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The IVP New Testament Commentary Series – Thanks Be to God (1:3)
Thanks Be to God (1:3)

Paul always gives thanks for God's work in the lives of others. Here he uses the plural pronoun—we always thank God . . . when we pray for you—in order to emphasize the corporate nature of his ministry. The prayers he regularly shares with others, such as Timothy (1:1) and Epaphras (1:7-8; see also 4:12), seek to benefit others spiritually without assuming any special status for himself. Further, Paul's prayer is centered on God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Worship never congratulates people or focuses on their material needs; rather, Christian worship is rooted in our singular devotion to God, from whom and to whom our salvation is directed.

Paul's frequent use of Father alludes to an important Old Testament metaphor for God's covenantal relationship with Israel. Thanksgiving is given to God, then, within the framework of a covenant of mutual fidelity. Thus, to express thanks to God as our Father not only acknowledges God's faithfulness to us but also assumes our covenantal obligation to obey God in return, even as the child is responsible to bring honor to his or her father. So thanksgiving anticipates our own faithfulness to a faithful God, which is made possible by God's grace through faith in Christ (see Eph 2:8-10).

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