Study Notes

2Thessalonians 1:1-12


Within a year of writing the epistles of 1Thessalonians, Paul had the need to write this second letter to them. As the Thessalonian church continued to suffer persecution, someone had claimed by a word of prophecy that the Great Tribulation had begun. This false prophecy was later "validated" by a forged letter claiming to be from Paul, agreeing that the world was going through the Great Tribulation.

This epistle of 2Thessalonians, then had three purposes:

1) To encourage them in their suffering

2) To explain how the end times would unfold

3) To exhort those that were living undisciplined lives

So let's jump in to chapter one, verse one...

1:1-2 Grace And Peace

Silas and Timothy are still with Paul in Corinth as this letter is written. It begins with the common New Testament Greeting, "Grace to you and peace." 17 of the 27 books in the New Testament include this statement. It is somewhat different in the two letters to Timothy, which both say,

2Tim. 1:2 ...Grace, mercy {and} peace...

I think that the reason for this is that pastors need an extra measure of mercy from the Lord!

Why grace and peace, and why in that order? Grace is God's unmerited favor to us. We've been saved by it.

Eph. 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, {it is} the gift of God;

The only thing that could save us from an eternity apart from God was God coming down to undeserving sinners like us and saving us by taking our death penalty upon Himself. There is nothing else that we could have done, no amount of money that we could give, no number of good deeds we could perform, to make ourselves acceptable to God. It was only by God's grace.

The result of knowing that is peace. We have peace with God.

Rom. 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

If you are a Christian today, you have peace with God. Before you were saved, you were an enemy of God, but now because of grace, you have peace with God.

1:3-4 Faith And Love

Thanks is given for their growing faith and love. But already here in verse three, there is an indication of what is coming up in this letter. Remember that faith and love are just two of the three things that the church was commended for less than a year earlier.

1Ths. 1:3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father

Faith, hope, and love - the "triplets" of the New Testament. Each one separately necessary, and yet all three are intricately linked together.

1Cor. 13:13 But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Why is love the greatest of the three? Because love is the fruit of the other two! Show me a Christian who has little love, and I'll show you a Christian that has little faith in God and little hope in the soon return of Jesus Christ.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he said,

Col. 1:4-5 ...we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven...

They had love for the saints because they had hope and faith. Peter continues that thought, saying,

1Pet. 1:21-22 ...your faith and hope are in God. Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart

A person who has faith and hope has all the tools necessary to love.

But while the Thessalonians had been growing in faith and love, they had wavered in hope.

Perseverance Through Persecution

The Thessalonian Christians were undergoing terrible persecutions and afflictions. This started three weeks after Paul arrived in Thessalonica.

Acts 17:5-8 ...The Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and coming upon the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. And when they did not find them, they {began} dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, "These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." And they stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things.

The persecution had not stopped since. History tells us that Thessalonica was the first place that Gentile Christians were put to death.

Here in America, we think that those were the "dark ages," a time of uncivilized behavior that would never be repeated. But that is a wrong assumption. Christians continue to be persecuted throughout the world - Christians die every day because of their faith.

In the Sudan, believers are being sold into slavery, physically mutilated, and crucified. In Saudi Arabia, Christians are being arrested, tortured, and beheaded. In Pakistan, Christians are tortured in prison, attacked on the streets, and have their homes destroyed by mobs. In China, house church leaders are arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in harsh labor camps.

Pastor Fritz Manampiring has been a pastor for the last 12 years in Indonesia. A year and a half ago, he and his wife were attacked by a small mob of Muslims with rocks at his home, which is also the church. Their home was ransacked, and the mob dragged his wife outside, beating and kicking her. The government's security officers stopped the riot before they were killed. No arrests were made.

In spite of the attack, they continued to minister to Christians in the area.

A month later, a larger mob attacked, but there were no police this time. They clubbed the back of his wife's head, and then began to club him until his face was covered in blood. They then tied him with steel wire and continued to beat him. He cried out "Lord Jesus help!" A lit cigarette was shoved into his mouth as one attacker laughed, "Eat your Jesus!"

They then placed a hood over his head, took him outside, and stripped him. They beat him, burned him with cigarettes, and rolled him through the broken glass of the church window until he was unconscious.

He awoke in the church only to find that it had been set on fire. As he escaped, he was attacked again, being tied to a pole, stoned, and left for dead. Today he suffers from permanent injuries including irreparable damage to the nerves in his eyes.

But Fritz and his wife are now staying with friends less than two miles from their destroyed home church, and he continues to pastor the local Christians.

Every day, stories like this happen around the globe. The Bible promises that,

2Tim. 3:12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment. Satan attacks Christians who are on the front lines - those who are knocking down the gates of hell. How much persecution have we suffered as Christians? An occasional put-down? The loss of some friends? If we really were living godly lives, and were really preaching the gospel like we should be, we would know the persecution that the church worldwide endures every day.

1:5-10 Affliction To The Afflictors And Relief To The Afflicted

People like Pastor Fritz in Indonesia will one day get relief. And those who attacked him will one day be attacked themselves. This will happen

2Ths. 1:7 ...when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire

We have this view of Christ as a kindly man who loved everybody, and who puts up with everything. But when mercy is stretched beyond measure, it will be time for justice. And Jesus Christ will return to earth...

Jude 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

Turn with me to Revelation 19, a chapter that gives us a front row view to this:

Rev. 19:11-21 And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it {is} called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes {are} a flame of fire, and upon His head {are} many diadems; and He has a name written {upon Him} which no one knows except Himself. And {He is} clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white {and} clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, "Come, assemble for the great supper of God; in order that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great." And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, assembled to make war against Him who sat upon the horse, and against His army. And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.

One day, there will be comfort for every righteous person that has suffered, and judgment for every ungodly person that caused that suffering.

1:11-12 Worthy Of Your Calling

In view of how God is going to judge, our desire should be to live godly lives that are completely devoted to the Lord. Peter wrote,

2Pet. 3:10-11 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness

Has God called you? Ephesians 4 says,

Eph. 4:1 ...walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called

May your life be marked by goodness, godliness, and faith, so that the Lord is glorified in you, and that you are glorified in Him.

Go to next study

Go to previous study