Words of Encouragement

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12

This Second Epistle to the Thessalonian believers seems to have been written from Corinth not long after the first. In chapter 2 we will see that word had gotten to Paul about a misunderstanding. It may have been a misrepresentation of his teaching concerning the "Day of the Lord." Some thought judgment had already begun and yet they understood Paul to have taught that the Believers would be exempt from those judgments. Some thought the end of the world was so near that they quit working and were creating a burden on other Christians who were supporting them. Here is a quote concerning that situation.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11: For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12: Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread."

We'll see that Paul later noted that some of them were standing fast in the face of persecution and were actually growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord, and so he gives thanks to God for this.

2 Thessalonians 1:1-2. "Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Here are greetings from Paul, Silas and Timothy, sending their prayer for grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to know God’s grace before we will have peace within.

Many gatherings were called "churches" in that day and they may or may not have had anything to do with God. Here their position is “in God the Father and Jesus Christ.”

The church of the Thessalonians "in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" emphasizes the fact that they were “in God the Father.” This is in contrast with the fact that the Gentile portion of the church formerly were idol worshippers. “In the Lord Jesus Christ” is in contrast with the former state of the Jewish section of the Church. The Gentile believers had turned to the living and true God and the Jewish believers had recognized Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Savior, so they all were children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

It seems their faith was growing, their love abounding, and their patience increasing, but they obviously were suffering some kind of persecution from someone. God never wastes suffering. Trials work for us, not against us. If we trust God and yield to Him, then trials will produce patience and maturity in our lives. If we rebel and fight every circumstance, then we’ll stay immature and impatient. God permits trials so He can build character in our lives.

Verses 3-4. "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 4: So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:"

Now Paul gives thanks for them and their testimony, and praises them. He even points to them as an example of how their faith and love would show other churches what they should be.

Since they were still uncertain of the doctrine of the "Day of the Lord" he doesn’t mention their hope, he takes that up later, but he does praise them for their faith and love.

Praise for their patience isn’t for the little everyday aggravations they experienced. They were willing to live for God and accept whatever He sent their way.

Our patience should help us reach the goal of coming into the presence of God as a child and not in judgment. This is what helps us get through the rough places in life, just as it did them.

Giving thanks to God is our duty and our privilege. Paul had prayed for the Thessalonians and God had answered his prayers, and so it was proper that he should give thanks. It's only right that we be thankful for the grace of God manifested in fellow believers. We often criticize their shortcomings without acknowledging the good that God shows others through them.

In verse 3, Paul rejoices that their “faith groweth exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” We need sound teaching and full response to God's Word to accomplished this in our lives.

The word “glory” in verse 4 carries the thought of winning. Paul encourages them by letting them know he took great pleasure in their stand for the Lord. The grace of God that showed out through them spoke to other believers. It was an incentive to let the Spirit guide their lives.

Two of the outstanding qualities they exhibited were patience and faith. These stood out above their other gifts and abilities and their achievements and their work. This was cause to rejoice. They remained faithful and accepted tribulation without complaint in spite of persecution and troubles. God takes note of us when we suffer for Him and take it patiently, and we can even learn to rejoice in tribulation. This doesn't mean a martyr complex, it means accepting these things with a willing heart and to suffer them for the Lord. We can keep the Believer's promise from God in view and do this with joy. He is above all these trials, and glory is at the end of them.

Our suffering has nothing to do with salvation, but it helps prepare us for our eternal state. Maybe when we get to glory and look back on our lives we’ll wish we’d had a little bit more disciplining than we got.

How we accept suffering indicates to the world that we have faith and comfort in the fact that we are going to heaven when we die.

We're not promised immunity from adversity, but we are promised that God will give us the grace to bear it. We can rest assured that He knows all about it and that the end result will be blessing. God can give us the strength we need for every trial.

Verses 5-9: "Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7: And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8: In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;"

Take serious note of this, verse 5 does not mean that we gain entrance to the kingdom of God by our sufferings. Those sufferings only prove our faith in God as genuine when we endure persecution and affliction for Christ's sake without complaining.

Two things seem to be involved in the statement in verse five. God is being just and honest when He judges and punishes those who are actually His enemies. The second thing is this; by willingly suffering for His sake, the Believer proves to be a worthy member of His kingdom.

Suffering doesn't gave them entrance to the kingdom, but it encourages them with the thought that they are considered worthy to enter the kingdom. Verses 6-8 are speaking of things that occur after the Rapture. After the Rapture Christ will come in power and glory and God will be vindicated in His present dealings with all men, whether saints or sinners.

The judgment of the wicked begins in verse 8, but verse 6 is an introduction to it. God’s judgment is righteous, but it isn’t for the righteous. God’s judgment isn’t always immediate, but it will fall. Paul is setting this up to explain the coming Tribulation period that they didn’t seem to understand. In fact, some of them thought they were already in the Tribulation period from a false letter they received that someone claimed was from Paul. Paul gave his denial in
2 Thessaloins 2:2. [NIV] "Not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the "Day of the Lord" has already come."

Verse 7. Paul tells those who are experiencing troubles to rest assured that the Lord will come. He will execute judgment and exact punishment on all un-repentant mankind. "He will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels."

This doesn't mean that the saints have to wait for His return before entering into their rest. All Believers will enter that rest when He meets us in the air at the Rapture. This revelation of Christ spoken of here will be with power and glory and His judgment will come on the wicked remaining on earth at that time. It's called "The Day of the Lord."

Verse 8 tells of the awful judgment on mankind and the whole earth itself during the tribulation. At the end of that time, I don’t think we would recognize much of the earth as we know it now. But immediately after that, God is going to make it a place of beauty for Christ's 1000 year reign.

The unsaved may think this life is all there is, but God’s Word tells us otherwise. Their souls are eternal. Their home will be hell for eternity. The Believer's home will be heaven for eternity.

A God who would stand for sin and not punish it couldn't be a just God. The coming of Christ to the earth in judgment during the tribulation will justify the faith Believers have put Him, and it will glorify our Savior. He is coming in power and glory as absolute God over the universe and everything in it.

Verse 8 says; "Taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." This statement may show two aspects of the gospel. The first can refer to the Gentiles who “know not God,” and the second refers to the Jews who had a knowledge of God, but rejected Jesus and the gospel. They “obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Verse 9. What does the unsaved person have to look forward to? They face God and eternal punishment. The Believer will enjoy the glory of heaven.

The lost will be separated from God while the saved will see Christ face to face. This phrase "everlasting destruction" in verse 9 means just that. Man has tried to make it temporary and called it "purgatory" but God has made it permanent and calls it "hell." You don't just pay a fine or do penance, you will suffer separation from God in hell for eternity if you die in your sins.

Destruction doesn't mean that you no longer exist in any form. There is no reason to think that the lost will be "destroyed" in the ordinary sense of the word. They are to be destroyed from the presence of the Lord, and from the His glory forever. The verse promises eternal destruction as exiles.

There is a similar passage in Matthew 25:41. "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"

Verses 10-12: "When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. 11: Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: 12: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Verse 10 is speaking of beholding His glory and of sharing in it in such a way that He is admired because of what His grace has brought to us. He is admired “in all them that believe” and is “glorified in His saints.”

Paul's statement that “because our testimony among you was believed” gave the Thessalonian believers assurance that they were included in this because they had believed the gospel of Jesus Christ unto salvation.

When Christ comes He will share His glory with the Believers in such a way that it will be "admired," or enjoyed, by all Believers at that time. The Thessalonian believers were included in this “because our testimony among you was believed.”

In verse 11, Paul prays for them. He prays that God would find them worthy of their calling.

He prays that their lives will show they belong to God and that God’s mighty power will enable them to obey His will to do good in spite of man made troubles. He wants them to do the work of faith with power in spite of the hindrance of Satan.

The prayer that God would count them “worthy of this calling” seems to confirm the interpretation of verse 5. It's not a question of their taking part, but of their lives being worthy of such a calling.

We are to live so that nothing will dishonor the Name of Jesus.

That will glorify Him, and in so doing, glorify us as His children. And all this is “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul's closes with a request that "That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The name of the Lord Jesus isn't glorified on earth yet, but it is glorified in the Believer. We're the representatives of our Lord among men, and in God's grace, we will be glorified in Him, “according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”