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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

2 Thessalonians 1

Verses 1-12

Paul had come to Thessalonica with the gospel of Jesus Christ from Philippi where, as the result of his preaching, he had been imprisoned, beaten and really ordered out of the city. There in Thessalonica, he went into the synagogue for three Sabbath days reasoning with them out of the scriptures. And the interest became so intense that on the third day, almost the whole city had gathered together, which created a jealousy by some of the Jews that were there.

And so they began to stir up trouble against Paul. And they came to the house where Paul was staying to arrest him. And Paul had already got word of the problems, and so he had left and gone towards Berea. Trouble also developed in Berea after a few weeks. And so Paul's companions, Silas and Timothy, stayed in Berea to strengthen the brethren while Paul went to Athens. When they joined Paul in Athens, Silas and Timothy, Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to encourage the brethren and find out how they were doing. And he and Silas and Luke headed on down to Corinth.

While Paul was in Corinth, and Paul was there for about two years, Timothy came with word concerning the Church in Thessalonica, which prompted Paul's first epistle, some of the problems that were there. And so Timothy was sent back to Thessalonica with the first letter. And still other questions were unresolved, or problems still existed that Timothy told Paul about when he returned again. And so Paul wrote this second letter, probably within a year from the first letter. These are the first two letters of Paul written from Corinth, in his second missionary journey back to the church that had been established in Thessalonica. And so because Silas and Timothy were with Paul in the establishing in the church, Paul joins their name with his in the greeting to the Church.

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus [or Silas and Timothy,] unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ ( 2 Thessalonians 1:1-53.1.2 ).

This salutation is identical to the salutation in his first epistle, which we commented on last week.

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you toward each other abounds ( 2 Thessalonians 1:3 );

And so Paul, giving thanks unto God. He felt it was necessary to give thanks to God for two very positive traits and characteristics in this church. One, their faith was growing exceedingly. Secondly, their love for all of the brethren was just abounding. What tremendous characteristics to mark a church, a church of great faith and a church where God's love among the people was just abounding.

So that we ourselves [Paul said] glory in you in the churches of God ( 2 Thessalonians 1:4 )

So Paul is saying that we are actually, we glory in you when we go around and share in the other churches. We glory in what God has done in you; we love to share what the Lord is doing there for you.

for also the patience and the faith in all of your persecutions and tribulations that you endure ( 2 Thessalonians 1:4 ):

So this church was a church that was experiencing a lot of persecution. It is interesting as you study church history, persecution never hurt the church. The church always thrived in persecution. The church in China has been severely persecuted as the result of the communist takeover. And yet during this period of great tribulation, when in some of the provinces they have only one Bible for every one hundred thousand believers, yet the church has grown and expanded tremendously until there are some who estimate that there are as many as one hundred million believers within the home church in China.

We had Mama Quan with us awhile back, who was one of the leaders of the home church in China. And she was sharing with us of the millions that are coming to Jesus Christ even in the face of great persecution. You see the effect of persecution of the church is really separating the wheat from the chaff, and it causes the true believers to really make their stand and their faith grow. So in a church that was being persecuted, their faith was increasing exceedingly, and of course, it really brings you together. Persecution brings the body close together, the support of one another and the love of one another.

During the early period of the church history from the book of Acts, the result of the first persecution against the church in Jerusalem is that the church was scattered throughout the whole area, but the results of the church being scattered churches opened up all over the area. Wherever they went, they started their faith in Christ and the result of the persecution was actually just an expanding, a rapid expanding, of the ministry of the church. And the church grew exceedingly under the persecution in the first century, second and third.

The church began to wane when the persecution ceased, the influence, the power of the church. As the church began to be an accepted institution within the society, and as they began to be embraced by the world and accepted, the effect was a diminishing of the power of the church, of the faith in the church, of the effectiveness of the church. And so persecution has really never hindered the work of the Lord, but oftentimes has had the opposite effect of really expanding.

So here in Thessalonica persecutions and tribulations. They were enduring them with patience, but the net effect of them in their lives was this increasing faith and the abounding love. Now these persecutions and tribulations that they were enduring was

a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God ( 2 Thessalonians 1:5 ),

In other words, Paul is gonna talk here in a little bit about a period of time that is coming in which God is going to judge the world. There is gonna be a time of tremendous tribulation that is going to come to pass upon the earth. I believe that it isn't far off. This period of great tribulation is described in detail in the Book of Revelation, beginning with chapter six, the opening of the seven seals, and then the sounding of the seven trumpets, and then the pouring out of the seven vials of God's wrath. And as God's judgment comes forth upon the earth, it's gonna be so severe that people will be prone to challenge the fairness of God, the righteousness of God. But God will indeed be righteous in his judgment. And the persecution that they were going through when God's judgment came upon the unbelievers, it would be a manifest token of God's righteousness.

It is interesting to me that during this period of great tribulation, as the vials of God's wrath are being poured upon the earth, voices come from the altar of God declaring, "Holy and righteous are thy judgments, O Lord." God is going to judge the world, a great time of tribulation, and people are going to be prone to challenge the righteousness of God because of the severity. We're studying Revelation on Thursday night, so we'll get to these things, in the details in Revelation as we move along on Thursday night. But Jesus said there is going to be a great time of tribulation such as the world has never seen before and will ever see again.

In the first four seals that are open, the ensuing judgments upon the earth will bring death to one quarter of the earth's inhabitants, which is estimated to be a little over four billion people. Can you imagine devastation coming upon the earth, wars and famines and all that will wipe out one quarter of the earth's inhabitants? We are prone to say, "God, that doesn't seem fair to destroy that many people." But the fairness of God will indeed be manifested as the character of those that are destroyed is revealed.

And then later on, in another series of judgments, one third of the earth inhabitants will be killed when the abyssos is opened, and these creatures go forth upon the earth. So a time, as Jesus said great tribulation, an earthquake that will be second to none, and God said I will shake the earth once more until everything that can be shaken shall be shaken until only that which cannot be shaken shall remain. Great tribulation; but God will be fair, God will be just. He will be righteous in it. And the attitude of the world toward the true believer was only going to be a manifest token of the righteousness of the judgment of God that he is going to bring upon the earth.

That you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God for which also you suffer ( 2 Thessalonians 1:5 ):

Now, when Jesus was talking to His disciples concerning the Great Tribulation that was going to come, telling them of some of the cataclysmic events that would be taking place, he said to His disciples, "Pray always that you will be accounted worthy to escape all these things and to be standing before the Son of man"( Luke 21:36 ). When these cataclysmic judgments begin to happen, when the stars begin to fall, meteorite showers striking the earth, tremendous devastation, "Pray", He said. "When these things happen, pray that you will be accounted worthy to escape all of these things and to be standing before the Son of man".

Now here Paul speaks of them as being worthy to be there in the kingdom of God, and it is for this kingdom that they are suffering.

Seeing that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them which trouble you ( 2 Thessalonians 1:6 );

But it would not be a righteous thing with God to bring the tribulation upon His children. That was the whole premise of Abraham in dealing with the Lord over the destruction of Sodom. "Shall not the Lord of the earth be fair, be just, be righteous. Would you destroy the righteous with the wicked?"( Genesis 18:23 ) That wouldn't be fair, Lord, to destroy the righteous with the wicked. And so God delivered Lot before the destruction or the tribulation or the judgment came. It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels ( 2 Thessalonians 1:7 ),

Rest in this fact, the Lord is coming for you with His mighty angels. He made mention of this in the first letter, "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a voice of the archangel the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord" ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ). So you that are troubled over this great period of tribulation and judgment that is coming, rest with us for the Lord is going to be revealed with His mighty angels.

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God ( 2 Thessalonians 1:8 ),

Notice upon whom the vengeance is going to be taken. Not upon the children of God, not upon the church; He is going to be taking the vengeance upon those who know not God,

and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ ( 2 Thessalonians 1:8 ).

They are the ones upon whom this great judgment shall fall. And I will tell you what; I surely wouldn't want to be around when God's wrath begins to be poured out. As again when we get to the details in Revelation, I am certain that you won't want to be here either. But He is talking on those that obey not the gospel.

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power ( 2 Thessalonians 1:9 );

Eternally separated from God. I cannot think of anything more awesome than that.

When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all of them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day ( 2 Thessalonians 1:10 ).

So the Lord is coming as far as the sinner is concerned to take vengeance, to bring judgment. As far as the saint is concerned, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired in all them that believe. And so He is coming to receive the glory and the honor and the power and the authority and the dominion that is rightfully His. Again Revelation five, "Thou art worthy to receive glory and honor, dominion, authority, thrones," the worthiness of Jesus to receive the glory, glorified in His saints, admired in all of them that believe because of our testimony among you.

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling ( 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ),

Now Jesus said, "Pray always that you'll be accounted worthy to escape these things". Paul said, "I am praying always that you will be accounted worthy of this calling".

and fulfil all the good pleasure of His goodness, and the work of faith with power ( 2 Thessalonians 1:11 ):

So these are the things that Paul was praying for them. First of all, that they would be accounted worthy, that the Lord will account them worthy of being in this heavenly company, that he might fulfill all of the good pleasure of goodness in them and His work of faith with power.

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ ( 2 Thessalonians 1:12 ).

And so the whole glory that shall be revealed in the church, through the church and in Christ at His coming. "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.