1 Thess. 2 17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while -- in person, not in spirit -- were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. 18 For we wanted to come to you -- I, Paul, more than once--and yet Satan hindered us . . . . 3.6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, 7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; 8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?So in all five of those epistles, Paul is clearly making travel plans, thinking and praying about when he is able to make it to see his churches. When writing Philippians, Paul is in prison and so is unable to make travel plans. Yet even here, the aspiration to get to the Philippians again is at the forefront of his mind, even to the extent of making it his reason to continue living:
1 Cor. 16.5-10: But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; 6 and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; 9 for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord''s work, as I also am.
2 Corinthians 12.14: Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children . . . . 20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practised. 13.1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 2 I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone.
Romans 1. 9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles . . . . 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
Romans 15. 22 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you; 23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you 24 whenever I go to Spain--for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while -- 25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.
Philemon 22: At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.
Phil. 1, 21, 24-7 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain . . . 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. 27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospelMoreover, he hopes to send Timothy to the Philippians so that he can hear about them (Phil. 2.19-23), he reiterates his own aspiration, "I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly" (2.24) and talks about sending Epaphroditus (2.25-30).
In Galatians, though, there is none of this. In 4.20, there is a moment when he wishes himself not writing this epistle but instead exhorting them directly in person ("I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone"), but otherwise, strikingly, there is nothing -- he does not say that he is planning to come, or that he is praying to find an opportunity, or that he hopes to come, or that he will be sending Timothy (or Titus). Sadly, it seems that he already knows that it is too late. His Galatian churches have chosen to follow what he sees as "another gospel", and he will not be visiting the region again.