1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering.

6 For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

11 To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, 12 so 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.

COMMENTS

General:

  • A few months after 1 Thessalonians (50 AD), Paul pens 2 Thessalonians (50 or 51 AD). Either the church (or part of it) has misunderstood 1 Thessalonians, or more instruction is needed to drive the point home.
    • Whereas he had told them to watch their lives (1 Thessalonians 5:6), they had begun to watch and wait for the end of the world.
    • The point: No one knows when the end will come, so we must be ready at all times.
    • Part of being ready is living a productive life in society -- not withdrawing from it!
  • Paul, Silas, and Timothy give thanks because the Thessalonians' faith and love is growing (v.3).
    • These two areas of growth mirror the two greatest commandments and our most important relationships: God and others (before self).
    • Growth in these two areas also helps them make it through hard times (v.4).
    • In addition, it equips them for the kingdom of God (v.5). There are many verses in Paul's letters on living worthily of God: Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; and here in 2 Thessalonians 1:5,11.
  • God's judgment on humans, based on their faith and deeds (or lack thereof) is fair (vv.6-7). Moreover, judgment day is on the way.
    • When God is revealed from heaven, this will not be a hallucination; it's real! Of course God has been there all the time. But the Bible teaches that one day there will be an unveiling (Greek: apokalypsis); the curtain of time and eternity will be pulled back to reveal cosmic reality. It will be judgment day.
    • Those who do not know God will be punished (v.8).
      • There is no undoing the sentence of destruction in the next age. It is just, awful, and irreversible.
      • Of course the root problem is sin -- rebellion against the Creator -- not ignorance, though there is a close connection between the two.
      • "Obeying the gospel" means responding to the gospel message in trusting obedience (see Romans 1:5; Acts 2:38). No one is saved by faith alone.
    • On the last day there are but two possibilities:
      • Exclusion -- with likely astonishment (v.9).
      • Astonishment -- at our inclusion with all the saints in this amazing event (v.10).
  • With these things in mind, Paul shares some concluding thoughts:
    • The goal is not just to "make it" at the last day, but to have done so worthily (v.11).
    • He prays that God may fulfill every good act of faith on the part of the Thessalonians (v.11).
    • The ultimate goal is that Christ may be glorified (v.12).
      • And yet Paul also says that we will be glorified in Christ.
      • Beware the false humility that denies any desire for God's approval or the reward of heaven.
    • All of this is through God's grace.

Advanced:

  • For a Newsweek survey on hell with some interesting results, click here.
  • For more on the nature of eternal punishment, click here.
  • For more on the natural (and good) desire for glory, read C.S. Lewis' essay, The Weight of Glory. For some sample quotes, click here.

Thought questions:

  • Have I accepted the biblical truth that those who do not know God will be punished, not pardoned?
  • Do I pretend I don't care whether the Lord says to me, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21)? If I do, can I see that this is false modesty?