Paul’s Footsteps #105

Footsteps #105

Notice the theology in the greeting of 2Thess.1:1-2  Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us.” NLT Paul, as he does so often, talks about grace and peace. How crucial that, no matter our circumstances, we all take time to dwell on the wonderful provision of salvation made for us and the grace it offers us, regardless of our unworthiness. What better way to experience the peace that we are promised? We need to keep the focus off ourselves and on Jesus and what we have been given in Him.  

He gives thanks in vs3-10 because their faith and love for one another is getting stronger. However, Paul will go on to offer significant criticism of the church in the next chapters. But he knows that people need a lot of affirmation before they can handle criticism constructively. He provides that kind of affirmation in chapter 1. 

One of the reasons for Paul’s affirmations is that the church in Thessalonica is continuing to suffer persecution. He particularly commends their “patience” in affliction (NLT: endurance and faithfulness). Instead of faith, hope, and love, Paul talks about their faith, love, and patience. Because “patience” here is a substitute for “hope,” it leads Paul into his exposition of the Second Coming later on in the chapter. 

2Thessalonians exhibits many more references to the OT than does 1Thessalonians. Remember the OT was the only Bible when this was written, and Paul had it memorised. 

Read 1:5-10 The word ‘evidence’ (NLT) means “proof” or “plain indication” of something. What does the persecution of Christians (vs.4) prove? It is certainly not evidence of God’s judgment against His people. On the contrary, it is a pointer to the future judgment, in which the people of God are vindicated and those who persecuted them receive the same kind of experience they inflicted on others. Paul reminds them that those who persecute the people of God will one day face the justice of God. 

The NT encourages believers to exhibit grace, mercy, and forgiveness toward others. But when these actions are rebuffed and repaid with curses, blows, and confinement, it is encouraging to know that injustice will not last forever. Thus, God’s people are invited to have patience (c.f.Rev.14:12).

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