Main point summary
I pray that God would give you boundless love coming from a pure heart which God requires.
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Now may w our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, x direct our way to you,
Despite everything that has happened, we ask even now that our Lord Jesus Christ and the God of the universe, our heavenly father, personally arrange events so that we can visit you in person.
and may the Lord y make you increase and abound in love z for one another and for all,
and we ask that God would increase the amount of love you have for each other so much that it also overflows to all those around you--even to unbelievers.
as we do for you,
This powerful love is the same love we have for you.
so that he may a establish your hearts blameless in holiness before w our God and Father,
God sees to it that you love others in this way so that there will be sufficient evidence that you have pure hearts, which are required in order to stand in God's presense.
at b the coming of our Lord Jesus c with all his saints.
This will happen when Jesus returns with all those who have trusted in him for their righteousness.
This is the end of a section where Paul had just finished talking about how they wanted to come to them in person, but couldn't. Still, he hopes to be able to come to them.
Why are both "increase" and "abound" used here. They seem to mean the same thing.
comparison - Paul wants the Thessalonians to love others just like he loves them.
purpose - It is necessary for the Thessalonians to have increasing love because this is necessary in order for their to prove that their hearts are blameless in holiness when Jesus returns.
reference to a specific time - the end times when Jesus returns on judgment day.
"may" is used instead of a stronger word like "shall" likely because Paul knows he must remain open to whatever God wills.
He is not just God, but he is our Father and we are his children so we can be confident that he loves us and wants the best for us.
"himself" indicates that this this is something God can/may do himself. This indicates the importance of the matter and reminds the thessalonians that God does not deal with them through an assistant. As a father, he is willing to see and work for his children personally because of how he loves us.
And not only do we have a father in heaven who loves us, but Jesus also is on our side.
Paul will only come to see them if God "directs" his steps that way. This is evidence that Paul believes God is sovereign over his circumstances.
This second request is at least as important as the first. Paul puts a high priority on the love that the Thessalonians have. He thinks it is very important. In fact it is crucial. Why is this such a big deal to Paul?
This love is to be for the believers first and then for all people. If there were just love for believers, then there would be no motivation for evangelism I suppose.
"make" is an interesting choice of words. In our society, we often think that love cannot be forced, and yet here Paul is praying that the Lord would "make" them love. Why is this necessary and how does that work exactly?
By using "Lord" here it seems to imply that this is mainly Jesus who Paul is making this request of.
This pronoun "he" seems to refer back to "the Lord" in 12a (Jesus). This is not legalism or salvation by God works because Jesus does it. He gives the love required in the heart of every believer, which is only possible because his work on the cross.
Seems like this may be a reference to a court of law. Lawyers often try to establish facts by presenting evidence. In this case, Jesus is our lawyer/mediator. He will present evidence of our love for God and others which will prove which believers are authentic at the end times.
Our heart contains our emotions and desires (whether good or evil). However, it is hidden and people can be deceived about the hearts of others or even their own heart. Nevertheless, a good heart will produce evidence and that is this "love" that Paul is praying that the Thessalonians would have.
Takeways God, the creator of the universe, cares for me personally as his child. God does not just care about my justification. He also cares about how we live and love others in this life. Jesus is our mediator. If we know him, he will work on our behalf to purify us and get us ready to stand in the presense of a holy God without being annihilated because of our sin. Main application: Pray to God that he would give you a sincere love for others. Stop trying to manufacture love for others through your own will power. Next Steps: I plan to take the next biblearc course in the series.