Thursday, June 16, 2022

2022.06.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Thessalonians 1:1–4

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1–4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who were the apostolic team from whom this letter came (2 Thessalonians 1:1)? To whom was it addressed? In whom was it written (and in whom was it to be received)? What two benefits/blessings does 2 Thessalonians 1:2 pronounce upon them? From Whom do these two things come? In what condition does the apostolic team find themselves at the beginning of 2 Thessalonians 1:3? To do what (are they bound)? When? What do they call the Thessalonians? How do they commend this thanksgiving? What about the Thessalonians' faith makes this thanksgiving fitting? What about the Thessalonians' love makes this thanksgiving fitting? How pervasive among them is this sort of love? What else does the apostolic team do (2 Thessalonians 1:4)? Among whom? For what two characteristics? Under what circumstantial difficulties?

How are we to think and feel about true congregations of Christ’s church?  2 Thessalonians 1:1–4 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we are to think of churches as being united to God through Christ, dependent upon God in Christ, unto the praise of God in Christ, by showing the power and goodness of God in Christ. 

Paul (and Silvanus and Timothy) thinks of the Thessalonians as having their existence in God as Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. He uses an adjectival form of their city so that the way 2 Thessalonians 1:1 reads makes it almost sound like God is their location. The Lord identifies Himself with His people. He has united them to Himself. They ought to be precious to us as part of His preciousness to us. 

Paul thinks of the Thessalonians as living in dependence upon God’s goodness and power. Rather than greet them from himself, the apostle greets them with grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s grace is His blessing for those who deserve only curse and His strength for those who possess only weakness. His peace is the commitment of His whole self to our whole good. 

These are things that cannot come jointly from God and the apostle. They come only from God. By describing them as coming jointly from God as Father and Jesus Christ as Lord, the apostle makes a strong claim that Jesus Christ is God. But He is not just deity in the abstract; He is deity upon Whom believers’ lives rest in strong, safe dependence. 

Just as the apostle found them precious for God’s sake, he has a sure hope for them according to the working of God’s power in them. It is this working of God in them upon which the success of the apostolic letter hinges. The same is true for us. We read God’s Word because we trust the God of the Word to use it as He works powerfully in us.

Paul thinks of the Thessalonian believers as credits unto the divine grace. Indeed, when he thinks of them, he feels himself to be a debtor, under an obligation that must be paid. That’s what the word “bound” means in 2 Thessalonians 1:3. What God has done in them demands thanksgiving and praise unto God. Thanksgiving when talking to God directly (verse 3) and praise of God’s work in them when talking to others (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

This is “fitting” (properly merited) because it is from God that their “faith grows exceedingly” (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Their heart of faith toward God is something that only God can produce, and that is a proper cause of thanksgiving and praise!

It is from God that their love abounds each one toward each other (verse 3). It’s one thing when some of them love some others dearly, but this is a love produced by God (and therefore in all of the believers) in which they love others for God’s sake (and therefore they love all believers). Their heart of love toward one another is something that only God can produce, and that is a proper cause of thanksgiving and praise!

And it is from God that they maintain patience and persistence even under persecutions and afflictions (tribulations, 2 Thessalonians 1:4). Grace and peace are not found in the absence of trials but believing, patient enduring of them. Their heart of patience under trial is something that only God can produce, and that is a proper cause of thanksgiving and praise!

Dear reader, if we believe in the Jesus Christ as our Lord and God, and if we know the Father as God our Father, then let us think properly of other believers: valuing them as united to our God, praying for and ministering to them as those who will be preserved and prospered by God, and giving thanksgiving and praise to God for the heart that He gives them toward Himself, toward others, and in their circumstances!

Whom should you love with a similar love as the apostle had toward the Thessalonians? Why? How? What hope do you have for them, or for yourself? How do you express that hope or seek to obtain it? How are you going about identifying the fruit of God’s gracious work in others? How are you responding to it when you see it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for joining us to Yourself through Jesus Christ. Forgive us, for when we forget what a wonderful thing a believer is in his union with Christ, and when we fail to treasure them for their connection to Him. We thank You that You are graciously at work in us and other Christians. Forgive us for when we either think that our own power can add to this, or when we are doubting and anxious about them. Help us to give thanks and praise for what You have done, and strengthen us by this thanksgiving and praise to expect more of Your work until it is completed in Christ, in Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

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