A theme in Chapter 3 is reassurance. When persecution came, Paul and his team:
“…sent Timothy…to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.”
Timothy’s role was to reassure the Thessalonians that persecution was to be expected and was not an indicator of failure.
Paul himself was in need of reassurance as he:
“…was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labours might have been in vain.”
Timothy’s report reassures Paul:
“But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love.”
Paul is relieved and refreshed because the Thessalonians had not been “unsettled” by the trials being suffered:
“For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.”
This letter gives the sense that, superficially, Paul’s ministry looked as if it was going horribly wrong. Chapter 2 verse 1 has the claim, “You know … that our visit to you was not without results” or “was not a failure.”
There is the sense that it looked like a failure, but that this was not important.
I suppose if you join a movement or jump on a bandwagon and then the ringleaders get carted off to prison, you might think twice about the wisdom of being tarred with their brush.
When one part of the church was being persecuted, it needed to know that the rest of the church was remaining faithful, so that they could “really live”.
When things look as if they are going horribly wrong, maybe they aren’t. But when it looks that way, the rest of the church should remain faithful so that those persecuted can “really live”, despite their circumstances.