What a profound truth Paul expresses here. Paul - who teaches us that our life is hid with Christ in God ... who states that to LIVE is Christ ... who says that he has died and his life is Christ through Paul ... this Paul indicates that this life in Christ is associated with the steadfast faith ... of other believers? Did we read that right?? Catch the context ...
This is Paul's heart for ministry shining through here. Paul doesn't share the Gospel and find the door. He doesn't expect them to take their new hearts, filled with the Holy Spirit though they are, and operate in a new realm, a new worldview, without guidance. While in their midst, Paul works hard, treats them gently, embraces them as children (applying both maternal and paternal characteristics to his team's treatment of them). When he is away and suffering for the Gospel, he worries that they might fall away. They'd seen him suffer, and they'd heard him teach of more suffering to come ... yet he worries. A good report from Timothy is welcome news - the Thessalonians are standing firm in the Gospel. What's more, we learn from chapter 1 that their faith is spreading throughout the region. They are "famous" for it and in the process making God famous.
At this report Paul is able to say "now we live". The NASB translates "Now we really live". Paul and his team were "alive" physically before, and certainly were "alive" in the Lord, and yet there was a fullness to that life that Paul did not, could not, experience apart from the successful perseverance of the saints at Thessalonica. While among them, he worked by speaking the truth in love and setting an example to impart this perseverance. Apart from them, he prays (verses 11-13) for God to establish it in their hearts. And the word that comes lets him know God is moving. Now he really lives. Now the team really lives.
I'm convinced that in our western individualistic mindset we don't have a sense of the community of the Spirit that God intends. This community is supposed to be so strong that it takes all of us together to truly have spiritual "life". Our gifts work together for the building up of the body. Hebrews 11 even tells us that apart from the faith of post-resurrection believers, the faith of the Old Testament saints could not be made complete. This is far more than dinners on the ground and the occasional women's conference. This is a daily relationship that encourages, strengthens, challenges, exhorts ... that depends on one another in the Spirit. The persecution Paul's team encountered set a relational context that caused the team to go deep with new believers quickly! And as a result they really lived when those new believers persevered.
That's kind of how I feel about this blog. I long to encourage you - you who are far beyond me in terms of service - to finish the race, to persevere. When you are successful through a struggle of faith, I really live. When you sign on for another season of ministry, I really live. When I see answered prayers in your newsletters, I really live.
As you work and minister today, seek someone whom you can encourage to persevere. I promise - you will really live as a result!