Summary: Do you ever get a report card from God on how you are doing? The Thessalonians get one from Paul and we learn about moving our relationship on in Jesus.
How many of you have ever gotten a report card or employee evaluation? I wonder if that sinking feeling might have attended the opening of Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians. The first letter was designed to answer questions and concerns about Jesus’ return - and to get people who had checked into their Rapture Flight and had checked out of life to get off their backs and provide for themselves.
Paul revealed the Rapture - that snatching away of believers who are alive after the last person accepts Christ - and told them that those who had died wouldn’t miss it but would actually proceed us who are alive.
So now it’s only three months later and here comes a second letter. Why? Because apparently some people got the wrong message - thinking that Paul was telling them that Jesus was coming back immediately. So they simply stopped working and started watching.
Paul writes this second letter to clear up the false doctrine about Jesus’ Second coming. There was apparently a disinformation campaign going on in Thessalonica that Jesus had already come. It was so bad that Paul had to write right away to clear it up.
1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 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. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
Paul’s main encouragement to the Thessalonians in his first letter was that they had the basics but needed to push ahead to "love more and more." Here he says they did it - isn’t it neat when something actually goes right? When you hear the voice of God, and you obey it? He also warned them that problems were inevitable and was glad that they "stood firm" in them. Now he talks about them "persevering." The two words are different. In 1 Thessalonians "standing firm" means to "stay in one place." But now Paul talks about them "persevering" which means "to stay under."
Now I might be splitting hairs here - but there is a difference between just holding on - sticking tight until the storm passes - and staying "under" the Lord’s hand.
In 1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves , therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Perhaps it’s the difference between going into a tornado shelter until the storm passes - or having someone hold on to you that you know will never let you go. It’s a closeness to God as you, through experience, see God come through again and again.
Philippians 3:10 talks about "the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings."
So the good news is that the Thessalonians received and acted on Paul’s encouragements to go deeper in their Christian walk - unfortunately, they didn’t get what he was trying to tell them about the Second Coming.
So here he begins to set the stage:
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.
God chose us - but He also chose for us to undergo trials. Our perseverance through the trials don’t earn us salvation, they are a sign that God is working in us.
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.
Payback is coming - John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him."
The question is WHEN:
This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 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.
Matthew 24:27 describes the Second Coming as "lightning." So it will be visible to all.
Jesus also won’t be alone. Jude 14 tell us that He is coming with "thousands upon thousands of His saints." Also in 1 Thessalonians 3:13 that He is coming with "all His holy ones." So Jesus will not be alone.