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.
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.
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.