2 Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 1:1

Paul and Silvanus and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

(a) Paul. The author of the second epistle to the Thessalonians was the Apostle Paul. It is likely this letter was written not long after the first one, probably around A.D. 50/51.

(b) Silvanus was the Romanized name of Silas, Paul’s colleague and friend. After experiencing imprisonment and an earthquake in Philippi, Paul and Silas travelled along the Macedonian coast to Thessalonica. Together they planted the church in the face of strong opposition (Acts 17:1-10).

(c) Timothy. Paul’s spiritual son and co-worker, was with Paul and Silas when they visited Thessalonica. Sometime after they had been driven out of the city, Paul sent Timothy back to check on the health of the new church (1 Th. 3:2, 6).

(d) The church. The original word (ekklēsia) means an assembly of people. In the New Testament, it normally refers to a church, but not always (e.g., Acts 19:32).

(e) The Thessalonians lived in Thessalonica, a prosperous seaport in Macedonia.

(f) In God. The church is “in God and the Lord Jesus Christ” meaning we are in koinonia-fellowship with the trinity. We are not down here while God is up there. He is God with us (Matt. 1:23). Our home is the Lord (Matt. 28:20, John 14:20). We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16).

(g) The Lord Jesus Christ. Paul introduces the Lord Jesus Christ at the start of all his letters, and he encourages his readers to confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9, Php. 2:12). True preachers reveal Jesus as Lord of all. Jesus is not merely a teacher or historical figure. He is the exalted Son of God and his Name is above all names (Php. 2:9). Before the cross, Jesus was known as the Christ or anointed one. But after the cross, Jesus is the Lord or kyrios or “the One who is supreme above all.”

2 Thessalonians 1:2

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace to you and peace. The apostle of grace began all of his letters with this gracious salutation. See entry for Rom. 1:7.

2 Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater;

(a) Give thanks. As in his first letter, Paul begins by expressing his gratitude for the Thessalonians (1 Th. 1:2). Paul’s gratitude is the heartfelt gratitude of a parent for their children (1 Th. 2:7-8, 11). What made Paul happy was seeing the Thessalonians standing firm in the Lord (1 Th. 3:8). The Thessalonians were so much more than another notch on Paul’s church-planting belt. They were his crowning joy (see 1 Th. 2:19).

(b) Your faith is greatly enlarged. You may say, as the disciples did, “Lord, increase my faith” (Luke 17:5). But you don’t need extra faith any more than you need extra arms and legs. You just need to use the faith you have (Rom. 12:6). Just as you build your muscles with use, you can grow your faith by putting it to work (2 Cor. 10:15, 2 Th. 1:3).

One of the ways we strengthen or enlarge our faith is by growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Pet. 3:18). As our understanding of God’s love deepens, it strengthens our trust in him. As God gets bigger, our faith in him grows stronger. See entry for Faith.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,

You who are afflicted. In this life we will have trouble, but God promises to be with us and comfort us in our troubles. The Christians in Thessalonica were experiencing trouble, but Paul promised that the Lord could be counted on to “strengthen and protect them from the evil one” (2 Th. 3:1). The word for relief can be translated as rest. In the middle of life’s storms, we find our rest in Jesus.

Further reading: “Relief in your troubles

(b) Revealed from heaven. The final return of the Lord to earth. This event is also referred to as the day of Christ (Php. 1:6, 10, 2:16), the day of the Lord (Acts 2:20, 1 Cor. 5:5, 1 Th. 5:2, 2 Th. 2:2, 2 Pet. 3:10), the day when the Son of Man is revealed from heaven (Luke 17:30).

(c) Mighty angels. Whenever the Son of Man is described as coming with his angels, it is a reference to his final and glorious return to earth (Matt. 25:31, Mark 8:38).

(d) Flaming fire. The ungodly and all those things that are opposed to God’s goodwill will be destroyed by fire (2 Pet. 2:6, 3:7).

On numerous occasions, the Lord spoke of fire in connection with Judgment Day (Matt. 5:22, 13:42, 50, 18:9, 25:41, Mark 9:43, Luke 17:29–30, John 15:6). He did not dread this fire but he looked forward to it knowing that it would spell the end of sin and usher in eternity (see entry for Luke 12:49).

2 Thessalonians 1:8

dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

(a) Dealing out retribution. When the Lord returns there will be a final judgment for those who do not obey the gospel.

(b) Those who do not know God. We are not saved on account of our good works or moral purity; we are saved because the Good Shepherd knows his sheep. How do we come to know God? Through the gospel that reveals Jesus, God’s Son. Jesus is express revelation of God’s character, and the only way to the Father (John 14:6, Heb. 1:3).

(c) Those who do not obey the gospel. To obey the gospel is to heed it. It’s opening the door of your heart and receiving it. It’s changing your unbelieving mind and believing the good news.

(d) The gospel of our Lord Jesus is synonymous with the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) for Jesus is the embodiment of the Father’s grace (see entry for 1 Cor. 1:4).

2 Thessalonians 1:9

These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

Eternal destruction. A similar message of eternal destruction or second death was preached by Peter, James, John and Jude (2 Pet. 3:7, Jas. 4:12, 1 John 3:15, Jude 1:7). People don’t go to hell for their sins, for all our sins were dealt with at the cross. But those who reject the Lord reject life itself.

God is not willing that any perish (2 Pet. 3:9), and he has gone to extraordinary lengths to make death unnecessary. Yet people condemn themselves by preferring the path of death to the way of life (Pro 14:12). In the end, everyone gets what they ask for.

Further reading: “Alternatives to hell

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