Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
December 29, 2013
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God
5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.
1901 ASV Translation
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention [of you
] in our prayers;
3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;
4 knowing, brethren beloved of God, your election,
5 how that our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and [in
] much assurance; even as ye know what manner of men we showed ourselves toward you for your sake.
- I. Making Mention "Upon" Our Prayers.
- A. "Making mention".
- 1. "Mention" is the translation of a word that is rooted in memories, as in "when I remember you, I give thanks to God". This is reinforced in 3:6 where a part of Timothy's report was that the Thessalonians "have good remembrance of us always".
- 2. "Making mention" is a phrase used by Paul in four places in his letters, always referring to his prayers for those to whom he writes. It is a phrase that, apparently, means "my prayers are rooted in my memories of you". "I make" indicates a deliberate effort to accomplish something. "I make mention" is both forward and backward looking: because I "remember", I "mention".
- B. Robertson makes the point that "epi" most fundamentally means "to rest upon".
- C. The most straightforward significance of this observation is that "giving thanks" was an integral part of "our prayers".
- 1. The word translated "prayers" is, I think, best translated "prayers" since it seems to be more of an umbrella term for conversing with God than, for instance, "petitions", or "intercessions", or "supplications".
- a. It was used by Luke in 1:10 to identify the activity of the people outside of the temple at the daily "time" of "prayer", at which time there was a "typical" offering of incense, the presence of which is actively identified in Revelation 5:8; 8:3; and 8:4 as that which is attached to "the prayers of the saints" in the sense that when the incense is offered upon the altar, the "prayers" are answered.
- b. It was used by the disciples when, upon witnessing the prayer life of Jesus, they asked Him to teach them "to pray".
- c. It seems to be the most "generic" term for "praying", but "generic" does not mean dismissable or without great significance.
- 1) The word translated "prayers" is a word formed by the combination of the preposition "toward" and the verb "to wish".
- a) This verb is used in seven contexts in the New Testament. The contexts typically fall back upon a setting that implies a significant depth of desire [Note Acts 27:29].
- b) It seems a fair conclusion to draw that this word is chosen out of the reality of our greater "wishes"; the higher priority issues in terms of how we view the quality of our lives.
- 2) That we are seeing "strong wishes" coupled to a preposition that indicates a specific direction "toward" indicates that there is a particular Person toward whom one looks when the issues are important.
- 2. The idea that "thanksgiving", as a particular form of prayer, "rested upon" our prayers seems to be that the giving of thanks was pretty much a regular part of the "conversation".
- a. Paul's well known "in everything give thanks" and his less well known "for everyone give thanks" (often mistranslated "for everything give thanks" as in Ephesians 5:20 where "panton" is taken to be a neuter "thing", but is just as easily, and correctly, taken to be masculine (a person) because the context is about "other people" not "things", clearly indicates a plentitude of occasions for the expression of gratitude toward God.
- b. In Luke 11 (as also in Matthew 6), it is noteworthy to see the absence of the expressions of gratitude in what is known as "the Lord's Prayer". What shall we make of this?
- D. Notably absent from Paul's words is any form of "request"; his memories are filled with what the Thessalonians are already doing and there seems to be no "need" to drive requests.
- II. The Bigger Picture.
- A. In this presentation of "motivating hope", it seems significant that Paul begins his letter with the issue of thankful prayer.
- 1. Can hope stay alive and vibrant without thankful prayer?
- 2. The issue most fundamental to motivating hope is keeping a deliberate focus. If too many of the particulars of the moments (hours, days, etc.) get too much of our attention, "hope" will get lost in the shuffle. Thus, it seems almost beyond saying that thankful prayer is to be our "return to hope".
- B. Additionally, being reminded on a regular basis of those whose impact on us has been most beneficial pushes us back to hope because that impact is really all about others living in hope so that their impact on us is a reminder in itself.
- 1. Paul's memories drive his prayers.
- 2. His memories are organized under the triad: work of faith; labor of love; patience of hope.
- a. Faith pushes the expenditure of energy.
- b. Love pushes the diligence of labor.
- c. Hope pushes the willingness to endure.