Thursday, July 21, 2022

2022.07.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Thessalonians 2:15–17

Read 2 Thessalonians 2:15–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them in 2 Thessalonians 2:15? What two commands does he give them? To what are they to hold fast? By what two methods were these traditions taught? To Whom does 2 Thessalonians 2:16 appeal? By what four words is He called, and what does each imply? To Whom else does it appeal? What does it call Him? Whom has the Father, specifically, loved? What two things has Jesus given them in behalf of the Father? What sort of consolation? What sort of hope? By what mechanism or principle? What does he pray that Jesus would do to their hearts (2 Thessalonians 2:17)? In what two things does he pray that Jesus would establish (strengthen) them?

What enables a Christian to stand fast?  2 Thessalonians 2:15–17 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we are made to stand fast in God’s teaching, from God’s love, lived out by God’s work. 

Hold on to God’s teaching. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, we heard that we have been set on the path to glory by the loving, eternal intentions of God toward them. That’s the end and the beginning, but what are we to do in the moment? A great part of the Christian life is just standing (cf. Ephesians 6:13–14!). With a glorious eternal end guaranteed by everlasting electing love, that’s what the apostle commands them to do: stand! But how?

By holding onto traditions. Now, we must not think that these are traditions of men, as if things might be added centuries later to which 2 Thessalonians 2:15 applies. The word ‘traditions’ points not to the idea that these teachings come from man, but that these teachings come from God. They came by Word (“logos”) and by epistle. This is special revelation. The Holy Spirit using ordained servants to proclaim words that are from Jesus Christ. And not words that are just for the Thessalonians, but words that are to continue to be handed on.

Christian ministry is teaching-based ministry. The Christian life is a teaching-based life. Standing comes by holding on to the teaching that is from Jesus.

Be held onto by God’s love. In Philippians 3:12, the apostle talks about pressing on to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of him. There is a similar “mutual holding” going on here. The Thessalonian brethren can hold onto God’s Word, because it is the Triune God Who holds onto them.

Grammatically, the verbs are singular, so the “Himself” in 2 Thessalonians 2:16 underlines to us that it is especially the Son Who has loved us. He is the Lord: YHWH, the Creator, the covenant God, the God of the bush in Exodus 3, the One Who pours out His Spirit and upon Whose Name we call to be saved from Joel 2. He is Jesus, YHWH Who saves. He is the Christ: the prophet like Moses, the Priest forever like Melchizedek, the forever-king from the line of David. And it is He Himself Who loved us. Who gave us everlasting consolation (paraklesis) and good hope by grace. 

We can hold onto the Word because everlasting, Triune love holds onto us in the Lord Jesus Christ!

In which God works in our works. This Triune love does a Triune work. The Son has given everlasting “paraklesis” (2 Thessalonians 2:16) in which He “parakletes” their hearts (beginning of 2 Thessalonians 2:17), which of course reminds us that He does so especially by His Spirit. In this, He acts in conjunction with “our God and Father.” 

But our standing is not inactivity. No, we are to speak every good word. And, we are to do every good work. And the work of the Triune God in comforting our hearts doesn’t make us passive but rather strengthens us in speaking and doing every good thing.

How do you distinguish what transitions to hold onto? Why is it that for these specific traditions, you can hope to have strength? How does the passage set this dependence over/against passivity?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for how often we feel like giving up, giving in, or becoming passive and inactive. Remind us that not only are we required to hold onto Your Word, but we may be assured of speaking every good word and doing every good work because You, our Triune God have loved us and strengthen us.

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

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