Two concerns have prompted this letter, both of which were addressed in the first. A good portion of chapters 1 and 2 is devoted to continued questions about Christ’s return. Consider Paul’s concerns for the Thessalonians when he reminds them that “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels” He will “grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us… inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God…” Furthermore, he prays that they will not be “quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” He concludes by affirming what must happen before the Lord returns, so they will not be deceived.
A second concern was alluded to yesterday with three simple words: “Admonish the idle.” In chapter 3 Paul rebukes them, “For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies… If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Furthermore, he commissions the church itself to confront “…anyone [who] does not obey what we say in this letter: take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.”
Paul is likely referencing his first letter to them when he writes in chapter 2: “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, whether by our spoken word or by our letter.” To call their beliefs “traditions” is an interesting word choice, but he employs it twice in this letter, and used it in the same manner in 1 Corinthians. He obviously saw his teachings as displacing the “traditions of my fathers” he had rejected in Galatians and the “human” traditions of Colossians.
This is no small thing. The Thessalonian letters were among the earliest written, according to the timeline of Acts. The Gospel had been spreading for about 20 years, but the question of which “traditions” Gentile converts should follow was only recently settled. Resistance from local Jewish assemblies, as well as from other Christian missionaries with different opinions, would have proven difficult.
The postscript “With my own hand…” that has become a familiar signature receives expanded treatment today: “This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write.” The concern that others would speak for the Apostle in an attempt to deceive, was apparently so pressing that Paul feels it necessary to highlight his personal seal upon this letter.
Our verse for this week is Deuteronomy 10:12: And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
2 Thessalonians. Now let’s read it!
2 Thessalonians -
1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 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. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 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.