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2Thessalonians:  Chapter 1

Setting

This epistle from Paul to the Thessalonians is one of clarification with respect to the day of the Lord.  The church was encountering growing persecution from Rome, and in the worship of the Caesars.  There is no doubt that these young saints were confused as to whether they were encountering the end times as Paul had described.  At this point, the book of Revelation had not yet been written, so the context of the Lord's return was referenced through Paul's teaching, as well as from Old Testament scripture.

Outline of this chapter

Verses Topic
1-2 Greeting
3-4 The spiritual growth of the Thessalonians
5-10 God's righteous judgment
11-12 Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians

Greeting

In 2Thessalonians 1:1-2, Paul's greeting to the church continues to strengthen the joint relationship that he shares with the believers at Thessalonica in the Lord.  This is illustrated in this greeting where Paul says "in God our," which was ďtheĒ in 1Thessalonians 1:1, and continues with ...Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  This greeting shows an intimate relationship between the Church and God, through the word Ďour.í  The second verse likewise, in comparison to the first letter to the Thessalonians, is showing greater identification between the church and God, by showing that grace and peace are from God (as interpreted by the New International Version (NIV)).

The spiritual growth of the Thessalonians

In 2Thessalonians 1:3-4, Paul spoke of three spiritual characteristics:

  • Their faith grew exceedingly
  • Their love abounded toward each other
  • Their endurance through patience and faith in all their persecutions and tribulations

Paul spoke of the believers at Thessalonica as being a model to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia, because their faith in God had become known everywhere, 1Thessalonians 1:7-8.  Paulís prayer, 1Thessalonians 3:10-12, asked that their love would increase and overflow for each other and everyone else.  This letter shows that this occurred.

God's righteous judgment

In 2Thessalonians 1:5-10, there are two parts of these verses that are very important to all Christians.  First, our suffering is evidence of Godís righteous judgment, in that our focus is not on our welfare, but on the kingdom of God and His glory, as mentioned in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:10, and as spoken of by Paul concerning his thorn in the flesh, 2Corinthians 12:7-10.  Second, suffering has a purpose, in that the believers are counted worthy in sharing the rule of the kingdom of God, in which our character is shaped to reflect the Lord, James 1:2-5, and the Lord sustains and establishes His own, 1Peter 5:6-11.   This is a continuation of the contrast between those who are in the light versus those who are in darkness, 1Thessalonians 5:4-11.  Suffering has a purpose in that we will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.  This must not be confused with the incorrect notion of attaining righteousness by our works to enter into the kingdom of God, instead it is through the gift of God, who is His Son Jesus Christ, John 3:5-8,  John 3:16-18.  The Lord gives promises to the suffering churches of Smyrna, Revelation 2:8-11, to believers in Thyatira, Revelation 2:26-27, and to all the churches, Revelation 3:21-22.  Peter also wrote about the suffering of believers, 1Peter 4:16-19.  Important for all Christians to remember is that God is faithful in all things, 2Timothy 2:11-13.  Our role as Christians, is to be like Christ as a servant, Matthew 20:25-28.  Being in Christ, Christians are adopted sons and will receive the kingdom upon the return of the Lord to establish His millennial kingdom, Daniel 7:16-18.

In 2Thessalonians 1:6, the righteous judgment of God will be evident in His time, and not necessarily in our time!  However, some judgments that were not immediately imposed in scripture were but some time elapsed after the warning was given:

  •   In Habakkuk, he cried unto God for justice, and was amazed at the answer from God, Habakkuk 1:2-6
  • God judged the Babylonians through the Medes and Persians in Isaiah 47:4-10, and so on through the age of man to now, and beyond
  • Pharaoh ordered the drowning of all Hebrew male children, and then all first born of Egypt were killed by the angel of the Lord, and all of his chariot forces were drowned in the Red Sea
  • In the book of Esther, Haman had very high gallows constructed on which to hang Mordecai, but instead they were used to hang him and his family
  • An attempt was made by the governors under King Darius to destroy Daniel in the lions den, but they and their families were eaten by the lions instead

The purpose of Godís judgment is to vindicate His righteousness, not for personal satisfaction as in many of our own examples to see others suffer in a form of payback.  David had asked God to not be far from him, but vindicate David on his enemies in Godís righteousness, Psalms 35:22-24.  Paul wrote to the Philippians concerning the suffering they were enduring from the persecution and the destruction of those who opposed them.  He encouraged them to stand fast together in one spirit, to strive together for the faith of the gospel, and not to be terrified by their adversaries, Philippians 1:27-30.  During the tribulation, the martyred saints before the throne of God are told to rest while their numbers continue to increase, then God will judge, Revelation 6:9-11.  When judgment is sent, the martyred saints declare Godís righteousness in the matter, Revelation 15:1-4.

In 2Thessalonians 1:7, the relief promised from God to the saints at a time in the future.  At that time He will dispense the final judgment and then the Lord will return to the earth with all His angels and saints.  The judgment will occur at the end of the tribulation when the Antichrist, who at that time is prevailing against the saints, Daniel 7:24-25, is destroyed by the Lord and then the saints possess the kingdom, Daniel 7:20-22.  Simultaneously, the court of God has judged the beast and his dominion will be taken away and all will be given to the saints, Daniel 7:25-27.  When the court of God is set, He is ministered by thousands upon thousands.  The beast will be slain and his body will be thrown to the fire, Daniel 7:9-11.

In 2Thessalonians 1:8-10, those who do not know or obey the Lord will be punished.  All will be judged, Romans 2:5-11.  This is a time of reckoning, and the true believers are separated from those only professing the truth, but never knowing the power of the truth, 2Timothy 3:5-9.  This is the time of separation, when not everyone calling on the Lord will be saved, for they were false teachers, Matthew 7:20-27.  Those punished will be permanently shut from the presence of the Lord.  On the day He comes to be glorified, He will be glorified in His saints and be marveled upon by those who believe.   The judgment of God is not annihilation, as some erroneously teach.  Rather, those who are judged, will be in a permanent state of consciousness under judgment through eternity.  The angel putting out the third bowl judgment at the end of the seven years of tribulation declares Godís righteousness, and the altar, or those under the altar respond in agreement, Revelation 16:4-7.   This is not a reference to the great white throne judgment, but the end of the tribulation.  The survivors at the end of the tribulation have sealed their eternal state if they had either worshiped the beast or accepted the mark of the beast, Revelation 14:9-12.  Keep in mind that the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, but is patient, not wanting any to perish, 2Peter 3:9.  If you have not made the decision to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, do so now.  Follow the link to the page on salvation to see how you can accept the Lord in your life and become a child of God.

Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians

In 2Thessalonians 1:11-12, Paul is encouraging the church again through the example of his prayer life:

  • They are constantly remembering the congregation at Thessalonica
  • That at the judgment seat of Christ, their work will be counted as worthy
  • That through the power of God, every good purpose and act by faith will be fulfilled
  • This is all done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and for His glory
  • That the fellowship will be in Christ and the believer, and the believer and in Christ
  • It is all by the grace of God


Copyright (c) 2001, 2005, 2008, 2014, J.E. Huntley.  All rights reserved.
last edited August 2014

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