Summary: 1) Peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16a), 2) Strength (2 Thessalonians 3:16b), 3) Truth (2 Thessalonians 3:17), and 4) Grace (2 Thessalonians 3:18).
After the recent election in the United States of Donald Trump for President, continued riots have broken out several states. Rejecting notions like a new border wall, protestors have demanded that Trump step down. Law enforcement officials are calling for hostilities to end so grievances can be presented in a peaceful manner.
The Thessalonian church, so strong in many ways, had been tormented by persecution, false doctrine, fear, and sin. They were threatened by false teachers promising a false peace. The false peace of the unregenerate also has several components. It is the peace of presumption. It is based on pride, not truth, stemming from thinking oneself to be worthy before God. Those who have it are under the mistaken notion that God will accept them because they are good people. It lulls those headed for hell into a false sense that all will be well.
As a people of God we are surrounded with false solutions. Politicians promise more than they can deliver. Advertising allude to benefits that will never materialize. The entertainment industry promises an escape and travel agencies promise a peace (until we look at the travel bill). Only The Lord of Peace can deliver an eternal, unshakeable peace that comes from Him and rests in His unalterable promises.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18, the Apostle Paul calls upon The Lord of Peace to grant four blessings that are essential for spiritual maturity: 1) Peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16a), 2) Strength (2 Thessalonians 3:16b), 3) Truth (2 Thessalonians 3:17), and 4) Grace (2 Thessalonians 3:18).
1) Peace (2 Thessalonians 3:16a)
2 Thessalonians 3:16a 16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. (The Lord be with you all). (ESV)
De (Now) marks a transition, as Paul moves from command and exhortation (vv 6–15) to benediction and prayer (vv 16–18). This passage does not record an actual prayer, but rather expresses the desire of his heart that constantly rises as a cry for God’s blessing. Paul’s first request here, as in his other letters (cf 2 Cor. 13:11; Eph. 6:23), is for that highly prized, yet elusive reality, peace. The world defines peace as the sense of calm, tranquility, quietness, contentment, and well-being that comes when everything is going well. But that definition, frankly, is shallow. A calm, tranquil feeling can be produced by lies, self-deception, common grace, the absence of conflict and trouble, biofeedback, drugs, alcohol, even a good night’s sleep. Such peace is fleeting and easily destroyed. It can be shattered by the arrival of conflict and trouble, as well as by failure, doubt, fear, bitterness, anger, pride, difficulty, guilt, regret, sorrow, anxiety over circumstances beyond one’s control, being disappointed or mistreated by others, making bad decisions—in short, by any perceived threat to one’s security. But true Biblical peace is completely different from the superficial, fleeting, fragile human peace. Paul’s prayer involved much more than a temporary truce in the conflicts troubling the church. In Paul’s Jewish heritage peace was a broad concept encompassing both the absence of conflict and the presence of well-being. That Paul prayed for a peace granted by the Lord of peace makes clear that he was thinking of a spiritual reality that goes beyond human peace, one that can exist even in the midst of temporal turmoil (cf. Phil 4:6–9). It arises from the knowledge that all that is rests in the hands of the Father. And so it is possessed only by those who have learned to trust their Lord and God (Martin, D. M. (1995). 1, 2 Thessalonians (Vol. 33, p. 290). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
It is the deep, settled confidence that all is well between the soul and The Lord of Peace because of His loving, sovereign control of one’s life both in time and eternity. That calm assurance is based on the knowledge that sins are forgiven, blessing is present, good is abundant even in trouble, and heaven is ahead. The peace that God gives His beloved children as their possession and privilege has nothing to do with the circumstances of life. The Greek article requires the translation, “Give you the peace” which it is “His to give.”( Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 400). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
That peace has several characteristics. First, it is divine, deriving from the Lord of peace Himself. The pronoun autos (Himself) stands in the emphatic first position in the Greek text. The God who is peace grants peace to believers. It is the very essence of His nature, one of His attributes. God is at all times at perfect peace, without any discord within Himself. He is never under stress, worried, anxious, fearful, unsure, or threatened. He is always perfectly calm, tranquil, and content. There are no surprises for His omniscience, no changes for His immutability, no threats to His sovereignty, no doubts to cloud His wisdom, no sin to stain His holiness. Even His wrath is clear, controlled, calm, and confident. In his first letter Paul wrote of ‘the God of peace’ (1 Thes. 5:23); here ‘the Lord of peace’ means Jesus Christ. For the Old Testament prophets depicted the Messiah as the ‘Prince of Peace’, who would inaugurate a kingdom of peace (Isa. 9:6–7.). And so it proved to be. For ‘he himself is our peace’, who by his cross reconciled Jews and Gentiles to each other, and both to God, ‘thus making peace’(Eph. 2:14–15; cf. Col. 1:20.). Because he is ‘the Lord of peace’, he is uniquely qualified to ‘give peace’, a pervasive peace ‘at all times and in every way’ (Stott, J. R. W. (1994). The message of Thessalonians: the gospel & the end of time (p. 197). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.)