2 Thessalonians 2

vs 10b  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

The love of the truth is a mark of one who is a genuine believer.

So many people have heard the gospel, the Word of Truth and yet still they have chased not to believe it.  They have rejected Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior and as a result they have left themselves open to the influence and lies of satan.  Those who go to hell do so because they reject truth.  They willfully choose to love their sin and hate the gospel and as a result God hardens their heart and allows them to be deceived.  In other words over time God will harden the hearts of those who persistently reject His truth.

We think of that and we think of all the people who are not “in the church,” but the truth is some of these people live inside the church.  So many who profess to be Christ-followers persistently reject God’s truth and reject it’s influence on their lives.  You see the love of truth constrains us to follow Christ.  We allow the Holy Spirit to change us and make us in the image and likeness of Christ.  We pursue Truth, like the deer that pants for water in a dry and thirsty land.

Our love for Christ (the Truth) and our willingness to allow Him to change us from the inside out is one of the marks of a true disciple.


2 Thessalonians 1

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.  All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

Paul's tone in this letter is not one of stern rebuke but more a loving course correction.  It is interesting that he does not start this letter with having to state his credentials as an apostle.  In fact you get a sense that he is proud of this community of believers.  And the things he is proud of them for are not necessarily the things that we consider the marks of a good church.  It was not a rich church with lots of buildings.  They did not have social and political influence.  They could not even offer new converts a comofortable, entertaining environment for the whole family.  In fact they were being persecuted for their faith in God.  Yet Paul commends them.  In this first chapter he gives a few reasons for his commendations.

Increasing faith
The understanding of the word increasing is the understanding of being increased beyond what could be expected.  In the middle of the trials and sufferings the faith of the Thessalonian church had grown - it may have been shaken but it was not moved and it continued to grow.  The persecution drove them towards God and not away from Him.  Troubles should increase our dependence on God and not push us away from Him, and when our dependence on Him increases our faith is strengthened.
James 1:2-4 (NIV) 2  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3  because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Growing love
Jesus tells us that people will know that we are Christians by our love.  It is the sacrificial, others-centered love that is borne out of the Spirit of God working in us.  This kind of love verifies our conversion.

Perseverance is not resignation to how life is, rather it is about hope - a patient and courageous enduring of hard times because of the hope that we have in Christ who will fulfill His promises to us.  It is courage under fire with a firm belief that all things will work out for God's good in our lives.

A Kingdom mindset
Paul commended them for having a God-centered outlook.  They were focused on living out Jesus' command to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  In fact the joy that they lived with and the perseverance that they demonstrated was because they believed that God was making them worthy of His kingdom - in other words, they looked at the situations as opportunities to be made in the image and likeness of Christ.

So some of the marks of a church God is pleased with are our faith increasing, our love for one another growing, our hope enduring and our focus is being made in the image and likeness of Christ and sharing the Good News with all. 
How are we doing?

1 Thesssalonians 5

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

The church (the body of Christ) is one of the most significant ways that God uses to bring hope to a hopeles world.  The church is the bride of Christ, instituted by Jesus and of which He declared that the gates of hell will not overpower it.  The church is all at once a beautiful and powerful thing as well as a difficult proposition.  The truth is that the church is made up of members who are in various stages of spiritual maturity, who are still battling the old nature; so at best the church is declared perfect but still perfecting. 

Jesus has placed in the church those whose responsibility it is to shepherd the church.  According to this particular verse in Thessalonians the shepherds (those who serve the church) are to diligently labor, exerting great effort to the point of exhaustion in order to see God's plans accomplished in the lives of the people he serves. Those who are servant leaders are looking to ensure that the gospel is preached, other churches are established and the believers are grown and equippped for the work God has called them to.

Servant leaders are to exercise authority as well.  The understanding is that they have a charge over the people they serve.  They are to lead and direct by setting an example of what it means to live a life worthy of the calling of God.

Servant leaders are to provide instruction as well.  It is to impart information in such a way that it can bring about life change.  It is the understanding of correcting and training in righteousness.  It is encouraging and warning those they serve.

This is the role of the servant leader, but those they are serving have a responsiblity as well.
Paul says that for those who diligently labor among us, serving us; we are responsible to appreciate them, esteem them and submit to them.
To appreciate them is to value their service.  How do you show that you value those who serve you?  Notes of thanks, being respectful, financial support and so much more.
To esteem is to take appreciation to a higher level.  Speak well of them to others instead of tearing them down and making fun of them.  Encourage them.
Submit to them.  When Paul says to live in peace with one another he was specifically referring to this understanding of being submitted to the servant leaders among you. 

Paul admonishes us to honor those who serve diligently among you.  I agree! 

In the month of November we are going to be spending time simply honoring those who serve among us - it is a month dedicated to giving honor where honor is due.  Please join us at our Grateful Gatherings and at our Sunday Services where we will be honoring those who serve diligently among us. 

Let us encourage, esteem and submit ourselves to those who serve us so that we can fulfill God's mission of making and maturing disciples.

1 Thesssalonians 4

So then, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to keep living the way you already are and even do better in how you live and please God—just as you learned from us. You know the instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

We are instructed by Paul, (encouraged and exhorted) as he speaks to the Thessalonians, to live in a way that pleases God.  We know it is possible to live in such a way because he tells the Thessalonians that they are doing exactly that.  But, don't get complacent, thinking that you have it all in the bag; the very nature of spiritual growth is that we are becoming more and more like Christ which is not an instantaneous process, it is a lifelong commitment. 

Again, we are not talking about earning salvation, but really the life of the regenerated one who has experienced the grace of God's salvation.  Having been saved by grace through faith, we are to allow the Holy Spirit the opportunity to do the work of sanctification in us.  We must strive to please God and Paul says that they had all the necessary knowledge to do so, because in the time that he had been with them he had instructed them in the way they ought to live in order to please God.  This outward obedience is the result of the inward work of the Holy Spirit.

So what are some of the fundamentals of Christian living?
What are some of the things Paul taught them that they needed to do to please God?  Here are some of them Paul mentioned in one way or another in his writings...

to pray continually and to grow in faith (Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17; 1 Tim. 2:8);
to pursue humility (Matt. 20:26-28; Eph. 4:1-2; Phil. 2:3-4; Col. 3:12);
to be content with God's will (1 Tim. 6:6, 8; Heb. 13:5),
to read and study God's Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17);
to be willing to suffer for His name (Matt. 5:10-12; 2 Tim. 3:12);
to share the gospel with those who were lost (Matt. 4:19; 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; 2 Cor. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:5);
to celebrate the Lord's Table (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-28);
to care for one another (Gal. 6:2; Phil. 2:3-4; 1 Thess. 5:11, 14);
to honor God in their marriages and families (Eph. 5:22-6:4; Col. 3:18-21; 1 Tim. 5:3-16; Titus 2:1-8);
and to be diligent and fruitful in serving God (cf. Matt. 3:8; Eph. 2:10; Col. 1:10; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Titus 3:8, 14)

Are we becoming more like Christ and is that inner transformation showing up in a life that is pleasing to God?

1 Thessalonians 3

7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.

One of the greatest joys that any spiritual leader can have is when the people he/she is leading are growing and maturing in their faith in Christ.  The goal of a spiritual leader is to bring about maturity - allowing those they nurture and care for to be able to nurture and care for others and to be able to stand on their own spiritually.  As you continue to grow and mature and stand firm in your faith, you encourage and strengthen those who lead you. 

So are you being an encouragement to those who care for and watch over you?

1 Thesssalonians 2

Someone once said of me that I was the great manipulator and I must admit that that statement affected me deeply.  As a result I spent a great deal of time examining my life, thoughts and actions to see what truth there was to this statement.  I came to the conclusion that they were wrong about me because in my understanding manipulation is the result of trying to get people to do something for my gain and benefit.   But there is a huge difference when you are trying to get people to do something that will benefit them.  The outward actions may look the same but the motivation is completely different.

In today's reading Paul gives us the proper motivation for ministry.  He is not looking for praise or plaudits from people, he is looking to please  God.  His ministry and instruction to the Thessalonians was motivated by love and care for them and where they would spend eternity.  Because of that motivation Paul exhorted, encouraged and affirmed them to live lives worthy of God.  My understanding of exhortation is not just a pleading but a firm hand in helping people do something (in this case what is right and beneficial for them).

If it seems like Paul is pushing them a bit, and if it feels like I am pushing a bit as a Pastor, it is because of what Paul says in verses 19-20.  The truth is you are our glory and joy.  Just as when my children succeed because of good training it brings me great joy so too when the people I pastor are fulfilling God's purposes and plans for their lives it brings me great joy.  No great manipulator here just an intense love and deep care.

My exhortation and encouragement to you is if you care deeply for those close to you then exhort, encourage and affirm them to live lives worthy of God. 
Exhort, encourage and affirm them in reading and studying God's Word, getting involved with God's people in biblical community and,
exhort, encourage and affirm them to give their lives in service to see God's will accomplished on earth as it is in heaven.

1 Thesssalonians 1

We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul begins his letter to the Thessalonians by praising and encouraging them.  He takes a moment to praise them for the obvious evidence of their salvation that they were demonstrating.  As always it is important to say that he was not saying that they earned their salvation through doing "good works" but rather he was commending them that their works gave credence to and verified the reality of their faith in God and His redeeming work in their lives.

He commended them that their faith produced good work.  The reality is that a true saving belief in Jesus will always result in God changing us from the inside out.  As the forgiven and redeemed we choose to engage in deeds that honor God and our new life, choosing to be dead to the old way of living.  The truth is that this spiritual transformation is a process, which is why Paul has to write to them because they were mixing some of the old ways of life with the new life in Christ, but having been declared fully righteous before God we must walk out that declaration in a process of spritual growth or sanctification.  Literally working out our salvation, not working for our salvation.

Paul also commended them for another mark of salvation and that was their love that showed itself in taking action.  They were motivated to do what they did because of love.  True Christians minister from a motivation of love for others not from a place of guilt or pure obligation.  Having experienced God's love we find that we love others and are motivated to love them as Christ loved us.  Loving God, loving God's people and loving the unbelievers should lead us to action - it should lead us to REACH UP, IN & OUT!  To reach up to God, to reach inward to God's people and to reach outward to unbelievers.

Paul also commended them on their perseverance in believing in Jesus in spite of the persecution and opposition that they faced.  They persevered because their hope was in Christ and knowing that He would one day see Him again and receive their eternal inheritance. 

The question I continually ask myself is, "Does my life reflect the evidence of my salvation?" 
Will someone who observes my life commend me for my faith that produces good work, my love that shows itself in reaching up, in and out; and my unwavering belief in God and that what He says He will do, HE WILL DO!

2 Thessalonians 3

Busy Waiting

Every generation of Christians must face the dilemma of how to live in the tension between the possibility of Christ’s immediate return and the impossibility of predicting the moment. Many Christians unfortunately settle the problem by living as if Christ will not return. Meanwhile, others dabble in various fruitless but persistent schemes to “figure out” the time of Christ’s return.

The young Thessalonian church struggled with persecution from the outset. Facing such difficulties, many of them found hope in the promise of Christ’s return. Others misapplied the lesson by becoming lazy. After all, they reasoned, if Christ is already on His way, why participate in the details and responsibilities of life? Why sow if we will not be here to reap?

For those who had chosen to “coast” until Christ’s return, Paul had blunt words: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (3:10). Paul understood the strong temptation to hide irresponsibility under a cover of spirituality. The integrity of the gospel was at stake.

In his final words of encouragement in 2 Thessalonians, Paul touched on the daily challenge for every person seeking to live for Christ: “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good” (3:13). Herein lies the secret of being ready for Christ’s return. If the hope of His arrival stirs up a wholehearted commitment to do good for His sake, we will be ready for Him. We must be busy waiting.

The Nelson Study Bible


2 Thessalonians 2

3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way...15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

The church faces the constant threat of deception because “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light … His servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:14–15). To avoid being deceived by this constant barrage of demonic lies, we as believers must “no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). We must know the truth that we believe regarding Christ and then even during times of severe trials and circumstances we must stand on that truth.

Paul’s exhorts the Thessalonians (and us as well) “Do not let anyone by any means or any method lead you astray in any way.” There was really no excuse for the Thessalonians to have been so gullible, despite a seemingly convincing forged letter. They should have realized that Paul would not abruptly contradict in a letter what he had so recently taught them in person and in his first epistle. The Thessalonians’ gullibility was an emotional reaction to the stress of their situation. However, truth is not determined by emotions or circumstances, but by Scripture. Believers must allow biblical truth and theology to rise above every situation.

Let us take the time to be taught biblical truth and theology.  Soon we will be starting classes regarding these things, I encourage you to arm yourself with truth so that you will not be easily led astray.

2 Thessalonians

A few months had passed since Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians. Though unable to visit them (1 Thess. 2:18), the apostle had maintained contact with the church. He was generally pleased with their progress (2 Thess. 1:3–4), yet there were still some issues that needed to be resolved.

In his second inspired letter, Paul addressed three essential matters. The persecution, which had begun while Paul was there, was still ongoing. In chapter 1, he encouraged the Thessalonians to stand firm and remain faithful to the Lord despite their suffering. Paul had instructed the Thessalonians about the end times while he was with them (2 Thess. 2:5), and in 1 Thessalonians (4:13–5:11).

Yet they were still confused, fearing they had missed the Rapture and were in the Day of the Lord. Though the severity of the persecution they were undergoing contributed to that mistaken belief, the main reason for their confusion came from some false teachers who taught that the Day of the Lord had arrived. Those lying deceivers claimed Paul, Silas, and Timothy now taught that, even producing a forged letter supposedly from the apostle Paul to support their claim. Paul wrote chapter 2 to calm the Thessalonians’ fears, clarify his teaching, and thus reassure them that the Day of the Lord had not arrived.

Finally, the problem of idleness Paul had addressed in his first epistle (1 Thess. 4:11–12) had escalated. Some, expecting the Lord to return at any moment, had stopped working altogether. The apostle sternly dealt with those idle loafers and the related issue of church discipline in chapter 3.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary