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Echo Evangelique

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7:30pm Bible Study
8:30am Bible Study
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Introducing 2nd Thessalonians:

Thanksgiving for Spiritual Growth in Difficult times

Key Concepts:

  • The necessity of the second letter explained
  • Paul’s words of encouragement
  • The reasons for Paul’s thanksgiving
  • The Thessalonians endured at great personal cost

This second epistle is the second part of the message written by Paul to the Thessalonian Christians. It followed fairly quickly after the first epistle to address Paul’s concerns regarding attempts to deceive and confuse the believers (2 Thess. 2:1). Paul began this letter with a greeting from himself and his missionary companions - Silvanus and Timothy- who helped plant the church. He addressed his message to “the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”(2 Thess. 1:1). By identifying the church as being in God the Father and the Lord Jesus, Paul is not being tedious but wants to emphasize that a genuine church of God can only be in Christ. The Church is redeemed by the blood of Christ. She is the Bride and Body of Christ. Thus, a true church of God in Christ cannot reject the lordship of her Redeemer. For it is through Christ that the church exists. Indeed, the Church functions exclusively under the lordship of Christ. To exclude Christ means to be no church. Paul used the common salutation “… grace and peace of God …” Peace -Shalom- is the customary greeting of the Jews and grace was the everyday greeting of the gentile Christians. He used the term to define the nature by which we are the Church of Christ. This denotes our identity. Whether Greek or Jews, we find ourselves with the peace of God by His own grace.

The necessity of the second letter explained …

Although Paul thoroughly addressed a number of issues and concerns in the first epistle, some confusion lingered with the congregation on the subject of the second coming of Christ especially as it relates to the timing of the Rapture. They also needed to learn about the Antichrist who will reign during the time of the Tribulation. Even Though Paul had previously reassured them that they were not “children of wrath” but are rather destined to salvation, and that the Church would be raptured before the period of Tribulation, they were still confused (1 Thess. 5).  The believers also were in need of additional exhortations pertaining to how to live in light of Christ’s return. After receiving the first letter, the Thessalonian Christians were still being persecuted. Because persecution and tribulations can often lead to despair, discouragement, and vulnerability, this opened a door to the enemy to sow confusion and deception. They had received a letter, not from Paul, telling them that they had missed the Rapture which clearly contradicted Paul’s teaching (2 Thess. 2:1-3). This second letter was written to address those issues and offer further instruction on Christian living.

Paul’s words of encouragement

Paul commended the Thessalonians for their growing faith and their abounding love toward each other. This prompted him to thank God for them (2 Thess. 1:3). He was thankful and encouraged not only because the church was growing spiritually and abounded in love but also because they were persevering and faithfully enduring through difficulties and persecution. In fact, these are evidence of progressive sanctification. Paul offered his thanksgiving to God on their behalf knowing that God had given them the will and power to do His good pleasure. This, certainly, does not happen without their  contribution, but it is God who sovereignly enabled them to act out this responsibility and experience the resulting growth.

The reasons for Paul’s thanksgiving

The Thessalonians grew in faith “exceedingly” although their circumstances were harsh, and they lacked in resources. Growth in the faith is proportional to one’s growth in the knowledge of God. These believers were not just hearers of the Word but applied it in their lives. They prioritized sound doctrines. They would rather suffer than compromise their faith. Their growth was measured by their obedience to the Word of God. Obedience to the Word means to love what God loves, and to equally hate what He hates. The Word reveals the heart of God and how to please Him, while showing us the darkness and sin in our own heart that we must avoid. Spiritual growth requires that: we avoid the company of those who would cause us to sin (Ps. 1:1); that we love those who are helping us to grow in the faith; that we let the Word transform our heart, mind, spirit, and consequently our conduct. Additionally, we must  demonstrate our love for God in our relationship with one another. It is self-deceiving to think we love God when are unable (or unwilling) to love others. As the Thessalonians were growing spiritually in their relationship with God, they were also abounding in love towards one another (2 Thess. 2:3). The Holy Spirit circumcised our heart and produces love for God in us (Det. 30:6). We are then enabled to endure trials that God sends our way, which subsequently build our character (Rom. 5:3-5).  Loving God certainly teaches us to love one another (Matt. 22). Love enables the mutual forgiveness of each other sincerely. This also resulted in mutual accountability, support, encouragement, sharing of sorrow, and giving among the Thessalonians. Their love was the real deal.

The Thessalonians endured at great personal cost


The indication of their growth caused Paul to “boast of [them] among the churches about [their] patience…” (2 Thess. 1:4). The word that translates ‘patience’ is perseverance. It means to remain under pressure and yet continue on without deviation. It also means not quitting under pressure. It is the proof of unmovable faith regardless of trials and hardship. It means to keep one’s gaze on Christ instead of wavering with the shifting trends of the world. It talks about steadfastness and endurance while awaiting God’s deliverance. The church endured both “persecutions and tribulations” (2 Thess. 1:4). Persecution comes from the hostility of people who hated them. Persecution came in the form of false accusations, the unfair loss of their livelihood, through slander, the inflicting of pain to their loved ones, and sometimes their murder, because of their faith. And yet, they kept the faith and glorified God. They are a fine example of how to wait on the Lord without putting Him to shame. They also suffered afflictions or tribulations. This could have come from many sources. God allows His children to suffer so that we “may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God…” (2 Thess. 1:5). God is shaping us so that we may truly bear His family resemblance. Many are the things yet remaining in us that do not fit His kingdom and/or His presence.  Our suffering is measured by our Father for His purpose.

In conclusion ….

Spiritual growth is demonstrated in the growing of our faith through the increasing knowledge of the Word of God and obedience to it. It is also evident when we abound in love toward God and one another. It means to have a faith that endures, that is unmovable, that perseveres and accepts suffering without compromise. Such faith seeks to glorify God even in the midst of afflictions. It is the kind of faith that suffers hardship, rejection, and separation without shaming God. Is there any evidence that you are growing spiritually?  

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