As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children…
— 1 Thessalonians 2:11
In First Thessalonians 2:7, Paul described his relationship to the Church in terms of the relationship that exists between a mother and a child. But in verse 11, he paints a different side to his ministry toward the Church. Here, Paul is taking on the role of a father in their lives.
He wrote, “As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children…” (1 Thessalonians 2:11).
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Paul was saying that you can’t be a mother all the time in ministry. Sometimes you have to fill a fatherly role. He was implying that there is a time to cuddle and a time to spank — a time to caress and a time to correct. In a spiritual sense, Paul had taken on the roles of both mother and father in the lives of the Thessalonian believers.
In verse 11, we see how this fatherly ministry of Paul functioned. First, Paul “exhorted” the people. This is the Greek word parakaleo. Next, he “comforted” them, which is the Greek word paramutheomai. Finally, he “charged” them. The word “charged” is the Greek word marturomai. These three words mean three very different things, and they are all very important.
First, I want you to notice that the Greek words translated as “exhorted” and “comforted” both begin with the word para, which again, indicates relationship. Although Paul was speaking here to an older group in the church, he was still by their side, continually exhorting them, walking with them, teaching them, and speaking to them. That was a part of Paul’s ministry even for those who were more spiritually mature.
When Paul performed his fatherly ministry he exhorted, and he comforted. The Greek word for “comfort” carries the idea that even if your father can’t physically be at your side, you should still live in the godly manner he taught you.
Here, Paul was calling the believers to a lifestyle of responsibility. Now that some of them were grown, they were responsible to live the Christian life or a life that was honoring and pleasing to God.
Finally, Paul “charged” them in verse 12: “That ye would walk worthy of God…” That is ultimately where Paul was taking the Thessalonian Christians. His deepest desire was to see them walk steadfastly with God. The word “walk” in Scripture always refers to stability or to an ongoing relationship. So Paul’s primary purpose was to see these believers grow up in the things of God and to maintain their spiritual walk.
In verses 19 and 20, Paul summed up this great textbook chapter on ministry by concluding, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.”
What can we conclude from Paul’s writings in First Thessalonians 2? More than anything else, Paul desired a relationship with the Thessalonian church so that he could minister to them effectively. And the same will be true for us today: As we give our hearts completely to God, He will enable us to give our hearts to the people in our lives, and we’ll experience powerful ministry among those to whom we are called (see 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Nothing gave Paul more pleasure and delight than to see these young Christians in Thessalonica maturing in their relationship with the Lord. Paul’s greatest glory and joy was the calling that God had placed on his life and the people God had placed in his care. That’s a priority and motive we can emulate with confidence, and God will reward our own labors and bring rich increase both to us and to those under our spiritual care.
Are you ready to get started? If yes, ask the Holy Spirit to help open your eyes to those He is calling you to help strengthen and encourage in the faith. The Lord will give you wisdom and will empower you to extend His hand of love as you comfort, encourage, and strengthen them in their faith. It will be one of the greatest joys of your life!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, my heart is stirred as I ponder the need for and importance of nurturing and mentoring young believers as they are growing up in the Lord. How thankful I am for the Christian leaders who mentored me and who helped me mature in the Lord Jesus Christ. I think of my pastor, who led me and corrected me at the right times in order to help me grow up. Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me and other Christians to take our place and strengthen and encourage young believers who need spiritual fathers and mothers in their lives.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess I have wisdom from the Lord, and the Holy Spirit gives me the counsel I need to help young Christians mature in their relationship with the Lord. I find great joy in praying, teaching, serving, and helping others mature in the Lord. To see Christ formed in young believers is a priority. Therefore, I yield to the ministry of the Holy Spirit so that I can be a vessel for Him to fill and flow through in order to bless and strengthen those under my spiritual care.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- How did you meet the person who became your spiritual mother or father? In what ways did that person influence you the most?
- In whose life are you serving such a role right now? What individuals are you helping to grow — loving them, correcting them, and helping them to develop in their faith?
- Can you think of a few specific ways you can comfort, exhort, or strengthen the faith of the people in your life? What steps can you take today to start implementing these ideas in your relationships?