III. First Prayer (3:11–13)

Here Paul introduces the themes of holiness, love, and the Lord's return. He addresses his prayer both to God and Christ. The worship of the early church, including instances like this when prayer is offered to Jesus, laid the foundations for the later Trinitarian doctrine.

The focus comes in the second petition: that love would increase and overflow. Love must be expressed within and without the community of believers. Once again Paul cites the missionaries' example.

The intimate tie between love and holy living is central both to Pauline and Wesleyan thought. Love, the source of holy living, prevents a legalistic holiness that is impervious to the situations of others. Equally, a settled holiness of heart is necessary if the Christian is to demonstrate love in action. Christian holiness is both freedom from sin and the presence of love (see McCown, 27; Bruce, 72).

Paul prays that they would be found blameless and holy at Jesus' coming. But this does not mean holiness must await the final judgment. Because Paul expected the Lord's return in the immediate future, he urges them to prepare themselves now. Holiness could not wait. It also has a future consummation, at the Lord's coming. Holiness is both present reality and future hope.