February 4, 2017
2 Thessalonians 1
2 Thessalonians 1
Shawn Bumpers / General
2 Thessalonians / Grace; Testimony; Faith; Love; Affliction; Vengeance; Judgment; Thessalonians
Paul introduces his second letter to the Thessalonians
This was the 3rd letter that Paul wrote … the first being to the Galatians and the next 2 being to the Thessalonians.
He penned this letter in what was probably April of 52AD.
We find the background to each of these letters recorded in Acts 15:40-18:6.
It was during his 2nd missionary journey that Timothy joined up with Paul and became an invaluable help for him.
• It was also during this journey that God forbade Paul from ministering in Asia and so Paul continued on to Philippi, where he met Lydia.
• In Philippi, Paul and his companion Silas freed a slave girl from demon possession, which infuriated her masters.
• It was after this that Paul went to Thessalonica and the church there was born.
• He moved on to Berea and then on to Athens.
Modern English Version Chapter 3
Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and minister of God and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish and comfort you with regard to your faith, 3 *so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions.
• Paul then moved on to Corinth, arriving there probably in December of 51AD.
But what was the reason for this second letter to the church in Thessalonica?
Only 5 months passed between the writing of 1 Thessalonians and the writing of 2 Thessalonians … what happened during that time?
• Some of the believers concluded from this that since the coming of the LORD was near, they should quit their jobs and spend their time waiting for Him.
So, this 2nd letter was written to provoke some adjustments in the church.
The letter was from Paul, but Silvanus and Timothy were with him and contributed to this letter.
Silvanus (or Silas) and Timothy were his trusted companions.
• Silas was a long and experienced companion of Paul.
• Timothy joined up with Paul and Silas in the region of Derbe and Lystra.
Next, let’s note how Paul starts out his letter with Grace and Peace.
He writes, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is from God that we have grace and can thus experience peace.
But the only true source for grace and peace is the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 14:6 NKJV
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Isaiah 53:5 NKJV
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
Whatever hope we have placed in anything that is not of God we have placed on a fallible thing.
We’ve all been let down by people and we’ve all been fooled by situations that were not as we had thought they were.
But none of us have ever been let down or tricked by God.
His Word is truth and what He says is truth … even those things of the end times that have yet to happen.
One of Satan’s favorite devices to take our eyes off of Christ is suffering.
And one of the best weapons for fighting Satan is praise.
Job 1:21 NKJV
And he said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”
Paul says, “We are BOUND to thank God” and that is a Greek word that means “obligated.”
Paul, Silas and Timothy feel obligated to to thank God for the Thessalonians … and notice that Paul is again using that word Adelphos … brethren … reminding them that they are with Paul family in Christ.
For Paul, the giving of thanks for God’s great work was an obligation – he was bound to do so, and it was fitting, because of the work God was doing in them.
The Thessalonian church had a reputation for growing faith.
1 Thessalonians 1:7 NKJV
so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.
An easy life can lead to a shallow faith, but the Thessalonians had anything but an easy life.
The great men and women of Hebrews 11 all suffered in one way or another, through affliction or obstacle, so that their faith could grow.
But faith wasn’t the only thing that Paul says is flourishing in the Thessalonian believers … he also says, “The love of every one of you all abounds toward each other.”
Paul says that the patience of the Thessalonians was increasing.
Patience here is ὑπομονή hypomonē (hoopoh-mohnay) or steadfastness and faith is πίστις pistis (pee-stees).
Romans 5:3 NKJV
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
So, what were the new believers of Thessalonica enduring?
• Well, Paul used a few words to describe their situation … for one “Persecutions.”
• And then Paul also uses “tribulations” … a Greek word that means, “Afflictions that result from trials,” that is internal pressures.
The good news for them, which Paul points out … is that God uses suffering.
James 1:2–4 NKJV
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
One more thing to note about this and we’ll move on.
The first part of verse 4 speaks of Paul boasting of the Thessalonian Christians among the other churches.
“Perseverance” in the New Testament is not simply “waiting it out”; it is steadfast endurance in the Lord, keeping going when the going is tough.
But tribulation is the spiritual tool God uses to make us patient.
1 Peter 4:12–14 NKJV
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
“Manifest evidence” is quite simply “proof.”
But, what is it proof of?
Paul says it is proof of the righteous judgment of God.
1 Peter 4:16–18 NKJV
Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now
“If the righteous one is scarcely saved,
Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
We often think that God is absent when we suffer, and that the suffering of believers calls God into question.
So, Paul here does not look upon suffering as a burden, but as a blessing, a privilege.
Suffering for Christ is a gift.
Philippians 1:29 NKJV
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Matthew 10:24 MEV
“The disciple is not above his teacher, nor the servant above his master.
John 15:18–19 MEV
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, the world therefore hates you.
1 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV
Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
AND Paul identifies suffering for something as proof of the value of that which is suffered for.
Paul says, “that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 5:10 NKJV
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NKJV
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
But steadfastness in suffering is also a testimony to the lost world.
The apparent prosperity of the wicked and difficulty of the godly have posed a problem for many of God’s people.
• Asaph wrote in Psalm 73 of his dismay at this seeming imbalance.
• The prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 21:1 said to the LORD, “Let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?”
Jeremiah 12:1 NKJV
Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You;
Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?
God will in fact answer our suffering with judgment.
That is, He will repay the wicked in the same measure and kind that they have dealt out to Christians.
The wicked will reap what they sow.
When Christ comes to earth with His church, He will judge the wicked who will then be living on earth.
It is a righteous thing for God to judge sin and condemn sinners.
Before we move on, let’s talk about God’s vengeance verses revenge.
• The purpose of vengeance is to satisfy God’s holy law.
• The purpose of revenge is to pacify a personal grudge.
God does not hold a personal grudge against lost sinners … in fact, He sent His Son, Jesus to die for them, and He pleads with them to return to Him.
Look with me back to verse 9.
Verse 9 directly echoes the Septuagint of Isaiah 2:10, 19 and 21 … “Hide in the earth from the face of the fear of the Lord.”
Isaiah 2:10 LES
And now, enter into the rocks and hide in the earth from the face of the fear of the Lord and from the repute of his strength, when he stands to shatter the earth.
Paul uses this same Hebrew idiom but with a Greek word πρόσωπον prosōpon (prohsoh-pohn) meaning “presence and face.”
Revelation 6:15 NKJV
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,
Also in verse 9 is “everlasting destruction.”
But enough about Judgment … what about God giving those who are troubled rest?
When will we receive this rest?
The Hebrew word Sabat means, “To rest or stop or cease from work.”
• God used the example of His resting on the seventh day of Creation to establish the principle of the Sabbath day rest for His people.
• The Sabbath day was established so the people would rest from their labors, only to begin again after a one-day rest.
• With the establishment of the Old Testament Law, the Jews were constantly “laboring” to make themselves acceptable to God.
• Because Jesus died for our sins, we no longer have to “labor” in law-keeping in order to be justified in the sight of God.
But there is also a complete rest in Christ which is to come.
The final Sabbath rest that all believers look forward to is an eternity in the presence of Christ.
Paul prayed for his converts because of all he has just said.
And in his prayer, he addressed 3 concerns that he had:
• In verse 5, Paul had stated that he wanted them to be worthy of the kingdom when they entered glory in the future.
• Paul also prays in the second part of verse 11 for their Christian walk.
• Finally, Paul prayed for their witness.
Jesus Christ will be glorified in His saints when they return with Him.
But He should also be glorified in our lives today.
Jesus Christ shall be glorified in His saints in that day that He returns to judge the wicked.
But believers ought to glorify Him every day that they live.
Paul’s ministry was the Word of God and prayer (see Acts 6:4).
He taught the people God’s truths, then prayed for them to live out what he had taught them.
Philippians 1:6 NKJV
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
If the sinful world seems to be winning the battle today, we can rest in faith, knowing that they will lose the battle tomorrow.
Our responsibility is to live worthy of this high calling and to allow God to work out His perfect will in faith and power.
(1) thank God for His salvation and that He is with them;
(2) surrender to the will of God without complaining;
(3) ask God to give wisdom to understand His will;
(4) watch for opportunities to witness and glorify God in the situation;
(5) wait patiently until God’s purposes have been fulfilled.
This first chapter is a great encouragement for the believer in these trying days.