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Second Thessalonians 1
Second Thessalonians 1
- We completed our study of the first epistle several months ago, and now it is time to study the second.
- Our study of Daniel, especially the little horn of Daniel 7, will help much with the second chapter.
- Here is a church of believers with whom we should feel great affinity and receive God’s word to them.
Intro: Paul encourages faithfulness based on Christ’s coming and judgment of their enemies.
- It is helpful to review the little we know of this church and city from Acts 17:1-15.
- Paul’s methods are important – he sought out worshippers of the true God (1-3).
- And he reasoned out of the Scriptures to persuade them by the wise and logical presentation of argumentation – opening and alleging – that Jesus was Christ.
- The Jews of that city were base in their contempt of Paul’s preaching (5,11,13).
- They were intense in their persecution of those who believed Paul (5-9,13).
- And they accused them of sedition and treason, which will help later in understanding Paul’s euphemistic and obscure language in chapter two (6-8).
- This church was severely persecuted by enemies (I Thess 1:6; 2:2,14; 3:3-4).
- The first epistle emphasized Christ’s coming (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-11,23).
- The apostle has more to say to this church about His coming than to all others.
- With that theme in mind, he returned to it quickly in this epistle (1:7-10).
- And he had to correct false views regarding the timing of that coming (2:1-4).
1:1 Paul salutes the church with a very similar salutation to that used in his first epistle.
- The three ministers are the same three mentioned in Acts 17:14 and the first epistle.
- The church was in God the Father – the living and true God – which was in opposition to the polytheistic idols that many of them had previously worshipped (I Thess 1:9-10).
- The church was in the Lord Jesus Christ – the promised Messiah – which was in opposition to the unbelieving character of the Jews (I Thess 1:9-10 cp Acts 17:3).
- Our dear relationship with God and His Son is such that we are in them both (Col 3:3).
1:2 Paul salutes the church with a very similar blessing to that used in his first epistle.
- This verse is added to the first verse to make a longer first verse in the first epistle.
- Grace and peace are a precious salutation used by Paul frequently (Phil 1:2; Col 1:2).
- We need them both; we should value them both; and we should pray for them both.
- Without the grace of God there is only condemnation and trouble; without the peace of God there is only confusion and anxiety. What a blessing saints have in Jesus Christ!
- The world has no grace or peace, and it is evident by their many troubles and crutches!
1:3 The progress of these saints in godliness bound their ministers to thank God for them.
- God’s goodness in matters of salvation obligates us to much thanksgiving (2:13).
- Thanksgiving for salvation is meet – fitting or proper – as God’s will (I Thess 5:18).
- Thanksgiving should be perpetual, for the Lord seeks a thankful people (Deut 28:47).
- It will be a major part of our eternal existence in heaven (Revelation 4:9; 7:12; 11:17).
- We do not spiritually thank hearer or preacher, for any fruit is from God (I Cor 3:4-11).
- Their faith was not slipping or holding; it was growing, and it was growing exceedingly.
- Faith is confidence in God’s words and promises that we cannot prove naturally.
- Great faith is not moved by persecutions of those who oppose the truth.
- Great faith is the ability to forsake things of this world for things of the next.
- Great faith is the ability to quench the fiery darts of doubt from the devil.
- Great faith is the holy fear of God’s word that requires absolute obedience.
- Great faith is the holy fear of God’s word that requires perfect doctrine.
- Their love abounded in every direction, which edified the church (Eph 4:15-16).
1:4 Paul and his companions rejoiced in the godliness of these saints in other churches.
- Paul identifies himself and the other teachers as boasting joyfully of them (II Cor 9:2).
- They were greatly persecuted, as indicated by “all” and the two plural nouns, which we may easily confirm by reading Acts 17:1-15 and the first epistle (1:6; 2:2,14; 3:3-4).
- Their patience and faith in bearing persecution and tribulation obeyed Jesus (Lu 21:19).
- There are many who hear with joy, but wilt and die out under opposition (Luke 8:13).
1:5 The enduring of persecutions and tribulations were evidence of God’s perfect judgment.
- A token is a sign, evidence, or proof of some thing, as 2 Thess 3:17 or Deuteronomy 22:13-21.
- A manifest token is very plain and obvious evidence and proof, as in Hebrews 4:13.
- The relative pronoun “which” refers us to the whole clause and conflict of verse four.
- For saints of the living and true God to endure abuse at the hands of unbelieving scorners indicates clearly and forcefully that God will have a great and just judgment.
- This coming judgment is most righteous by the opposite character of the antagonists and the setting right of those things not rectified from the foundation of the world.
- Our apostle makes this very same argument in his epistle to the Philippians (1:27-30).
- The patient bearing of suffering in this world is evidence of eternal life (I Thess 3:3-4; Matt 5:10-12; Acts 5:41; II Tim 3:12; I Pet 4:12-14).
- But persecuting saints here is evidence of eternal damnation, as the next verse declares.
- We do not earn heaven by suffering, nor are we worthy of it; but by evidence and character we show ourselves indeed the proper citizens.
1:6 The final judgment will rectify this unfair situation when God justly judges their enemies.
- The desecration and desolation of Egypt was righteous judgment of God (Exodus 3-14).
- The earth swallowing Korah, wives, and little children was righteous (Numbers 16).
- Fire from heaven burning up captains and fifties was righteous judgment (II Kings 1).
- The fiery furnace burning up the most mighty men of Babylon was righteous (Daniel 3).
- The desecration and desolation of Jerusalem was righteous judgment (Malachi 4:1-3).
- Our blessed Lord anticipated this judgment when speaking to Caiaphas (Matt 26:64).
- The martyrs are right now under God’s altar begging for just vengeance (Rev 6:9-11).
- Vengeance is His: He will repay; and this thought is not wrong (Romans 12:18-21).
1:7 The certain coming of the Blessed and Only Potentate was to give them comforting rest.
- This resting is waiting; this resting is patient enduring; this resting is certain victory!
- “When” modifies their resting, for in this world we shall have tribulation (John 15:19-21; 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 8:35-37; II Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 11:25).
- The afterlife of saints in heaven is one of peaceful rest, even before the vengeance comes (Isaiah 57:1-2; Job 3:17; Matthew 25:21; Luke 16:22; Revelation 14:13).
- The martyrs under God’s altar are resting and waiting for the vengeance (Rev 6:11).
- And Paul comforted them by anticipating of them all taking God’s rest together!
- Asaph told of the coming correction of the apparent inequities in life (Ps 73:16-28).
- If you knew the final outcome was total victory, could you endure temporary pain?
- The Lord Jesus Christ will soon reveal Himself as never seen before (I Tim 6:13-16).
- Glorious and mighty angels will accompany His glorious arrival (I Thess 4:13-18).
1:8 Our Lord Jesus will then be a consuming fire toward all His enemies and our enemies.
- He has used fire so many times in judgment, and He is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29).
- There is a burning hell, dear reader; and you better flee to the Refuge from it today!
- There is no excuse not to know God from creation or revelation for any readers.
- An evidence of not knowing God from the first epistle is concupiscence (4:5).
- There is no excuse not to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, for you are hearing it.
- The gospel includes rules for our entire lives, but here it speaks generally of Christ.
1:9 The coming righteous judgment will be horrible and permanent for the wicked.
- It does not say final, total, or complete. It says everlasting, which is lasting forever.
- It does not say annihilation, elimination, dissolution, or extinction; for it is a permanent state of torment devised by the holy God for His enemies (Matt 25:46; Rev 14:9-12).
- They will be cast out of the presence of God with horrible words (Matthew 7:23).
- They will miss the glory of His power, which we will glory in forever (Rom 9:22).
1:10 But His coming will also be the glorious victory and salvation of His saints.
- “When” modifies the damnation of the wicked described in detail in verses 7-10.
- There are not multiple resurrections – there is a single resurrection (Acts 24:15).
- His glorious voice will call all the dead from their graves (John 5:28-29).
- The coming of Jesus Christ involves gathering His saints (2:1) and judgment!
- The multiple comings with a seven-year tribulation and millenium are ridiculous.
- Believing the gospel, which they had done, was the evidence they would be saved!
- The evidence that He will receive us is our belief of the gospel. Do you believe?
1:11 Paul now expresses his prayers for their continued perfection in godliness.
- He had spoken of his thankfulness and joy in them (3-4), but he wanted yet more!
- They were always thankful for these saints, but they also always prayed for them!
- No man is worthy or deserving of heaven but by the evidence and character of it.
- He desired their further perfection by the power of God, which is the constant goal.
- It is God which works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13).
- Remember that David prayed for what God had just promised him (II Sam 7:25-29).
1:12 Paul desired these saints to use the grace of God to glorify the name of Jesus Christ.
- The lives of saints should clearly and purely glorify the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Not only did he seek Christ’s glory by them, but their glory in Him, as earlier (4).
- And all of it is by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in every phase, but surely practical.
Application: The encouragement of this chapter by an inspired apostle should teach us things.
- We must pray for grace and peace, as we need these blessings in our lives dearly (2).
- We are obligated to be thankful for every spiritual blessing in perpetual praise (3).
- We should be growing in faith exceedingly, not backsliding or stagnating (3).
- We should be abounding in love universally as a church and personally as members (3).
- We should understand bearing persecution is a manifest token of salvation (5).
- God judges sinners in hell – to comfort us in trouble and provoke us to holiness (6-9).
- There is a rest coming for believers in the presence of Jesus Christ and other saints (7).
- We must confidently and with great anticipation consider His soon appearing (10).
- We must be praying and seeking always to be perfected by His mighty power (11).
- Our lives alone and together should glorify Jesus Christ by the grace of God (12).