Lesson 14: "The Lord Jesus Shall be Revealed from Heaven. . ." (II Thessalonians 1:7)
II Thessalonians 1:3-12
This is lesson #14. Welcome again. If you will put your eyes on the text of II Thessalonians, you recognize, of course, that we covered the first two verses back hi Lesson #13. In the KJV that we're using, please notice that v.3-10 is one big long compound sentence. Please don't ask me to diagram that sentence. That undoubtedly was the style of the King's English back in the early 1600's. I can't tell you abut the Greek and all of that, because I don't know. However, I can tell you that other translations have broken this up into much shorter sentences, just in case you're interested. Following our plan of attack, let's read right now, v.3-10. As you read this; please try to put to work your mental picture of the infant congregation at Thessalonica as we tried to discuss it back in Lesson #13, i.e. our introduction to II Thessalonica. Try to picture Paul at Corinth with Timothy and Silas writing and preparing a short scroll to be sent to the young church at Thessalonica. After the salutation, i.e. v. 1-2 in front of you, the scribe holding that writing instrument, which was probably a quill, i.e. a large feather taken from some bird or fowl. Quills were properly carved to a point on the base end and shaped and split to get an even flow of ink, what ever they used. As the graphics began to be laid down on that scroll by Paul or who ever the scribe was; it was a graphic representation of the thoughts of the apostle Paul as those inspired thoughts flowed from his heart while he concentrated on his brethren at Thessalonica and all their spiritual problems. The nature of Paul's personality seemed to be to greet and commend first; give praise where praise is due. Then, Paul went right to the heart of their problems and split them right down the center, i.e. he pointed out their problems, analyzed their problem and offered the solution very briefly and very pointedly with no beating around the bush. O. K., follow the graphics, let's read. Beginning in v.3. "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God, for you patience and faith hi all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his might angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day."
Alright, back at the beginning of that big long sentence; Paul said "We," i.e. Paul along with Silas and Timothy. We did what, Paul? Paul says they felt obligated to give thanks to God for the Thessalonian brethren. When Paul? Always! "As it is meet" means very simply, as it is appropriate. Why are you so thankful for these brethren Paul? He gave two reasons, (#1) "because that your faith groweth exceedingly, AND (#2) the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth." That takes us to the end of v. 3 and that's a mouthful. Paul was thankful because their faith was growing and their charity, i.e. love abounded. Now, they had some problems, as we have already said, but, Paul started with that which was right, first. Let me tell you, my friend, if you have FAITH (#1) and you have LOVE (#2); you can probably work through the rest of your problems, whatever they are. You see, they had the basics. Paul recognized that. Paul gave them credit for their faith and their love. Faith, of course, meant their deep seated belief, understanding and confidence Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our faith, Heb. 12:12; God's Son that died to purchase them and to purchase us. We are slaves, Jesus, the Christ, is our Master. If you get that embedded down in your cranium, my friend, everything else will take shape, if you'll work on it. Paul was helping the brethren at Thessalonica work on it. Love, or "charity" as the word is here in the KJV is "agape" in the Greek; i.e. to seek the highest welfare of another. They did that! Paul gave them Credit. Then, if you'll study v.4 carefully: we find they had (#3) "patience" and (#4) "endur[ance]." These are Christian graces, listed by the apostle Peter, if you remember, II Peter 1:5-6. Someone has said that patience is faith in action. Paul said in v.4, they had "patience" and "faith" when it came to "persecutions" and "tribulations." Do you know what that means" Brethren, it's pretty easy to be patient and endure, as a Christian, while we are enjoying the good fellowship of our brethren and eating apple pie topped by ice cream with a cup of coffee and the thermostat is set on seventy-two degrees. But, when your banker and your wife starts nagging you about the house payment and a new dress for the kids; what then? That's when some deacons have left town with the church secretary. Do you remember Jesus' rocky ground illustration of the shallow roots hi the parable of the sower? Mark quoted Jesus like this, these "have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a tune: afterwards, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended." Paul had said to the Thessalonians, back in I Thess. 4:11-12, (and that letter had been read either by them or to them): Paul said, "work with your hands as we commanded you: [why Paul?] that you my walk honestly toward them that are without, and that you may have lack of nothing." These brethren at Thessalonica were still suffering persecution. It would seem that the Acts-chaper-17persecution was still with them. The word persecution implies active personal enemies. The word "tribulation", translated "affliction" in some versions; means either bodily injury or mental anguish as a result of persecution. Paul said in II Tim. 3:12, "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." The Thessalonians didn't let persecution and tribulation interfere with their Christianity. You know, many of the people I've met, think Christianity is all right as long as you don't let your Christianity interfere with your business or your recreation. Well, I don't know exactly what Paul had heard in that report he received from Thessalonica; but, he said in v.4 that he and Silas and Timothy gloried in what they had heard, i.e. they undoubtedly delighted in telling others of how the Thessalonians endured. They had used the Thessalonians as examples in suffering to encouraging other churches, i.e. other camps of the saints. Probably in Corinth and possible at Berea. Notice how Paul referred to the other congregations: churches of God, (v.4). hi v.5 he uses: Kingdom of God. In another place he uses: Churches of Christ. Please note, as has been pointed out before, this is not some denominational designation. All churches taught the same thing, you see.
It is thought by some that Paul may have been
corresponding with other churches at that time; possible the
church at Antioch of Syria or churches in Judea or possibly
Asia Minor; or possibly all of them. It may have been that
Paul's glorying statement had reference to his comments in
such correspondence. It that be the case, of course, such
correspondence has not been preserved for us. Now,
look at the end of v.5, real close. What did the Thessalonians suffer for? "The kingdom of God!" I.e. the church. Do you see that (v.5)? Jesus died for the church, Acts. 20:28. Early Christians suffered for the church, we find here. Thus we come to Paul's conclusion in v.6, "Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you..." In the first letter, 5:15, Paul said, "See that none render evil for evil unto any man." Back in rom. 12:19, Paul quoted from the O.T. "It is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.? Here in II Thess. 1:6, Paul was saying the Lord would repay with his vengeance those that were troubling these brethren. God would recompense tribulation "to them that trouble you." As Paul said, they could "see" it was a righteous thing for God to do that. It's not permitted of us; but, it's right for God to punish.
Then, as a natural follow through, the question comes HOW and WHEN will God punish them? I.e. recompense tribulation to them that troubled and persecuted the Thessalonians? The answer to that question is the rest of that big long sentence, v.7-8-9-10. Paul said, "you who are troubled rest with us..." i.e. don't you get involved in vengeance. They were troubled, yes. Their orders from King Jesus, recorded for them and for us, back in Matt. 5:38-39 was, "ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but, I say unto you, that resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Thus, Paul was saying in the words of Jesus, turn the other cheek, God will do the punishing. As I said, v.7 & v.8 tells how and when that punishment would come. In these words, Paul referred back to I Thess. 4:16, where Paul had said, "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God..." Also in I Thess. 5:3, "when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape: Paul had said. Here in v7, Paul panted another picture of that great day: "when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his might angels, in flaming fire..." Back in the first letter, Paul said, "the Lord himself shall descend..." Here, Paul said "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed...: i.e. the Lord is there all the time you see; but THEN he shall be revealed. That's another way of saying every eye shall see him as Rev. 1:7 says it. Where will the Lord descend from or be revealed from? Both I Thess. 4:16 and II Thess. 1:7 say, "from heaven." Although angels had been mentioned in the parable of the tares and other places; here at the end of v.7 Paul says that with Jesus will be "his might angels." Somewhere in the midst of all that will be "the voice of the archangel" and "the trump of God" and "the dead...shall arise" as mentioned back in I Thess. 4:16. Notice in v.8, (#1) "them that know not God" and (#2) them " that obey not the gospel" will meet God's vengeance, Paul has here promised. Some have had trouble accepting the idea that the Lord Jesus and his angels will come in flaming fire. Some who ridicule have made such stupid statements as to say the Lord Jesus and his angels would be burned also; if it would happen that way. Well, let the scoffers scoff. That's what the verse says. How will the wicked be separated and punished and the righteous meet the Lord in the air to eternally be with the Lord? Well, if our Lord can create this old earth and all in it that is, John 1:31 think he might be able to handle a problem like controlling the fire. I'll trust him on that on, so I won't take the time to get into all of that. Paul assured the Thessalonians that those that persecute, and trouble, and know not God and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, "WILL BE PUNISHED" (V.9). Thus, sin against God is not a trivial thing. Apparently, the idea here of knowing not God implies willful ignorance. That verse also says that punishment will be everlasting. They will be destroyed from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power. When will this happen? Get a glance at v.10, "When he shall come to be glorified hi his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe in that day." That's leaving out the parenthesis. In v.10, Paul turned the coin over as if to look at this occasion from the stand point of the saints, i.e. Christians. That's another way of saying "them that believe." When Paul cam to that thought he hesitated and commented upon the idea of faith, that's the idea of the parenthesis in v.10; calling attention to the importance of faith, as was emphasized back in v.3.
Alright, let's read the next sentence, v. 11-12. Have you got it? Let's read! Beginning in v. 11, "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil 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 ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Alright, back to v.ll, "Wherefore." What does it mean: "wherefore?" The dictionary says, 'for which reason.' Thus, Paul is saying, "for which reason, we pray always for you...:, i.e. this is the reason why Paul, Silas and Timothy prayed for the Thessalonians all the time. Glance back at v.3. They gave thanks to God always for the Thessalonians because their faith was growing; and, their charity abounded toward each other (v.3). Why do you pray Paul? You see, Paul comes back to that original thought and adds other reason here why he and his companions prayed for these brethren all the time. Here is another reason they prayed: "that our God would count you worth of this calling." (v. 11). Does that sound like "once saved, always saved: to you? Another reason (v.l1) "and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness" [i.e God's goodness[. Finally, they prayed for 'the work of faith with power: [v. 11-12] that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him." How Paul? "According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
That brings us to the end of chapter one, made up of three big sentences with two main ideas, so, What has been said? First there's the salutation, v.l -2. Then second, in v.3-12, Paul extolled their virtues of faith, love, patience and endurance. Inspite of persecution and tribulation; Paul was pleased that they endured. Paul assured them that the righteousness of God's justice would balance the account hi that final day that Paul had discussed with the Thessalonians before. Because of their faith and their obedience; Paul and his companions prayed for this infant church constantly.
Now, notice, up to this point, Paul has said nothing with respect to doctrinal problems and the issues that were mentioned hi our introduction. Paul got this quickly in what we call chapter two. We'll get back to II Thessalonians chapter two in our next lesson (lesson #15). Until then, have a good day!