13: But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
14: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
16: Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
17: Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
In the first 12 verses of this chapter we read what the end of the present dispensation in time will bring to the earth, as well as to the Antichrist and his followers. Paul contrasts this to the calling and destiny of the Thessalonian Christians.
Verse 13. "But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of
the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through
sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
Verse 14: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ."
He is full of thanksgiving to God for these "brethren beloved of the Lord," and recounts the history of their salvation, past, present, and future.
Although it was written to them and for that day, it still pertains to Believers today. I want to look at these verses a phrase at a time to more fully understand what Paul has written here.
"God hath chosen you." The Bible teaches that God chooses men to salvation, but it never teaches that He chooses any to be damned. Men are lost through their own deliberate choice. We all would be lost if it wasn't for God’s intervention. Actually, God does have that right to choose. He created us, and without that we wouldn't even exist, but His desire is for all to be saved.
(1 Timothy 2:4. "Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.;)" ( 2 Peter 3:9. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.)"
These Scriptures don't teach that everybody will eventually be saved. The certainty of God’s judgment is reserved for those who reject God's grace. It shows the terrible contrast in the lot of the un-believer and the blessings of all who come to Christ in faith, and receive the salvation Christ bought with His atoning blood on Calvary.
"From the beginning." Those who believe are chosen “from the beginning.” We are saved not by election but by faith in Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel. Election means that God knew who would have faith, so He made every plan necessary for the working out of His purposes in those lives.
God’s choice was made before the foundation of the world, not from the beginning of the gospel, or of Christ’s appearance on earth, but from of old, from everlasting. Several times the Believer is called "chosen," or the "elect," in the New Testament. Ephesians 1:4. "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world." 1 Peter 1:2: “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”
The Thessalonians were "chosen for salvation" early in the Christian dispensation. They had been chosen by God to be among the first of a great harvest of redeemed souls. Contrast this with verses 1 through 12 in this chapter. Unbelievers are doomed to eternal destruction because of their unbelief, and believers are chosen for salvation because of their belief.
“Chosen you to salvation” states the fact and “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” is the way they were saved. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins and our need of a Savior, but we have to believe the truth of God's forgiveness to be saved.
God exercised His divine rights in regard to salvation. He chose to make man a creature with a free will, even though He knew that same creature would fall into sin by using that free will. He also chose to provide a salvation for all men, and a means that would accomplish that salvation.
He used His sovereign will when He decided on what terms He would offer salvation to man: it would be “by grace, through faith.” “By grace” means that it's available to everyone, equally and without cost. No one is barred. “Through faith” means those receiving it must repent and acknowledge their need.
God set the terms on this basis, consequently He wouldn't be consistent if He also decided who should be saved and who shouldn't. Again I refer you to these verses: "His desire is that all men should be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)," and "He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9)."
God set the terms, He doesn't decide according to His own desires, but chose all whom He “foreknew.” This choice was made “before the foundation of the world.” The power of the Holy Spirit and our response to God’s message of grace is what puts our salvation into effect.
The Believer is called “to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are made heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” We will actually see His glory and share in it.
"Through sanctification by the Spirit." This is the work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf before we got saved. We don't realize it at the time, but we are so far apart from God in our natural state that the Holy Spirit has to do a lot of work on us before we can get saved. We have to be set apart to God from the world, convicted of sin, and pointed to Christ.
The Thessalonians proved they were true believers, because they “received the word of God . . . not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). That's why Paul writes that he was “bound to give thanks to God for you.”
He speaks of them as being “beloved of the Lord” because they had been chosen of Him and they publicly acknowledged Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
"And belief in the truth." We know God’s part in providing for our salvation; now let's look at man’s part. Both are necessary. If you see only God’s election, and believe that man can do nothing about it, you will never get saved. God demands faith by the individual. We have to recognize we are sinners and that we can do nothing of ourselves to pay for that sin, and then believe that Christ died to pay for those sins.
Election and human responsibility are both Bible doctrines, and it is best to believe and teach both, even if we can’t understand how both can be true.
God chose us to salvation in eternity. He called us to it in time. Being called refers to the moment when a person gets saved.
"Our gospel," [verse 14] doesn't mean there are other gospels. There is only one gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul called it his gospel because it was the truth of God that he had personally delivered to them.
"To the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." [verse 14] The ultimate outcome of salvation is to be with Christ and be like Him forever. That is still future. Paul was obviously looking forward to this with much anticipation.
Verse 15. "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
Paul wanted them to stand fast in the tradition of faith in Jesus Christ that they had been taught by the apostles’ words or by their letters. The only traditions which are reliable and authoritative are those inspired by the Holy Spirit and recorded in the Scriptures. Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees for their traditions nullifying the commandments of God. (Matthew 15:6."--Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.)" And Paul warned the Colossians against the traditions of men. (Colossians 2:8. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.)" The only traditions we need are the truths handed down to us in the Scriptures.
Sometimes people use this verse to justify the traditions of their churches or religious leaders. Any traditions which are contrary to the word of God are actually from Satan. If we accept man's traditions, who has the authority and understanding to decide which are right and which are wrong? None of them are to be accepted as equal with the Bible.
Verse 16. "Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath
loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,
Verse 17. Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
God has been so faithful to His people in the past that it should encourage us to trust in Him for our courage and strength in all things now. He loved us and gave us the greatest exhibition of love that ever could be - He gave His Son for us. He settled the sin question at Calvary, and since He paid that big a price for us, He'll give us comfort now and a future in glory with Him.
The name of the Lord Jesus Christ and of God the Father are often used together when Scripture records some significant act. The Lord Jesus Christ is named first here in verse 16. This order means that the Father and the Son are equal.
The prominent member of the God-head mentioned in the Old Testament is God the Father. The New Testament reveals that this one God exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each One is mentioned separately in different places in the New Testament but in some cases all three are named. (Matthew 28:19. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" and 2 Corinthians 13:14. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.)"
In our passage here, the Father and Son only are named, and the Holy Spirit is the One who inspired the writer to write it this way.
According to New Testament Scriptures, you can't believe in God without believing in the Trinity. All three members of the God-head are involved in our salvation. (1 Peter 1:2. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:") We also acknowledge that fact when we identify ourselves with Christ in baptism. When the Christian is baptized, he is baptized into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Back in verse 15, believers were told to hold fast; in this verse we see that our strength and good hope comes from Christ as our Savior, and in God as our heavenly Father.
Verse 17. "Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."
Paul's prayer to comfort their hearts and establish them in every good word and work wasn't just encouragement because they were in distress. He was asking God to give them the strength to live for Him every day like Christians should.
Most places in the Scriptures the words "word" and "work" are reversed from here. Acts 1:1, Luke used that reverse order in referring to the life of the Lord Jesus: “The former treatise have I made, 0 Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.” It seems very probable that the correct order here should read “comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good work and word.”
We will be in a position to speak for Christ if we demonstrate in our own lives the advice given in Romans 12:2. "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
"Good word and work" means that the confession of our sins coming from our lips isn't enough. Our desire to live for Christ has to be evident in our lives.
Salvation is a one time experience that lasts for eternity, but to live for Him is an each day, all day, every day experience and should be visible to others. One writer said there should be teaching and doing, doctrine and duty, preaching and practice in our lives.
If we know Jesus Christ as our Savior, the faith that brings us into the enjoyment of our salvation and the comforts of God will leads us on to "every good word and work."