Here faith indicates the nature and strength of the work; love, the motivation for and characteristic of labor; and hope, the source of endurance. These depict the structure of the genuine Christian life, a life constructed with faith, love, and hope (see note 1 Cor. 13:131a). Such a life originates not from the ability of the believers' natural being but from the infusion of what God, in whom they believe, is. It is carried out by their sacrificial love toward their loving Lord, who loved them and gave Himself for them, and toward His members, whom He has redeemed through His death in love. This life lasts and stands unchanging by the sustaining power of the hope in which the believers look for their beloved Lord, who promised that He would come to take them to Himself. Such a life is the content of this Epistle.
How marvelous that the Thessalonian believers could live such a life through the apostle's short ministry of less than one month! This encourages us to preach the complete gospel to typical unbelievers in full assurance of faith, and to minister the deeper truths concerning the Christian life to new converts.
In the two Epistles to the young church in Thessalonica, the genuine Christian life for the proper church life is revealed in a simple and brief way. It is a life of three dimensions in the light of the Lord's coming back, having faith as the beginning, the foundation, love as the process, the construction, and hope as the consummation, the completion. Faith is toward God (v. 8), love is toward the saints (1 Thes. 3:12; 4:9-10), and hope is in the Lord's coming (1 Thes. 2:19). The first Epistle is for encouragement and comfort; the second is for correction and balance. The believers should live, walk, and work by faith and love in the hope of the Lord's coming back; but they should not have the erroneous concept that the Lord will come immediately and, thus, that they need not make any long-range plans. The apostle Paul's writings concerning the Christian life for the church life begin with the book of Romans and conclude with these two Epistles.