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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 1

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Verse 1

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, Unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Paul: Paul, also known by his Hebrew name Saul, is one of the best-known Bible characters and is credited with writing fourteen books of the New Testament counting Hebrews. He was born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 9:11; Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3) to Jewish parents (Philippians 3:5) and was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6). Paul was a Roman citizen at birth because his father was a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28; Acts 16:37). He was well educated since he studied under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3; Acts 5:34), a Jew who taught Jewish theology.

Paul’s first introduction in the New Testament comes as he consents to the death of Stephen (Acts 7:58). Then "Paul made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison" (Acts 8:3). He was:

...breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, when he went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found one of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem (Acts 9:1-2).

While on the road to Damascus, Paul has an experience that changes his life forever. His conversion is recorded in several Bible passages (Acts 9:1-6; Acts 22:6-16; Acts 26:12-18). He becomes a New Testament Christian when he obeys the teaching of Ananias who instructs him to "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). From that day forward, Paul devotes his life to preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He suffers persecutions, but he lifts the banner of Christ high, glorifying God and Christ whenever and wherever he has the opportunity. His life is a prime example for all to follow. He says, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Paul, the author of this letter, does not give his apostolic title in the introduction as he usually does. Besides the two letters written to the church of the Thessalonians, the only exceptions to this practice are found in the letters to the Philippians, Philemon, and Hebrews. Marvin R. Vincent says,

The reason for its omission in every case appears to have been the bosom and affectionate character of his relations with the parties addressed, which rendered an appeal to his apostolic authority unnecessary (Vol. IV 9).

Paul evidently feels a close relationship with the Thessalonians. Having been associated with them he established the church there, (Acts 17) possibly as recently as six months earlier. His two fellow workers, Silvanus (the Latin form of Silas) and Timothy, are still with him in Corinth.

and Silvanus: Silvanus is mentioned repeatedly in the scriptures (2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12). Silvanus and Timothy are still with the Apostle Paul at Corinth when this letter is written only a few short weeks after the first epistle to the Thessalonians. All three of these men of God are well known to the church at Thessalonica.

Silvanus is the man Paul chooses to go with him following his dispute with Barnabas over taking John Mark on the second missionary journey (Acts 15:40). Because of Silas’ good reputation Paul allows him to accompany him on this tour. Another factor in Silas’ favor is that he is a Roman citizen.

It is difficult to determine whether there is significance in Silvanus’ being mentioned before Timothy. It could be that Silvanus is listed first because he had a part in the conversion of the Thessalonians and, too, he had been chosen to assist Paul before Timothy was selected.

and Timothy: Timothy, sometimes called Timotheus, received positive religious instruction from his Jewish mother Eunice and grandmother Lois, both Christians (2 Timothy 1:5). His father was a Greek (Acts 16:1) and from all indications was not a Christian. Timothy is a co-laborer with Paul, traveling with him on many occasions as his companion (Acts 17:14-15; Acts 18:5; Acts 19:22; Acts 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:19; Philippians 1:1; Philippians 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 3:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 1:1; Hebrews 13:23).

Timothy, who joins Paul and Silas a short time later when they traveled through Lystra (Acts 16:3), apparently travels with Paul more than any of the others. Obviously, Paul has a special love for Timothy. In his letter to the Corinthians, he calls Timothy "my beloved son" (1 Corinthians 4:17).

Paul is the author of this epistle, not Silvanus and Timothy. These two men of God are called simply co-laborers. It is an act of courtesy and display of friendship for Paul to include them. They are both well known, loved, and appreciated by the Thessalonians; and Paul respectfully includes them in the salutation of this letter.

Unto the church of the Thessalonians: The Greek word for church is ekkleesia, which Joseph Henry Thayer defines as "a company of Christians" (196-1-1577).

A Thessalonian was one who was from Thessalonica, just as people from America are called Americans (Acts 20:4; Acts 27:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). The city of Thessalonica is "a city on the Thermaic Gulf, now called the Gulf of Salonika" (Westminster Dictionary of the Bible 941).

The first epistle of Thessalonians was written as a result of Paul’s requesting Timothy to bring a detailed report to him of the welfare of the congregation. Paul records:

...when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you (1 Thessalonians 3:1-6).

Paul is thrilled with Timotheus’ first report; this report, coupled with another unfavorable report, prompts Paul to write this second epistle. The scriptures do not indicate how the second report was sent (3:11).

One of the many journeys Silas and Timothy made with Paul is the one to Thessalonica, where he for "three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus...is Christ" (Acts 17:2-3). It is during this time the church is established in Thessalonica. When Paul is called to Athens, Silas and Timothy remain in Thessalonica for a short time and gain the respect of the church. Luke says:

And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few...And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still (Acts 17:4; Acts 17:14).

In many of his letters, Paul mentions the city to which he is writing as he does here, for example: "the church which is at Cenchreae" (Romans 16:1); "the church of the Laodiceans" (Colossians 4:16); "the church of the Thessalonians" (1 Thessalonians 1:1). On other occasions, instead of naming individual cities, Paul names the regions, such as "the churches of Galatia" (1 Corinthians 16:1; Galatians 1:2); "the churches of Asia" (1 Corinthians 16:19); "the churches of Macedonia" (2 Corinthians 8:1); "the churches of Judea" (Galatians 1:22). The phrase (churches of ...) should be understood as different assemblies, congregations, or bodies of Christ, and not different denominations, sectarians, or other religious groups.

Archibald Thomas Robertson says, "The word originally meant ’assembly’ as in Acts 19:39, but it came to mean an organization for worship whether assembled or unassembled (cf. Acts 8:3)" (Vol. IV 5). The New English Bible reads, "From Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the congregation of Thessalonians who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

All these congregations are "churches of Christ" (Romans 16:16). Sometimes Paul uses similar phrases, for example, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1).

That Paul names a particular church (congregation), such as "the church of the Thessalonians" or "the church of Corinth," does not restrict the instructions to that church only; instead the instructions are applied to the church (congregations) as a whole. Gerhard Kittel says:

If anyone is despised in such a gathering (1 Corinthians 6:4), if people come together in it (1 Corinthians 11:18; cf. 1 Corinthians 14:23 and Acts 14:27), if women are to keep silent in it (1 Corinthians 14:34), if it is not to be burdened (1 Timothy 5:16), these things apply to the Church as a whole and not merely to the local congregation (Vol. III 506).

in God our Father: In the first epistle of the Thessalonians, God is designated as "the Father"; here He is designated as "our Father." He is at times called "Father" in relation to Jesus (Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 11:31), and at times He is designated "Father" in relation to His people (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2). It is in the latter sense that the term is used here; the use of "our" emphasizes Paul and the readers have a common Father and are united in a common family.

and the Lord Jesus Christ: "Jesus" is the name bestowed by the archangel before Christ is born; it is the historical name by which the citizens of Nazareth and Jerusalem recognize Him. "Christ" is the Greek form of "anointed," meaning Messiah. Jesus is not only referred to as "Lord" but also as the Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Verse 2

Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace unto you: Paul knows there is no peace and certainly no grace apart from God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace is God’s unmerited favor, God’s unearned gift; that gift is the Lord Jesus Christ by whom salvation is offered. Paul knows, as most of us will never know, what it means to be delivered from religious bondage into the liberty of grace. Paul was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, and he lived after the straightest sect of the Pharisees. He was in bondage to religion; and what he did against the Church, he did in ignorance (Acts 26:2-11). He persecuted the church; but he did so "in all good conscience," believing the church to be the enemy of God. The fact that Paul sinned against the church in ignorance did not change the fact that he was still a sinner. Ignorance was no excuse and repentance was in order for him. Since Paul has learned the error of his way and has obeyed the gospel in baptism (Acts 22:16), he is exceedingly happy because He has found the grace of God and through that grace, peace. He now prays that God’s grace and peace will be abundant in the hearts of the believers in Thessalonica, especially during the days of intensive testing by the enemy.

and peace: The word "peace" (ireenee) is defined by Thayer as "the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is" (182-2-1515).

Though it may very well be that the words "grace" and "peace" reflect a Christian’s greeting in their Greek forms, it is not enough to say "greetings to you." The fact that grace and peace are to come "from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" indicates Paul has something more in mind than the mere Christian greeting. A point of consideration is that the "peace" of this passage is not so much the peace of reconciliation with God as the normal blessings that come to a person who is a child of God.

from God our Father: See comments on "God our Father" in verse 1.

and the Lord Jesus Christ: See comments on "the Lord Jesus Christ" in verse 1.

Verse 3

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

This beautiful verse is rich in meaning. Paul is thankful that his prayer of 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 has been answered. He feels as much an obligation to thank God for answering his prayers as he felt the initial need to make his original request to God on behalf of the Thessalonians. This passage provides a classic example of intercessory prayers for one another.

Here, as in the first epistle, Paul expresses sincere thanksgiving for the believers in Thessalonica. He first expresses thanksgiving for their growth in faith and love, especially in brotherly love toward each other in the church.

Paul acknowledged himself obliged to give thanks because his prayer at 1 Thessalonians 3:13 had been answered by the Thessalonians doing the things which he prayed they might do. Thus he very forcefully recognized the good in his converts that he may be listened to with patience when he begins to correct their faults (McGarvey and Pendleton 30).

He is exceedingly thankful that the believers are patient during the persecutions and tribulations through which they have been passing (verse 4). Paul is also thankful that God will judge the enemies of the church in righteousness. It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them who trouble His children, and for this assurance, Paul expresses thanksgiving (verses 5-10).

We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren: The word "bound" (ophilo) is defined by Thayer as "to be under obligation, bound by duty or necessity, to do something" (469-2-3784). The term bound (ophilo), also translated "ought" (John 13:14; John 19:7; Romans 15:1; 1 Corinthians 11:7; 1 Corinthians 11:10; 2 Corinthians 12:14; Ephesians 5:28; Hebrews 5:3; Hebrews 5:12; 1 John 2:6; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:11; 3 John 1:8); "should" (1 Corinthians 9:10); and "behoved" (Hebrews 2:17). It is also defined as "to be under obligation, bound by duty or necessity, to do something" (469-2-3784). Paul considers it his Christian duty to thank God for the wonderful traits (growing in the faith and increasing in love toward each other) of the Thessalonians.

Paul seems to have felt a special debt of gratitude to God for the grace given to the Thessalonians, the grace that has caused them to stand true to the faith during a time of suffering and anguish. Thanksgiving is not only an expression the writers feel they owe to God; they assure the readers they deserve the commendation.

The word "always" (pantote) means "at all times, always, ever" (Thayer 476-2-3842).

as it is meet: The words "as it is meet" (axion estin) indicate "it is appropriate or reasonable. The use of ’meet’ (axios)...shows that two distinct magnitudes are equal or equivalent..." (Kittel, Vol. I 379). In other words, "it is befitting, congruous, corresponding, to a thing" (Thayer 52- 1-514) for Paul to thank God for the brethren in Thessalonica because of their noticeable growth in the faith and the love each one is showing for the other. We should all follow Paul’s example and remember others in our prayers. The benefits of prayers are great, for "in this we have an instance of the value and efficacy of intercessory prayer, and of the aid we may render our brethren by intercessions in their behalf" (Shepherd 85).

Commentators have frequently noted that Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians is not as warm and affectionate as his first letter. For example, many of the emotions mentioned in the first letter are less frequent in the second. There are, however, exceptions; Paul addresses his readers as "brothers" as often in the second letter as in the first. The tone of 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12 is also as great as that of the first epistle.

"As it is meet" signifies Paul’s thanksgiving is not just a personal feeling, but it is because they are worthy of honor and praise. In other words, Paul is saying, "Your growth in grace deserves such acknowledgment to God." To the believers at Philippi, Paul says, "Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all" (Philippians 1:7). His heart is not filled with pride in the wrong way but with spiritual pride and thanksgiving because of the faithfulness of the saints; it is right to send up praises and thanksgiving to God because of their steadfastness and growth in faith.

One outstanding reason for this growth can be attributed to the character of their initial faith: they turned completely to God and in so doing turned completely away from their idols, "to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven." James tells us "faith without works is dead" (James 2:20) The faith of the Thessalonians is genuine, and they exercise that faith not only in turning to God from idols, but also in service. They demonstrated a "work of faith" (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Persecution also has increased their faith. If faith is not genuine, trials, persecutions, heartache, heartbreaks, and warfare will destroy it; if faith is the faith once delivered to the saints (Judges 1:3), persecution will serve only to strengthen it.

Since the faith of the Thessalonians is genuine, persecution does not tear them from the love of Christ but rather drives their roots of faith deeper into the foundation of Christianity, that foundation being the finished work of Jesus, His death, burial, resurrection and imminent return. Trials strengthen the Thessalonians instead of destroying them, and the same is true today in the lives of truly born again believers (John 3:1-5).

because that your faith groweth exceedingly: The phrase "groweth exceedingly" is used only once in the New Testament and is translated from the Greek word huperauxano, meaning "to increase beyond measure; to grow exceedingly" (Thayer 640-1-5232).

This teaches us, not to satisfy ourselves with a general belief that the gospel is from God, nor with a superficial view of its doctrines and precepts. Our persuasion of the divine original of the gospel should grow in strength daily, and our views of its doctrines and precepts ought to become more clear and extensive. For, as all the virtues derive their life and operation from faith, the stronger our faith is, the greater our virtue will be. In this light, it is of the utmost importance frequently to review the evidences of the gospel, that we may thereby strengthen our faith; and to search the scriptures daily, for the purpose of improving our views of the doctrines and precepts of our religion (MacKnight 425).

When Paul writes the first letter to the Thessalonians, he expresses his desire to see them that he "might perfect that which is lacking in (their) faith" (1 Thessalonians 3:10); and now, in this second letter, he thanks God because their "faith groweth exceedingly."

and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth: David Lipscomb says:

As the result of the growth of faith in God, their love toward each other abounded more and more. Faith in God makes man love his fellow man. True love to our fellow man is shown by helpfulness rendered to him. As faith grows the love to one another abounds more and more abundantly. Our willingness and anxiety to do good to others is the measure of our real faith in God. If our love to man is not active and self-sacrificing, our faith in God is weak and lifeless (86).

Certainly the love they express for one another is the result of their growing in faith. The Thessalonian believers excel in pure love, love that could be produced only by faith that is a growing faith. In the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul acknowledges their excellent love one for another and then exhorts them to "abound in love" (3:12). The very essence of Christianity is love first for God and then love for our kinsmen in the Lord. The phrase "every one of you for one another" indicates the love is not just general but is individually manifested.

In all of Paul’s letters, except Galatians and Hebrews, Paul begins with a thanksgiving. When Christ sends the letters to the seven churches of Asia, (Revelation 2-3), He speaks of their good qualities before He points out their weaknesses or shortcomings. Following this example of Paul and Christ, we should likewise express our thanks first and then give our criticisms if we have any to offer.

Verse 4

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God: The Greek word ekklesia for "churches" is "a company of Christians" (Thayer 196-1-1577). Paul is excited about the progress of the Thessalonican congregation in two points: patience and faith. Another example of Paul’s publicly praising one congregation to another is the time that he boasted about the generosity of the Macedonian congregation to the Corinthian congregation (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). It is encouraging to Christians and congregations to hear about good work and progress in others.

for your patience: The word "patience" (hupomonee) means "steadfastness, consistency, endurance" (Thayer 644-2-5281). Regardless of the severity of the trials or difficulties, the person who has patience will not depart from the strait and narrow path in his determination to serve God.

and faith: "Faith" means "a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God" (Thayer 513-l-4102). Shepherd says:

Faith and patience are two distinct Christian graces; but the one upholds the other; patience strengthens faith because it is faith in action; and faith strengthens patience because faith is the evidence of the unseen reward of endurance (86).

in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: "Persecutions" here are the same type as mentioned by Christ in the parable of the sower in Mark 4:17. The persecution in this parable led to some falling away from the faith. In this passage Paul encourages Christians to stand strong and not waiver in their continuance in living the Christian life. This phrase could easily be rendered "during all the times that you are persecuted and are caused to suffer" (Ellingworth and Nida 138). Paul is complimenting and encouraging Christians for the way they continue to endure and believe, despite all of their persecutions and suffering. P. J. Gloag says, "To be a true Christian in the time of peace is a great matter; but to be a true Christian in the season of persecution is a greater; faith is then tested in the furnace" (2).

It is at all times right and profitable that the vigor and prosperity of one church should be known in all, both for their rebuke and for their encouragement; but it was eminently so in apostolic times when churches situated amidst a heathen population must have felt isolated and forlorn (Shepherd 86-87)

The word "endure" means "to hold one’s self erect and firm...to sustain, to bear,...to bear with, endure" (Thayer 45-l-430).

By reading all of Paul’s epistles we will find he took great joy in commending one church to another. Here he is thinking of the churches in Judea (1 Thessalonians 2:14) and in Syria. He and Silas are in correspondence with the churches there; and to these assemblies they have sent good news, expressing joy and satisfaction over the faith and devotion of this new church in Thessalonica.

In 2 Corinthians 9:2, Paul speaks of "boasting to the Macedonians" about the liberal offerings of the Corinthians. There is no selfishness, jealousy, or partiality in his heart; he sincerely recommends one church to another.

In the expression, "we ourselves" Paul stresses it is not only he but also Silas and Timothy who send salutations. This trio of devoted co-laborers are very careful not to boast about anything that would bring credit or honor to themselves, as Paul also does in Galatians 6:14, 2 Corinthians 12:1-6, and 1 Thessalonians 2:6-7.

The patience of the Thessalonians is one thing Paul mentions to other churches. They are patient and faithful, even under severe persecution. Under the most difficult times, they show such endurance and faith that Paul is led to express his gratitude to them "for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure."

The major element in the sufferings of the believers at Thessalonica was persecution (1 Thessalonians 2:14; Acts 17:5-9).

Verse 5

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God: The phrase "manifest token" is used only once in the New Testament. It is from the Greek word endigma, meaning "token, evidence, proof" (Thayer 213-2-1730). J. W. McGarvey says:

The patience and faith of the Thessalonians were a manifest token (that is, pledge, proof or demonstration) of that coming day wherein God will disclose the righteousness of his judgements, and wherein all apparent violations of justice shall be rectified (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17; Philippians 1:28) (31).

A manifest token...New Testament only here. Compare Philippians 1:28. The token is the patience and faith with which they endure persecution and tribulation. It is a token of the righteous judgment of God, in that it points to the future glory which God will confer at the final judgment, and the righteous award which will be dispensed to the persecutors (Vincent, Vol. IV 54).

B. W. Johnson says, "A manifest token of the righteous" judgment means "Your sufferings are a proof of judgment to come" (251).

The persecution brought upon them was a clear sign of the righteous judgment of God that he might test and try them and prove them worthy to receive the blessings of the kingdom of God....Their sufferings are intended to make those who endured them meet for the inheritance of the saints (Shepherd 87).

Thayer says the word "righteous" (dikaios) means "rendering to each his due...passing just judgment on others" (149-1-1342) and "judgment" (krisis) refers to "judgment that is opinion or decision giving concerning anything" (361-2-2920. Paul is saying, "Your faithfulness under severe persecution and testing is a token of God’s righteous judgment, given with the purpose that you may be counted worthy of His kingdom." The very fact that these believers stand true and unshakable under such terrible persecution assures Paul they are worthy of the kingdom of God.

The phrase "be counted worthy" (kataxio-omai) means "to account worthy, judge worthy" (Thayer 335-1-2661). The "kingdom of God" refers to heaven. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people (John 14:1-3). We need to devote our all in defending the cause for which our Lord died and promote His cause to every nation and to every creature (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Our labors will not be vain (1 Corinthians 15:58), and we will receive a crown of life if we are faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).

It is very important to watch out for modern versions, translations, and paraphrases at this point of the verse because the Calvinistic teaching of rapture, tribulation, millennium etc. becomes evident. An effort is made to show the "kingdom" is in the future and not in existence now.

Many in the denominational world are looking to an earthly kingdom’s being established, similar to the way some did during Jesus’ day (Acts 1:6). The kingdom has already been established, and the Lord is not coming at the end of the world to set up another kingdom. The Apostle John says, "I am your brother in tribulation, and in the kingdom" (Revelation 1:9).

The scriptures are replete with evidence of the kingdom’s having already been established. In Matthew 12:28, the Lord calls the gospel: "The kingdom of God." Jesus shows the kingdom will be established during the present generation of those who heard him preaching (Mark 9:1). The gospel dispensation is the kingdom of God, as alluded to Daniel 2:44 : "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed." Paul refers to this "kingdom" when he writes to the Colossians saying: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (1:13).

for which ye also suffer: The word "suffer" (pasko) means "To suffer, to undergo evil, to be afflicted" (Thayer 494-1-3958). Vine states that the word "suffer" refers to "human suffering, of followers of Christ" (608).

It is God’s judgment that the faithful servants shall prove their faith by enduring persecutions, such experience proving they are true disciples. God has allowed his children to be tested by the devil, to be persecuted, and to face many trials. The following verses provide comfort about such suffering:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (James 1:12-13).

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (1 Peter 4:12-16).

We should all be assured that God will never allow us to be tempted with more than we can bear; He will always monitor every temptation. Every trial we face and every persecution we have to endure will make us stronger when we handle it with patience. Enduring persecution and tribulation helps to develop our Christian character and makes us better soldiers in this spiritual warfare.

The Christian life is compared to a race, and all are encouraged to endure to the end. Paul writes the Hebrews about this matter, making a comparison with Jesus’ enduring His "contradiction of sinners" and encouraging us to do the same. Paul says:

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds (Hebrews 12:1-3).

We are encouraged to "Be thou faithful unto death" (endurance) and we shall receive a crown of life (Revelation 2:10). In this important verse, Christians are encouraged to remain faithful until the day they die, whether of old age or martyred for the cause of Christ. We should remember eleven of the twelve apostles died a violent death; the Apostle Paul died a violent death, and many brothers and sisters were persecuted in various ways even losing their life for the cause of Christ (see the example of Stephen in Acts 7). We, too, should remain "faithful unto death" regardless of the type of suffering we have to endure or the type of death we have to die.

Verse 6

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

God allows His children in this world to be persecuted by evil men. He knows dedicated ones will withstand the test and prove their faithfulness to the Kingdom (Revelation 2:10). The end result is that God will deal out punishment to those who have troubled His children.

In verse 6 Paul draws a comparison between the law which forbids retaliation to the individual (Romans 12:17), and that which accords it to all government, especially the government of God himself, under whose rule unforgiven iniquity never escapes punishment (Hebrews 2:2; Revelation 20:12). He does this to show that God is under the second and not under the first law. In verse 7 we are reminded that the negative happiness of heaven is rest from all afflictions, sorrows, pains, persecutions, etc. (Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 21:4) (McGarvey and Pendleton 31-32).

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God: The word "righteous" (dikaios) means contextually "approved of God, acceptable to God." Thayer comments here that "it is agreeable to justice" (149-1-1342). "A righteous thing with God" means by the side of God (para theoi) and so from God’s standpoint. This is as near to the idea of absolute right as it is possible to attain (Robertson, Vol. IV 43).

to recompense tribulation: The word "recompense" (antapodidomi) means "to repay, requite" (Thayer 49-1-467). Thayer comments that in this passage it is used in a bad sense of penalty and vengeance (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). The word "tribulation" (thlipsis) means "a pressing, pressing together, pressure,...oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits" (Thayer 291-1-2347).

to them that trouble you: The word "trouble" (thlibo) means metaphorically "to trouble, afflict, distress" (Thayer 291-1-2346).

God will suffer evil men to persecute His children in this world, knowing they will withstand the test and thus prove their worthiness to be counted as heirs of the kingdom. These evil doers will get their just dues after a while, and such a dealing with them is declared to be a righteous thing. "The verse means that God will deal out punishment to the ones who have been troubling His children" (Zerr, Vol. VI 154).

We must follow the example of the Thessalonians, and with patience and faith endure all persecutions that come our way. While enduring persecutions, we should be conscious of the fact that it is not our place to avenge wrong done to us, but instead God will avenge evils done to His children. In Romans 12:19, the Apostle Paul says, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."

Verse 7

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

And to you who are troubled rest with us: Thayer says the word "troubled" (thlibo) means the same as in the previous passage "to trouble afflict, distress" (291-1-2346).

The word "rest" (anesis) indicates a loosening or relaxing. Thayer comments this word means "to let loose, slacken, anything tense, for example a bow...more specifically in this passage relief, rest" from persecutions (44-2-425). The word "rest" is not to indicate the Jews or Gentiles would have rest during this life, but their rest would come upon receiving their reward in Heaven (see Hebrews 4:9). The word "rest" denotes freedom and always is used in contrast with afflictions (2 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 7:5; 2 Corinthians 8:13). The New Testament teaches "there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13). Paul promises the afflicted Thessalonians that God will grant rest to them. Paul knows what it is to be under tension as he has experienced such at Thessalonica and in other places. It is indeed a pleasant thought to "rest with" the apostles while in Heaven with God, Jesus, and the holy beings. Heaven is spoken of as a place of rest, peace, and comfort (see Luke 16:25; John 14:1-3; Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 6:11; Revelation 21:4).

"With us" is according to Paul’s habit of identifying his experience with that of his Christian readers. See 1 Corinthians 4:8, Romans 8:23; Philippians 1:29-30; Philippians 2:18; Philippians 3:20-21; 2 Corinthians 1:7 (Vincent, Vol II 948).

"They shared suffering with Paul (verse 5) and so they will share (meth) the rest" (Robertson 43).

"With us" means that faithful Christians will join with the apostles in enjoying this rest--the rest that "remaineth to the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9). The time when all this is to take place will be when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his angels" (Zerr, Vol. 6 154).

Verse 6 teaches that God will "recompense tribulation" to those who trouble his children. In verse 7, Paul offers God’s children "rest" to all who endure the persecution of the wicked ones. Adam Clark says:

The sufferings of the just and the triumphs of the wicked in this life are a sure proof that there will be a future judgment in which the wicked shall be punished and the righteous rewarded (562).

when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels: The words "when...shall be revealed" (apokalupsis) refer to "manifestation, appearance" (Thayer 62-2-602). Just as Jesus ascended to Heaven and the clouds took Him out of sight of all the people, He shall likewise return in the clouds to appear before the entire universe for the final judgment (Acts 1:9-11).

The word "heaven" (ouranos) means "the region above the sidereal heavens, the seat of an order of things eternal and consummately perfect, where God dwells and the other heavenly beings" (Thayer 465-1-3772).

The word "mighty" (dunamis) means "strength, ability, power; universally inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth" (Thayer 159-1-1411).

Paul describes the revelation of Christ in three prepositional phrases:

1. "from Heaven" has reference to the place. In the first epistle the Thessalonians are said to have turned to God to serve him "and to wait for his Son from heaven" (1:10). This has reference to the visible descent of Christ (Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

2. "with his mighty angels" refers to the attendants of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 3:13; Matthew 13:41-42; Matthew 25:31). That these beings are powerful, able to do bidding of the Lord, is indicated by "mighty." Paul does not mention "the archangel’s call" in the present connection.

3. "In flaming fire" points out another accompaniment. The glory and the majesty of the coming are thus emphasized (Exodus 3:2; Acts 7:30; Isaiah 66:15-16; 2 Peter 3:10). The entire picture of the descending Lord is tremendously mighty and majestic.

The word "angels" (angelos) means "a messenger, envoy" (Thayer 5-2-32). The subject of angels is a vague one to many, but it is clear angels have a major part in God’s plan. Angels will accompany the return of Christ as this verse teaches. The fact that angels will accompany Christ’s return should not be a surprise since they attended most major events during the life of Christ:

1. Angels announced His birth (Luke 2:8-14)

2. Angels announced His resurrection (Matthew 28:2-6)

3. Angels announced His return (Acts 1:9-11)

4. Angels ministered during His temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

5. Angels strengthened Him in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43)

6. Angels will attend Him at the judgment (Matthew 16:27)

7. Angels will be called upon to worship Him in that day (Hebrews 1:6)

Verse 8

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them: Zerr says:

The scriptures give much proof that "fire" will be used in punishing the wicked at the final day (see Matthew 3:12; Matthew 25:41; Mark 9:43-48; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21:8). All fire will burn, but a flame is more active and penetrating, so the phrase flaming fire is used to indicate the intensity of punishment that is to be inflicted upon the wicked (154).

God is represented as appearing in flaming fire when He manifested Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:2; Acts 7-30). Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:13, "Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is." What has earlier been said of God is also said of Christ. The fact is when God and Christ return, They will come with "flaming fire"; and it will indeed be a terrible day for those unprepared to meet Him.

Contrary to what liberals and modernists may teach, "fire" here is literal and not symbolic. The Apostle Peter declares:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).

Thayer says, The word "vengeance" (ekdiksis) means "a revenging; vengeance, punishment." He also comments "to inflict punishment on render vengeance to one" (194-1-1557).

Vengeance is not used in the sense of being spiteful, that is, it is not a "get-even" spirit as men often do, but it is from a Greek word indicating legal and judicial punishment on one who has shown disrespect for some law. Paul speaks of the Lord’s work of administering justice at the time He descends. The word "vengeance" is from the same root as the word "righteous" (verses 5 and 6). The idea is the administration of justice, not that of vindictive retaliation. The word from which vengeance comes is translated "vindicate" (Luke 18:7 RSV) and "punishment" (2 Corinthians 7:11 RSV).

that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: To "know" God is to know Him as the one true God as distinguished from false gods--to know His will, His holiness, His hatred of sin, and His saving intent toward mankind (Vincent 949).

The phrase "know not God" refers to those who refuse to recognize Him; that attitude is manifested by their refusal to obey the gospel of Christ who is the Son of God (Zerr, Vol. 6 154).

Both those "that know not God" and those who "obey not the gospel" are lost and will be punished with everlasting fire. A common view among many writers is that the phrase "they that know not God" refers to Gentiles and the phrase "obey not the gospel" refers to the Jews. It is often described as "the pagans" and "the unbelieving Jews." This view does not find acceptance among other New Testament commentators and writers.

In the two classes, those who know not God and those who obey not the gospel, it is not probable that Paul has in mind a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The Jews were not ignorant of God, yet they are described by John as not knowing him. The Gentiles are described by Paul as knowing God, but as refusing to glorify him as God (Romans 1:21). Paul rather describes here the subjects of God’s judgment as one class, but under different aspects (Vincent, Vol. II 949).

Without being given further evidence in defense of each respected position, please consider a balance of the two positions.

Paul likely has it in his mind that some of the Gentiles have refused the knowledge of God and shown their hatred toward His children (see Romans 1:28-32). It is not, however, likely that he limited the first classification to only Gentiles and the second to only Jews. Both Jew and Gentile could easily be guilty of either of these sins. If a Jew does not know God, he will be lost; and if a Gentile "obeys not the gospel," he, too, will be lost. Thus, the two groups should not be considered as mutually exclusive. I have no problem in understanding that the two classifications refer primarily to Gentiles and Jews, but I have major problems in limiting the first classification to Gentiles only and the second to Jews only.

Those who are lost in the final day of judgment will be lost for a variety of reasons. The list of specific sins named in the New Testament numbers well over one hundred. It could be possible that out of one hundred who are lost, there are one hundred different reasons; however, all could be classified as those who "know not God" and "obey not the gospel." The word "gospel" (uangelion) means "good tidings"--"the glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up, and subsequently also of Jesus, the Messiah, the founder of this kingdom"; "the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the proclamation of the grace of God manifested and pledged in Christ; the gospel" (Thayer 257-1-2098).

Two major groups are addressed in the scriptures: Jews and Gentiles. The Jews are a group separated by God; all others are considered Gentiles. Regardless of whether one were a Jew or Gentile, if he were one of "them that know not God" and/or "them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ," then he was in jeopardy of losing his eternal soul (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).

In other words, "Them that know not God" know Him not because they refuse to know him (see Romans 1:28), they refuse to accept His gospel. Those who obey not the gospel shall be punished. Thayer makes an extended comment:

After the death of Christ, the term comprises also the preaching of (concerning) Jesus Christ as having suffered death on the cross to procure eternal salvation for men in the kingdom of God, but as restored to life and exalted to the right hand of God in heaven, thence to return in majesty to consecrate the kingdom of God; so that it may be more briefly defined as "the glad tidings of salvation through Christ; the proclamation of the grace of God manifested and pledged in Christ; the gospel (257-1-2098).

Robertson states:

Dative plural of perfect active participle (eidos). Apparently chiefly Gentiles in mind (Galatians 4:8; Romans 1:28; Ephesians 2:12) though Jews are also guilty of wilful ignorance of God (Romans 2:14). And to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus...Repetition of the article looks like another class and so Jews (Romans 10:16). Both Jews as instigators and Gentiles as officials (politarchs) were involved in the persecution in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:6). Note the use of "gospel" here as in Mark 1:15 "believe in the gospel" (Robertson 44).

This phrase "that obey not the gospel" refers equally to unbelievers of every race and from every nation. It shows that those who refuse to obey the gospel plan of salvation extended by Jesus Christ will be lost. This part of the gospel is best described in Mark 16:15-16 and Romans 6:3-6 where everyone is instructed to be baptized in order to be saved. James Burton Coffman says:

The most concise and the shortest definition of the "gospel" in the New Testament is in Mark 16:15-16, where Christ equated being baptized with the"gospel"...Failure to obey the gospel of Christ is failure to accept eternal life; and may all men heed it (92).

MacKnight gives a great explanation of those who "obey not the gospel" that should be palatable to most Bible students:

The belief of the gospel is often termed by Paul the obedience of faith; because God hath commanded men to believe the gospel. Hence Christ told the Jews, John 6:29 "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." Hence also faith is called a work, 1 Thessalonians 1:3. "your work of faith." In this clause the apostle seems to have had the unbelieving Jews in his eye, and all who, like them obstinately and maliciously (426).

Raymond C. Kelcy says:

It is possible that the expression, those who do not know God, refers to the pagan world (Jeremiah 10:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:5). "They did not see fit to acknowledge God" (Romans 1:28). Theirs was a wilful refusal to know God (Romans 1:18-32); compare (Ephesians 4:18-19). It is possible that a second group is designated as "those who do not obey the gospel (1 Peter 4:17). Some see in this a reference to the Jews. However, it its not certain that Paul had two distinct groups in mind. It may be that Paul is employing Hebrew parallelism. The passage could be translated: "those who do not know God, even upon those who do not obey the gospel." Jesus accused certain Jews of not knowing God (John 8:55) and Paul spoke of the Gentiles as being disobedient (Romans 11:30). It is not a certainty, then, that Paul had two distinct groups in mind. Or, if he did, it is not certain that he referred, in the first, exclusively to Gentiles and, in the second, exclusively to Jews. Paul later spoke of "those who are to perish" as one group (2:10). The principal truth is not affected by the view one takes. The Lord will take vengeance upon those who do not know God; he will take vengeance upon those who do not accept the Lord in gospel obedience (145).

Verse 9

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

In verse 8, the element the Lord will use in punishing the disobedient is made evident while verse 9 shows the nature or extent of that punishment; it will be everlasting. The next verse tells us such a sentence will be announced when Jesus comes again.

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction: The word "punished" (tio) means "to pay, to recompense:...to pay penalty, suffer punishment" (Thayer 624-2-5099). Literally, it means, shall suffer as punishment according to the Tyndale Word Study Concordance (740-1- 5099). This is the only time this word is used in the New Testament.

The word "everlasting" (aionios) means "without end, never to cease, everlasting" (Thayer 20-2-166). The word "destruction" (olethros) means "ruin, destruction, death." Thayer comments "the loss of a life of blessedness after death, future misery" (443-1-3639). Destruction will be eternal (aionion), a word that literally means "age-long." Duration of punishment will thus depend upon the length of the age, and the New Testament indicates it will be an age without end. Jesus uses the word to refer to "eternal punishment" and "eternal life" (Matthew 25:46). Punishment of the wicked and life of the righteous will be of the same duration--forever. Eternal destruction is the very opposite of eternal life. To enjoy eternal life is to live forever in the presence of the Lord; to suffer eternal punishment involves being separated from the presence of the Lord (Matthew 7:23). Further it means separation from the glory of His might (Isaiah 2:10). The mightiness of the Lord will be revealed to His people as they behold His glory. Those who are banished from His presence will be deprived of this blessed experience. Thus, the "tribulation" of verse 6 is vividly described. There is no escaping this verse is talking about Gehenna Hell, the place God prepared for the devil and his angels. This place will be the home of all those who "know not God" and who "obey not the gospel." We all had better prepare to meet our God. A careful study of this subject will bring one to his knees and to his Bible with an open mind, causing him to open up his heart with the attitude "Speak Lord, thy servant heareth, command Lord, I will obey."

There is no reason for any person to interpret "destruction" in the Greek to mean annihilation or extinction. The meaning of destruction is to be lost forever...lost to God and God’s goodness, lost to peace and rest that only God can give. Eternal destruction is the exact opposite of eternal life. If salvation gives life unending, everlasting, and eternal through the ages of ages, then the wicked shall be destroyed forever and ever throughout the ages of ages.

The Greek word here for "everlasting" has no limit of range. The meaning removes all limits of time, and it is the exact opposite of temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18). The word "everlasting" or "eternal" is found seventy-two times in the books of the New Testament; forty-four of the seventy-two times the phrase has to do with eternal life, the remaining twenty-eight times with eternal destruction. Therefore, if there is no eternal destruction, there can be no eternal life. If the wicked cease to be after the final judgment, the righteous will also cease to be because the same word is used as applying to both eternal life and eternal destruction.

Speaking of the wicked, Jesus says, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:46). There is no need to warp and twist the Word of God to fit a denomination, cult, dogma, or manmade doctrine when the Word is so clear. In one single verse, Jesus declares the wicked will be punished eternally and the righteous will live eternally. Yet there are those who put the righteous eternally in Heaven and burn up the wicked, annihilating the spirit and soul, thus making them cease to exist.

The experience described in this phrase is very alarming. The lost will be punished with everlasting destruction. No one is excluded from this consequence of sin. A person cannot outlast God as if he thinks God will one day accept his sins. Those described in the previous verse are those who will be punished eternally.

from the presence of the Lord: The word "presence" (ProsoPon) means "countenance, look" (Thayer 551-2-4383). This phrase serves to define further the meaning of eternal destruction. It is frightening to think God will separate the sinner from where the Lord will be. When the truth of these verses and phrases are properly understood, it should cause every Christian to prepare for the battle against Satan, sin and the forces of evil. If we lose the battle against Satan, we will be cast down to hell, separated forever and ever from the presence of the Lord.

and from the glory of his power: The word "glory" (doxa) means "magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace" (Thayer 156-1-1391). The glory of the Lord’s power is vividly described in Deuteronomy 33:2 and 1 Timothy 6:16. God dwells in light. Sinners will not share that light; they will be in outer darkness.

The word "power" (iskus) means "ability, force, strength, might" (Thayer 309-1-2479).

Among the other descriptions of hell are these descriptions that add to the list; separated "from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." If these were the only horrors of hell, it would be enough to create within us the motivation of living a Christian life, but these consequences are just some of the problems the lost will experience.

There are many who detest the negative side of religion. We are to have love for God from within our hearts. This love for God may be motivated by fear at times while at other times motivated by respect for all He has done for us. Escaping hell is not even a consideration, for there is no way out, once we are there (see Mark 16:15 damned; Luke 13:3; Luke 13:5 perish; Matthew 10:33 denied; John 3:1-5 cannot enter the kingdom of God). These messages and many more are from the lips of our Lord.

The religious cult known as Jehovah’s Witness has tried for years to convince people there is no hell. Regardless of their efforts, the scriptures are very plain.

It is called "the glory of his power" because it is a token of the great power with which the Father has vested in Him, as Lord and judge of the world. In the description the Apostle Peter has given of the burning of the earth, we have an account of the order in which it will proceed (2 Peter 3:10-11).

Seeing the fire in which the wicked are to be punished is called by our Lord, Matthew 25:41 "fire prepared for the devil and his angels,’ may it not be inferred that these malicious spirits also are to be burnt in the flames of the conflagration. Of this punishment they may be capable, if, as some suppose they are united to ethereal bodies of such a texture as to be affected by fire. The other particulars concerning the fallen angels, mentioned in scripture, seem to agree with this account of their punishment. For example, we are told, Ephesians 2:2 that they have their habitation at present in the air. And as the air is a dark abode, in comparison of the region "with chains of darkness in order to judgment.’ In like manner Jude tells us verse 6 that they are kept in everlasting chains under darkness,’the darkness of this world, Ephesians 6:12, ’unto the judgment of the great day.’ The devil, therefore, and his angels being imprisoned in our atmosphere, and the day of judgment being the time expressly fixed by Jude for their judgment and punishment, do not these circumstances authorize us to believe, that when the heavens or atmosphere of air surrounding this earth, is set of fire, these malicious spirits shall be burnt in their prison-house, even as the wicked shall be burnt on the earth, where they are to be left? So that our Lord’s sentence is to be understood literally of the devil and his angels, as well as of the wicked; and that the effect of this burning upon both will be the utter destruction of their bodies, without any hope of their ever regaining new bodies; while their spirits, surviving the destruction of their bodies as long as it shall please God, shall be made unspeakably miserable by their own thoughts, without any enjoyment whatever to alleviate the bitterness of the most melancholy state. These things are all so terrible, that the sound of them, though distant, should awaken even those who are most sunk in wickedness and insensibility (MacKnight 426).

Verse 10

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

Verse 10 takes an upbeat swing, and the wonderful thoughts of being saved are brought to our minds. The teaching contained in the next three verses is much easier to read, study, and enjoy than the previous verses.

When he shall come to be glorified in his saints: The word "come" (erkomai) means "to appear, make one’s appearance, come before the public" (Thayer 251-1-2064).

The word "glorified" (endoxazomai) means "to glorify, adorn with glory." Thayer further comments, "that His glory may be seen in the saints that is in the glory, blessedness, conferred on them" (214-1-1740).

At the end of time, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess his name (Philippians 2:9-11). Kelcy says:

"When he shall come..." The day of the second coming of, the parousia, specifies the time when the wicked will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction. The Greek has "whenever" with the aorist subjunctive, a construction indicating the certainty of the event and yet the uncertainty of the time of it. "That day" in the first epistle refers to the second coming of Christ (5:4) (Kelcy, 146).

Different expressions are being used to indicate the coming of Jesus Christ. In the context of our reading, we find His revelation, His appearance, and His coming; and all these and possibly others refer to the same event.

The glorified coming of the Lord will take many by surprise, or as the Apostle Paul says, "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2). The Lord’s coming will also be a terrible event for many people because His return will be accompanied with the wrath of God. In Ephesians 5:6, Paul says, "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." (See also Colossians 3:6.) The reward for the patience and faith endured during times of persecution and tribulation will finally be given to God’s children. At this time, Jesus will be "glorified" by the redeemed.

and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day: The word "admired" (thaumazo) means "to wonder, wonder at, marvel" (Thayer 284-1-2296). The expressions "that believe" and "was believed" are from the Greek (pistuo) and are used especially of the faith that a man embraces. "Jesus, that is a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah-the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ" (Thayer 511-2-4100). The parenthetical portion of verse 10 ("because our testimony among you was believed") means the believers in Thessalonica are a part of the New Testament church because they have received the testimony of the Apostle Paul, addressed to them by the Holy Spirit through Paul. The word "day" (heemera) means "of the last day of the present age" (Thayer 278-2-2250).

A unique writing style that Paul chooses here is writing from the judgment day back to when the gospel was presented to the Thessalonians. This technique seems to be his focus by this last phrase. Paul now writes in the past tense.

Contextually, it looks as if he does so because he is writing from the perspective of the judgment day. The verse is teaching that Jesus will come to receive glory and wonder and admiration for all He has done for His people, His saints. Paul assures the Thessalonians they, too, will be with Him because they believed God’s word. The same benefits apply to everyone who hears and obeys the word of God. Those who hear and obey are described as wise men who build a house upon a rock (Matthew 7:24-27).

It is not a matter of "if He will come" but "when he shall come." When He comes, these things mentioned will transpire: (1) He shall come to be glorified in his saints; and (2) He shall come to be admired in all them that believe.

Verse 11

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

In Ephesians 4:1, Paul exhorts brethren to walk worthy of their calling, and in this verse he expresses the same thought in a different wording. He prays that God would count or consider the Thessalonians worthy, which would require that they live as they should since God will not favor any unworthy persons. God is perfectly good and will not take pleasure in disciples unless they fulfill the conditions of their calling.

Wherefore also we pray always for you: The term "wherefore" may be better translated "to which end" (Vincent, Vol. IV 57). Paul has reference to the statement originally made in verse 5 and then referred to again here, that is, he prays they may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.

that our God would count you worthy of this calling: The word "worthy" (axioo) means "to judge worthy, deem deserving" (Thayer 53-1-515). The word "calling" (kleesis) means "a call, invitation" (Thayer 349-2-2821). Today we feel we are all unworthy--unworthy of His grace and presence. We are not worthy that He, the blessed One, should enter under our roof, into our heart. But whom He loves, those He makes worthy of His love. He counts us worthy, though we are in ourselves unworthy; His grace makes us worthy in Christ. The Father calls us; we through grace obey the calling. He calls us ever higher, nearer to Himself, until we reach at length the prize of the high calling (2:14).

Paul constantly prays for the Thessalonians that God will count them "worthy of his calling." The only way to be considered "worthy of his calling" is to accept the invitation of Jesus and to live a faithful and dedicated life of service to God. Christians are taught to read, study, and obey the scriptures, for contained therein is the will of God.

The greatest "calling" extended was the one extended by Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30). We are called to Him by the gospel (2:14). If we reject the calling of our Lord, then we will be turned away (Proverbs 1:24-26). MacKnight writing about the phrase "worthy of this calling" says:

Some are of the opinion that the action of calling is here put for eternal life, the end of that calling. But it is more natural to interpret it of the gospel, by which men are called to lay hold on eternal life; and so the meaning will be, May our God, who inspects your actions, and gospel, whereby ye will be judged by him worthy of it (426).

McGarvey states:

Paul prays that the Thessalonians may be counted worthy of the gospel invitation, so that they may receive, according to the fullness of God ’s limitless power, all the blessings to which they have been invited: all the graces and glories that ever the goodness of God desired to bestow, and every aspiration or heavenly ideal for which their own faith prompted them to strive; that thus their lives might glorify Christ, and be glorified by Christ, according to the gracious purposes of God in Christ (426).

The idea being presented is that just as through God’s grace the Thessalonians were led to obedience His grace would "make (them) worthy" of their call. In verse 3, Paul speaks of the words of thanks he offers to the Lord for the growing faith of the Thessalonians. Now he prays (proseuchomai) ("signifies a petition" Kittel, Vol. II 807) that God will consider them worthy of their call to Christianity. Our prayers today should be the same.

and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness: The word "fulfill" (pleeroo) means "to make complete in every particular; to render perfect" (Thayer 518-1-4137). The phrase "good pleasure" (udokia) means "delight, pleasure, satisfaction" (Thayer 258-1-2107). The word "goodness" (agalliasis) means "uprightness of heart and life [A.V. goodness]" (Thayer 3-1-19).

By the grace of God, the Thessalonians were able to learn of Him. The prayer is that they will now be able to continue growing in faith and complete their work of faith, and thereby please God. Similarly, speaking to the church at Rome, Paul says, "And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another" (Romans 15:14).

B. W. Johnson says, "The idea is, Perfect in you the love of goodness and the work of faith" (252). Paul wants the believers to live in such a way that God could mightily accomplish in them all the goodness humanly possible as divine strength was provided and that they would accomplish all the good that faith could effect through them.

Paul is praying that God, by His power, will help the readers to complete every high resolve or desire and every work of faith. At every turn Paul shows his realization of man’s dependence upon God in bringing to completion his good resolutions and the work of faith with power: the word "work" (ergon) means "an act, deed, thing done" (Thayer 248-1-2041). The word "power" (dunamis) means "strength, ability, power; universally inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth" (Thayer 159-1-1411).

Paul has reference to the same work he is engaged in--the work of the gospel, done in love. "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love" (Galatians 5:6). The word "power" in this verse has reference to the work we do through faith. All work must be for Christ, as He has commanded, or it is not of faith. If our work is not for Christ, it is against Christ. Paul often stresses the necessity of work because it is by our works that we will be judged. "Who will render to every man according to his deeds" (Romans 2:6). In Ephesians 6:10, Paul says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." This work of faith with power is dependent on God’s power and not our own.

The faith spoken of here is the faith that is active, working, and productive. The New International Version translates this verse as follows: "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith."

Verse 12

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him: The word "that" (hopos) denotes the purpose or end, "in order that; with the design or to the end that" (Thayer 450-2-3704). The word "glorified" (endoxazomai) means "to glorify, adorn with glory" (214-1-1740). Jesus Christ is glorified when He is seen in the lives of faithful Christians. Every time we stand up for the Lord to deliver His gospel, or stand against evil, we are glorifying Him. As Peter says:

If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified (1 Peter 4:14).

Jesus is glorified in His saints by their reflection, and the saints are glorified in Jesus by His impartation of His divine excellencies.

according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ: Thayer says "grace" is used here:

of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christians virtues (666-1-5485).

It is through the grace of God that we have the privilege of becoming Christians. The word "grace" can be further studied in 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 6:1.

We frequently read of the grace of God, but this is a rare occurrence of "the grace of God and the Lord Jesus Christ," here naming the Father and the Son as the ones bestowing this marvelous grace.

Scholars of the Greek language maintain different opinions concerning the proper understanding of the phrase "of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ": The differences arise over whether "God and the Lord" has reference to one person (Jesus) or two (God and Jesus). Robertson, contends that "since there is only one article with theou (God) and kuriou (Lord) that one person be meant" (Vol. IV 46). This idea is based upon other passages of scripture that definitely use both titles in reference to Jesus. For example Titus writes, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ" (2:13). The meaning of this passage would remain the same regardless of which understanding is correct because God and the Lord Jesus Christ are one in doctrine. Jesus came to do the Father’s will and not His own. Therefore, whatever is done by the grace of the Father, the same is done by the grace of Jesus Christ. "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/2-thessalonians-1.html. 1993-2022.
 
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