Thankfulness In God
Continual Thanksgiving to God
Paul had been forced to leave them too soon (2:17) and was filled with anxiety for these recent converts who were not ready to be left on their own. We should remember that the team had gone to Athens not originally to minister but were waiting for news (Acts 17:16). So when it finally came with Timothy, the worry gave way to rejoicing and thanksgiving. The statement here (“always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers”) is not a formula statement or mere formality but expresses his actual feelings and practice.
The Gentiles in Jesus’ day viewed prayer as efficacious to the extent that it repeated large quantities of “power” words, which would somehow effect change in the cosmos. Christian prayer, by contrast, is powerful in that it is directed to a powerful God. Today there are Christians who reason that repeated prayer somehow reflects a person’s lack of faith. I have heard too many times, from the pulpit or in conversation, that the Christian should learn to speak to God once and for all about some necessity, and then simply “leave it with him.” Yes, surely in some extraordinary case the Spirit might lead in that direction. Nevertheless, this practice has no basis in the doctrine of prayer as taught by the OT, Jesus, the apostles, or the earliest church fathers.
Work Arising from Faith
“Faith” (πίστεως) in this context is not a creed but the action of believing that produces hard work
Labor Spilling Out from Love
“Work” and “labor” are synonyms. The latter (kopou), however, is a slightly more intense word indicating strenuous work in contexts where a contrast with the former (ergou) is implied.