September 2

II Thessalonians 1-3

We are in the Church Stream reading from the New International Readers Version. | @serenatravis | Donate

Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

II Thessalonians was written shortly after the first letter to the Thessalonian church.  It was right around 52 A.D.   Rome was thriving (brutal as it was) and Greek culture (at least) was still very prevalent. Olympic gatherings were scheduled events in the Empire.  Paul writes again to this prominent city they called Thessaloniki.  This second letter is almost as if Paul had a moment of “oh yea, people, just a few more things I want you to know…”  II Thes. is further teaching about the Lord’s Coming back, about it being sudden, the event being unexpected, about it being very terrifying for the disobedient.

1 – Paul’s greeting is gracious and it takes him no time to get into encouraging the church. They will get through the suffering. Those who afflict them will come to severely regret it.  The Lord is coming back and whereas he had a more glorious rendition and focus in I Thess., he adds that this same event will be a horrible day for those who shunned the marvelous gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s reference to “fire” is in keeping with other symbolism and statements about “fire” in Matt. 25, Heb. 10, & Rev. 20.  And because of this Paul says “we keep praying…” eight more times before the chapter closes!
2 – The Rebellion; The Man of Sin that is coming; the antiChrist is described here. His traits, the trademarks of the times that will occur before Christ returns is told so that the Thessalonians (and we!) do not succumb to lies and the forces that lead so many astray while awaiting to see Jesus. Verse 3 is especially good: “don’t let anyone trick you in any way.”  However those subjected to deception are those who do not want the truth.  The Holy Spirit is the one who restrains the evil in the world. Imagine when the Believers are taken away, and the Holy Spirit that resides on them is absent!  People illicitly complain that “if there is a God, why is there evil?” Hmm, when the grace of God departs THEN people are going to experience a true foretaste of ‘outer darkness’. It will be evil like the earth has never known. Pity the survivors.  Paul ends this section with gracious encouragement punctuated by “remain strong in the faith.”
3 – has great Christian instruction and a salutation as good as any, but the bulk of this chapter addresses the duffers in Thessalonica and the Church there. Paul was concerned with the ‘idle’; the lazy and how they were not pulling their part.  The concept of Christian charity was being taken advantage of in this church and it was not to tolerated further. Paul was very particular to teach giving, caring, helping the poor. His teaching on charity has greatly affected the world through the cause of Christ. But to round out the teaching about the true purpose of charity, it must be gathered and distributed precisely and properly. The abuse of the kindness afforded by wealthy Believers was pathetic. Offerings gathered are not for the purpose of enabling the “hammock dwellers” to remain there. That type of helping is not helping. In fact, it is what kills charity.  He told the Galatians in Gal.6:5 that each should carry his own load.  He means it here too.

The Thread Through the Streams

The theme we heard threading throughout the scripture this week was: “Keep God in it every step. Don’t try to do it alone.”

-in Numbers the Levites are set apart to be priests; to stand in and serve God, representing Him to the people. This may seem an overly obvious assessment, but in their demise before the invasions, the Priests had forgotten this. They did not represent God…and the nation followed them right off a cliff.
-Chron. included the part about serving God in music at the Tabernacle – that they followed and did it according to the rules they were given. The Levites set up the work of the Tabernacle just as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded. The nation started right by keeping God in it. The concurrent complaining and punishment proves the same by providing a double-contrast (obedience and blessing / sorry-attitude and punishment.
-Psalms enforces the best way to keep God in it all – keep in The Word
-The grieving in Lamentations matches, Jesus’ words, “blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” This is vital to know how to grieve. The lament is a version of prayer. Mourning done in God’s realm is restorative. Mourning done in solitude or at a tavern takes one further astray. Keep God in it when mourning … and the morning WILL come !
-Micah took us through steep terrain of glory and desolation. The Savior arrives later yet retribution for horrid behavior shall be upon you sooner than you wish. Keep eyes on the one who will arrive in Bethlehem AND keep your eyes on God even when drudging into exile. The Judeans did and returned. The Northern tribes didn’t and were lost to history.
-Jesus talking in Luke this week gave us so many reasons and ways to go to God in prayer: when suffering injustice, come into prayer humbly, come childlike, come empty-handed, bring your needs, come determined to meet Jesus … the call to prayer asserts “don’t go it alone.”
-The Thessalonians are urged to endure the suffering with God in mind as He will deal with the persecutors. In other words, go to God in this time v.s. getting your revenge. God is going to deal with these pagans – don’t you try to.
Don’t try to do it alone, no, keep God in every step.

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