Romans 5:8, 8:35ff – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us ... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

            (B)    such love is a result of the new life: Ephesians 3:17-19 – “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.

            (C)   this love is obedience to Jesus’ command in John 15:10, 12 – “If you keep My commandments you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love ... This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.


    5. For Their Joy of Fellowship

        a. his desire for this is found in

            (A)    3:6 “that you always think kindly of us ... longing to see us just as we also long to see you

            (B)    3:9 “the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account

            (C)   3:11 “direct our way to you” – fellowship is difficult in absence!

            (D)   3:13 “at the coming presence of our Lord Jesus with all His saints

        b. this final pastor’s proper desire is part of fulfilling God’s will in the church as expressed by Paul in Romans 15:32: “so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.

        c. and of course the ultimate joy and realization of fellowship will take place when Jesus comes again, with His immediate presence with us

        d. of this, Paul will have more to say in the coming chapters.


C. Our “ORPA” Group

    1. Desires Specific to a Church

        a. obstacles removed to erecting a building

        b. addition of younger families as active participants

        c. evangelization of diverse ethnic attendees

        d. exercise of the grace of liberality in stewardship

        e. development of needed leaders


    2. Desires Common to Us All

        a. to us as pastors, also desires shared also by you, God’s people

        b. that believers should manifest faith, love, knowledge of God’s word

        c. havie personal devotional walk with Jesus Christ

        d. grow in maturity in Jesus Christ

        e. in short, those same desires that Paul had for his flock at Thessalonica




© 2018 by Garth Hutchinson, Faith Fellowship Baptist Church of Aurora (Ontario): may be distributed or quoted freely, only let this be done to the glory “of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus ii.13). Except as noted otherwise, quotations are from the New American Standard version, used by permission. Various other English versions of the Holy Bible may be used in this sermon. Explanatory additions to the Bible text are shown in [braces]. Version identifiers are:


              AV          Authorized (King James) Version of 1769

              NAS        New American Standard version © 1960, 1995 The Lockman Foundation (usually the 1995 edition)

              IGNT              Interlinear Greek New Testament, Zondervan Publishing, 1956; as well as other Greek Texts as W&H, Nestle, etc.

              NIV         New International Version © 1984 by the International Bible Society

              NKJV              New King James Version © 1979 Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers

              Philips     The New Testament in Modern Englis, J. B. Phillips, Geoffrey Bles Ltd

              RSV        Revised Standard Version © 1946, 1952 National Council of Churches of Christ; Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd

              WEY               The New Testament in Modern Speech © 1902, 1912 R. F. Weymouth

Some of the commentaries and resources used in the preparation of this message are identified as follow:

              BM       Biblical Museum, Editor James Comper Gray, ca 1870

              CP   -      Decission, July & August 1962, Open Your Bible, by Dr Sherwiood E. Wirt

              EBC             The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, © 1986 Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 49530, MI:

                             1, 2 Thessalonians: Robert L. Thomas

              EGT             The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Hodder & Stoughton; 1903

                             1 & II Thessalonians, by James Moffatt

              JFB  -      Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown; S. S. Scranton & Co. 1872

              Gill       Exposition of the Old Testament, Exposition of the New Testament, by John Gill, D.D.

              Kerux –   The sermon & illustration data base compiled by Rev. David Holwick at the web-site,

              NCBC –    The New Century Bible Commentary – 1 and 2 Thessalonians – I. Howard Marshall – Wm B. Erdmans

              RWP             Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, by Dr. A. T. Robertson

              TTB      Thinking Through the Bible, Rev’d John McNicol, D.D., © 1944 by the author; The Upper Canada Tract & Book Society.