2Thessalonians 1 - Outline of 2Thessalonians (Book Notes menu page)
Paul wrote this second epistle to the Thessalonian church just a few months after sending his first epistle. Both letters were probably written from Corinth, between 52-54 AD.

First Thessalonians reviewed and clarified Paul's teaching concering the imminent Coming of Christ to receive His own. While the new believers were watching for this blessed hope {confident expectation}, some of their number had already died. This raised the question: 'Will believers, who die before the Lord's coming, be excluded from joy in the presence of Christ, for whom they had been watching?'
     Paul's response was that at Christ's coming, the dead in Christ would be raised first, and then all believers (those previously dead but now raised, and those living at that time) would be caught up, together, to meet the Lord in the air (in the Rapture of the saints, 1The 4:13-18). In that letter, Paul also taught that believers have been saved from God's wrath which will be poured out in judgment upon the world, during 'the Day of the Lord' (1The 1:10).

In Second Thessalonians, Paul answers another question which had subsequently arisen.
'Had the presently living believers missed the Rapture and entered into the Day of the Lord?'
This question arose because...
  1. The Thessalonian church was suffering severe persecution. Their experience seemed to match their understanding of the Tribulation period, in the Day of the Lord.
  2. They had received a letter, purportedly from Paul, teaching that the Day of the Lord had already come and was now present. (This was false teaching. The letter was a counterfeit. 2The 2:1,2)
Paul's answer...
  1. comforts them in their distress caused by this misunderstanding,
  2. assures them of their place in Christ,
  3. disavows the false letter,
  4. clarifies the order of events leading to the Day of the Lord,
  5. instructs concerning practical aspects of Christian living, in the present day.
    [These points are an overview of subject matter, see the Outline for specifics.]
The two letters focus on different aspects of Christ's 'coming' {GK=parousia, lit., 'with-being', presence}.
1. Paul, and Silvanus {ie., Silas}, and Timotheus,
unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The salutation is nearly identical to that of his first letter (1The 1:1).
However, even this greeting is full of assurance for believers who thought they had been swept into God's wrath, in the Day of the Lord. That thought was incompatible with their position "in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" the well head of "grace and peace," by which they were being enabled to endure their present trials.
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet {ie., fitting},
because that your faith groweth exceedingly,
and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God
for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
5. [Which is] a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God,
that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
As in his first letter, Paul begins by thanking God for working within these relatively new believers,
as demonstrated in their faith, love and hope (cp. 1The 1:2-3).
  • their faith was growing by leaps and bounds (v.3).
  • their love was super-abounding (v.3).
    God had answered Paul's specific prayer in this regard (1The 3:12).
  • their 'hope' {confident expectation} had been damaged by the false teaching.
    Therefore, instead of using this word, Paul substitutes the phrase 'patience and faith.'
    Their patience {ie., steadfastness, endurance}, based upon their faith in the Lord, was...
    • an example to other believers in endurance of trials (v.4), and
    • an evidence {'token'} that God judged them to be worthy of His Kingdom (v.5).
      They had not earned entrance into the Kingdom by their suffering.
      Rather, they were 'counted worthy' {'judged to be worthy} on the basis of their enduring faith (cp. Rom 4:3-5,20-25).
...in all your persecutions {ie., pursuit by enemies} and tribulations {afflictions, trouble} that ye endure...
The Thessalonian believers had known such troubles, from the time of their new birth.
Paul had previously taught them that 'affliction' is the believer's lot in this life (1The 1:6; 2:13,14; 3:1-4).
For the believer, afflictions for Christ's sake are...
  • not strange, 1Pet 4:12
  • a privilege of identification with Christ, 1Pet 4:13,14
  • distinct from the deserved consequences of ungodly living, 1Pet 4:15
  • a means of honoring God {ie., showing your opinion of His worth}, 1Pet 4:16
  • a prelude to judgment upon the world, 1Pet 4:17-19
    God's righteousness to judge the sinful world is demonstrated, by His righteous judgment to purge His own house (ie., His kingdom and children) of all impurity (v.5a)
...a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God...- cp. v.5; Php 1:28
In v.6-10, Paul interrupts his prayer, with a parenthetical explanation of God's righteous justice.
6 Seeing [it is] a righteous thing with God
to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us,
when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God,
and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints,
and to be admired in all them that believe
(because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
...it is a righteous thing {GK=dikaios, right, just}... to recompense {ie., requite, repay what is due}...
What will God repay, and to Whom? (v.6-7a)
  1. tribulation {affliction} to them that trouble {afflict} you.
  2. rest {ie., relief from trouble} to you, who are troubled, with us.
    The apostle and his co-laborers had not yet entered into this rest.
    The persecuted believers could take courage.
    The day of wrath, which they had feared had already come, was yet future.
    God, the righteous Judge, had better things in store for them.
When will He repay, and How?
  1. when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed {GK=apokalupsis, unveiled} from heaven... (v.7b-9)
    The ungodly world will not understand who Jesus is, until He is revealed as the Judge, when He comes to earth again.
    He will come from heaven with His angels, at the close of the Tribulation (Rev 19:11-21).
    • in flaming fire taking vengeance...
      'Vengeance' {GK=ekdikesis} is 'that which proceeds out of justice,' as opposed to that which proceeds out of personal insult or indignation (cf. Luk 9:54-56). God acts according to what is right, not from a vindictive spirit (Deu 32:35; Rom 12:17-19).
    • ...on them that 'know' {GK=oida, recognize} not God...- (cp. this word in 1The 5:12)
      Men, in the pride of rebellion, refuse to humble themselves before their Creator and Judge.
    • ...and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ...
      'Obedience' to the Gospel, is submission to the righteousness, which He has provided in Christ, for all who will believe. Rom 10:3-4,16-18
         Men, in the pride of self-righteousness, refuse to receive the gift of righteousness, freely offered by God. Therefore, they remain guilty and condemned before Him. Heb 10:26-30
    • who shall be punished {GK=dike, suffer the sentence of justice} with everlasting destruction {ie., ruin, cp. 1The 5:3}...
      This 'destruction' is not annihilation, but rather the ruin of eternal separation from the ever-living One who is the Giver of everything good. Joh 17:3; Jam 1:17
      ...from the presence of the Lord...- Mat 7:21-23; 22:13
      ...from the glory of His power. Mat 16:27; Rev 20:11-15
      Apart from "the help {HB=yeshuah, salvation} of His countenance" {ie., His face, His Presence} there is no hope and no relief from despair. But the Lord is near to those who trust in Him (Psa 42:5,11)...
  2. when He shall come... in that day (ie., at the time of His revelation)... (v.10)
    At Christ's revelation, the saints will bask in the glory of His Presence (1Pet 1:13; 4:13; Rev 1:1). For He shall come...
    • to be glorified in His saints...-
      The Lord will be glorified for the greatness of His mercy and salvation bestowed upon believers. v.12; Joh 17:10; Eph 1:6,12,14,18
    • to be admired in them that believe...- Psa 89:5-7
      The word for 'to be admired' is usually translated 'to wonder' or 'to marvel' (eg., Mat 8:26,27; Luk 9:43-45; Joh 5:20,21). In that day, the saints will be overwhelmed by all that He is and all that He has done for us. 1Cor 2:9; Rev 1:17
    • (because our testimony among you was believed)...-
      Paul assures the Thessalonian believers that they would participate in this glorious event, because they had received and believed the Gospel (1The 2:13).
In the closing verses of the chapter, Paul's prayer resumes, with his petition.
11. Wherefore also we pray always for you,
that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling,
and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness,
and the work of faith with power:
12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him,
according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wherefore... {ie., in anticipation of Christ's coming, and because you belong to Him}...
...we pray always for you...
  • that our God would count you worthy of this calling...
    Their calling was to be 'counted worthy of the Kingdom of God' (v.5) through faith in Christ, by whom they had obtained salvation, and with whom they will dwell eternally in His glory. 2The 2:14; Rom 8:30; 9:23-24
  • [that our God would] fulfil...
    ...all the good pleasure of His goodness... Php 1:6; 2:13
    ...and the work of faith with power... Eph 1:19,20
    God Himself would accomplish His purposes in and for them.
  • that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in Him. v.10; Joh 17:10,22-24
...according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus.
Paul prayed for things which God has promised to accomplish in and for all who trust in Christ. Every aspect of his petition rests upon the grace {ie., unmerited favor} extended to us by God in our Savior and Lord. It is of grace, that the promise might be sure (because it depends entirely upon Him, not upon our ability or merit). Rom 4:16

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