Part 4, The Return of Christ, How Should We Then Live.
Paul again addresses Christ’s coming and what the church in Thessalonica must do in order to be assured of their faith and their security as believers. Paul, Silas, and Timothy had founded the church. The letter was written from Corinth after Paul’s coworker, Timothy, returned from Thessalonica to report that the new converts had stood fast in the Lord despite persecution.
“Thessalonica was the proud capital of the Roman province of Macedonia and had a population of over 100,000. It’s natural harbor and placement on the busy east-west Egnatian Way as well as key north-south trade routes meant that it was a flourishing center of trade and philosophy.”1.
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,[and sisters] 2. as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 ESV)."We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, the love of every one of you for one another is increasing"(2Thess.1:3).#EndTimes #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
Abundant, growing faith is necessary in these end times. Love one another.
Throughout the Roman empire the church was persecuted, often based on superstitions regarding the pagan idols of the region. Followers of Christ were regarded as atheists, because they didn’t worship nor follow the pagan idols.
Therefore, believers were often blamed for hardships the city experienced. Pagan locals feared that their traditional gods would turn against their city, their harvests would fail, and their enemies would triumph, because the Christians among them didn’t worship these idols.
How will unbeliever’s actions impact the Judgment at Christ’s Coming?
In what ways will God rectify the injustice toward believers?
Paul continues on from the earlier paragraph: “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[destruction that comes from]3. the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12 ESV).
There will be justice. This is the reality that supports and uplifts many persecuted believers all over the world. The Lord will make it all right.
Faith in Christ prevents us from being cast out away from God’s presence.There will be justice. This is the reality that supports and uplifts many persecuted believers all over the world. The Lord will make it all right. #bgbg2 Click To Tweet
As we consider our own preparation for the imminent return of Christ, growing faith, love for one another, steadfast trust, solid belief are evidence of growth and commitment to Christ, especially during end-times persecution.
Pause to reflect and to consider. How we can live in such a way that our love and commitment to Christ are obvious and our love for him strong?
Here we see another reason for our faith to be obvious and our commitment solid. There are many people in need of Jesus. We see in these verses that cruel and unbelieving people have made life difficult for the believers, causing affliction.
The return of Jesus brings relief to those who love and serve him, but to those who do not, affliction will come, repaying those who have harmed the believers. Vengeance and retribution will be inflicted on those who don’t know God and don’t obey the Gospel. A terrifying truth.
Therefore, we feel the need to evangelize those who treat us badly, so they will not be afflicted. This isn’t a natural reflex or choice. This is the work of the Holy Spirit within us.Believers feel the need to tell persecutors about salvation in Christ Jesus. This isn't a natural reflex or choice. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. @bgbg2 Click To Tweet
When persecuted, by the grace of God, we must recall that we, too, are sinners and only because of Jesus are we forgiven. We now represent the Lord Jesus Christ. If one who doesn’t know Jesus never hears the Gospel, we must give an account before God for why we didn’t tell these others the truth about Jesus.Pray for those who persecute you. Our kindness, gentleness, and love as believers toward those in opposition may change eternity for them as they see Christ in us.#bgbg2 Click To Tweet
Pray for those who persecute you. Our kindness, gentleness, and love as believers toward those in opposition can change eternity for them as they see Christ in us.
- Introduction to 1 Thessalonians, ESV Study Bible, Wheaton, Illinois, 2008.
- Translation footnote for 2 Thessalonians 1:3, ESV Study Bible, 2008.
- Translation footnote for 2 Thessalonians 1:9, ESV Study Bible, 2008.