Translations: Chinese GB Big5

2Thessalonians 1 (web)

Living Worthy of the Kingdom

1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ:
1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:3 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;
1:4 so that we ourselves boast about you in the assemblies of God
for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions which you endure.

1:5 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.

1:6 Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay affliction to those who afflict you,
1:7 and to give relief to you that are afflicted with us,

when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire,
1:8 giving vengeance to those who don't know God,
and to those who don't obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus,
1:9 who will pay the penalty:
eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
1:10 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.
1:11 To this end we also pray always for you,
that our God may count you worthy of your calling,
and fulfill every desire of goodness
and work of faith, with power;
1:12 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.

Discussion Questions

vs 3 What characteristics have you recognized that someone you know has been growing in that you have come to appreciate?
vs 4 Under what kind of circumstances fertilize faith and love?
What is detrimental about experiencing few difficulties in life?
vs 5,11 What does it mean to be counted worthy of the kingdom?
How is this related to one's salvation status?
vs 6-9 How do you reconcile that apparent contradiction between God's love and His justice?
How is God's character contrary to the popular ideas of what is considered "good, loving and kind"?
vs 8 What categories of people will experience eternal destruction?
vs 9 What is eternal destruction? Annihilation?
vs 10 How can Paul speak so confidently about the Thessalonian's future state of escape from such judgment? Do you have such confidence that you will escape?
vs 11 How can you incorporate these three ideas into your own prayer life?


Thank God for Growth

2Thess 1:1-4  Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

Col 1:3-5 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,  because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel

2Peter 1:8  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christian character qualities were meant to grow, not to be stagnant. When God plants a seed he intends for it to grow. Consider in what ways you have grown in your faith and in your love for fellow Christians these past years.

1Peter 1:6,7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire— may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

How did Paul know their faith was growing? Faith is revealed by one's response to persecutions and trials. And likewise love is revealed by one's actions. Faith and love are not things simply to be felt. They are to be seen. In parts of the world there's persecution against Christians as at that time, but Christians should not cower and hide their faith as secret Christians but should publically identify with Christ and with the Christian community and accept the persecutions which come with that position, else it may very well be that their faith is not genuine.

One thing that helps Christians to overcome cowardice is by considering the testimony of those who take a public stand in the face of persecution. Paul writes, "Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly." Php 1:14

Counted Worthy

2Thess 1:5  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

That is, when those who reject the gospel portray such hostility against Christians, it shows that God is right in condemning them. And when Chistians behave as Christians should, it shows God is right in counting them worthy of the kingdom. But if salvation is a free gift, doesn't "counted worthy" imply some kind of work or effort. Indeed Jesus said, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door" Luke 13:24 and he spoke of those "worthy of taking part" in the age to come. (Luke  20:35) and he says, "anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."Mt 10:38 Though salvation is free, it is not unconditional. It is conditioned upon Christian faith. Faith is not a work, it's an attitude, but nonetheless requires effort to apply. Now there are those today who would discourage Christians from making an effort at applying their faith, who preach a non-application oriented faith which is not Biblical faith. The faith that saves is the faith that works. Their perseverance under trial was evidence of their faith.

Now consider yourself as to whether you are worthy of the kingdom and by what measure God will reckon you worthy. For if salvation is conditioned upon faith, what evidence is there of your faith? And if you were put on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?

Anticipate God's Vengeance

2Thess 1:6-10 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

It is written, Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. Rom 12:19 While Christians are to respond to hostility with meekness, let us keep in mind that God will eventually punish those who unjustly trouble Christians. And not only them. He will also punish those who do not know God or refuse to obey the Gospel of Jesus.

Now while everlasting destruction would seem too severe a punishment, that is the way it is. Jesus was clear on this as was his apostles. For example Jesus said, "anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." Mt 5:22 In Luke 16 he describes such a place where a man was "in hell, where he was in torment". Luke 16:23 Thus Jesus warned, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell."Mt 10:28 And as evidence of such torment being eternal consider the fate of the devil and the anti-Christ. "They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever" Rev 20:10

What does it mean "do not know God"? Surprisingly, Paul uses the word "oida" for "know" rather than "ginosko". "Ginosko" is relational knowledge. But "oida" is knowledge gained through perception. So this is not saying that such people do not have a personal relationship with God, but rather that these people are ignorant of God due to their lack of perception. Futhermore, the tense is perfect, indicating that their not "knowing" was something continuous from the past to the present. It really should be "have not perceived God". Eph 4:18 describes such a condition saying, "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts."

"Obey" is "hupakouo". This is a listening type of obedience, often used by parents in speaking thusly to their children, "Why don't you listen to me?", meaning "Why don't you obey me?" It is in the present tense which imparts a lifestyle sense characteristic of those born of God. It is used also in Hebrews:

"once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him" Heb 5:9
And thus the disobedient will go to hell also, perhaps much to their surprise.
 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Matt 7:21
There's an interesting play between the present tense and the aorist tense of "believe" in this verse. How can Paul say that these Thessalonians will be included among those who will have believed (in a present continuous sense) just because they had come to believe at some point in time? He doesn't know whether they will continue to believe. The only way to resolve this is through the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. Not only
once saved, always saved", but "once having believed with salvific faith, one will always believe". And thus, having been convinced that their faith was of salvific value, based upon their performance, he could speak confidently of their future. In 1Thess 3:5 he had expressed doubt as to their status, but upon evaluation of their performance under pressure it was clear they came to genuine faith in Christ. And having come to genuine faith in Christ he was confident that they would continue in it.

Acts Prompted by Faith

2Thess 1:11,12 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so 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.

Praying that God may count them worthy is less of a request than it is an endorsement in light of their endurance through persecutions and love for fellow Christians. And thus in view of their good purposes and genuine faith he prays that God may fulfill their every good purpose and every act which had been prompted by their faith.

Faith prompts us to action. We need to sense the prompting of the Holy Spirit who helps us infer applications of our faith. What actions have been prompted by your faith?  Take time to pray now for yourself and other Christians that God may fulfill every good intention and every act prompted by faith. Such fulfillment brings glory to the Lord Jesus, and consequently back to his servants, whether in this life or the next.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015