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Bible Commentaries

Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

2 Thessalonians 1

Verses 1-12

Analysis and Annotations



1. Salutation and thanksgiving (2 Thessalonians 1:1-4 )

2. The revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 )

3. The prayer (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 )

2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

The opening words of salutation are the same as in the first Epistle. Once more he gives thanks to God for them, because their faith increased exceedingly and love abounded, the result of an increasing faith. On account of this progress and spiritual condition he wrote, “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.” The patience of hope, which was mentioned in the first Epistle, is omitted by him. Their hope had been dimmed through the false teachers and alarmists, who would have them believe that they were heading for all the tribulations of the day of the Lord. They endured persecutions and tribulations on account of which they were greatly disturbed, because of the insinuation that these were the judgments of the day of the Lord. They looked more to what was happening to them than to the Lord. They were more occupied with these conditions than with the blessed hope.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

He quiets these fears. Satan was pressing upon them, terrifying their minds, and they were fearing everything, the enemy taking advantage of the persecutions and sufferings he had instigated to distress them. The Apostle tells them that all their persecutions and tribulations, far from having a punitive character, were “a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God” with this purpose, “to the end that ye should be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for the sake of which ye also suffer.”

They were children of God, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, and their path was to suffer with Him, that they also might be glorified together (Romans 8:17 ). A similar word he wrote later to the Philippians. “in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God” (Philippians 1:28 ). What was happening to them was a seal upon them of their being worthy of the coming kingdom. The persecutions they endured showed they were identified with the Lord, who was “despised and rejected of men.” Their sufferings were the sufferings of Christ.

And then the contrast. When the day of the Lord comes with the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, it will bring the punishment of the wicked. Their persecutions were from the ungodly, who inflicted suffering on them because they believed on the Lord. But when the day of the Lord comes God will change all by recompensing those that troubled them. “Seeing 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.” In other words, in His day they would have rest and peace, while their wicked enemies will suffer the well deserved judgment. From this inspired declaration they learned that the day of the Lord had not come.

The day of the Lord brings the revelation of the Lord from heaven with His mighty angels, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall suffer the penalty of everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might, when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be wondered at in all who have believed (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.” “In that day” is a phrase which we find many times in the Old Testament prophetic Word. In most cases it means the day of the visible manifestation of Jehovah to deal in judgment with His enemies and to deliver those of His earthly people Israel who wait for Him. “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are as high and the kings of the earth upon the earth” (Isaiah 24:21 ). “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us” (Isaiah 25:9 ).

Judgment for the world is always connected with that coming day. Our Lord, in His earthly ministry, also spoke of that day, the day of the coming of the Son of man. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then shall He reward every man according to His works” (Matthew 16:27 ). His visible coming out of heaven and bringing judgment is still more fully described in Revelation 19:11-21 . It will be the day of vengeance after the acceptable year of the Lord is ended (Isaiah 61:1-2 ). The apostle’s testimony tells us the same. Two classes are mentioned by him. Those that know not God, which means the idolatrous Gentiles and sinners in general, “and those that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (The text of the Authorized Version having omitted the word “those” makes it appear as if it were only one class; but that is incorrect.) These are the Jews and also nominal and apostate Christians. The latter class will suffer the great punishment. The destruction mentioned has been explained as meaning annihilation. But that is not true. It is banishment from the presence of that glory upon which man has turned his back and which he despised--hardening himself into a final, awful incapacity for it and for communion with Him. What else is it but the destruction “of one who was made at the first in the image of God?” They will live on in eternal separation from God.

The apostle mentions something else which is not found in the Old Testament prophetic Word. When the Lord comes in that day He will be glorified in His saints and then wondered at in all who have believed. When He comes thus in judgment upon the world the true Church is no longer on earth, but the saints, having been previously caught up to meet Him in the air, come with Him in glory. It is the time of the manifestation of the sons of God, transformed into His image, each reflecting His glory, who is the leader and the first begotten. And so these poor, persecuted, despised Thessalonians would then be the marvels for the inhabitants of the earth when they appear with Him. Blessed future for all the redeemed to come with the Lord in glory and to be like Him!

These explanations concerning the day of the manifestation of the Lord bringing judgment upon their enemies and glory to them, delivered them from the concision into which the false teachers were leading them, and they were now ready, after being put at rest in their mind, to receive the needed additional instruction about that coming day. A prayer concludes this chapter that, called with such a calling, God may count them worthy of it, that their walk may be of such a nature as to correspond with that calling and that the Lord might be glorified in them by the power of faith, and that afterwards they might be glorified in Him, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.