About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
2 Thessalonians 1
following commentary is based on the New International Bible, 1994
edition. Chapter titles in
this commentary correspond to chapter titles in this addition of the NIV
most likely wrote this second letter to the Thessalonian church shortly
after he wrote his first letter. That
would place the date in the later half of 51 A D.
He most likely wrote the letter from Corinth
where he wrote his first letter to these believers.
in Paul's first letter to the believers in Thessalonica, he will
continue to speak of the second coming of our Lord Jesus.
It's clear that his first letter did not solve all of the
problems that some had created by saying that Jesus had already returned
in all of Paul’s writings he addresses his letter to those he is
writing to, and in this case it is to “the church of the
Thessalonians”. Note there
is only one church addressed here. This does not mean that there are not
a number of small house assemblies in Thessalonia.
Paul appears to view all of the possible gatherings of Christians
in this city as the church. I
believe in Paul's thinking, there is only one church per city
Greek word that is translated as "church" here is
“ekklesia”, simply meaning “an assembly of people set apart from
the general population for a specific purpose”.
It is a secular word that was used for any gathering of people.
This word was not a “Christian only” word.
Paul and other New Testament writers used this word to denote
Christian groups, no matter how small or large they were.
like the word "ekklesia", and wished the King James Bile would
have transliterated it instead of making the word church out of it.
The problem with the word "church" today is that it
really doesn't mean or portray what "ecclesia" meant to Paul
as he wrote these words. Most
think of church as a building or an organization, but it isn't.
Church is simply people who have given their lives to Jesus.
does specify what kind of “ekklesia” this is.
That is to say, the church, or the assembly that Paul is
addressing “is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.
This is what distinguishes this gathering of people from other
gatherings of people. Note
also that he does not speak about these people simply as the people
“of God”, meaning some generic god that anyone can ascribe to.
The God that Paul is speaking about is the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ. Christians do not serve a generic God.
We serve only one God, and He is the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ. If you do not
believe in this God, then you do not believe in the Christian God.
come not to really like the word "church" because it no longer
resembles what church was meant to be.
Modern day church has little resemblance to what Paul taught.
Therefore, I prefer to substitute the phrase "the community
of those who have handed their lives over to Jesus" when I read the
word "church" in the New Testament.
also includes Silas and Timothy as co-writers, or at least fellow
workers in the gospel. The
letter is from all three of these men.
is a teaching going around these days in the church concerning
submitting one's life to a spiritual father.
Those who promote this teaching state that Paul was a spiritual
father to Timothy, and in one respect they are right.
But, note here that Paul considered Timothy a co-worker, not a
son in the Lord. Paul never
considered Timothy as a child, maybe a son, but not a child.
Most of all, Paul considered Timothy a co-worker, someone equal
to him in the service of the gospel.
verse 2 Paul speaks of grace and peace that comes from God the Father.
Both "grace" and "peace" have two aspects to
them. Grace is the unmerited
favour shown to humanity. It
is also the ability that God gives us to do His will.
Peace is something we have within us from knowing God.
It is also the idea that we are no longer enemies with God.
Jesus has caused us to be God's friend, thus we have peace with
verse 3 Paul thanks God for these people, as he did in his first letter
to these people. He seems
quite proud of them, especially concerning their faith and love that is
growing more and more. As
noted in earlier commentaries, Paul often links faith and love together.
First comes faith, that is trusting one's life with Jesus, and
then comes love for others. I
don't believe that you can express Biblical love without trusting Jesus,
without finding strength to love from Him.
Biblical love is all about sacrifice; that is, sacrificing
yourself for others. The
world's definition of love and the Bible's definition of love are two
verse 4 Paul says that he boasts of these people to other churches
because of their faith in the midst of all the trials and persecutions
they are going through. You
can see this boasting in his second letter to the Corinthians when he
speaks about the Macedonian’s giving in spite of their extreme
Thessalonica was the capital of the
made it very clear to these people when he first met them that if they
gave their lives to Jesus, they would suffer persecution. They suffered
persecution from both the Roman government and the Jewish establishment.
Becoming a Christian for these people was something they thought
seriously about. It was not
some quick decision made by them based on an emotional plea.
Paul seldom used emotion in his pleas.
He used more intellect than anything else.
When these people gave their lives to Jesus, they expected their
life to be very difficult as a result.
They knew all this in advance.
Paul made it clear. He
did not sugar coat the gospel. Of
course, the conviction of the Holy Spirit aided these people in their
verse 5 we see the words "God's righteous judgment".
I believe, because of the context here and following, that this
judgment is the end time judgment of the tribulation period when God
will pay back those who persecute these believers.
If you recall the martyred saints of Revelation 6, they called
out to God, asking when He would avenge their murderers for the blood
they have shed. Jesus
answered by saying that there was still more believers who would die for
His cause. Only after the
last saint was killed would He avenge their blood.
verse 5 Paul is saying that their suffering “will count them worthy of
point that Paul makes at the end of verse 5 may be a bit disturbing to
our modern mind. Paul says
that the suffering of persecution these people are going through is
making them worthy of the Kingdom
verses 6 and 7 Paul tells these people that God will bring affliction to
those who cause their present suffering.
He also says that God will help them through their suffering.
He also says, and I believe Paul is speaking of the affliction of
those making these people suffer; will take place at the end of this age
when Jesus is revealed. That
means, when Jesus returns to earth.
idea here is that God Himself will avenge the evil being done to these
people. That's why the Bible
says "vengeance is mine says the Lord."
We do not have to pay back evil for evil.
If someone does evil to us, God will do a much better job than we
will ever be able to do to repay the evil done to us.
That's also why Jesus told the martyred saints in Revelation 6
that He would avenge their blood. The
thing to note here is that God can, and, sometimes does, judge those who
make us suffer, but if for some reason He doesn't, you know that He will
take care of it in the future. We
can only trust Him for it.
goes on to say that “He will give relief to those who are troubled,
and to us as well”, since Paul and his friends are always suffering
for Jesus’ sake as the Thessalonians were suffering. This too is part
of God’s just judgement at the end of the age.
He will punish those who do wrong and will reward those for doing
case you aren’t sure that Paul is speaking of future events here, he
says in verse 7, “this will happen when Jesus is revealed from Heaven
in blazing fire with his powerful angels”.
In 1 Thessalonians 3:13 Paul says that he will come with all of
his “holy ones”, who in this verse says are angels.
Here Paul seems to clarify to a degree who these holy ones are.
My understanding of the return of Jesus is that He will bring
both the saints and His angels back with Him.
also says that Jesus’ return will be like a “blazing fire”.
In his first letter to these people he said that Christ’s
return would be sudden and destructive. Here he adds another thought,
and that is concerning the blazing fire. The
power of God is often seen as fire in the Bible.
There was fire on
those who don’t believe that God will, or can punish anyone, in verse
8 Paul clearly says that God “will punish those who do not know God or
obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”.
If a so-called Christian tells you that God does not punish
people, then they don't understand Scripture.
Note here that obeying the gospel of Jesus means trusting Him for
salvation, or faith in Him alone for salvation, not of works, lest any
man should boast.
will these people be punished? They
will be punished with “everlasting destruction”.
The destruction that Paul mentions here may be compared to the
destruction that he spoke about in 1 Thessalonians 5:1 and 2.
Yet Paul says that this destruction is “everlasting”.
It is not a one time event. These
people are constantly and forever experiencing destruction.
They will always be in the process of being destroyed, but never
being destroyed. This
is a subject that some may not want to talk about because it is scary
and negative, but it is a part of Scripture and should not be forgotten.
Another way I like defining
eternal judgment is one being in the process of always dying, and always
wanting to die, but never being able to die.
also says in verse 9 that these people “will be shut out from the
presence … and majesty of God”.
The fact that God’s presence will be nowhere found might be
punishment enough, but still, I do believe it is more than the lack of
the presence of God. In
today’s world God’s presence is available for those who wish it.
His majesty can be seen in creation, as well as in other ways,
but not in the days ahead for those who reject the gospel. These people
will be no where close to God's immediate presence as the believer will
says that all this punishment will begin when Jesus returns “to be
glorified in His holy people”. At
that day, and that day only, will God’s people find perfection as
Jesus returns in person to be with us.
His prayer in John 17 for His disciples to live in unity will
finally find its fulfillment on the day He returns for His people.
should understand "people" here to be all people, not just
Jews. Paul specifically says
that these believers in Thessalonica will be included in God's holy
people on that day. Many of
the believers in Thessalonica were Gentiles.
They weren't Jews. Therefore,
God's holy people on that day were not just Jews.
only will Jesus be glorified among His people, but “He will be
marveled at among all those who have believed”. The Greek word
“teras” is translated here as “marveled”.
This is the same word that is translated as “wonders”, as in
“signs and wonders’ elsewhere in the New Testament. It means
“something strange that causes one to sit back and marvel, or wonder
in their imagination”.
Jesus returns to earth to rule for a thousand years from
re-affirms that the Thessalonians are part of the people who will
someday marvel concerning the return of Jesus.
Why? It's because
they have believed the good news of Jesus.
It is as simple as that.
of all the end time events that Paul will speak of, in verse 11 he
continues prays for his readers that “God may count them worthy of His
calling, and that by His power He may fulfill every good purpose of them
and every act prompted by their faith”.
Paul is praying that God will help these people in whatever they
do as a result of trusting in Jesus.
This may suggest something. Sometimes
people think that they should do nothing as Christians unless they feel
the Lord telling them to do it. Paul,
at least in my thinking, says that we can do things as a result of our
faith. If because we trust
Jesus we want to do something good, Paul hopes and prays that God will
bring success to our endeavor. If our desire is to teach children about
Jesus, for an example, go ahead and teach children, and pray that God
will bring success in what you do. This
can be in whatever endeavor you may feel like doing as a Christian.
that Paul continually prays for these people.
We should remember that Paul has concerns for a number of
believers in a number of cities and towns.
The point to be made here is that Paul's heart is always in
prayer for those God has called him to care for.
This should be the stance of all pastors today.
One doesn't have to be on his knees to pray.
One can live in a spirit of prayer all of the time.
I'm sure of that.
words "count you worthy of His calling" are important.
God has called us to a number of things.
First and foremost He has called us until Himself and all that
salvation means in its various aspects.
That being said, He has called us all to a specific ministry.
He expects us, by His Spirit, to fulfill this ministry, and thus,
He is able to count us worthy of the ministry He has called us to.
verse 12 Paul tells his readers why he prays for such success in
whatever they do. It is so
that Jesus will be glorified, and, that Jesus may be glorified in them,
meaning being seen in them in all His power and splendor.
It is so Jesus will be seen for whom He is in His people by the
success they have in doing good. This
is the purpose of the church on earth.
That is, Jesus being seen in us to the world so others will want
to become a part of the
closes this chapter with the phrase “by the grace of our God and our
Lord Jesus Christ”. It is
only by God’s grace that any good thing we do could bring glory to
Jesus. If it is done purely
in a humanistic way, in our own human strength, then the glory will go
to us and not to Jesus where it belongs.
Anything good that we do should be done to bring glory to Jesus,
not to us.
the word "grace" here. We
often think that grace is God's unmerited favour, and that it is, but
here we see the second definition of grace.
Grace is also the God given ability to do His will.
Many miss this aspect of grace but here it is clearly seen.
We cannot interpret grace here as unmerited favour because it
just doesn't fit into the thought of this verse.
The only way that these people could glorify Jesus and Jesus be
glorified in them is if they can do God's will with the ability God has
the many references to the coming of Jesus at the end of this age in
this chapter. Much of what
Paul says is in light of this fact.
The coming of Jesus seems to be in the forefront of Paul's
thinking. The same should be
so with us.