Devotionals Archive

Daybreak: 1 Thessalonians 2:13 through 3:13

May 16, 2021

“And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

During the Revolutionary War, Peter Miller, a pastor in the town of Ephrata, Pennsylvania, enjoyed a friendship with George Washington. In the same town lived a man named Michael Wittman. He was a mean-tempered fellow, who disliked the pastor and took every opportunity to oppose and humiliate him.

One day, Michael Wittman was arrested as a turncoat collaborator. At his trial, it was proven that he had given the British assistance on numerous occasions. He was found guilty of spying and sentenced to death. On the eve of the execution, Peter Miller traveled seventy miles on foot to see President Washington to plead for the life of Wittman. However, Washington turned him down, saying, “No, Peter, in these times we cannot be lenient with traitors. For that reason, I cannot pardon your friend.”

“Friend?” replied Miller. “He’s not a friend of mine. He is my bitterest enemy. He has persecuted me for years. He has even beaten me and spit in my face, knowing full well that I would not strike back. Michael Wittman is no friend of mine!” Washington was puzzled. “And you still wish me to pardon him?” “I do. I ask it of you as a great personal favor.” “Why?” “I ask it because Jesus did as much for me.”

Washington turned and walked into the next room. Soon, he returned with a paper on which was written the pardon of Michael Wittman. That day, the old pastor took Wittman back home to Ephrata — no longer an enemy, but a friend.

What an example of the spirit described in our key verse! Paul’s admonition to the Thessalonians was that they increase and abound in love toward “all men.” The same principle applies to us, and “all men” would include even those who treat us unkindly or persecute us. It is not enough to merely tolerate others or treat them with courtesy; we must look for ways to actively demonstrate our love to our fellowmen. Our love should be continually growing and becoming more evident in our lives.

Today, take time to pray specifically for those who ignore, mistreat, or reject you. Ask God to help your love for them to expand. Who knows! Your example of love and Christian charity may make them your friend.


Paul expressed his love and affection for the saints at Thessalonica and noted that the basis of their relationship was rooted in the Word of God. He looked at them with joy and gratitude as Christians who were worthy of the Name of Christ. He complimented them for receiving the Word when they came into contact with it, and for following in the things that he had taught them. This caused great persecutions, but they suffered for Christ and thus were an example to the others. 

These believers were encouraged to continue to be faithful stewards of the treasure that God entrusted them with. Paul had been concerned because he had been separated from them so abruptly and though he desired greatly to return unto them, his return was hindered. However, when Timothy was sent to them, he came back with a glowing report. The Thessalonians were not only steadfast in the faith, but they appreciated the Word of God, appropriated it, and applied it in their own lives. 

Paul expressed his joy over the Thessalonians by making mention of the glorious reunion that they would have at the coming of the Lord Jesus. Though he desired to see them, at that time he was not able to. Yet he knew they would see each other again when Jesus returned for His Church. Paul ended this portion of the letter by encouraging the Thessalonians not to be shaken by their afflictions, because he had also suffered many afflictions. He understood their tribulations and the powers that they were fighting against. Their suffering was his suffering and their joy was his joy. 

The Thessalonians were also encouraged to increase in their love toward each other and to “all men.” Paul pointed out that God was able to keep them and present them faultless before the Father. He reminded them that Heaven is the goal, and it is made possible only through Jesus Christ.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   Paul’s interest in the Thessalonians
     C.   Paul’s concern for the Thessalonians (2:13 — 3:13)
          1.   Concern for their suffering (2:13 — 3:5)
               a.   The cause of their suffering (2:13-16)
               b.   The concern for their suffering (2:17-20)
               c.   The cure for their suffering (3:1-4)
                    (1)   Timothy’s mission (3:1-2)
                    (2)   Paul’s teaching (3:3-4)
               d.   The fear of their suffering (3:5)
          2.   Concern for their deficiencies (3:6-13)
               a.   The fact of their deficiencies (3:6-10)
               b.   The cure for their deficiencies (3:11-13)
                    (1)   Paul’s coming (3:11)
                    (2)   Paul’s concern (3:12-13)

A Closer Look

  1. What does Paul say will be his victory crown at the Second Coming of the Lord?
  2. What sobering possibility is suggested in the words, “our labor be in vain”?
  3. What are some ways we can implement the concept of 1 Thessalonians 3:12 in our lives?


Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to move forward in the Gospel and to grow in their love for others. When we follow those instructions, our lives will impact others, too!

Reference Materials