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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

2 Thessalonians 1

Verses 1-2

As in the first letter, Paul saw no need to mention his apostleship as he introduced himself, so it can be assumed no one had challenged it in this city. Silas and Timothy were also well known among these brethren. The church is the body of Christ ( Eph_1:22-23 ), thus Paul described it as being in both the Father and the Son. Jesus is the supreme ruler, the one who takes away our sins, and God's anointed. Paul's desire for the church is that they continue to receive God's unmerited favor and have the special inner peace such brings ( 2Th_1:1-2 ).

Verses 3-4

Paul's Thankfulness for the Church in Thessalonica

Paul felt compelled to thank God because his prayer for the Thessalonians ( 1Th_3:10-13 ) had been answered. Their faith had been lacking at the time of the first letter but, by the time this second letter was written, Paul was able to say it was growing immeasurably. Their love for each other was also growing. Paul, Silas and Timothy, along with God's churches in other places, rejoiced because they had been longsuffering in their faith during a period of ongoing persecution ( 1Th_1:6 ; 1Th_2:14 ). They did not give up, though in the midst of severe mental and physical suffering for their faith ( 2Th_1:3-4 ).

Verses 5-7

God's Coming Judgment

The very fact that they were able to endure such hardships was a clear indication that God was with them. It also foreshadowed a day when God would judge all and punish those who had caused His children to suffer. Of course, Christians should be thankful for the maturity which arises out of suffering and the fact that it better prepares them for heaven ( Rom_5:3-4 ). In judgment, God's righteousness, or justice, will be revealed to those who may even have doubted his existence ( Rom_2:5 ). While God can use the works of evil men to strengthen his people, He will punish those who worked them ( 2Th_1:5-6 ).

Even though the Thessalonian brethren were being afflicted at the time of his writing, Paul here assured them relief was coming. That relief would come in the form of the Lord's second coming. Paul said angels would be with Jesus, as they often were at important times during His stay on earth ( Luk_2:8-14 ; Mat_4:11 ; Mat_28:1-8 ; Act_1:9-11 ). They would do the Lord's bidding in the great harvest of souls ( 2Th_1:7 ; Mat_13:33-43 ).

Verses 8-10


The apostle said Jesus would come in flaming fire and take "vengeance," which is from the same root as "righteous" in verses 5 and 6. The punishment for wrongs committed against God and man in the final judgment will be just, or righteous, because it will be based on the deeds wrought on earth ( Gal_6:7-8 ; Rom_12:19-21 ; Heb_10:28-31 ). Such punishment will belong to two groups. First, those who do not recognize God as the one true and living God of all ( Rom_1:18-32 ; Eph_4:17-19 ). This group may include those who intellectually know God is but do not acknowledge it in their deeds ( Jam_2:19 ). It certainly would include Jews who would not yield to the Father's will ( Joh_8:54-55 ). Second, those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord. This group would, of course, include those who have not repented of their sins, confessed Jesus as God's Son and put him on in baptism ( Luk_13:1-5 ; Act_17:30 ; Mat_10:32-33 ; Rom_10:9-10 ; Mar_16:16 ; Act_2:38 ). Also in this group would be those who do not keep on obeying the gospel ( 2Pe_1:4-11 ; Heb_3:8-13 ). The rewards for the righteous and the wicked will last forever ( Mat_25:46 ).

Thomas says, "The original term for 'destruction' ( olethros ) literally means ruin or death; and since death always involves a separation , the implication is that the sinner will be forever separated from God, who is the source of all life." The two classes of people described in verse 8 will be vanished from the Lord's presence, power and glory for all of the ages to come, or eternity.

The banishment will come in the day of the Lord's second coming. Kelcy says the original "has 'whenever' with the aorist subjunctive, a construction indicating the certainty of the event and yet the uncertainty of the time of it." He will have two purposes at that time. First, Christ's glory will be seen in all of His set apart children. Second, all of those obedient believers will marvel, or be in awe, of the Lord at his coming. Remember, He will not come again as a man to be a perfect sacrifice for sins but as a king who has conquered His enemies ( 1Co_15:23-28 ; Rev_1:12-18 ). Paul wrote all of this because his testimony was believed by the Thessalonian brethren who would be a part of those showing forth Christ's glory and awed in His presence ( 2Th_1:8-10 ).

Verses 11-12

Paul's Prayer During Their Affliction

Paul wanted them to be prepared for the kingdom of God when Christ would come again for judgment. So, he, along with Silas and Timothy, prayed for them that they would be considered by God ready to enter heaven ( Mat_25:14-30 ). Christians must strive to live a righteous life and perform all of the works one who truly believes in God and His Son. Notice, to truly do this requires God's help, which Paul prayed for in their behalf. Also, if there were no concern about falling from grace, Paul's prayer would be meaningless.

When Christians live according to the Lord's will, His name is glorified ( Mat_5:16 ). In turn, wearing the name of God's own Son and being a part of His body will bring glory to the Christian. This is only possible because of the unmerited gift of God's help ( 2Th_1:11-12 ).


At Peace With the Lord's Second Coming

Paul begged the brethren on the basis of the Lord's second coming and the gathering together to meet Him in the air ( 1Th_4:13-18 ). He did not want them to lose their spiritual balance because of some false prophet who claimed to be speaking by the power of a spirit, or a false teacher claiming to present God's word, or a letter some said was from Paul ( 1Jn_4:1 ; 2Ti_4:3-5 ). He did not want their minds to be so disturbed that they acted rashly. It seems someone was saying the Lord's coming would happen in the very near future. Naturally, such a thought would cause one to reconsider, even lay aside, some immediate plans.

Paul assured them that the Lord's second coming could not occur until some went away from the truth and took their stand somewhere else. Also, the son of perdition, or perishing who is also called the man of sin, would have to be made known. It is interesting to note that Judas was called the son of perdition ( Joh_17:12 ). While he was not Satan, certainly he allowed himself to be made his agent by yielding control of his heart to him ( 2Th_2:1-3 ; Joh_13:21-30 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.