1 ¶ Paul, and Silvanus, 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. 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
Paul sends this second letter to the Thessalonians from Athens also, as tradition would have it. The same three persons’ greetings are sent as in the first letter. Again he prays for grace and peace from God. He is pleased that their faith and their active, tangible love, or charity for each other is growing impressively. Charity toward brothers and sisters is the garment by which faith is clothed. Faith is the bones, organs, and sinews while charity is the skin.
James 2:14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
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:
The Thessalonian Christians must have been facing terrible persecution early in the first century. The Roman historian, Suetonius, mentions briefly imperial persecution against Christians during this time, but, in all likelihood, this was local persecution. I’ve already discussed some differences in the Greek and Roman world regarding religious and civil duties in the comments on the first letter to the Thessalonians. Suffice it to say, in matters of legal treatment, employment, and social acceptance Christians in first century Thessalonica would have been under some pretty extreme pressure to conform.
Paul says that their willingness to endure gives them a testimony as being worthy of the kingdom of God. We can’t regard this statement, “that ye may be counted worthy,” as indicating that their salvation was based on their willingness to suffer persecution as that would be inconsistent with other statements Paul made under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration that indicate that saving an individual and keeping that individual saved is an act of God, not of the person saved.
2Corinthians 1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Also, in this passage is evidence that persecution against Christians is a sign of God’s judgment on those doing the deed, as will be seen in the next set of verses.
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.
A disturbing thought for most of us carnal minded Christians is that we have to wait for justice regarding persecution. We may never see any action against our persecutors in this life. Of course, we would do well to make sure that the tribulation we suffer is not because of our rebellious attitude as we use God as an excuse for our own lawlessness.
1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. 17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
Important to understand is that judgment from God on someone begins with permitting them to perform the evil in the way of maliciousness and violence that is in their heart and then raining evil in the way of calamity and catastrophe down on them.
Christ is returning from heaven with His mighty angels who, by cross-referencing, are shown to be…
1Thessalonians 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
1Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
Christ’s “raptured” or Biblically speaking, “translated” saints.
Revelation 19:11 ¶ And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
This is the translated church, the bride of Christ, which follows Him from heaven.
Revelation 19:5 ¶ And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Some commentators reference this Old Testament verse and say it is a foretelling of that great day when Christ physically returns with His church.
Zechariah 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
Some commentators say this is a reference to the destruction that is coming with God’s wrath.
Joel 2:1 ¶ Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 2 A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. 3 A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. 4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. 5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. 6 Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness. 7 They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: 8 Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. 9 They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. 10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: 11 And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
The final judgment of a wicked world will come after a thousand year reign of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem, but that study is for another day. In the letters to the Thessalonians we have the translation or rapture of the church consisting of called-out and saved persons who trust in Christ’s righteousness alone and not their own and then Christ’s return with them to defeat and conquer a world of wickedness. These are the promises made by Paul to the Thessalonians given in trust to him, we believe, by God and with inspiration, which is wisdom and understanding, from God. If you don’t believe these promises you might as well just stay home on Sunday morning and watch FOX News Sunday or some other fictional television. Christ is not reigning now over the world of men including the U.S. government under either political party. Satan is the god of this fallen world and has been ever since your first ancestor turned it over to him.
2Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
But, things are going to change. So, put away your banners, your dollar-store-political-slogans, your invitations to turn-America-back-to-God rallies, etc. etc. Trying to deny or prevent what the Bible says is going to happen is fruitless and a pointless waste of time.
Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.