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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
2 Thessalonians 1

 

 

Verses 1-12

(V. 1) Again, the same brotherly character of address is used as in the first epistle. The threatened dangers to the Thessalonians did not change this, except in the use of the more gentle expression "our Father" rather than "the Father," as though to express the fullest identification of these servants of God with the saints. And young though this assembly was, still it enjoyed the same blessed place as do all saints, "in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Does it not remind us of even the "little children" of 1 John 2:24, who are told "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain (or abide) in you, ye also shall continue (or abide) in the Son, and in the Father?" It is the freshness of a new life - eternal life - by which they are "in the Son and in the Father," and it is this, of course, the apostle seeks to encourage in the Thessalonians.

Moreover, the "grace and peace" he wishes them is fresh and new as though spoken of for the first time, in fact, all the more necessary now that doubts and alarm had attacked them. It is no less available in days of decline than in days of greatest spiritual energy. But we must make use of it if it is to profit us. If we ourselves have failed, yet the blessed source of this grace and peace is unchanging - "God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

(V. 3) Thankfulness to God for the saints had not waned in any degree. Indeed, here an additional strong expression is used: "We are bound to." There was no alternative, and their hearts were bound up in this profound gratitude. It was without intermission - "always." It was particularly fitting because in spite of Satan's efforts to thwart the work of God the faith of the saints was growing exceedingly, and their love for one another abounded. How good to see this delight of the Lord's servants in these precious fruits they could commend. This growing faith and abounding love is a precious example for us all, which may well stir a longing within us to be more like them. Indeed the apostle further says, "so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God; for your patience and faith." To these servants it was a deep joy to speak among the assemblies of the endurance and faith of these beloved saints who were so persecuted for their devoted stand for Christ.

Yet, though faith and love shine brightly here, as they did in the first epistle, how sadly conspicuous in the absence of any mention of "hope." Patience is found in verse 4, but not "patience of hope." For hope had been obscured through the false teaching that the tribulation had come, and their eyes had been turned from expecting God's Son from heaven to the boisterous waves of the world's opposition. In this very measure decline had set it. We must not miss this, for it is a salutary warning for our own souls and a danger constantly present in spite of the fact that the coming of the Lord is so much more near now, so that our expectation should be all the more vivid and real. Satan would use persecution and at the same time inject his favorite poison, discouragement, with a view to persuading saints to settle down in the world and to become sufficiently absorbed in it as to lose all distinctive testimony.

(V. 5) Still, the patience and faith of the saints in bearing persecution and tribulation was a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God. Their endurance indicated the fact that they depended upon divine intervention at the time God saw fit. Even the ungodly ought to have discerned this, for it was a testimony that conscience could not easily ignore. To take patiently wrongful suffering requires faith in a righteous God, who will not always allow evil to go unchecked, but will judge in proper time. But it is also added, "that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer." This present allowance of persecution against saints of God is intended of God for their own good, a training that molds character, producing a true submission to authority as subjects of the King and thus "worthy of the kingdom of God." How thankful we ought to be for this divinely wise means of God by which He secures for us the greatest good.

If verses 3, 4 and 5 have shown their patience in suffering, verses 6-10 now show us that God will eventually answer this in perfect righteousness, and not in the way that the enemy was suggesting to the Thessalonians when deceiving them into thinking the day of the Lord had already come. God would recompense tribulation to those who troubled them; the tables would be completely turned; they themselves would no longer suffer but be in perfect rest with the apostles in the Lord's presence. The assembly would have no part in the awful tribulation that is to come, for it is the vengeance of God against the ungodly. The first epistle had shown this, that the saints would first be caught up to be forever with the Lord before the great tribulation would break upon a careless world. But the truth of it had not properly laid hold of the hearts of the Thessalonians. Hence, they were troubled by false letters. It is a solemn warning that a little neglect of the truth of that Word which has been given us will expose us to the dangers of subtle falsehood.

The day of the Lord too will culminate in His being revealed from heaven with the angels of His power, and the flaming fire of His holiness in judgment will be poured in vengeance on those ignorant of God and disobedient to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 19:1-21 depicts for us this awesome event. We know too that the raptured saints, as well as angels, will have their part in this judgment of the world, but here only angels are mentioned, for the supernatural, irresistible character of the judgment is emphasized. It may be that Gentiles are particularly in mind as "them that know not God" (1 Thessalonians 4:5) and Jews as those "that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 10:16; Romans 10:21). Yet both things are, of course, true of all unbelievers.

Moreover, this awesome punishment is eternal destruction. How can words more dreadfully describe the horror of such judgment than is briefly done here: "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power?" This is not annihilation but "destruction," as a vessel broken and unfitted for its original purpose, for something destroyed does not cease to exist, but exists in a form of no value.

But more awful is the fact of banishment "from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." One who has known Christ can conceive of no greater misery than to be without Him for eternity. Here is the Fountain of all truth and goodness, righteousness, grace, kindness, compassion, love, and peace. Without Him none of this is known nor can be known. What stark, unmitigated anguish to be forever banished from the pure light and glory of His presence! "From the glory of His power (or might)" would speak of no participation in that sphere of blessing where His might is operative for the great good of His people.

This is linked with the coming of the Lord Jesus in power and great glory; His name then glorified above all; He, Himself, admired by hearts beholding His glory. His saints will not only concur in the fearful vengeance He takes upon the ungodly world, but will admire Him the more for it. The parenthesis, also, is inserted here to remind saints that the gospel they believed through the testimony of the servants of God is the reason for the wonderful difference in their attitude of admiration to that of the future horror of those who are without Christ.

(V. 11) What the apostle refers to as "this calling" is the basis of his prayers for these saints. Their being linked with the Lord Jesus in the matchless glory of His coming revelation is a calling of dignity and blessedness far above every earthly level. And if God is to count us worthy of such a calling, this can only be through a real moral separation from an ungodly world and true attachment of heart to His blessed Son. This will be fully true of us then; therefore, a walk now consistent with this end is that alone which is worthy of it. And this is a matter for which the saints need continual prayer. To this end the apostle prayed "always."

To "fulfill all the good pleasure (or desire) of goodness" is to be not remiss in carrying out all the gracious purposes or desires that are the product of positive goodness. These desires are planted within the soul because of the character of goodness that God implants there. Rather than quenched or ignored, they should be fulfilled.

"And the work of faith with power" is added here, for if the exercise of the soul is seen in "the good pleasure of goodness," it is also necessary for the spirit to be in activity. The single­eyed work of faith involves this. It is that spirit of willing obedience to the Word of God, apart from feelings and issues, in true work for God. For with the spirit are connected intelligence, conscience, faith rather than emotions, feelings, passions, which are the characteristics of the soul. Divine power may be counted upon fully to back up the work of faith, for this is acting for God according to His Word without reference to our natural senses.

But such testimony in them would glorify the name of the Lord Jesus, while they also would be glorified in Him. This is no doubt a present result, for in the future we shall be glorified with him, while here a walk of faith will cause us to glory in the Lord and thus in a practical, precious way be glorified in Him. And all of this is according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ - the accomplishment, therefore, of pure divine favor with nothing of human merit.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/2-thessalonians-1.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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