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Bible Commentaries
2 Thessalonians 1

Lipscomb's Commentary on Selected New Testament BooksLipscomb's Commentary on Selected NT Books

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Verses 1-2

2 Thessalonians 1:1-2

Paul, and Silvanus, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.—This Epistle was written a short time after the first, and as Sylvanus and Timothy were still with him at Corinth, he joins their names with his, because they were well known to the church in Thessalonica.

Verse 3

2 Thessalonians 1:3

We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren,—[Paul had prayed: “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, . . . make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father” (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13). Here he acknowledges that his prayers were answered and that he regarded himself as much bound to thank him for answering his prayers as he was to make known to God his requests. 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.]

even as it is meet,—[It was right, on the ground of fitness, that labor should be rewarded (1 Timothy 5:17-18) and sin pun­ished (Luke 23:15; Revelation 16:6). It was fitting for Paul to thank God for the preservation and development of the Thessalonian Church, for it was not to be credited to Paul and his fellow laborers, nor to the converts themselves, nor to those who labored among them, but to the goodness and power of God, and to him he gave thanks.]

for that your faith groweth exceedingly,—Faith was the plant that sprang from the seed—the word of Godsown in the heart. Paul says: “I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6.) Paul first preached at Corinth, Apollos afterwards came and encouraged and ex­horted them to continue faithful and persevere in the begun course. This corresponded to watering the plant, and as a result of the seed planted in the heart, and the watering done by Apollos, God gave the increase—the fruit of a holy, earnest, and consecrated life devoted to God. Faith grows from the very first reception of the word of God in the heart to the strong assurance of knowledge gained through a faithful walk with God.

and the love of each one of you all toward one another aboundeth;—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.

Verse 4

2 Thessalonians 1:4

so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God—This improvement in the faith and love of the Thessalonian brethren caused Paul to glory in them to the other churches in the neighborhood of Corinth such as Cenchrea (Romans 16:1) or by letter in those farther away. He was possibly think­ing of more distant churches—those of Judea and of Syria, with whom he was most likely in correspondence. [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.]

for your patience and faith—Their patience, perseverance, and unfaltering faith in the midst of the persecutions and troubles that had come upon them (Acts 17:5-9; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16) shows that they suffered great affliction on account of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. [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.]

in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which ye endure;—Persecution implies active personal enemies and de­scribes their hostile actions toward others; afflictions are the various kinds of injury to body and mind suffered by those who are persecuted.

Verse 5

2 Thessalonians 1:5

which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God;—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. [Such affliction is viewed not only as a special privilege granted to the believer but as an unmistak­able token of his acceptance with God—that he is to share Christs exaltation and glory at his coming.]

to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God,—[Their sufferings served another purpose; they were not only suggestive of the judgment to come they were also disciplinary. They are intended to make those who endured them meet for the inheritance of the saints.]

for which ye also suffer:—[Until the power of the gospel came into their hearts, they were incapable of such endurance. That they had patiently endured and their faith had not failed was proof of the new life and an assurance that God would vindicate himself and them. Thereby all thoughts of ven­geance were banished and a solemn sense of submission to God’s will was encouraged.] It is a blessing to man to try and to test him and prove his worthiness for the kingdom of God.

Verse 6

2 Thessalonians 1:6

if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recom­pense affliction to them that afflict you,—While God permitted them to suffer persecution as a means of testing and strength­ening their faith and love, he recompensed tribulation on those who troubled them. God uses wicked men to try the faith and love of his servants, to test their worthiness, and then so orders that these wicked persecutors are punished for the evil they brought on his servants. God works in and through his people and overrules and controls the courses of the wicked.

Verse 7

2 Thessalonians 1:7

and to you that are afflicted rest with us,—God recom­penses evil to the wicked who trouble his children, but will give to those who suffer evil rest with the chosen apostles of Jesus Christ. [Though Paul’s absence prevented him sharing their gifts, he was not therefore exempt from affliction. (1 Thessalonians 3:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 3:10-11.) The prospect of its early satisfaction had_ faded indeed, but their reunion was assured notwith­standing its delay. Here he associated himself and them who will be alive on the earth at that time, and associated himself with those who would pass away before it. (2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:15.) The subject immediately before his mind was not the rest of the saints, but the retribution of God on their persecutors.]

at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven—When the Lord Jesus shall come from heaven in visible form, it will be a revelation, a manifestation of the Lord Jesus before unseen. “Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him.” (Revelation 1:7.)

with the angels of his power—The angels of exalted rank and glory will accompany him. Their presence suits the majesty in which “he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:38.) They are frequently asso­ciated with Christ in connection with his redemptive and mediatorial work. They announced his birth (Luke 2:8-14), resurrection (Matthew 28:2-6), and return (Acts 1:10); they minister to him after his temptation (Matthew 4:11) and in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43); they will attend him at his return to judgment (Matthew 16:27). In that day they will be called upon to worship him. (Hebrews 1:6.)

in flaming fire,—[God is described in the Old Testament as a consuming fire, and especially his coming to judgment is described as a coming in fire. (Exodus 3:2; Daniel 7:9-10.) What is there ascribed to God is here transferred to Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:13.) The additional clause accordingly serves for a further exaltation of the majesty and glory in which Christ will return.]

Verse 8

2 Thessalonians 1:8

rendering vengeance to them that know not God,—He will send his angels to execute his wrath on all who know not God. [This has reference to the Gentiles who gave way to the gratification of every lust and evil desire. In speaking of heathenism, Paul declares that this ignorance of God was willful, that idolatry was the outcome of ungodliness, and that its wickedness was shown by the horrible depravity of morals it produced. It was, therefore, culpable in the highest degree and merited vengeance, being the ignorance of men who “refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetous­ness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, ma­lignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that prac­tise them.” (Romans 1:28-32.) Such is the sentence that Paul pronounces on heathenism in view of its general character and fruits. In this Paul had before his mind those Gentiles who refused the knowledge of God and showed their hatred toward his children.]

and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus:—[These are all, whether Jews or Gentiles, to whom the gospel of Christ is brought and who reject the message. Obedience is faith in practice, the submission of heart and life to the demands of the gospel of Christ. This is what such men refuse. This warning echoes that of Christ concerning all who are brought face to face with the gospel. They are warned: “He that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16.) This condemnation takes effect at once, and operates in the present life: “He that believeth on him is not judged: he that believeth not hath been judged already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.” (John 3:18-19.) This sentence the Lord Jesus pronounces on those who, with his light shining upon them, refuse him the obedience of faith. The judgment of the last day will be the consummation of this present actual judg­ment.]

Verse 9

2 Thessalonians 1:9

who shall suffer punishment,—Those whom he comes to punish will be punished with a destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power that shall be ever­lasting.

even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,—This is not a destruction of the souls of men, but they will be banished from the presence of the Lord. The bonds that unite them will be destroyed forever. They will never be restored. And away from God, with all the means of help and blessing from God severed, man will be the subject of misery and woe forever. The Scriptures are so clear on this point that it seems that none willing to receive the truth can doubt this. In making the punishment for sin a light matter, we make sin against God a trivial matter and derogate his honor, majesty, holiness, and power.

The whole trouble arises over a misconception of the meaning of death. Death does not mean annihilation, but separation of the spirit, the vital principle, from the body. Spiritual death means the separation of the soul and body from God, the vitalizing principle of spiritual life. Eternal death is the final and everlasting separation of soul and body from the presence and glory of God. Thus separated, it is not annihilated. It is subject to perpetual and eternal suffering. Nothing look­ing toward annihilation is found in the Bible when we rightly use terms. This idea is not found in the Bible. Whence does it come? It comes from a disposition to mitigate re­bellion against God, and to find lighter punishment than God has prescribed. Why should this be done? Is man too fear­ful of sinning against God? Lighten the sin and ameliorate the suffering and will it then make men dread sin and rebellion more? We may well suspect our position and our spirit when we find ourselves excusing sin or ameliorating the woes that come from sin against God.

Verse 10

2 Thessalonians 1:10

when he shall come to be glorified in his saints,—Jesus Christ will come again to take vengeance on his enemies and to receive glory and honor from all those who are redeemed through his blood and saved unto his everlasting kingdom.

and to be marvelled at in all them that believed—All those who believe in and trust him honor and praise him, but when they shall see him, as he comes in the clouds of glory with all his holy angels, to save those who have trusted him, their admiration for him will greatly abound.

(because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.—He speaks to them of that which will come to believers because they had believed his testimony concerning Jesus. And these promises are theirs.

Verse 11

2 Thessalonians 1:11

To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling,—On account of the superior glory that will come to those who believe in him, Paul prayed constantly that God would count them worthy of the calling to which he had called them. [In the bestowal of reward, whether for suffering or for service, grace reigns. At best the servant is “unprofitable” (Luke 17:10), yet because it was in his heart to serve (1 Kings 8:18), and because he did what he could (Mark 14:8), using what was at his disposal (2 Corinthians 8:12), according to the opportunity provided (Matthew 25:15), God will reward him not according to the actual attainment or to the work accomplished, but according to the riches of his grace in Christ. Christians are to be holy, for God is holy (1 Peter 1:15); to be perfect, as their “heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48); to be “imitators of God,” since they are his “beloved children” (Ephesians 5:1). Thus the expression worthy describes the ideal Christian life, the ideal of every spiritually-minded person.]

and fulfil every desire of goodness—[The word rendered “desire of goodness” is that which Paul uses when he says: “My hearts desire and my supplication to God is for them, that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1), and is commonly used for desire, especially when the desire is a benevolent one. The prayer of Paul is that God would so increase their good­ness as to make these desires themselves perfect, irrespective of their results, and would enable them to maintain and per­fect that activity and endurance to which faith had prompted them. His mind still dwells on the grand graces—“work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope”which they had displayed (1 Thessalonians 1:3), and for the two graces he prays for completion.]

and every work of faith, with power;—The work was pecu­liar to their faith, by which it was characterized, inasmuch as it was something begun with energy and held fast with reso­luteness, in spite of all obstacles and oppositions.

Verse 12

2 Thessalonians 1:12

that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you,—If Christians are thus faithful and worthy, then the name of Christ is glorified in them as his servants. When the servants of God are worthy, and are glorified in it, the Lord is glorified in them.

and ye in him,—When he is glorified all the true and faithful in Christ will be glorified in him. All this will be brought about through the provisions that God’s love has made for making men righteous and saving them.

according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.—All the grace of God is developed in, and magnified through, Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior.

Bibliographical Information
Lipscomb, David. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1". "Lipscomb's Commentary on Selected New Testament Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dlc/2-thessalonians-1.html.
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