2 Thessalonians 1:1-2:1: "Walk Worthy of Your Calling"
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God's Final Judgment and Glory
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe,* because our testimony among you was believed.
Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The 2 letters Paul wrote to the Church of Thessalonica were some of his earliest compilations that are archived in the New Testament part of the Bible…. It was that Paul who was called to be an Apostle by Jesus Christ and once converted from a fierce prosecutor of Christians into a fierce prognosticator of the Christian faith that God led to establish this Thessalonian church during his 2nd missionary journey…..And it was Paul that elicited to help of Silas and Timothy to further the work he started in Thessalonica…but could not physically complete in the city…. because Paul had a run in with the locals and the Judaizers that continued to be nemesis to his ministry causing him once again to be hastily run out of another town....What happened as it was other times before was Paul dared to preach the gospel to the Gentiles in Thessolonica….and it didn’t sit well with those who were hell bend on living unmoral and immoral lifestyles….nor with the Jews who had serious issues with Gentile being preached the gospel and sharing any space in their synagogues once they were saved. So since Paul like could not physically come to the aid of the church and comfort them with his presence….he was compelled to write them because this church psychologically was in disillusion….. the people were psychologically shaken in their mind… and living under the false assumption… that they were suffering those persecutions promised to happen when Jesus Christ comes back to earth….not to save this time…but to judge…and God in His anger pours out His wrath of punishment on the earth…So Paul writes to them to stem the tide of their worries and ease their troubled minds.
From the theological perspective, the pervading message Paul conveys to us by the Holy Spirit was to tell the members of this church about the imminent return of Jesus Christ…. And to let them know that even though they were suffering terrible persecution from the hands of the Judaizers and their own wicked countrymen… the true church ….that they were a part of…. would not suffer the vengeance the Lord is going to rain down on this evil and fallen society…..He assured them that God would rapture them out of harm’s way…. Before the execution of his judgment ever happened…..
You see for some strange reason… they had began to believe that they were experiencing the great and terrible Day of the Lord mentioned in Joel 2:31….
The prophet Joel said in verses 31 and that 32nd verse :
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls”….
Paul recognized he had to quickly clear up that erroneous assumption …because this assumption created the 3” real dilemmas they now had… that had to be quickly addressed by their exiled pastor. Because of this erroneous belief, and misapplication of prophecy……
(1) They became careless about their daily work because apparently they were under the impression that Jesus was coming back very shortly in their lifetime.
(2) This created a concern among them concerning the final state of their Christian friends who had died in the faith and the effect this would have on their eternal future when Jesus did come back. . . and of course anytime persecution of a people becomes rampant….the people start pointing fingers at each others
(3) A schism rose up in the fellowship… Friction started to exist between church officers and those members who God anointed with spiritual gifts. And in addition with the schism that already existed between the church and the public sector that wanted no part of Jesus Christ… the members started bickering over who had the right to exercise their spiritual gifts in their church….
So he wrote to them in the first letter to tell them since Jesus is coming back… “I urge you to conduct yourselves in a worthwhile manner…I urge you to exhibit godly credibility because this church and its fellowship was being built based on sound doctrine”…. and second… with the aid of the ministries of Timothy and Silas….the 3 of them collaborated in this letter to continue to strengthen the people by encouraging them to keep on keeping on…by holding on to their strong faith and Christian life work in the midst of their trying times.
Paul makes strong emphasis in Chapter 4 in the first letter that Jesus was really coming back… and really could come back at any minute…and they need not worry about seeing their deceased loved ones in the afterlife…Paul not only assured them that they would see them again but, told he told them that when Jesus came back….the dead in Christ would rise first…then those of them that belong to HIM that were still alive when HE came would be changed….in a moment….in the twinkling of an eye and rise up and meet up with them and then together… all of them would meet the Lord in the air and from that moment on…. They all would go home together to be with the Lord forever and ever ….
So he writes in the second letter the additional assurance that when Jesus came back…He will punish the people and nations responsible for the persecution of HIS church and to remind them again not to lose hope and cave in under the pressure of judicial persecution…. Jesus was truly coming back…but they needed to know that before Jesus came back … they could expect several cataclysmic…even tragic events to take place before He did …
First… there would be a great falling away from the Christian faith… Many people within the church will cave in under the wave of increased evil and would become disgruntled with the traditional Holy Spirit filled church… and living a holy way of life…like the people today are doing right now… Paul said many would fall away from the faith….many would leave the bible based,,,. Christ centered…Holy Spirit led church….. New kinds of churches and religious assemblies would spring up….Many New Age pastors and congregations would change the way church as they now say… the way we do church…to the point that they would change the way we worship….why we worship…and even what and who we worship….this New Age church experience would be led by evil and seductive spirits ….having a form of godliness…but denying the real power that comes from God….
Many "New Age" thinking people will start migrating into Christian congregations bringing into their worldly views. And after taking leadership positions in their perspective congregations start allowing pagan and abominable lifestyles and practices to be accepted in the modern church on earth and permeate and undergird the secular humanistic lifestyles now practiced in the community…causing a great slander to the true reputation of the church….because like the Laodicean attitude of the Laodicean church….the mega church mentality is we are rich…..increased with goods and have need of nothing…..
Paul said … And then, at some point… the “man of sin”… this Antichrist….this son of perdition…. who will dare to stand in opposition of everything that’s God’s way…. Filling the church with false doctrine after false doctrine…even stand in the way of every object people worship….that includes idol worship…. will take his seat in the temple of God…right in the church…and publicly display himself as God.
Paul said: the good thing is…right now there is a divine restraining order in place…. and when the time is right…everybody that still alive when that time comes…will know who he is….My brothers and sisters the good news is even now….the man of sin….that son of perdition is still under a divine restraining order….and there is a good reason for that…You want to know the reason?
I’m going to tell you that reason….the reason he is under restraint because Jesus said the gospel shall be preached to all nations for a witness then…shall the end come….God’s message of salvation must reach every nation…and there must be a witness in every nation….As bad as it’s getting and as bad as it is now…..Jesus said this is the beginning of the time of sorrows….young folks shacking up married folks packing up …..men marrying men…women marrying women…moral depravity everywhere…..children being kidnapped and sexually trafficked…. people moving out…people moving in….people being killed…why…because of the color of their skin…by the time Jesus comes back for His church…the world will have become a ball of confusion…….
So my brothers and sisters….what Paul wrote serves to them and to us as a “wake –up” … that in the meantime…in the midst of all the evil mayhem… the church still has evangelism work to do…. the gospel must be preached…the people in the church still have to live right…. We still have a charge to keep and a God to glorify… We still have a present day responsibility to serve the present age and stop standing around gazing into the future….The disciples in Jesus day did the same thing….Read in the Book of Acts in that 1st chapter…They had it so bad that the angels had to get their attention and raise the question…What you standing around gazing for….This same Jesus who you saw go up into the heavens…. is come back the same way He went up…We don’t have to wait to get Holy host power….If you are really in Christ….you already got it….Now it’s time to use it and lift Jesus up….
Now as we conclude with going to the text…this was a trying time for the church….Trials and persecutions were everywhere…Jesus haters Gentiles and law keeping Jews harassed them day and night…. And in this second chapter Paul reemphasized what he said to them in the 4th chapter of 1st Thessalonians…..Paul reemphasized the importance of the church and the true believers not losing their focus….in the midst of trouble and changing times…
Look at what he says in that 4th chapter: Paul said when it comes down to sexual matters, the child of God must always conduct themselves differently than the way the world does…In the first 8 verses…Paul pleads for purity: Listen to what he said in the first 2 verses: “You have grown…but you got to keep growing….You are matured…but you got to keep maturing… We taught you how to please God…We taught you what Jesus commanded….you must talk the talk but even more than that….walk the walk…God wills this for you…You’ve got to be sanctified… You need to know that sanctification is more than praising with your hands…running with your feet and shouting with your mouth….sanctification is your character and conduct…..it governs the way you live your life….Paul said:
God requires that you abstain from sexual immorality….unholy unions that defile the marriage bed…and your body…Paul said…by now…each of you should know how to “possess” that means take control over his own vessel ( your body) in sanctification and honor….You should know how… to maintain self control… of all your passions and intimate desires….and not get caught up in lustful passions getting all hot and bothered riding an emotional rollercoaster desiring forbidden relationships out front that used to be on the down low and on the low-low……It doesn’t matter if the world makes it legal….It might be legal in the world…..but still unlawful in the eyes of Almighty God….and what God has put together and joined together let no man or legal system put it asunder….we can’t act like the Gentiles …not the ones in the world….on the outside of the arc of safety… but even them that have crept in the church…..singing in the choir….preach8ng in the pulpits…..sitting in the pews….belonging to secret societies… that have no desire to really change…but want to push their evil agenda upon God’s church…..
Paul said:…Remember….they profess God…but they don’t know God…..and while I’m at it…. that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother….or their sister in this matter, this sexually perverted manner….because the Lord is the avenger of all such…. and you can’t say that we didn’t warn you ahead of time…. God did not call us to uncleanness….God called us to holiness. Therefore anybody and I do mean anybody that rejects what we are just told you…. does not reject man, but they are rejecting God, the same God that gave us the Holy Spirit…..
Paul admonishes the church to walk worthy of the calling God placed on them…Paul…Silas … and Timothy in collaborated in this letter to tell the church that the rapture will happen before the 7-year tribulation period begins…..We know you are suffering….you are persecuted on every hand…You already believe that the day of the Lord is soon to come and Jesus is coming back of this church….you don’t want to be caught with your works undone….
You may have heard what Jesus said a long time ago: Let not your heart be troubled….if you believe in God….believe also in Me….For in My Father’s house are many mansions….and if it was not so….I will have told you….I go….to prepare a place for you…and if I go to prepare that place….I will come again…..and receive you…unto Myself….that where I Am….there you will be also…Jesus died so we could live Jesus died that we could have another chance…One Friday they hung Jesus on a cross…they nailed His hands…..nailed His feet pierced Him in His side placed a crown of thorns on his head…..He died…Yes He died….when He died….the sky got dark and the sun refused to shine…..When He died…the moon dripped away in blood….When He died….the graves opened up….and all the dead saints got up…. Had a victory celebration….marched in the streets of Jerusalem….gave God the praise…Yes he died….they buried Him in a borrowed tomb….but early….early…right early…Sunday morning….Jesus got up out the tomb….All power….All power….in His hands… yes you ought to rejoice when somebody is brought out of darkness in to the marvelous light…..place their feet on straight street and finally get eternal life…. Finally.....
I heard them say…..We are obligated to thank God for all He’s doing in your lives…the Lord is doing great things in your lives…So much so… that we brag about the work He has done in you to the other churches….Your enemies lie on you….but you hang in there…..they persecute you….but you hang in there….some of your family have been killed….but you still hang in there….the more you go through….the stronger you get…You are steadfast……unmovable…. always abounding in the work of the Lord…..you are growing…by leaps and bounds…You are living….to live again….We can see it …in how you love everybody….we can see it in how you treat your neighbor right…..we can see it in how you give to the church….in tithes and offerings….we can see it in how you keep schisms out of your church….we can see it in how you are keeping your life clean…..You are walking worthy of the calling God placed in your life….Finally….finally……Paul said….in the 11th and 12th verses: that ‘s why we pray for you that the Lord will count you worthy….and that He will get all the glory He can get out of your lives…that he will fulfill all the pleasure of his goodness in your lives and work of faith with Holy Ghost power….that in the name of Jesus….you will have the victory…because Jesus will be glorified in your life….as you are glorified in Him…all according to His grace….Yeah….yeah…..ahhh yeah….
Rev. Dr. William Edward Boddie