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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
2 Thessalonians 1

 

 

Introduction

Chapter 1. Paul Again Commends the Thessalonians and Promises that The Afflictions Brought on Them by Unbelievers Will Bring Them Blessing and Will Bring the Unbelievers Into Judgment.


Verse 1-2

‘Paul and Silvanus and Timothy to 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 was a typical form of greeting by a letter writer of the day, indicating the author’s name, the recipient’s name, a reference to a deity and a hope for their well-being. It is noteworthy that Paul does not see it as necessary to refer here to his Apostleship (contrast Galatians 1:1). Instead he wrote confident of a warm reception from the church because of what he had heard about them from Timothy.

He included Silas (his Latin name Silvanus) and Timothy in his greeting. Silas they knew from his being a companion of Paul in the founding of the church (Acts 17:1-10 compare Acts 15:40). Timothy had recently visited them, and had probably been with Silas and Paul in their ministry there, but not prominent.

‘The church of the Thessalonians.’ The same as in 1 Thessalonians. Compare ‘the churches of Galatia’ (Galatians 1:2) and contrast ‘the church of God which is at Corinth’ (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1), and the later ‘to the saints at --’ (Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:1. See also Romans 1:1). In this there is a growing awareness of the universal church as seen as one whole, composed of all those set apart for Himself (‘saints’) by God.

The difference in the use of ‘church’ is one of emphasis only. Each church in a city (Romans 16:4; Romans 16:16; Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 1:2 and often), and the local branches within that church (Philemon 1:2; 1 Corinthians 11:18), as well as the universal church (1 Corinthians 10:32; 1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 3:21; Ephesians 5:23-32), can be called ‘the church’. Thus reference can be made to ‘the churches’ and to ‘the church’, and the latter often wider in meaning than the former. In all cases it refers to a group of believers, whether local, city-wide or worldwide.

‘Church’ (ekklesia) was used in LXX to translate ‘the assembly’ of Israel, the gathering together of His people to Sinai to receive the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 18:16) and to the Tabernacle (Deuteronomy 9:10; Deuteronomy 23:1-3; Deuteronomy 23:8; Deuteronomy 31:30) and the Temple (1 Kings 8:14; 1 Kings 8:22; 1 Kings 8:55; 1 Kings 8:65) and in response to the covenant (Judges 20:2; Judges 21:5; Judges 21:8; 1 Samuel 17:47). In a religious context it thus indicated ‘the people of God gathered for worship and response to the covenant’. This was the sense in which Jesus used it (Matthew 16:18). The more general ‘congregation’ of Israel was translated as ‘synagogue’.

‘In God our Father.’ Every Christian dwells ‘in God’ (1 John 4:15), and our lives are ‘hid with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3). The thought is of being enveloped in the love, mercy and care of a gracious God, and of seeking to walk as those who are His, and is in contrast with those who are ‘in the world’ (Ephesians 2:12; 2 Peter 1:4; compare 1 John 2:15-16; 1 John 4:3-4), who walk as the world walks. Unlike in 1 Thessalonians Paul calls Him ‘God our Father.’ The ‘our’ emphasises the relationship factor. Not only the Creator but our Father, to whom we are adopted and reborn sons.

Christians are ‘in the world’ (John 17:11-12) but only as strangers and pilgrims (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:13). They are not ‘of the world’ (John 15:19). And this is because they are now ‘in God our Father’.

‘And the Lord Jesus Christ.’ This linking of our Lord Jesus Christ with ‘our Father’ using a single preposition, as being the One in Whom we are, (‘in God -- and the Lord’ and not ‘in God -- and in the Lord’) is a clear declaration of His equality with the Father. No other could have been so combined. It indicates that we must give full significance to the title ‘the Lord’ as meaning ‘Yahweh’ (the name of God in the Old Testament), which to the Jew was the name above every name, which is represented in LXX (the Greek Old Testament) as ‘Lord’ (kurios). Compare Philippians 2:11 where this is clearly indicated, and see Matthew 28:19.

‘In Christ’ is one of Paul’s favourite descriptions. Christ is the body and we are members of that body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14), Christ is the vine and we are the branches of the vine (John 15:1-6), because we are in Him we are declared righteous in God’s sight (Romans 3:24), in Christ we are accepted as holy in God’s sight (1 Corinthians 1:2), in Christ the veil on our hearts is done away (2 Corinthians 3:14), in Him we are created unto good works (Ephesians 2:10), in Him we have been made alive, and raised and seated with Him in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 2:5-6), there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1). Thus when we enter into Christ He is made to us wisdom from God, even righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). How much more the blessing then to be both ‘in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’.

‘The Lord Jesus Christ.’ The title ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’ contains three elements. Firstly He is Lord (kurios), the One Whose Name is above every name, Yahweh Himself (Philippians 2:9). To the Jew and to Paul the Name above every name was Yahweh and in the Greek Old Testament Yahweh is represented by kurios. He is also elsewhere the great ‘I am’ (John 8:58, compare Exodus 3:14), another name for Yahweh (which means ‘the One Who is’), and thus ‘the Word’, Who existed in the beginning, through Whom God created the worlds (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3; Psalms 33:6; Psalms 33:9), the Lord of all.

Secondly He is ‘Jesus’. He became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). He was truly man and yet in His manhood epitomised all that man was meant to be. He hungered as a man (Matthew 4:2). He grew thirsty as a man (John 4:7; John 19:28). He suffered as a man. And His death was the death of a man, and yet it was of more than a man, for He was ‘the Lord’. He was ‘the Christ (Messiah)’. And the name Jesus means ‘Yahweh is salvation’.

Thirdly He is ‘the Christ, the Messiah.’ By His death and resurrection He is declared to be ‘both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36). He is the expected King Messiah, the One appointed to eternal Rule (2 Peter 1:11; compare Psalms 145:13; Daniel 4:3; Daniel 4:34; Daniel 7:14), the One Who both sits on His own throne and also uniquely shares His Father’s throne (Revelation 3:21), the One before Whom every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:10).

And because of this He is the powerful One (Romans 1:4). He is the One worthy of worship and honour. He is the Lord of glory.

‘Grace to you, and peace.’ ‘Grace to you.’ Nothing can be more desirable than to have God looking on us in active love and favour without our deserving, and this is what is signified by grace. Thus Paul wants the Thessalonians to know that he desires for them only that they enjoy the experience of the grace of God.

‘And peace.’ Peace results from grace, but this kind of peace is also God’s gift, flowing from Him to us. Once we know that we are right with God, and experience His graciousness towards us, we have peace with God (Romans 5:1) and enjoy such peace, prosperity and success of spirit that our hearts can only overflow. For however things may seem to smile on us, if God is not pleased with us, we cannot fully know peace. The very foundation then of peace in our hearts is the favour of God, by which we enjoy true and genuine prosperity of spirit through the work of His Spirit, and find the peace of God which passes all understanding guarding our thoughts and hearts (Philippians 4:7). And this is what Paul wished for, and prayed for, for the Thessalonians.

‘Grace to you’ represented a general greeting in the Gentile world, and ‘peace to you’ in the Jewish world. The combination thus emphasised the unity of the church, both Jew and Gentile, as one. It was seemingly a regular combination in the Christian church (2 Peter 1:2; 2 John 1:3; Revelation 1:4).

‘From God the Father.’ There is in this phrase a recognition of ‘the Father’, the Creator, in contrast with the earlier ‘our Father’, which is more personal ( 2 Thessalonians 1:1). Jesus constantly spoke of ‘the Father’ in this distinctive way (Matthew 28:19; Mark 13:32; Luke 10:22; John 4:21; John 4:23; John 5:19-45; John 6:27-57; John 8:16-29; John 10:15; John 10:36-38; John 13:16 constantly). He is the prototype and perfect exemplar of all fatherhoods (Ephesians 3:14-15), the one ‘of Whom are all things’ (1 Corinthians 8:6), the One Who raised Christ from the dead, and is thus the Source of all future life (Galatians 1:1), the One whose foreknowing results in the gathering of His elect (1 Peter 1:2), the source of all Light (James 1:17). And His people are ‘in Him’. He, with the Lord Jesus Christ, is the source of grace revealed to us and our peace.

‘And the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Once again we have one preposition joining God and the Lord. All we have is in them and from them. No greater testimony to their co-equality and oneness in action could be given.


Verse 3

‘We are bound to give thanks to God always, brothers and sisters, even as it is meet, for that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all towards one another abounds.’

Again we find evidence of Paul’s continual gratefulness to God, and his continual overflowing thankfulness. And here it was whole hearted for it was well merited. Indeed he felt ‘bound’ to give thanks (a word revealing a sense of personal obligation) because there was so much to be thankful for. Their faith continued to grow hugely, as they learned and absorbed more of the word of God, witnessed widely and resisted persecution. Moreover their love for one another abounded. This was a continued answer to Paul’s prayer for them (1 Thessalonians 3:12).


Verses 4-6

‘So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for your patient endurance and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you endure, a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, to the end that you may be counted worthy of the Kingly Rule of God for which also you suffer, if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to those who afflict you.’

Their faith and love were so great and abounding that Paul and his companions were able to hold them up as an example, and glory in them in other churches. This was especially so because of their patient endurance and faith in the midst of afflictions and tribulations. They were steadfast and unwavering, and thus an example to all. Some would translate ‘faith’ as ‘faithfulness’. This is quite possible. But faithfulness results from faith. It is because of faith that men are faithful. Thus their growing faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3) ensured their faithfulness.

‘A manifest token of the righteous judgment of God.’ Their response to their tribulations and afflictions are an openly revealed evidence, a clear token, that God’s aim to count them worthy of the Kingly Rule of God is a righteous judgment. This is not to say that they have merited their promotion, but that their lives reveal them to have so responded to Christ that they can now, through His sacrificial working, be ‘counted worthy’ of it. By revealing now their worthiness in their weakness they are able to be ‘counted as worthy’ of the greater prize. Note that they are only ‘counted worthy’, they are not so in actuality, for they were once undeserving sinners. Nevertheless their lives, and bold response to persecution as a result of their true faith, can be seen as evidence that they are those who have truly turned their backs on sin and have been accounted righteous by God, by faith, thus being seen as ‘accounted as deserving’ of the everlasting kingdom. Compare James 2:18, ‘I by my works will show you my faith’. Thus they can be ‘accounted as worthy’ (even though not being so) of the kingdom of God. The verb is kataxio-o, an o-o verb (like dikaio-o = to account as righteous) which indicates judicial pronouncement rather than actual reality. Note how the idea is confirmed in 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

We may see this as also indicating that for Him to bring His people through affliction to final salvation is itself an indication of the righteous judgment of God in His dealings with them, in that He also takes into account the sacrifice made on their behalf, which can be assumed here rather than being mentioned. Through their persecution they are seen as entering into His sufferings. And it is clear from the context that also Included in that righteous judgment is God’s rebounding affliction on their persecutors (2 Thessalonians 1:6). So both the ways of the righteous, and their reward, and the ways of sinners, and their reward, reveal the righteous judgment of God.

Thus we may see it as signifying that their persecution and affliction, and their response to it, both demonstrate that God is righteous in judging the just and the unjust, and determining their eternal futures.

Note On ‘The Righteous Judgment of God’ In This Passage.

There can be no doubting that the thought contained in this phrase is wide ranging, for it has in mind both God’s righteous dealings with sin, and with people, and with the inevitable eternal consequences, for both believers and unbelievers of those dealings. For we should note that in fact the whole passage (2 Thessalonians 1:3-12) has to do with the righteous judgment of God, and with its consequences, for both. Thus in some way the persecution of God’s people, and the way that they respond to it, is to be seen as proof positive that His dealings with both believers and unbelievers is just and righteous.

In this regard it will be noted that 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 deal in some depth with God's righteous judgment on unbelievers, declaring that such judgment is a righteous thing for God to do, while 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12 then revert to believers declaring that they in their turn will not suffer the righteous judgment of God in the future but will enjoy His favour, something that, having endured their present affliction, they can look forward to. Thus it may well be that we are to see ‘the righteous judgment of God’ as having wide reference in the passage.

One of the aspects of this passage is undoubtedly that Paul is seeking to explain the rationale of the present sufferings of His people. We may see his first point as being that sin brings suffering, so that even His people, because they are sinful, do have to endure suffering, even though it is only temporary suffering. And this in itself is then seen as pointing to the rightness of unbelievers also one day having to suffer in an even more severe way. The first is to be seen as a 'clear pointer' (manifest sign) to the second, and is positive proof that the latter will one day take place as well. While evil men may often appear to ‘get away with it’ in this life, the sufferings of the saints are absolute evidence that they will not get away with it in the end. We can compare the Psalmist who was so perplexed about the sufferings of the righteous and the prosperity of the wicked, until he ‘considered their latter end’ (Psalms 73).

Also behind this passage is surely the idea of the supreme Example of ‘innocent suffering’ (although it is not patent in this passage) of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We can undoubtedly say that the very sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross are proof positive of the sufferings to come of those who do not take advantage of the cross. That indeed is why He suffered. It was to deliver the ‘many’ from the fate that all deserved. Thus those who do not respond must still suffer that fate. This passage then says that His people to some extent share with Him in those sufferings in order to demonstrate the same. The fact that they can be allowed to suffer (even though redeemed) is absolute evidence of the inevitable consequences of sin.

We should note at this point that it is not directly God Who is seen as causing them to suffer, but rather that He is seen as graciously allowing them to suffer at the hands of the world alongside His Son in the carrying forward of His purposes so that the world may doubly prove the rightness of they themselves being judged, first in having crucified Christ Himself, and secondly in having made the righteous suffer. Thus His people are seen as being allowed to have a part in the sufferings of Christ as a testimony to the world of their own coming righteous judgment.

One question that arises is as to what the 'which is', which is incorporated into many translations (preceding ‘a manifest token’), refers. It is not actually in the Greek and has to be 'read in', and we have in fact omitted it. The fact that it was omitted may be seen as indicating that it is the nearest phrase which is being referred to i.e. 'the persecutions and afflictions which you endure.' But there is good reason for thinking that in context we are also to see as included the earlier reference to their steadfastness in the face of that persecution.

If we see the major reference as being to their persecutions and afflictions then it underlines the fact that the thought is that what they are suffering is a clear pointer (a manifest token) to the suffering that will eventually come on the unrighteous when they face the righteous judgment of God. In other words it is saying that if God allows the righteous to suffer, how much more deserving of suffering are the unrighteous. So the idea then is that if the righteous are thought worthy of suffering at the hands of the unrighteous, (both as a result of God's permissive will and as the verdict of the unrighteous on what they see as wrong), how much more will the unrighteous be seen as worthy of suffering at the hand of the Righteous One when they really have been wrong. (The righteous God will see it as only just. The unrighteous will have no grumble because they will be being treated as they have treated others, and thus in accordance with their own verdict).

But there is an added factor brought out by the reference to His people being 'accounted worthy of the kingdom of God, which suggests that Paul also has their perseverance and steadfast faith in mind.. This therefore brings out that included in the thought is that their endurance in affliction itself is to be seen as demonstrating the rightness of the gracious activity of God in strengthening and maintaining His people in the face of suffering, revealing by it both His concern on their behalf (His righteous judgment) and also their right to participate in the glory to come as a result of being 'accounted as worthy' for Christ's sake. It also further reveals His divine justice in that one of the reasons why His people have also had to endure suffering is because it is a consequence of sin, sin in which they had previously participated. They are not being punished by God, because they have been redeemed. But they are being allowed to suffer some of the consequences of sin. However, the saving factor is that having suffered a little while at the hands of unrighteous men His people can then be 'accounted worthy' (even though they are not) to enter God's righteous kingdom.

The consequence is that as others see the sufferings and afflictions of God's people they should take to heart the lesson that if the righteous have to suffer in this way how much more is it certain that one day the unrighteous will have to suffer. The sufferings of the righteous are thus to be seen as a token proof both of the consequences of sin and of the judgment that it calls down on the sinner. And meanwhile that suffering of the righteous is bearing witness to the world, and is preparing them for the glorious future that awaits them, and they are able to rejoice in it in that thereby they are sharing in their Saviour's suffering. 'If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him' (2 Timothy 2:12).

End of note.

‘To the end that you may be counted worthy of the Kingly Rule of God for which also you suffer, if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to those who afflict you.’ Both those who believe and those who reveal their disbelief by their behaviour towards God’s people will receive their deserts, the one by being counted worthy of the Kingly Rule of God having suffered affliction, the other by receiving affliction, partly in this life but mainly in the day of Judgment. It was when he considered ‘their end’ that the Psalmist became reconciled to the justice of God (Psalms 73:17). ‘If so be that it is a righteous thing’ indicates that if it is right for God to afflict the unbeliever who persecutes believers, (and it is), then it is equally right that He reward the believers with coming under the glorious Kingly Rule of God, having been ‘counted as worthy’ through the blood of Christ.


Verse 7-8

‘And to you who are afflicted rest with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from Heaven, with the angels of his power, in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.’

The thought continues. When the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven in a full revelation of what He is (apokalupsis), with ‘the angels of His power’, that is with the angels who exercise His authority and carry out His powerful commands, as so often promised (Matthew 16:27; Matthew 13:41-42; Mark 8:38), his own afflicted ones will be relieved from tension (like a bow string slackened from the bow), they will ‘rest’ with Him. The battle will be over. Their afflictions will no longer be important. Paul joins himself and his companions with them in the thought. They will all be there together at rest. They will have ‘entered into their rest’ (Hebrews 4:1; Hebrews 4:9).

What this rest involves is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and in Matthew 13:43. The angels are involved in that too (Matthew 24:31). They will be gathered from the four winds and will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. As a result of their ‘taking away’ at the time of His revelation of Himself they will be ‘ever with the Lord’, resting in His presence. But that ‘revelation’ (revealing in His fullness) of the Lord Jesus will be very different for the unbeliever, for He and His angels will come in flaming fire (Matthew 13:42; Matthew 13:50) rendering vengeance on those who had refused to know and acknowledge Him (Romans 1:28), and had therefore refused to obey Him and respond to His message of Good News.

Note that Matthew 13:41-43; Matthew 13:48-50 indicate the parallel results of the one activity. It could not be clearer. The angels will gather out all that offends, like the weeds are gathered up from the field, and the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Note that in Matthew 13:48 ‘they gathered the good into pots, but the bad they cast away’. This is then interpreted as ‘the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just’. The gathering of only the good into pots means that by that the wicked have been severed, just as by the taking away of His people Jesus has severed the evil from among them. Compare also Matthew 25:31-46 where the consequences of the judgment are eternal for both types of participant (Matthew 25:46). Both the just and the unjust are dealt with around the same time at the coming of Jesus Christ Compare John 5:29.

‘From Heaven.’ While on earth He was the Son of man who came down from Heaven (John 3:13), but His glory was veiled except at the Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:2). Now He is fully revealed in all His glory from Heaven, as the Heavenly One.

‘In flaming fire.’ This may refer to the appearance of His glory (Exodus 3:2; Isaiah 66:15; Ezekiel 1:27; Revelation 1:14-15) or to the awfulness of His judgment (Hebrews 10:27; 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10). Or indeed both, in the sense that His flame will appear and will devour them (Hebrews 12:29). Compare Isaiah 2:10; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21.

‘Taking vengeance.’ Compare Revelation 6:9-10; Psalms 79:10; Psalms 119:84; Romans 2:5. The idea, as in 2 Thessalonians 1:6, is that those who have persecuted His people and have revelled in sin will receive according to what they have sown (Galatians 6:8). What they have done, so will be done to them. But it is not pure revenge, it is the just punishment of which they are worthy. Vengeance belongs to God (Romans 12:19; Deuteronomy 32:25), and He repays justly (compare how the leaders of Israel passed judgment on themselves without being aware of it, acknowledging the rightness of it - Matthew 21:41). Thus the One Who rightly takes vengeance is exercising the prerogative of God.

‘Who do not know God -- who obey not the Gospel’. Compare Psalms 79:6; Romans 1:28; John 3:36. They refuse to know, they refuse to obey. Notice that to know God and to obey the Gospel are in parallel. Those who know God will obey the Gospel. And what is that Good News? It is the Lord Jesus Himself. It is His Good News and it points to Him.


Verse 9

‘Who will suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might.’

This is their greatest punishment, that they will not see His face or observe and experience His powerful glory. That they will be separated from Him and what He is for ever. Those who deliberately ‘knew not God’ will now for ever not know Him. The word for destruction is not that which means final destruction (apoleia - in contrast with ‘life’ - Matthew 7:13; ‘vessels fitted for destruction’ - Romans 9:22; in contrast with ‘ the saving of the soul’ - Hebrews 9:22; the result of the day of judgment - 2 Peter 3:7) but olethros, which indicates ruin and loss, but here is very similar in meaning. The two words are paralleled in 1 Timothy 6:9. Thus here it means total ruin and darkness, and loss of that which is above all to be desired. It is ‘the destruction of the age to come’, heavenly destruction. We do wisely not to expand upon it for we cannot even conceive of it. Scripture always leaves the idea in suspense when it speaks of it, neither elaborating on it nor analysing it. Awful it will certainly be, but that is all we can say.

We can consider how the beings cast ‘alive’ into ‘the lake of fire’ (Revelation 19:19; Revelation 20:10) are spiritual beings, and alone are said to suffer positive and continual torment, probably due to the hugeness of their loss. The ‘lake of fire and brimstone’ there is therefore spiritual. It represents the awful judgment and punishment of the One Who is a consuming fire. His awful holiness is stressed by the fire, His awful judgment is stressed by the brimstone. The remainder are cast in as ‘dead’ (Revelation 20:15 with Revelation 20:13 and Revelation 19:21) and there is no mention of torment. Compare Isaiah 66:24 where the idea is also of being excluded, in that case from ‘Jerusalem’, and the dead bodies are maggot eaten and destroyed by fire. As death and Hades were also cast into the lake of fire the idea in Revelation 20:13-15 would seem to be of final total destruction after the agonies of judgment (torture at trial was a regular feature of justice - Revelation 14:10), for such things as death and Hades cannot be punished. We do well to leave to God’s understanding the final punishment of the wicked.

‘Punishment.’ Literally the paying of a deserved penalty. Because of their unwillingness to know and respond to Him they will be receiving what they deserve.


Verse 10

‘When he shall come to be glorified in his saints , and to be marvelled at in all those who believed, (because our testimony to you was believed), in that day.’

‘That day’ is a technical term used to designate the day of the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 17:22; Matthew 24:36; Matthew 26:29; Mark 13:32; Mark 14:25; Luke 17:31; Luke 21:34). It is the day when He is glorified by the transformation for ever of His own people, His separated ones (saints), the day when the universe and the angels will marvel at what He has done for them and in them, and what they have become (see Ephesians 3:10), will also be the day when the wicked are severed from among the just and are destroyed for ever from before His face. The contrast is huge. On the one hand splendour and glory given to His people by the Lord Himself, on the other eternal loss and ruin dispensed to the unbelievers and the disobedient. And the Thessalonians would share that splendour and glory because they had believed the message that Paul and his companions preached, and had received their testimony.

‘Marvelled at in all those who believed.’ Compare Revelation 5:9-10; Revelation 5:12; Psalms 118:22-23. Some, however, would see it as meaning that those who believed will marvel at Him and His wondrous works, but the parallel suggests that the marvelling is from an external source.


Verse 11-12

‘To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfil every desire of goodness and every work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’

Having in mind the glory that is to be theirs Paul now assures them that that is why he and his companions can continually pray for them in full confidence. And their prayer is that God, counting them worthy of their calling (compare 2 Thessalonians 1:5), will empower them to fulfil every desire of goodness and every work of faith. That He will work in them to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13) so that their seeking after righteousness will be fulfilled, and their believing, and its fruit, will grow more and more. For those who are ‘called’ by Him, it is His work within them that results in progression in righteousness and goodness, and in the faith as He puts the desire within them.

‘Every desire (literally ‘good pleasure’) of goodness.’ As it is the good pleasure of His people to reveal His goodness through them, so He will fill their good pleasure to the full.

‘Every work of faith.’ Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:3. True faith ever produces ‘work’, activity in the name of Christ whether social or spiritual, and Paul’s prayer is that through the power of God that work, wrought through faith, may be successful and fruitful.

‘That the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him.’ The name signifies the fullness of what a person is, so that the first end of this is that the Lord Jesus might receive glory continually through the splendour of their lives and behaviour, and finally be marvelled at, at His coming, because of what He has wrought in them. The second is that they themselves may be glorified in Him, not in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of His people and the heavenly host.

‘According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ All this will be the result of the grace of God, the unmerited love and favour of God and the Lord Jesus Christ at work on them and within them. The ‘our’ introduces a strong sense of belonging as in 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/2-thessalonians-1.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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