2 Thessalonians 1-3 Being Good and Doing Good for Glory

TMS Isaiah 26:3 What Are You Trusting God For?
Isa 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.
4 Trust in the LORD forever, For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength."

Observations: 26:3 What exactly are you trusting God for? What have you placed into His hands for Him to take care of? What would your life be like if God didn't respond to your faith? For some, there would be no difference, since they really aren't trusting God for anything. Those who keep their minds fixed on God's character and promises will have perfect peace regardless of the circumstances. Verse 4 is worth memorizing too, because it gives the action step of trusting God to experience His help and strength.
Application: If we start to experience anxiety, we need to put our eyes off our circumstances and back on the God we trust.
Prayer: God, You are totally trustworthy, my Peace and Strength; thanks that I will always find You true to Your promises. Amen.

2Thessalonians 1-3 In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul covers some of the same topics, which implies that although they were lovable, some of them were slow learners. He gives additional instruction about the Rapture, because Satan had deceived some into thinking they missed it. Paul also provides information about the Anti-Christ and insight into avoiding Satan's lies. He gives encouragement to persevere for the glory for which God saved them, and warns of the fate awaiting those who don't follow the truth. People whose Christian experience consists of sitting through countless evangelistic sermons rather then investing countless hours studying the Scriptures will have difficulty rearranging their mental categories to incorporate some of the truths in this book. Truth is that which best explains all the facts.

2 Thessalonians 1 Vengeance and Victory
1:1 "Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers, even as it is appropriate, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each and every one of you towards one another abounds; 4 so that we ourselves boast about you in the assemblies of God for your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you suffer.
5 This is an obvious sign of the righteous judgment of God, to the end that you may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you also suffer. 6 Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay affliction to those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted with us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 giving vengeance to those who don’t pay attention to/know God, and to those who don’t obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus, 9 who will pay the penalty: destruction of the Age, away from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired among all those who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed, in that day.
11 To this end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and (NIV) that by His power He may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith 12 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Observations: 1:1-4 In his greeting, wishing them the covenantal blessings of grace and peace, Paul mentions their growing faith in God's promises (they were already forgiven, justified and born again), and their abounding love for each other. He boasted to other churches about their faith and endurance in the midst of persecutions and afflictions from the local Jews who rejected the message of the Messiah (Acts 17). Note that Paul fails to mention their hope as he did in the opening of his first epistle, although they were enduring suffering in an exemplary manner (which would have to involve being rightly related to God, which is why they were being persecuted, and thus able to draw upon God's grace/power to endure).
1:5-10 The successful endurance of suffering is evidence of God's righteous judgment (same concept in Philippians 1:28). Verse 6 explains the righteous judgment: in order to be righteous, God must pay back evil with evil and good with good. Those who unjustly persecute them will face negative judgment, and those persecuted unjustly will face positive judgment or recompense.
Thus their successful endurance proves they will be worthy of the coming Millennial Kingdom.
“Count worthy” in verse 5 is the same word used of the apostles rejoicing that they were considered worthy to suffer in Acts 5:41. It is an intensive form of the word used in verse 11, a term used to weigh the evidence and consider whether one deserves glory or punishment (Hebrews 3:3; 10:29).
Luke 20:35 But they which shall be accounted worthy <2661> to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
Luke 21:34 Take heed to yourselves lest...that Day come on you unexpectedly. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy <2661> to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
God will give relief/rest to those afflicted because of the gospel when the Lord Jesus is revealed as the future Judge (Matthew 25:30-34). This is not the Rapture, but the Second Coming, when Christ sets up His Kingdom, and rewards the faithful. He will also execute vengeance on the unfaithful, who don't pay attention to God nor obey Him. The issue is not belief or unbelief, but obedience. The word translated “know” God is not the normal word for relationship, but the word for “perceiving/seeing” It was used in 1 Thessalonians 5:12 of “paying attention” to those who were seeking to minister to them. (See Thayer's Lexicon #1492 for the range of meanings.) To equate “see” with being unregenerate is to not perceive accurately. Here, when linked with obedience, and the surrounding context, it refers to the Judaizers whose sins were forgiven/covered by participation in the Day of Atonement, but like those who were disobedient in the OT, didn't pay attention to God's revelation.
“Destruction” is used only four times in the NT, and always of the judgment of believers: of the church discipline of the sinning believer in 1 Corinthians 5:5 “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction <3639> of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 of believers walking in the darkness facing judgment; in 1 Timothy 6:9 of believers who seek wealth rather than God.
Hebrews 10:30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance belongs to Me," says the Lord, "I will repay." Again, "The Lord will judge His people."
The penalty the Judaizers would pay is that of the unprofitable servant (see comments on Mt 25:30); they would be excluded from the presence of God (cf. Ezekiel 44) and the glory of His might (not be tossed into the lake of fire). Their punishment will occur when Christ comes to be glorified among His holy ones/saints, and admired among all those who have believed. The odds are that this is not the interpretation of this passage you've heard in evangelistic sermons, but it is that which best explains all the facts, and is consistent with all the rest of the Scriptures.
1:11-12 In light of the Second Coming of Christ to judge, Paul prays that God would ”count them worthy” (see on verse 5 above) of their calling/invitation to participate in the life and reign of Christ in His Kingdom, and would demonstrate His power in bringing to fruition their every desire for goodness, and good works prompted by their faith. He prays this so that Jesus may be glorified in them, and that they may be glorified (as in receive glory) in Him. The empowering and fruition is a function of God's grace/power. If there is no desire for goodness nor any faith-motivated good works, it's hard for God's grace to empower them, and thus no resultant glory. God responds to our desires and faith with His grace, He doesn't force any of those things upon us. It should be noted that Paul wouldn't be praying for this to happen if it were completely automatic.
Application: Jesus will return to be glorified and give glory to His faithful saints; therefore, prepare yourself, pursing goodness and good works.
Prayer: God, thanks that You are infinitely righteous and just and will set things right when Christ returns; in the meantime, may I draw on Your grace to be and do good. Amen.

2 Thessalonians 2 Antidote to the Anti-Christ

2:1 "Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, we ask you 2 not to be quickly shaken in your mind, nor yet be troubled, either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as from us, saying that the day of Christ had come.
3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure/separation comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 he who opposes and exalts himself against all that is called God or that is worshiped; so that he sits as God in the temple of God, setting himself up as God. 5 Don’t you remember that, when I was still with you, I told you these things? 6 Now you know what is restraining him, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness already works. Only there is one who restrains now, until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth, and destroy by the manifestation of His coming; 9 even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 and with all deception of wickedness for those who are perishing, because they didn’t receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 Because of this, God sends them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; 12 that they all might be judged who didn’t believe the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
13 But we are bound to always give thanks to God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth; 14 to which He called you through our Good News, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm, and hold the traditions which you were taught by us, whether by word, or by letter.
16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal encouragement and good hope through grace, 17 encourage your hearts and establish you in every good work and word."

Observations: 2:1-12 Paul now turns to the deficiency in their hope. Satan had sown deceiving lies and doubt about the Day of Christ (the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus) and the Rapture (their being gathered together to Him -1 Thessalonians 4:17, two different things), to discourage the saints and diminish their hope (as he still does today). The Day of the Lord was a time of judgment and tribulation, the latter of which they definitely experienced, so it was possible to think they missed the Rapture. “The Day” is not just the twenty-four hour period in which Christ returns to earth, but in both the OT and NT can be referring to the Tribulation, the Second Coming, the Kingdom, and various judgments (the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the great white throne judgment (cf. Psalm 2:9; Isaiah 11:1-12; 13; Joel 2; Amos 5:18; Zephaniah 3:14-20; etc). So Paul reminds them of what he had previously told them (they might not have been the brightest crayons in the box, but they were lovable), that certain things had to occur before the Day of Christ.
  • The first event that needed to happen before Christ returned was the Rapture he had told them about in the previous letter (1 Thessalonians 4:17), not some general apostasy (although the English world is almost a transliteration of the Greek. The word is used in only one other place of the departure from the customs of Moses (Acts 21:21), but the most telling lexical insight is that it is the feminine form of the neuter word for “divorce” or separation. It has the definite article in front of it, indicating a specific departure, which he says he already told them about. The most likely meaning, by a wide margin, is that of the Rapture in the previous letter (bolstered by “the gathering together to Him” in 2:1 above. Any other interpretation is a departure from Paul's meaning.
  • The second event before the Second Coming is the revelation of the man of sin, the son of destruction (Daniel 9:27; 11:36). This is the Anti-Christ, who appears at the end of the age (and therefore can't be any person in history). He will set himself up as God, and oppose God. The sitting in the temple can't refer to the Millennial temple, since Christ will set that up, so it's either a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, or more likely a reference to usurping Christ's headship over the church, the NT temple (which is how Paul always uses the term). He is the one who will make and break the covenant with the regathered nation of Israel (Daniel 9:27).
  • The third event which must occur before the Return of Christ is the removal of the Restrainer, which is preventing this Satanically energized being from taking over. The only thing capable of restraining such a supernatural evil is the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit who currently indwells the Body of believers, the church, is removed from the earth in the Rapture, the path is clear for evil to operate without hindrance. It is thought by some that the restraining force is the Holy Spirit working through the church, which is remotely possible, but judging by the succumbing of the church to Satan's agenda, it's more likely the Holy Spirit Himself.
When the Lord Jesus returns, He will destroy the Anti-Christ with a word. No contest. Many will be deceived by the Anti-Christ who determine truth by experience rather than Revelation (see 7QUESTIONS in the sidebar). Their experience will be that of miracles, signs, and wonders. The ignorant will correctly conclude it is supernatural, but fail to realize that there is a Light and dark side to the supernatural. All the pagan religions had supernatural manifestations. Only that which is in accord with God's revelation is the reality to be believed. See study on Satan on Truthbase.net for more. Satan, working though the miracles of the Anti-Christ will deceive those who are perishing (present tense, middle/passive voice - 2 Corinthians 2:15; 4:3) because (in the Greek “because” has two meanings, requital/in place of) they didn't accept the love of the truth that they might be saved (glorified and delivered from the wrath which comes upon the disobedient). Because of their rejection of the truth, God will send them a delusion (hardening them in their choice), that they will believe a/the lie (claims of the Anti-Christ), and be judged. This is like God hardening Pharaoh in his choices so that He could judge him (see comments on Romans 9). The reason for their lack of love for the truth is revealed to be their love of the pleasures of unrighteousness. Unless we find our pleasure solely in God and His provision, we will be susceptible to the seductions of Satan (a good motivation for sanctification).
2:13-17 In contrast to those who believe lies and are headed to judgment, the Thessalonians, who are believing the truth are headed to glory. Paul thanks God that He chose them (corporately -see comments on Ephesians 1) for salvation/glorification through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and belief in the truth. He called them to this through the gospel/good news of the Messiah's Kingdom, so they would obtain glory (not forgiveness). The word for “chose” is used only two other times in the NT (Philippians 1:22; Hebrews 11:25), means “to take” and here has the sense of taking to Himself, for His purposes. Note that this is not a reference to justification by faith, but to glorification by sanctification and believing the promises of God in contrast to the lies of Satan. God's purpose in calling the Gentile Thessalonians to Himself was to have them share in the Messianic blessings, and thus fulfill His promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through Him. This is not the choice of some individuals to get their sins forgiven and others to go to hell (a concept found nowhere in the Scriptures).
Since God's purpose is for believers to get glory, they should stand firm in the faith, and the things taught by Paul, both in person and via epistle.
Paul ends the chapter with a prayer, asking the God who loved us, and gave us the encouragement of the Messianic Age and hope of reward in it, through His grace, to encourage their hearts and establish (bring to fruition) every good work and word of the Thessalonians.
Application: If we are not set on accepting and loving the truth, we will be deceived and seduced by lying pleasures.
Prayer: God, thanks that You have great plans for Your children and are restraining and will destroy the evil one; may I live in light of the glorious future You have for me, by loving and obeying Your truth. Amen.

2 Thessalonians 3 Waiting and Working
3:1 "Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified, even as also with you; 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you both do and will do the things we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the endurance/patient waiting of Christ.
6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks in rebellion, and not after the tradition which they received from us. 7 For you know how you ought to imitate us. For we didn’t behave ourselves disorderly among you, 8 neither did we eat bread from anyone’s hand without paying for it, but in labor and travail worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you; 9 not because we don’t have the right, but to make ourselves an example to you, that you should imitate us. 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: "If anyone will not work, neither let him eat." 11 For we hear of some who walk among you in rebellion, who don’t work at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are that way, we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
13 But you, brothers, don’t be weary in doing well. 14 If any man doesn’t obey our word in this letter, note that man, that you have no company with him, to the end that he may be ashamed. 15 Don’t count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with you all. 17 The greeting of me, Paul, with my own hand, which is the sign in every letter: this is how I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Observations: 3:1-5 Paul asks for prayer that the true word will spread and be glorified/honored (obeyed) by all who hear it, as it was among the Thessalonians. He also asks for deliverance from unreasonable, evil, and faithless men. He expresses confidence that the Lord is faithful and will establish and protect the Thessalonians, and that they will do as he taught and commanded them. He prayed that God would guide their hearts into loyal love towards Him, and that they would have endurance (patient waiting) for Christ.
3:6-12 This chiastic section, centered in verse 8 addresses the behavioral deficiencies noted in 1Thess 4:11-12 of idleness, and 1Thess 5:14 of independence/rebellion. Believers are instructed to withdraw (not hang or fellowship with) believers who aren't walking according to the truth (cf 1Cor 5:11 -not even eat). Apparently some Thessalonians were just hanging around, imposing on the love of others, waiting for Christ to return. Paul reminds them of his example of hard work (chiastic center), so that he was not a burden on anyone, even though he had the right to be supported by those to whom he ministered. A good counter balance to giving alms is the principle that if someone doesn't work, they shouldn't eat. God created us to work (even before the fall), and work gives dignity and honor, as well as being the channel though which God meets our needs. The sluggardly are commanded to work, and pull their own weight.
3:13-15 Paul commands the Body to not be weary in doing well, a temptation when things are difficult (cf 1Cor 15:58). If anyone doesn't obey the written word, the members of the Body should note that badly-behaving believer, and have no association with him. The person is disconnected from the Head of the Body, and therefore that distance is dramatized so the person would realize their fault and repent. The goal is to make the person feel ashamed. Those who don't follow this command out of a unbiblical “love” wind up serving Satan's purposes rather than God's. However, the person is not to be viewed as an enemy, but a sinning brother/sister. The goal is repentance and restoration (see Mt 18; 1Cor 5).
3:16-18 Paul ends with a benediction of peace both in the present, in the midst of tribulation, and in the future in the Kingdom. He wishes the Lord would be intimate with each of them, as would His empowering and glorifying grace.
Application: We need to work at doing the Lord's work, which might mean avoiding those who don't.
Prayer: Lord, thanks that You are faithful to guard and guide Your servants; may I be receptive and faithful to You. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God calls believers to glory, and makes available all they need to experience His plan for them. He restrains the evil one until the time comes for bringing His children home. He sends delusions to those who have pleasure in unrighteousness so they will be hardened for judgment and exclusion from His blessings.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus will return and set up His kingdom after the Rapture, the revelation of the Anti-Christ, and the removal of the Holy Spirit from dwelling on the earth during the Tribulation.

Us in a nutshell: We will experience suffering and God's grace on our way to glory. We need to be good and do good to share in Christ's reward. Satan will seek to deceive with miracles and lies, but if we are faithful to follow the revealed truth God will preserve and protect us.

Where to Go for More:

No comments:

Post a Comment