1. Exposition

How should the three phrases with virtues therein be understood?

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (ESV)

3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The meaning of the phrases work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope is a little ambiguous, and some interpreters understand them to mean something like faithful work, loving labour, and hopeful endurance (e.g., NLT). However, that interpretation obscures the three virtues—faith, hope, and love—that seem so important to Paul, and is therefore probably not correct.1 The most likely interpretation, and the one most commonly accepted, is the one that takes the virtues of faith, love, and hope as the source of the work, labour, and endurance: faith produces work, love produces labour, and hope gives rise to endurance; it is a case of Christian virtues in action.2