If there is one chapter that should blow your mind it is 2Thessalonians 1.
Paul is commending the Thessalonian church for:
• Abundantly Growing Faith
o Faith, obedience, service, and good works is something that Christians should be growing in. We are not to be idle or go backwards in our zeal to serve and trust Christ.
o In Colossians we see Paul encouraging the readers to grow in wisdom and knowledge: Colossians 1:9-10 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
• Love for one another is increasing
o John makes the same point of the importance of love for the brethren: 1John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
o 1John 3:23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
o Just as our faith must be growing, our love for each other must be increasing.
o It is encouraging to consider that I should measure my faith and love, not by another’s, but I should measure it by where I was yesterday, or a month ago, or a year ago – am I growing, are these things increasing?
• Enduring Persecution and Affliction
o Following Jesus and serving Him is sure to bring persecution. In some countries the persecution is much more severe than others. But whatever persecution we face because of our faith in Jesus we must stay steadfast, we must endure.
o Jesus told a parable of four categories of people; one group is one that did not endure:
Mark 4:16-17 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
Paul makes two VERY HEAVY points about enduring persecution and affliction. The first point is a dramatic paradigm shift from what we may think, and what is being taught in many churches today.
• Being persecuted and afflicted for your faith in Jesus is evidence of something. Throughout Scripture we see various things that serve as evidence of true belief. Persecution and affliction serve as evidence that we are “worthy of the Kingdom of God”. WOW!
• When we follow Jesus and lovingly share His Word, we will see persecution. We should not be rude or harsh in our sharing or service. Persecution for being rude or harsh is not the same as being persecuted on account of the Word. The Word of Truth is offensive to a lost world, simply sharing it with gentleness and love will bring persecution.
• 1Corinthains 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The second point regarding persecution is equally heavy. We have the mindset that there will be relief from the persecution in the here and now. We think there will be justice in the here and now of this life. This is not true. Relief is coming, but not in the here and now. Those who afflict the brethren will be brought to justice, but not in this world:
• 2Thessalonians 1:7-8 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
o It is interesting that Paul does not say, “those who persecute the brethren will face God’s vengeance”. He says that all “who do not know God” AND all “who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus”
o This relief for the persecuted and vengeance for the ungodly is coming at the return of Christ, not in the here and now.
What does this vengeance look like?
• 2Thessaloians 1:9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
o In the presence of the Lord there is light, peace, comfort – just to name a few of the blessings. At the coming of Christ, the blessings He has poured out will cease for many, and the only thing that will remain for them is “punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord”
Consider this: When you warn a kid not to put is tongue on a flagpole in the middle of winter, who is he mad at when he does it?
There is only himself to be mad at; after all, he was warned.
Isn’t it strange that the world gets upset when you try to warn them what God has said in His Word?
In addition to vengeance, there is something else that is going to happen at the return of Christ:
• He will be glorified in His saints
• He will be marveled at among all who believe
Consider how men marvel at amazing sights such as the Grand Canyon. This will be nothing compared to how believers will marvel at Christ when He returns.
Notice how believers come to be believers:
2Thessalonians 1:10b because our testimony to you was believed.
Men must share the Truth, that is how one comes to believe:
Romans 10:14-15 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"
2Thessalonians 1:11-12 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 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.